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).