All posts tagged 'tricks and tips'

Selling Your Aircraft? Get More Inquiries

FSBO

The other day, a gentleman selling Cessna 172 called our office. It seems that the first time he placed the aircraft on our site, he got several inquiries from potential buyers. A couple of them even made offers. However, he held out for better offers since it was getting a lot of action. Maybe that was the right decision, maybe not. Regardless, after a couple of months the inquiries started to slow, and ultimately stop.

He wanted some advice on getting the response he was receiving initially. I figured that if he wanted these tips, several sellers out there could use this advice. I sat down and compared 25 aircraft that have received the most inquiries – not just views – to see what they have in common with each other. Here are a few of the things I found.


Photos, Photos, Photos!

Take a look at this Cessna 182. As you can see, there isn’t a lot of detail included – but there ten photos of the outside, the interior and the panel in the Image Gallery. "A picture is worth a thousand words" is an old adage for a reason – short of seeing the aircraft in person, nothing comes as close to putting potential buyers in cockpit like a series of clean, clear and bright photos. More photos also tells buyers that you have nothing to hide from them!


Summarize Thoroughly

Imagine you only have ten seconds to tell someone everything about your aircraft. Can you do it? You had better figure it out, because that is about the maximum length of time a person will look at text when they’re skimming. We live in the Age of Instant Access, so make sure you can attract buyers instantly.

Here’s a good example of a summary that’s making an impact – this 1978 Sundowner. They touch only on specific value-added items, plus appeal to the ease of taking this aircraft to the skies. Everything about this aircraft screams "turnkey and ready" – no wonder it has received over ten inquiries in three months!


Highlights

Speaking more towards the fast-paced society that we experience, sometimes you only have a few words to get out before that potential buyer moves on. The shiniest object in the room gets noticed first. This is where the Highlight tag (also known as Teaser Text) comes in handy.

Highlight Tags

When you drill down to a specific aircraft type, next to the photo on GlobalAir are a few words highlighted in red. Imagine this time that you only have two seconds to define the aircraft you have for sale. This should be a statement of value, such as "Only 130 hours SMOH" or "Price Reduced". Also effective are things that make your aircraft a rare find, such as "Totally Rebuilt" or "Millennium Edition". Even something as simple as "One Owner" or "Always Hangered" speaks to someone. The biggest crime here is leaving it blank, as you’ll be surrounded by aircraft that "speak louder" than yours.


Vote Early, Vote Often

While everything I’ve listed so far speaks to creating the most effective ad for your money, this tip speaks more to your continued involvement. The worst mistake you can do is believe your aircraft will "sell itself". It doesn’t matter if you have the most pristine, low-time and/or cheapest aircraft on the market – if you’re not actively pushing it, it will take longer to sell.

So how can you be more active in getting your plane in front of the passive buyers (the ones that wait for the right deal to present itself instead of going out to find it themselves)?

One of the easiest is with your social media pages. At the top of every page on GlobalAir.com you will see quick links to Facebook, Twitter and Google+ - log into your social media account, click on the link, and post your ad to your personal page, and encourage your friends to share it. You already do this when playing games or sharing funny cat photos – may as well use your friend network to spread the word!

Feeling aggressive? Another option is a broadcast GlobalAir sends twice a month called Plane Mail. Imagine your aircraft e-mailed to over 50,000 aviation professionals and enthusiasts at once! Even if they aren’t buying currently, they probably know someone that is. And it’s an astonishingly inexpensive approach!


So what is the ultimate takeaway from this list? It boils down to 1. Set your ad up right, and 2. Stay involved in promoting it. If you think that’s too much to do, be prepared to have that aircraft for a while the go-getters snag all your potential buyers.

Budget Tips for your aircraft

As 2014 rolls into the Northeast with a big snow storm, this is as good a time as any to look ahead while waiting for the snow plow. A big part of looking ahead is your aircraft's annual operating budget.

If you operate on a calendar budget, you should have already completed your aircraft operating budget for the year. If this is the last time you look at your budget until the end of the year, you are not taking advantage of the work you have done.

A budget is a best estimate looking forward at what you think expenses will be. As such, you made a number of assumptions regarding things like utilization, fuel costs, etc that factor into those costs. As you advance through the year, you will learn how accurate those assumptions were. Is your budget capped? If you were planning on fuel prices remaining stable, what happens if they increase? Where does the money come from if you exceed your allotted budget amounts?

Maintenance costs will depend on the utilization. What if, having planned on 360 annual hours, which puts the next major inspection into 2015, you end up flying 400? If a major maintenance bill comes due earlier than expected, will you be ready for this? You should be plotting major, know expenses, forward at least two to three years. Things like engine overhauls, paint & interior, major checks, hangar rents, even training and insurance costs are coming on a predictable schedule. 

