Sometimes it pays!
Elliott Aviation Aircraft Sales Manager
In our previous articles we talked about the technical side of our deals; now it is time for a discussion about the power of relationships. Dealer/Brokers thrive on repeat business from our core customer base. We all need new customers to keep our database alive but we must nurture relations with customers who have already used our services. As our client’s needs change, we need to be willing to adjust, stay intelligent and supportive.
I spent my first 16 years in the Aircraft Sales business with a full-service dealership. Our sales team represented a full line of new piston through turboprop products and enjoyed a large protected territory. We had the backing of an MRO division that grew to several OEM Authorized Service Centers. We were stocking dealer and did our own demos, deliveries and often customer training . This offering was ideal for many owners as they had local and complete support as they moved up the product line.
In the late 90’s I met an owner of a cabin-class single who was ready to move up and purchased a new twin turboprop. He would base with us and be a perfect customer… buying airplanes, hangar, fuel and maintenance. My company was happy with the deal and also happy to tell me that I would personally be doing the 200 hrs of transition training that the insurance company had decided to require. It was immediately obvious he was excellent pilot, fun to fly with and the mission was complete in four months.
The next two years went smoothly with his ownership experience and he was ready for the next logical transition to a light jet. He was a new airplane buyer and the OEM we were representing did not have a single pilot jet to offer. I painfully sat on the sideline while he bought a new airplane from the competition. We still had a fuel customer but had lost the sales and MRO business.
Interestingly, it became evident that the new jet service center being 200 miles away was very inconvenient, especially compared to the on-field service that he had become accustomed to with our product. My company was supportive of my idea to provide shuttle service to and from the competition’s facility, as needed. Yes, it was usually a piston airplane but it was a ride and he was very appreciative. This offer of support proved key, since after two years, our OEM had a single-pilot jet to offer and the customer was ready for an upgrade. We participated in the new delivery, got our local facility MRO Factory Authorization for the new jet and sold the trade!
The decision to think outside the box and offer the extra support with this client proved to be very worthwhile. He has provided countless referrals and has personally owned eight airplanes, bought two for his company and had us involved in 13 transactions. Without the decision to offer the support when he went with the completion it would have most likely ended with just the one sale. We have remained loyal to each other and that’s a win-win.
Jim Odenwaldt has extensive flying and technical experience with all Beechcraft products and sales expertise with all models of Hawker/Beech, Citation and Gulfstream. After graduating from Embry-Riddle in 1989, Jim worked as a CFI and maintenance technician. While with American Beechcraft Company, he was responsible for aircraft sales in the mid-Atlantic region. In addition to his ATP, Jim is an A&P and type rated in the Beechcraft Premier.
Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA).
The Red Bull Air Race World Championship features the world's best race pilots in a pure motor-sport competition that combines speed, precision and skill. Using the fastest, most agile and lightweight racing planes, pilots navigate a low-level aerial track made up of air-filled pylons. Now the race is set to return in February 2014 with a full seven-race World Championship taking place in six different countries – in the U.S. they will take place in Dallas/Fort Worth on September 6th and Las Vegas on October 11th, 2014. It’s return was announced at the Putrajaya Maritime Centre in Malaysia on October 8th.
The Red Bull Air Race World Championship comes to Las Vegas in October, 2014.
There have been several improvements, including standard engines and props for all pilots, changes to the pylons for safety, and a few rule changes. A new highlight is the Challengers Cup, giving pilots who qualify experience racing on the tracks.
Reigning champion Paul Bonhomme of Britain won the last two competitions in 2009 and 2010, and he will be seeking a third-straight win in the 2014 competition.
For more information on the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, click here.
UPDATE - Tickets are now available through RedBullAirRace.com, Ticketmaster.com, lvms.com, texasmotorspeedway.com and in person at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway box office (800-644-4444) and Texas Motor Speedway box office (817-215-8500).
The Oct-Nov Business Jet Traveler (BJT) just arrived in my mail this past week. For the third year they published their Readers' Choice Survey. 1,100 of their subscribers responded with their thoughts and ratings regarding business aviation. The more things change, the more some things remain the same. Let's see.
