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Tuesday
Jul262016

Creating an SMS Environment a Plus for FBOs

By John L. Enticknap and Ron R. Jackson, Principals, Aviation Business Strategies Group (ABSG)

Whether or not your FBO is planning on attaining an IS-BAH registration, creating an internal culture that embraces a Safety Management System (SMS) is highly recommended to help protect and enhance the value of your enterprise.

Because of heightened awareness by aircraft owners and operators to maintain a safe and secure environment both at home base and when traveling, more and more FBOs have increased their safety training. They find that SMS-integrated protocols set the tone for the internal culture while providing the desired structure, reporting systems and resolution procedures.

Not only does an effective SMS program help manage and mitigate risk, it can also improve your bottom line by lowering the rate of costly incidents involving aircraft on the ramp as well as nagging hangar rash problems.  In addition, an active SMS program helps build your insurance story which can lower your insurance premiums. As we teach in our NATA FBO Success Seminar, that's free money.

Over the past several years, various aviation sectors have come to embrace SMS including commercial airlines. The FAA has mandated that U.S. commercial airlines have SMS in place by 2018. In addition, many FAR Part 135 charter operations have also made SMS part of their operational environment.

So what's next for the aviation industry? In the not too distant future, you'll see airport authorities embracing SMS, especially at locations where commercial airlines operate. The FAA has already published a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM)  for SMS in the airport area. 

For FBOs, this could be the writing on the wall, especially if you operate a facility at an airport where there is commercial traffic and even more so if you have airline fueling contracts and/or offer U.S Customs services as a Port of Entry. The airlines, and to a degree the airport authorities, will no doubt develop vetting procedures for vendors and suppliers of aviation services.

Creating SMS for any size FBO is not a formidable task and owners/operators should not be intimidated by the process. However, if you are going to get on the SMS bandwagon, make sure you do it in such a way so as to conform with IS-BAH standards in case you want to obtain an IS-BAH registration down the road. We work with many FBO clients who want us to help them frame their SMS to be IS-BAH compliant. Please refer to our previous blog where we talk about whether or not IS-BAH is right for your FBO.

One of the main things to remember when creating an SMS is to establish an internal culture where safety is a priority and anonymous hazard and incident reporting by employees is encouraged without retribution. In this way, the safety culture flourishes. 

Please leave a comment on this subject below. If you have any questions, please give us a call or send us an email: jenticknap@bellsouth.com, 404-867-5518; ronjacksongroup@gmail.com, 972-979-6566.

ABOUT THE BLOGGERS:

John Enticknap has more than 35 years of aviation fueling and FBO services industry experience and is an IS-BAH Accredited auditor. Ron Jackson is co-founder of Aviation Business Strategies Group and president of The Jackson Group, a PR agency specializing in FBO marketing and customer service training. Visit the biography page or absggroup.com for more background.

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© 2016 ABSG

Tuesday
Jun282016

Is IS-BAH Right for Your FBO Operation?

By John L. Enticknap and Ron R. Jackson, Principals, Aviation Business Strategies Group

We often receive inquiries from FBOs and business aircraft handlers wondering whether IS-BAH (International Standards for Business Aircraft Handling) is right for them.

To answer this question properly, we have to take a look at each FBO and service provider individually to determine the merit an IS-BAH registration brings to the enterprise.

At face value, an IS-BAH registration has importance for many FBOs seeking to demonstrate to customers a commitment to a high level of international safety standards. Of course, safety is both a practical and necessary core value for a successful FBO operation. The IS-BAH registration process is a qualitative measure through which to demonstrate this commitment.

The benefits of an IS-BAH registration can include:

  • Enhancing the image of the company by demonstrating to current and potential customers that it operates and conforms internationally to a very high standard of safety.
  • Creation of an internal culture that has a heightened awareness for achieving greater operational and safety levels throughout the enterprise.
  • Potential discerning customers will look for the IS-BAH registration designation as a way to differentiate one service provider from another.

Promotional information for the IS-BAH registration process states that:

IS-BAH was established as a way to identify and promote the use of industry best practices by means of a progressive Safety Management System (SMS) for both Fixed Base Operations and Business Aircraft Handling Agencies (BAHA). IS-BAH follows the structure of the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) Program and incorporates the NATA Safety 1st Ground Audit Program. The standard is based on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards as well as recommended practices in the preparation of handling business aircraft.

Although conforming to IS-BAH established standards is voluntary at this time, recognition for implementing and conforming to the standards can be confirmed through an auditing process which results in an International Business Aviation Council certificate of registration.