Your budget should be reviewed and updated as the year progresses. Planned versus actual should be a standard metric. If you have a tight budget with little room for overages, you'd better know early if there will be unforeseen issues. As you start seeing variances in your budget, have the explanation ready as to why. No one really knows what the price of fuel will be next month, let alone at the end of the year. When that cost of fuel changes from what you anticipated, note it and any possible explanations if you know of them.

The key thing is to track and report your costs in detail. Then when there are small variances in the budget actuals, you can see them (hopefully) before they become a major event. Save for a significant unscheduled maintenance event, this is doable. Then  you need to communicate to those with the money what is going on, and what actions that you recommend. If at 360 hours, the major inspection would be due in January 2015, but flying jumps to 400 annual hours: (1) major expenses in outlying years should already be noted and (2) the inspection costs need to be planned for well in advance. Tracking, reporting and understanding your costs are necessary to avoid financial surprises.

Budgets should be a financial tool that you use to manage the fiscal resources of your operation. It should not be a once and done exercise. Used appropriately, a budget should provide you with operating cost metrics that you can use to measure and manage your aircraft throughout the year.

Determining the Right Cabinet Modifications for Your Aircraft

A little planning upfront can save you a lot of time and money

Jay Scarff
Elliott Aviation Cabinet Technician Team Lead

www.elliottaviation.com

When you think of technology changes affecting your aircraft, your cabinets and woodwork may be the last thing on your mind. However, many modifications you are considering could benefit from upfront planning with the cabinet shop you are working with. Not only do new upgrades in laminates and veneers involve the cabinet technicians, but items such as audio visual mods (including wide screen monitors, DVD or BluRay players, sound systems and cabin management systems) all have direct involvement with your cabinet shop.

For example, we have many requests to either install or modify cabin monitors to accommodate high-definition, wide-screen displays. Depending on what type of aircraft you have and whether you currently have monitors installed, modifying your cabinets to accommodate wider screens may cause you to lose structure in your cabinets. If this is a potential issue, your cabinet technicians will need to determine how much structure will be left and whether it will pass inspection. If there is an issue, you could potentially still make the modification with some reengineering to the structure.

Another thing you may not take into account when installing monitors is seat height. Monitors placed directly over a seat will often get blocked by head rests and, if someone is sitting in that seat, they can completely block the screen. If you do not have room to place your monitor in a proper location, you can solve the issue by installing pull out monitors. .

In addition to monitors, when you install a DVD or BluRay player, subwoofer, or a cabin entertainment system close outs have to be fabricated in your cabinets to allow for access to easily serviceable components. When you are installing these accessories, you always have to keep in mind that you have to utilize every square inch of space while keeping everything looking nice.

In addition to the more technical components, more traditional changes to your woodwork or cabinets may have also evolved since you last made changes. Many older laminates have been discontinued. Since laminate cannot be repaired, the only option you have is to re-laminate. If your current laminate pattern is not available, you will either have mismatched laminate or will have to redo all of your cabinets. That is why for a longer-term solution I usually recommend veneer. Veneer typically lasts about 30% longer, has a stronger finish, allows you to repair scratches and offers you endless options as far as species. Laminate only really offer you a handful of colors.

Jay Scarff has been fabricating and installing cabinets since 1990. His vast experience includes custom fabrication for aircraft, commercial and residential construction and disaster restoration. Jay joined Elliott Aviation in 2006.

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) .

Three Tips For Effective Communication

I grew up in Dover, New Hampshire. Most locals tended to drop the letter R when it was at the end of a word. So I was from “Dovah,  New Hampshah.” We were not as bad as our neighbors from Boston (“Pahhhhk the cahhhh”), but you could see the influence. As I aged, traveled, and lived in different areas, the letter R returned.  Other than a raised eyebrow or two, the dropped R never really caused a problem with communicating. 

Within the cockpit, we need to speak clearly and concisely so that any pilot or controller can understand what is said. "Taxi to Runway 18" is not clearance to taxi onto runway 18. In the business world, we also need to communicate clearly. Major decisions can go awry because of misunderstandings. 

Aviation, like other professions, comes with its own tech-speak. Abbreviations and jargon can shorten sentences but can also cause confusion. Mention MSG-3 to the director of maintenance and you get conversation about maintenance philosophies. Mention that to an executive and they may think it is an ingredient in Chinese take-out. NPV gets a blank stare from the pilot and a smile from the CFO. As long as we stay within our discipline, communication can be tough enough, but when the pilot, the executive, the lawyer and the CFO sit down, things can easily be misunderstood or worse. Guess who we need for a successful aircraft acquisition?

The whole point with communication is to understand and be understood. Here are three tips to get everyone on the same page. 