The top three reasons people fly privately?
1. Save time
2. Ability to use airports the airlines don't serve
3. Ability to work enroute
No surprises. In fact all three really are about the productive use of time. You cannot save time, only spend it wisely. People who value their time use business aviation. That doesn't ever change.
The top three aircraft features among the BJT readers were:
2. Economical operation
3. Cabin size
Speed was number five and baggage space, last on their list of choices. Economics was a surprise. Yes range and cabin are perennial favorites much as you'd expect. Speed ties directly into saving time, but not at any cost. So having the title of the World's Fastest Business Jet makes for great PR but if it is too expensive... Economics being number two makes me happy as that is how my company makes it living. I think this all ties into a Best Value for the business aviation user: saving time in a non-stop comfortable environment that makes fiscal sense.
Good news: more than half of the respondents flew the same or slightly more in 2013 than they did in 2012 and expect to fly the same or more next year. I'd say that bodes well for a slow and stable recovery. Only 4% reported that they will fly "much less than in the past year."
One set of questions were the same for fractional, jet card and charter users. It asked the respondents to rate those three sources of business aviation from 1 (low) to 5 (high) among nine factors. What interested me of those nine were customer service, value for the price paid, and overall satisfaction. All three scored very close to the same for customer service:
1. Jet Cards Customer Service = 4.20
2. Charter operators Customer Service = 4.18
3. Fractional shares Customer Service = 4.16
With no breakdown among the numbers reporting in the above categories, I'd say the average customer service levels were very good among the three types of service. I've heard anecdotally that some owners were less happy with fractional share companies but I think I have an answer there. Value was a bit different:
1. Charter value for price paid = 3.70
2. Jet Cards value for price paid = 3.70
3. Fractional shares value for price paid = 3.49
Fractional shares rated lower for value than the other two. They also rated 3.15 for Residual Value Terms. Given the drop and non-recovery in used airplane prices since 2008, I'd expect fractional shares to rate lower here versus a non-ownership option. I think this is where the fractional share owners' disappointment lies. They may have been enthusiastic about the ability of a business jet to maintain its value (or felt they were oversold on that?). When they saw that business airplanes lost value and are not recovering, they expressed their disappointment.
For overall satisfaction, I think the issue of residual values caused fractional share owners to be slightly less favorable towards their overall experience:
1. Charter overall satisfaction = 4.00
2. Jet Cards overall satisfaction = 4.00
3. Fractional shares overall satisfaction = 3.89
BJT showed overall satisfaction broken out by manufacturer for owned airplanes. No numerical average was shown so a direct comparison with charter, jet cards and fractional is a bit difficult. "Excellent" rating were from 38% to 67% except for Hawker Beechcraft at 22%. Their financial woes, especially among Hawker Beechcraft jet owners I'm sure contributed to their lowest "Excellent" ratings. But, at that, they did get 54% of their owners giving them a "Very Good" for overall satisfaction. So for the business airplane manufacturers, every one had over 80% of their customers rating them as very good or excellent. I'd say that is, well, a very good rating for ownership.
Aircraft reliability is also rated quite high among business jet owners with all the major manufacturers having very good to excellent scores by 90% or more of their owners.
Among the business helicopters, BJT had enough scores to report on Bell and Eurocopter. Oddly, Sikorsky did not have enough responses to be included. While Bell rated above Eurocopter (excellent and very good scores) for each of the categories queried, both manufacturers had fewer excellent rating in all categories versus their business airplane owners. Not sure whether helicopter owners are a fussier group or whether, as an industry, helicopter manufacturers are not quite as good at taking care of their business-flying customers as the fixed wing folks.
The last question asked was "If you could receive a complimentary year of flying on the following, which aircraft would you choose?" They had four helicopter categories, two turboprop categories and seven business jet categories. You'll have to go see the survey to see if your favorites were the readers' favorites. Let me say that being given any one of those models free to use for a year would make me very happy!