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Entries in NATA (8)


Urgent: Isolate DEF Additive from Operations

The FBO industry should be on alert for accidental Jet A fuel contamination from the misuse of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF).

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NATA's New CSR Certification Program

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

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) is breaking new ground by developing a CSR Certification program designed to strengthen the core competencies of key FBO personnel who seek to deliver a better customer service experience.

We believe this strategy is spot on. As we have written in previous blogs, FBOs who compete on customer service don't have to compete on fuel price in order to attract new customers. While some aircraft operators will always look for the lowest fuel price, the majority of loyal customers will choose FBOs that provide both a good value and a great customer service experience.

The goal of this new CSR certification program is to provide a course curriculum that results in a well-rounded FBO employee who is capable of being a team leader by demonstrating exceptional customer service skills.

Over the last two decades, NATA has led the industry with its popular Safety 1st Line Service Training curriculum. Just as FBOs don't condone accidents on the ramp, they are becoming more conscious of preventing customer service miscues that can cause a loyal customer to defect. This was the impetus for developing this new certificated program.

The new NATA CSR Certification Program contains five modules that need to be completed in order for an individual to become a Certified Customer Service Representative (CCSR). The first module is completed online and covers all the fundamentals of working in an FBO or aviation services industry environment including operational procedures and best practices.

The next four modules are completed at a two-day CSR Certification Workshop. We will be speaking during these workshops. The first workshop is scheduled for September 27-28 at the AirFlight, Inc., facility in Long Beach, Calif. This inaugural workshop costs $275 for NATA members and $400 for nonmembers. This price includes both the fundamental online course as well as the two-day workshop.

For more information, please visit the NATA website.

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


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 for more background.


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Tip of the Week: Make Your FBO Data Driven

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

Just as pilots rely on the instrument panel to keep up and stay ahead of potential problems, FBOs should rely on data-driven dashboards to do the same thing.

Operational and financial data fed on a regular basis to the FBO operator is an essential element of running a successful business. They’re a quick snapshot you scan to make sure the engine of your company is running smoothly.

Setting up a dashboard is similar to a pilot setting up waypoints. You preselect the data you want to see and have it delivered to your desktop on a daily basis.

Here are some suggested data points to set up on your dashboard:

Line Service Business

  • Review your previous day’s retail fuel sales.
  • Contract Fuel Sales.
  • Airline Fuel Uplift.
  • Month-to-Date retail fuel sales.
  • MTD Contract Fuel Sales.
  • MTD Airline Fuel Uplift.
  • Budget retail fuel sales, contract and airline fuel sales.
  • Number of Customer Contacts Yesterday.

Maintenance Business

  • Mechanic Hours Billed yesterday.
  • Mechanic hours of vacation, paid leave.
  • Mechanic hours paid.
  • Yesterday Mechanic Productivity.
  • Month-to-Date Productivity.
  • Budget Productivity.
  • Parts Sales Dollars.
  • Budget Parts Sales.
  • Support Staff hours paid.
  • Number of Customer Contacts.
  •  Number of annuals/100 hr./inspections bid.

Flight Operations

  • Flight Instructor hours billed yesterday.
  • Flight Instructors hours paid.
  • Flight Instructor Productivity.
  • Charter hours billed.
  • Charter hours available.
  • Charter Productivity.
  • Customer Contact - Flight Instruction.
  • Sale Contacts for Charter.

You’ll notice we are getting sales data, labor data and marketing data. After cost of sales, labor is your biggest expense. Labor hours must be reviewed and managed to assure you maximize productivity.

Also, you must keep track of your marketing activity. This is something you should touch on daily, focusing on both retention of existing customers and obtaining new customers. We know this is stating the obvious, but if you don’t grow, you go out of business. Every year there can be as much as a 30 percent churn in turnover of base customers and regular transient customers.

In setting up your dashboard data requirements, make the adjustments with your accounting personnel as well as department managers to collect this data.

If you are uncertain as to how to set up a dashboard properly as well as the interpretation of the data, we suggest you attend an NATA FBO Success Seminar. The next seminar is scheduled for March 9-10 in Las Vegas. At these seminars we suggest a number of simple strategies and tactics to assist you with data management.


FBO Success Seminar: Take Time to Sharpen Your Axe

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

Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

          -Abraham Lincoln

FBO operators, managers and supervisors often find themselves dealing on a daily basis with situations that need immediate attention. These are the bugs and gnats that creep into our schedule unannounced and take away from quality time needed for planning, preparation and, quite frankly, sharpening the axe.

As Abraham Lincoln so wisely put it, work goes a lot easier if you take time to hone your tools. In the case of the FBO manager and supervisor, that’s time spent in keeping abreast of the FBO industry by learning new strategies and tactics that will move your business forward and help you focus on the things that matter most. 

That’s why we’ve dedicated this blog to providing tips that help in three key areas of FBO operations:

  • Maximizing Profits.
  • Reducing Expenses.
  • Improving FBO Productivity & Bottom-Line Performance.

In 2008, we teamed with the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) to develop a comprehensive two-day FBO success seminar. The original training syllabus was based on our proprietary 10 Steps to Building a More Profitable FBO.

Now we are starting our eighth year in conducting this seminar, which has evolved over time and provides an opportunity to sharpen the axe.

A key session is titled Don’t Give it Away! In a nutshell, this means that FBO operations need to take a close look at all the things they are giving away on top of demands from customers and third-party fuel providers to discount fuel prices.  

An important takeaway is that every aircraft operator that arrives on your ramp must contribute to your revenue stream, even if they don’t buy fuel. That’s why we are seeing an emergence of facility fees and other fees to help FBO operations become and stay profitable.