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Explain it to me like I'm an eight-year old. 

Eliminate the jargon, or explain it. Jargon only serves to exclude people who aren't in the club and can easily make someone feel resentment over being left out. BFL is not a football league in Belgium. While replacing BFL with "runway needed for take-off" isn't 100% technically correct, it does get the point across. Don't dumb it down, just be clear. Simplicity works.  

Stay focused. 

With regards to an aircraft selection or recommendation, make sure you focus on the requirements for getting an aircraft. If the aircraft is for business use, make sure that all the requirements connect the aircraft with the corporate mission. Why do we need this non-stop range, why do we need this cabin size, why this many seats? The answer to these aircraft questions needs to end up at why you need the aircraft in the first place. 

Keep it short. 

Lincoln's Gettysburg address was 268 words. I know the lawyers don't/won't/can't do this, but in general, brevity helps with communications. When you communicate with individuals with different skill sets, keeping it straightforward keeps everyone on the same page. Did you ever read a seven page email? I know I never did and never will. A seven page report might be too short. A two page summary is too long. Brevity is using just enough words to convey the point.

We routinely work with the aviation department and the executive team at the same time. The pilot understands the technical information regarding why we are recommending a certain aircraft. The executive team understands why the recommendations make business sense. The cost and financial analysis needs to pass the scrutiny of the CFO. 

"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." Robert McCloskey 

 

Find aircraft for sale listings and pilot resources for U.S. airports on GlobalAir.com.

Tips To Maintain Your Aircraft's Value

It is a process, not an event.

First off, maintain the aircraft.

A well-maintained aircraft will always have a higher residual value than one that is not. Well-maintained in this case refers to an aircraft that is maintained beyond what the minimum regulatory standards require. Airworthiness is related to safety, not value. 

Being well-maintained means more than keeping up with the required inspections and component overhauls. It means the aircraft has its equipment in functioning order, non-critical wear and tear items are taken care of, and cosmetics are recognized as important, too. There may be optional service bulletins that add to the functionality and maintainability of the aircraft. These optional service bulletin items should be chosen with maintainability and mission effectiveness in mind.

The aircraft exterior should be kept clean and polished. Interior comfort and convenience items need to be maintained in good working order and updated as required. A clean aircraft is not only more appealing, but problems and issues are spotted earlier and thus, may be easier and less costly to remedy. Paint and interior should be kept in good condition continuously, not just in the week prior to putting your aircraft up for sale.

The best ones to maintain the aircraft, if possible, are your own in-house maintenance staff. A well-trained, dedicated maintenance staff is your first and best opportunity to keep the aircraft in top condition. Your choice of a major MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) facility is important as well. Picking an MRO is more than just going with the lowest bidder. The MRO must have the knowledge and skills to perform the required maintenance, and when necessary, troubleshoot and repair your aircraft. They must do so in a manner that inspires confidence in their work. They do this by meeting schedules, communicating regularly, and by returning your aircraft in such good condition that follow-up work is minimal, if at all required. In-house maintenance plus an MRO with a top reputation for your aircraft type is a one-two combination for maintaining your aircraft value.

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Maintain the aircraft records.

Maintenance records are the health record of your aircraft. Detail beyond "Required inspection complied with" helps with maintaining your aircraft value by providing a written record of the quality of your aircraft. When I see my physician for my annual checkup, I want to hear more than "looking good, see you next year." What is my weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc? The aircraft maintenance records not only need to be a true and exact representation of your aircraft, they are also the written proof as to the quality of the maintenance. This is the tool to use to communicate the health of your aircraft to your maintenance staff, MRO, and any future buyer. Missing and incomplete maintenance records call into question even the basic airworthiness of an aircraft. 

Be careful with upgrades.

As aircraft age and the production numbers get sufficiently high in number, there are always third party companies that seek to enhance the aircraft in terms of functionality, performance or looks. When evaluating an aftermarket upgrade for your aircraft, you need to consider the impact on the aircraft's value. 

Does this upgrade represent a step forward in technology closer or equal to that of a new variant? If the current production models have a particular feature that is also offered as an upgrade to your model, then that likely adds value to your aircraft. An example might be upgrading your old avionics to the current production model's avionics suite. 

Is it something that is going to be commonly accepted by most buyers? One-of-a-kind is great in art, but not with production aircraft! If your aircraft is one of a few upgraded with a particular modification, then where or who will be able to work on it? Why isn't that feature more commonly requested or installed?

While first and foremost, an upgrade has to make sense for you and your aircraft mission, you also need to be aware of its impact on the future value of your aircraft. 

A clean, well-maintained aircraft will tend to be more reliable in its day-to-day use. Along with its records, this will speak volumes to a future buyer that they are indeed getting a quality aircraft.

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