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Entries in FBO management (54)

Wednesday
Dec062017

Survey: Which Topics Should FBO Connection Cover?

We want to know which topics our bloggers should cover on the FBO Connection blog. Take the two-question survey.

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Monday
Oct122015

Four Tips to Retain Good FBO Employees

Employee recognition and retention: What gets rewarded gets repeated

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

In our last blog, we mentioned that one of the top concerns for FBOs in our Mid-Year Fuel Sales Survey was finding and keeping qualified employees. Needless to say, it's a lot easier to retain a good employee than to go out and find a replacement.

Keeping your valued employees means you have less churn and provides the ability to deliver a more consistent customer service experience. 

Retention of good, qualified employees should rank as a top goal for FBO managers and supervisors along with retention of customers. You should work just as hard to accomplish both.

Here are four tips on retaining good employees:

1. Develop a good internal culture. Make your FBO a rewarding and fun place to work. Internal culture starts at the top. Lead by example.

2. Listen to your employees. Make sure your employees have a voice in your organization. Be appreciative of their input. Invite them to help create your mission, vision and customer promise statements. Employees who feel their voice is being heard will “buy into” the process and help create and maintain a healthy company culture.

3. Treat your employees as stakeholders. A stakeholder is anyone who has a stake in the company in terms of determining success or failure. Besides employees, other stakeholders include customers, vendors and suppliers.

4. Reward the routine. Let’s face it. Many of the tasks performed by FBO employees are repeated numerous times day in and day out. That’s why it is important to let employees know they are doing a good job, even for the most mundane routine task.

On this last point, we’d like to expound a little. By reward we are not talking about money. Research indicates that what most employees seek is being appreciated for a job well done. So let them know. Pat them on the back. Shake their hand. Let them know you appreciate their contribution as a true stakeholder. For example:

”That’s a great job of cleaning the lavatory. Way to go.”

”Super job of marshalling that aircraft. You used crisp and precise hand gestures. Keep it up.”

”You handled that last customer complaint beautifully by taking ownership of that oversight and making it right. Nice job.”

In their book Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service, Chip R. Bell and Ron Zemke state that what gets rewarded gets repeated. If you want your employees to grow with you, yes, they need to be compensated fairly. But what’s more powerful is your recognition, not just for their time on the job, but for their accomplishments as well.

How true. Showing employees you appreciate their contribution completes the retention cycle and helps cement a more permanent stakeholder relationship with the FBO.

What do you do to retain employees?  Let us hear from you by making a comment 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.

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Tuesday
Sep152015

The Top 10 FBO Challenges for 2015

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

In our last two blog posts, we reported the results and findings from our Mid-Year FBO Fuel Sales Survey. For this blog post, we look at the answers from a write-in question we asked in our survey:

What has been your biggest challenge so far in 2015? 

With a nod to David Letterman’s Late Night Show Top 10 List, we’ve compiled our own list based on our survey results and named it the Top 10 Challenges FBOs are Facing in 2015, and offer a little sage advice.

No. 10: Contract Fueling. Not surprisingly, this topic made the top ten list. This subject has been discussed and debated many times in various forums including the NATA FBO Success Seminar. Our tip to FBOs struggling with this topic is to stay in your comfort zone with your margins, establish your own FBO contract sales price and offer this to your contract customers. Do your homework and track your contract sales. Did you sell more with a great discount?

No. 9: Managing your fuel inventory. Don’t get caught short. Develop daily dashboard reports to keep track of what’s in your tank. Check fuel prices on Thursdays to spot trends and to order fuel for Monday delivery if the prices are going up on Tuesday.

No. 8: Filling empty hangars. This is a constant challenge for many FBOs. Be proactive in identifying potential hangar prospects within a 50-mile radius. Use your flight tracking program to attain aircraft registration info. Put an attractive incentive package together, pick up the phone and call for an appointment. Also, visit neighboring airports and make cold calls. Know the costs of your hangar facilities.

No. 7: Fluctuating Fuel Prices. Welcome to the new normal. Our advice is make sure you keep track of the various price of loads that are in your tank. Be consistent with the margin you want to achieve relative to selling off your old inventory and adding new.  Platts-based fuel pricing data changes on Tuesdays for most FBO fuel contracts.

No. 6: Runway closures. This is obviously a problem that’s out of your control. Use down time to maintain ground equipment, train staff and freshen up the lounge area.

No. 5: Weather. This is another problem that’s out of our control. However, interestingly, it’s the number five concern among those surveyed.

No. 4: High AvGas Pricing & Availability. We saw this comment many times, especially among smaller FBO operations in the Central time zone. Here is an anonymous comment submitted in the survey that sums up the situation:

 “Uncertain supply issues that continue to plague delivery and pricing of AvGas. Rising prices which are counter to the price of oil and gasoline price at the pump are trends that are harming the industry as a whole, making it difficult, if not impossible to forecast sales and the future of the industry.”

No. 3: Growth and attracting more business to the airport.  Although our survey showed very positive signs of growth among FBOs in larger markets, smaller FBOs pumping under 40,000 gallons of Jet A per month are mostly reporting no growth. Historically, the larger markets improve first, followed by the secondary markets. As reported in our most recent blog post, there are positive industry recovery signs in both flight hours being flown and in the United States manufacturing sectors.

No. 2: Finding and keeping qualified employees. This problem is not unique to the FBO industry. Working hand-in-hand with the local Chambers of Commerce and grass roots efforts at job fairs are critical. But perhaps more importantly is giving a potential employee a realistic look at the offered job. This may include on-the-job demonstrations, before hiring, from seasoned employees of the actual job being offered. While determining aptitude is important, assessing attitude is essential.  Therefore, involve your team in the process.

