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Entries in NATA FBO Success Seminar (7)


FBO Operations Tip: Want a Stronger Bottom Line? Mind Your Fuel Margin

Consulting with various FBOs over the years, we have discussed a strategy for improving bottom line performance that several FBOs have utilized with positive results. In a nutshell: Mind your fuel margin, and don’t be afraid to raise your fuel price.

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Tip of the Week: Give Customers Your Best Cheese!

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

At the recent NATA FBO Success Seminar, we had a roundtable discussion where attendees shared their best practices in delivering a good customer service experience.

We called the session “What’s Your Cheese?”

If you are a regular reader of our AC-U-KWIK FBO Connection blog, you know we’ve developed a customer service training program called Don’t Forget the Cheese!©. It’s a fun, memorable program developed specifically for aviation service companies who want to improve their service experience.  (Click here for the link to a past blog which explains the origins of the program and provides further background.)

As part of the training, we challenge FBOs to compete on customer service, not on price. One of the best ways to compete on customer service is to make your customer service experience uniquely unique. In other words, no one else can duplicate exactly what you do in the way that you do it. It’s unique to your style, your very own way in which your FBO delivers your customer service experience.

In a way, it’s your exclamation point! And it’s the answer to the question, “What’s Your Cheese?”

Threaded below is a sampling of what the NATA FBO Success Seminar attendees shared when asked, “What’s Your Cheese?”  Here’s what they said:

  • Our crew cars are unique. We even have an old police cruiser that’s very popular. A lot of get up and go!
  • Our cheese is developing a home atmosphere, relaxed and comfortable.
  • We send hand-written thank you notes and remember our customer’s birthdays.
  • Customers, as well as employees, look forward to our quarterly barbecues.
  • Our flying Santa is our cheese. It’s unique to us. Each Christmas we tow it around.
  • We have a GPS in every crew car, preloaded with eating and entertainment destinations.
  • The piano in our lobby is a good example of our cheese and providing something extra. We invite musicians to play for the entertainment of our customers during a busy ski season.
  • Repeat customers are greeted with a big hello and we make it a practice to remember their names. That’s adding some good cheese.

To further this discussion, we’d like challenge you to share "what’s your cheese." Simply give us your best cheese at the end of this blog and check back often to see what others have written.

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 for more background.


FBO Success Seminar Provides Strategy and Networking

John Enticknap discusses lease agreements at the 2015 NATA FBO Success Seminar in Las Vegas.Ron Jackson and John Enticknap presented the NATA FBO Success Seminar in Las Vegas on March 9-10.

NATA posted additional photos on its Safety 1st Program blog.


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