Central to the IS-BAH registration is the SMS that most charter operators have adopted over the past several years. Some of the FBOs that have already established IS-BAH registration have operated a charter department and have an SMS in place. Many of the FBOs seeking IS-BAH registration will probably not have an SMS in place, so they must develop one.

When we do an evaluation for a client seeking a potential IS-BAH registration, we look for whether or not the FBO or business aircraft handling company has truly invested in creating an internal culture that is safety oriented. We also want to see whether the organization has in place any of the required manuals and procedures that are described in the following evaluation checklist. If not, we can assist in writing and developing company-specific manuals along with training and implementing these plans.

The following is an abbreviated version of our IS-BAH registration checklist:

SMS Processes in Place and Being Utilized

Having a written SMS document is one thing. Utilizing it and making it part of your safety culture is quite another. As mentioned, the SMS is central to the IS-BAH registration process. In order to attain an IS-BAH registration designation, there has to be demonstrable proof that the SMS is being utilized and that safety issues are being reported and acted upon.

Employee Safety Training Program and Record Keeping in Place

Safety training programs, such as NATA's Safety 1st, help create a standardized teaching tool to ensure consistent levels of training. When IS-BAH auditors are engaged, they want to see that safety training records are kept on each individual employee involved in the aircraft handling process. They also want to see a history that the records are kept current and updated as needed. Therefore, a commitment to implementing and honoring these types of training programs needs to be demonstrated.

Designated Person of Accountability, Safety Manager and Training Manager in Place

Part of the evaluation is determining whether the FBO or ground handling company has the proper staffing in order to ensure there is a commitment to both safety training and safety accountability. Usually, the owner/operator or FBO manager is the designated person of accountability. As President Harry S. Truman said, the buck stops here.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Manual in Place and Functioning

Adhering to current industry standards of effective best practices and detailing these practices in an SOP manual that is taught and utilized within the FBO enterprise are major parts of the IS-BAH audit review.

Emergency Response Plan (ERP) Detailed and Simulated

An ERP is a valuable resource that should be kept in a convenient and accessible location. It details emergency procedures and should include records of simulated emergencies that are being conducted and managed. An ERP is written to include protocols for interacting with specific emergency agencies on a local, regional and national level.

Environmental Management System (EMS)

FBOs need to develop an EMS plan that incorporates their environmental responsibilities for dealing with hazardous materials and environmental issues including, but not limited to, sump fuel, batteries, waste oil, international garbage and aircraft noise abatement. As part of an EMS, FBOs must also include management of their SPCC (Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure) plan and coordinate with the airport staff on the proper procedures for the SWPPP (Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan).

For the FBO that is not currently utilizing an SMS or is missing one or more of the items on the checklist, the IS-BAH registration process will take a little longer.

So is IS-BAH right for your operation? Hopefully we've provided enough information that you can get a sense of what you want to achieve. We encourage FBOs and ground handlers to consult with an IS-BAH specialist and, as required, attend the Fundamentals of IS-BAH Workshop. Also, you can give us a call or send us an email with any questions you have (404-867-5518; email: jenticknap@bellsouth.com).

ABOUT THE BLOGGERS:

John Enticknap has more than 35 years of aviation fueling and FBO services industry experience and is an IS-BAH Accredited auditorRon Jackson is co-founder of Aviation Business Strategies Group and president of The Jackson Group, a PR agency specializing in FBO marketing and customer service training. Visit the biography page or absggroup.com for more background.

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© 2016 ABSG

Tuesday
Jun212016

FBO Connection at 2016 NATA Aviation Business Conference

FBO Connection blogger and Aviation Business Strategies Group principal John Enticknap presented at the NATA Aviation Business Conference held in Washington, D.C., in early June.

He contributed to the "Industry Consolidation: What's Next?" panel (shown above; John is on the far right). The next day, he led a session called "Separating Your FBO from the Crowd: Maximizing Customer Service." Read more about customer service and FBO industry consolidation.

Tuesday
May172016

Dissecting The Fourth Element of the Six Intangibles that Build FBO Equity

Part One: Building a Sound Balance Sheet with Consistent EBITDA Performance

By John L. Enticknap and Ron R. Jackson, Principals, Aviation Business Strategies Group

In our continuing series expounding on the six intangibles that can build equity in your FBO, we break down the fourth intangible: Building a Sound Balance Sheet with Consistent EBITDA (Earnings Before, Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) Performance.

The value of putting together a sound balance sheet consistently over several years has a lot of weight with the banking community, which is your primary ally when it's time to finance capital improvements to your facility. A strong balance sheet can also be viewed favorably by the airport authority when it's time to renew a lease or extend a lease for multiple years.