No. 1: Marketing and inconsistent/low traffic counts. Attracting and waiting for new transient customers is one thing. Keeping the business you have is another. Make sure you are doing everything you can to keep your current customers. That’s worth more than spending marketing dollars to replace a disgruntled customer. It starts with a consistent customer service experience. Invest wisely by making sure your employees have good customer service skills and then lead them by example.  Always ask your current customers if they would recommend you. If they hesitate, then fix the internal problem first.

What is the biggest challenge you face in the FBO business?  We’d like to hear from you. Please write your comment 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.

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Tuesday
Jul142015

FBO Tip of the Week: Take Time for a Midyear Checkup

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

Now that we're halfway through 2015, it's time to take stock of how your FBO has performed this far and review your goals and objectives for the year.

This midyear review is an excellent opportunity to take a look at all aspects of your business and review the metrics that give you a relative benchmark of performance. 

Fuel Sales: Utilizing your dashboard and YTD budget reports, compare fuel sales for each of the first six months against the results of the first six months for 2014 and your budget forecast. Are you trending up or down or maybe staying about the same? Are you going to hit your sales targets?

Fuel Pricing: Review your posted retail pricing for each month, and complete a market survey, both on the field and in the region.

Fuel Discounts: Figure the average of what you actually sold a gallon of fuel for, taking into account all discounts including contract fuel pricing, etc. You also may want to break out these costs by category to include base customers, transient customers, contract fuel, commercial into-plane and government/DOD.

Review all your expenses: Remember to include wages/salaries, utilities, building maintenance, insurance, supplies, rent/lease, loan payments, etc. Are they in line with your YTD budget?

Recalculate what each gallon of fuel costs to pump into an aircraft.

Figure Your Fuel Margin: Compare these margins YTD with the results of 2014.

MROs: Figure your hourly productivity rate for your shop and each technician for the first six months of this year.  Compare these findings against the results of 2014. How are you trending?

Review Your Airport Lease: Now is a good time to think about negotiating a lease extension.

Review Capital Improvements: Are you on target to start or finish your capital improvement projects?

Review Safety Procedures: Now is a good time to conduct an internal audit of your safety procedures.

Insurance Review: Call your insurance agent, and get together to review your insurance story. A good insurance story can save you money.

Review Your Credit Card Transactions: Are your CSRs asking customers for the preferred card?  The one that has the lowest interest/processing rates?

Review Your Base Tenant Leases: Have the leases renewed at the same rate or is there opportunity to negotiate better terms?

Review Your Customer Service Training: Take time to observe how your employees communicate and deal with your customers.  Are your customers willing to recommend you without hesitation?

Now, tell us how you are doing. We'd like to hear from you to get a sense of how the industry is doing. Have you had more transient traffic these first six months compared to the same period in 2014? Do you have an opinion of whether there is an increase of in-flight hours compared to last year? Are fuels sales better, worse or about the same?

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.

Tuesday
Jul072015

FBO Tip of the Week: Example of Contagious Company Culture: You've Got to Love Southwest Airlines, Part 3 of 3

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

In this final blog post about developing a contagious company culture, we'd like to share a short case study of a celebrated aviation services company that has put it all together and shines above the rest: Southwest Airlines.

True, they're not in the FBO business, but for the sake of this blog post, let's call them kissin' cousins.

  • Company: Southwest Airlines
  • Commenced Operations: 1971
  • Years in business: 44
  • Years of Profitability: 41 plus and counting
  • Market Positioning: Low-cost fares
  • Market Positioning Symbol: Peanuts
  • Founder/Figurehead: Herb Kelleher

Many have attributed the contagious company culture instilled at Southwest Airlines to Kelleher, a rather colorful business figure who once accepted the challenge of Kurt Herwald, then the president of the FBO/MRO Stevens Aviation, to an arm wrestling match for the right to use a marketing phrase: Just Plane Smart.

"A company is stronger if it's bound by love rather than fear,” Kelleher has said while describing the internal culture at Southwest Airlines.

Perhaps coincidentally, Southwest started its operations at Love Field (DAL), Dallas, Texas, and still marries the heart symbol/graphic with its brand name.

Not so coincidental is Southwest's consistent profitability and its reputation for extreme customer loyalty. The two harmoniously go together, like peas and carrots. And at the heart of its customer loyalty is an internal culture that thrives on purpose.

In past blog posts we've talked about developing a company vision statement that is forward looking and describes what a company wants to become. Southwest's vision statement is: "Our vision is to become the world's most loved, most flown and most profitable airline."

But Southwest also created a purpose statement that essentially states why a company exists: "We exist to connect people to what's important in their lives through friendly, reliable and low-cost air travel."

Both the vision and purpose statements are meant to inform and inspire the primary employee stakeholder group. And to drive home the basic tenets of the purpose statement, Southwest developed a series of short videos. Although you can find them on YouTube, they are primarily targeted for viewing by employees.

They're slices of life and highlight the efforts of employees who go the extra mile because the internal culture inspires and gives them permission to do so without hesitation. Click here to view the video about the company’s vision and purpose statements.

In summary, a contagious company culture is one that is contingent upon a management style that nurtures instead of controls. It acknowledges and celebrates its employees’ strengths and encourages good employee behavior while recognizing their contributions.

As we teach in our Don't Forget the Cheese! FBO customer service training program, what employees seek most from an employer is not a monetary reward, but simple recognition of a job well done.

What has your FBO done to create an outstanding company culture? Let us know in the comments.

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.