Please take time to sharpen your axe and join us at our next NATA FBO Success Seminar, March 9-10 in Las Vegas, as we discuss these types of key issues in detail.

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. For more background, visit the biography page or


NATA’s FBO Leadership Conference: A Gathering Worth Attending!

By John L. Enticknap

 Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.          Og Mandino 

As a principal of Aviation Business Strategies Group, I’m always tuned into the FBO industry and attend various workshops and seminars to keep abreast of our ever-changing industry.

At the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) Leadership Conference and Day On-the-Hill, which I just returned from, I had the opportunity to rub shoulders with more than 200 industry leaders and get a sense of what is happening to the FBO business on a macroeconomic scale.

As a result, I’m ever more convinced that our industry is heading down the right road to economic recovery, with the caveat that a few steep hills have been placed in our path which from time to time may obstruct our visibility.

High Price of Fuel

One of the biggest obstacles we all face is the uncertainty of the price of fuel, the topic which dominated most of the conversation. We’ve all seen the run up in fuel costs in the last six months—it’s having an effect!

Avgas is now over $5 a gallon. Jet A will go up this coming week to $3.26, from $2.90 GCPM in December. Our flying community continues to feel the strain. The FBOs we talked to, in general, have seen a flat first quarter. The good news is most FBOs have seen their fuel uplift grow since the down trend of 2008/2009. However, the business has since flattened out. Most do not foresee any major growth this year because of the continued price pressure. 

During the Thursday morning seminar, “Oil Company Perspective”, it was very interesting to hear the discussions on fuel supply, both avgas and Jet A. 

With regards to avgas, the suppliers reaffirmed availability is OK. However, as they noted, only a limited number of refineries in the U.S. make avgas, and there is only one supplier of the lead that is used in the refining process. That vendor has assured the aviation community they will continue to make the lead additive. 

On the horizon, however, is the issue of lowering or eliminating the lead from avgas. Then there is the recently filed lawsuit, “Friends of the Earth” vs. the EPA. 

In addition, there is the lawsuit that was filed in California. NATA is already involved and assisting our members. This all adds much uncertainty to the future of avgas for high performance piston engines. For the short term we’re OK, but the future is not clear at this point.

Jet A is not in short supply, but is under pricing pressure from the same factors as overall mogas price speculation and other petroleum products. There are regional price differentials due to a number of factors, according to the oil company speakers, among them Marty Hiller from World Fuel, Joel Hirst from Avfuel and Bryan Faria from ConocoPhillips. 

Of particular note was the information that in North Dakota there is an excess of crude due to recent successful exploration. In addition, there is plenty of crude from other new sources in the U.S. Therefore, pricing of fuel today is not related to crude issues today. 

The fuel suppliers further discussed the FBO fuel marketplace, and the consensus is fuel costs will remain relatively high. Corporate customers are going to continue to seek contracts and discounts from posted pricing and, most of all, good value. 

The European FBO business model, where FBOs charge a la carte fees, will not be a major factor for American FBOs. 

Customer Service Training 

The Disney Institute gave a presentation on customer service which was one of the highlights of the conference. Experienced managers had a chance to hear and learn from one of the premier customer service providers in the country! 

All the attendees know that customer service is the real differentiator when it comes to good FBOs vs. great FBOs. If you missed this seminar, we strongly recommend you attend one in your city and train all your staff on Customer Service. It’s key to your success. 

A couple of thoughts we’ll pass along are about the use of name tags. All your employees should have a quality name tag, with their first name being prominent and including the city where they live. The tag should be engraved with your logo and your Unique Value Proposition or UVP. And always use the customer’s name when you engage them. 

Day On-the-Hill

More than 100 of the attendees also were part of the Day On-the-Hill. We met with our respective House and Senate representatives and discussed the prominent political issues affecting our industry. I encourage you to talk to your U.S. Representatives. Since they are up for re-election this year, they should listen. Talk to your Senator as well. Many of them are also up for re-election.  Some of the issues we discussed included:     

  • Fuel Fraud Provision
  • Freedom from Government Competition Act
  • Temporary Flight Restrictions
  • Large Aircraft Security Program
  • Flight Management IRS Excise Tax 

If you need help, contact NATA and talk to Eric Byer, Vice President, Government & Industry Affairs. 

This conference was well worth the time for the attendees. The best feature was the opportunity to be able talk to our peers and learn from each other. The FBO business is a dynamic and ever-challenging business. NATA provides a unique forum to allow us to enjoy our great aviation heritage and opportunity. We are all aware of the upcoming changes in the leadership at NATA and trust the future will allow our organization to continue to flourish.

Congratulations to all the award winners. Attendees toasted the industry's best at NATA's annual Industry Excellence Awards dinner and presentation. Top honors went to Mary M. Miller, Vice President, Industry & Government Affairs for Signature Flight Support/BBA Aviation; and Kenneth C. Ricci, Chairman of the Board of Flight Options and CEO of Nextant Aerospace.

Thanks and look forward to hearing from you.  Send your comments to John L. Enticknap

Ron Jackson
Ron is Co-Founder of ABSG and President of The Jackson Group, a public relations agency specializing in aviation and FBO marketing. He has held management positions with Cessna Aircraft and Bozell Advertising and is the author of Mission Marketing: Creating Brand Value and co-author of Don’t Forget the Cheese! the ultimate FBO Customer Service Experience

John Enticknap
John founded Aviation Business Strategies Group in 2006 following a distinguished career in aviation fueling and FBO management, including as president of Mercury Air Centers. He is the author of 10 Steps to Building a Profitable FBO and developed NATA’s acclaimed FBO Success Seminar Series.