Adding in the dimension of demonstrating a consistent EBITDA performance is a plus when an FBO ownership is looking to sell the enterprise. Often, investors and buyers look to EBITDA performance in order to determine the value of an FBO, or for that matter any business. The resulting evaluation, and thus the offer, is usually based on a multiple of the EBITDA number.

The benefits of producing a sound balance sheet include:

  • Provides a business snapshot of your FBO at a specific time.
  • Easily calculates financial ratios to determine the company's fiscal outlook and profitability.
  • Determines credit worthiness for investors and banks in order to obtain loans and funding.
  • Show financial transparency into the company's assests and liabilities.
  • Discloses the solvency of the FBO business to minimize investment risks.

In future blogs, we'll share some tips on how you can use your balance sheet to understand your current ratio, cash–to-debt ratio and debt-to-equity ratio. These numbers allow you to fully understand your FBO's financial position and how to measure liquidity. In addition we will discuss how to achieve consistent EBITDA performance.

There are many factors and nuances to developing a sound balance sheet that we will not be able to cover in this blog. Therefore, we encourage you to attend one of our FBO Success Seminars where we spend additional time discussing this important topic as well as others.

Please Share your comments in the space below.

ABOUT THE BLOGGERS:

John Enticknap has more than 35 years of aviation fueling and FBO services industry experience. Ron Jackson is co-founder of Aviation Business Strategies Group and president of The Jackson Group, a PR agency specializing in FBO marketing and customer service training. Visit the biography page or absggroup.com for more background.

SUBSCRIBE:

Subscribe to the AC-U-KWIK FBO Connection Newsletter

© 2016 ABSG

Tuesday
May032016

Pazos FBO Services: Putting the Customer First in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Part Two: Customer Service, the Universal Language Spoken Everywhere

By John L. Enticknap and Ron R. Jackson, Principals, Aviation Business Strategies Group

Employees of Pazos FBO Services refuel an aircraft on their ramp at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, San Juan, Puerto Rico.In a previous blog post, we talked about delivering our customer service training program to the good folks at Euro Jet in Prague and how great customer service in the FBO business is truly a universal language spoken everywhere.

Last week we had the privilege of conducting another international training seminar of our Don't Forget the Cheese!™ customer service training program for Pazos FBO Services located at the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, San Juan, Puerto Rico. And once again we were blown away by the friendly reception we received and the way this FBO goes about its business of delivering a great customer service experience.

Although Pazos is currently operating out of a very limited space, this does not stop the hardworking and dedicated employees from greeting every aircraft and its passengers and crew with the same zeal and enthusiasm that is embodied in their call-to-action statement: Powered by a Passion for Excellence!

Without exception, they were already practicing one of the basic customer service tenets of putting the customer first.

Under the leadership of FBO president José Maldonado and manager Zuleika Caballero, Pazos is making great strides to go to the next level. As a World Fuel Air Elite fuel provider, the FBO has a new expansive fuel farm in place and a fleet of refuelers including two 10,000 gallon trucks.

At the heart of the expansion program is a new 12,000 sq. ft. FBO terminal facility, which is currently under construction and scheduled to open in August. A strategic and integral part of the new terminal will be a ramp side U.S. Customs and Border Protection services facility. This feature will help make Pazos an important turnkey port-of-entry facility for international flights with a U.S. destination.

Customer Service Tip

As part of our customer service training, we introduced Pazos to the art of turning a disgruntled transaction into a tranquil transformation. It all starts by being tactful and choosing your response carefully.

Adding some cheese to the equation means you think tactfully about your response and look and act in a responsible way. In a sense, you become re-sponse-able. That is, your facial expressions display openness and show you are ready to listen.

If you are being confronted by a customer who is disgruntled, show your concern by listening with empathy. Nod your head up and down to show you understand the complaint or the grievance or the criticism. By doing so, you are not showing you agree with the complaint but rather that you are genuinely concerned.

By listening, apologizing, problem solving and acting quickly on a solution, you can transform a dissatisfied customer transaction into a profitable long-term client relationship.

About the bloggers:

John Enticknap has more than 35 years of aviation fueling and FBO services industry experience. Ron Jackson is co-founder of Aviation Business Strategies Group and president of The Jackson Group, a PR agency specializing in FBO marketing and customer service training. Visit the biography page or absggroup.com for more background.

Subscribe:

Subscribe to the AC-U-KWIK FBO Connection Newsletter

© 2016 ABSG