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How to Run a Better FBO in 2017

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

With the Dow Jones Industrial Average punching through the 20,000-point ceiling, a new president taking office and an economic engine that seems to be cranking out more horsepower, there is a lot of buzz going on within various U.S. business sectors, including the FBO industry, for a healthy recovery in 2017.

Recently we sent out our Annual FBO Fuel Sales Survey and early returns indicate that there is a new wave of optimism spreading across the country for a recovery in 2017.  The final results of our FBO Fuel Sales Survey, as well as our FBO Industry Forecast, will be released at the NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference, Feb. 7-10, Ft. Worth, Texas. For reference, here is the link to the 2016 survey

With all this good news coming in, here is a look at some successful business strategies we recommend for FBO owners and operators to think about in 2017.


 1. Increase Operational Productivity
  a. Establish performance goals for customer service delivery,
  b. Measure the productivity of your line service department and maintenance activities.
  c. Increase fuel sales at point of connection.

2. Produce Better Financials
  a. Fine-tune your financial dashboard and obtain information you can act on.
  b. Conduct a market study to help establish better fuel margins.
  c. Measure your financial returns through cash flow analysis and financial ratios.

 3. Mitigate Risk

  a. Create a safety-minded culture.
  b. Invest in an employee training program such as NATA's Safety 1st program.
  c. Develop a strong safety management system (SMS).

4. Build Long-term, Profitable Customer Relationships
  a. Train all employees in good customer service practices.
  b. Empower employees to resolve customer issues at the point of transaction.
  c.  Provide consistent service which builds customer trust.

Along with these strategies, we recommend a continuing education program for the FBO owner, operator, manager and supervisor. Author Stephen Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, talks about the habit of sharpening the saw, a metaphor for having a balanced program of self renewal.

An excellent source for continuing education and self renewal within the FBO industry is to attend the next NATA's FBO Success Seminar which will be held March 7-8 in New Orleans. These strategies and others will be discussed in more detail.

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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© 2017 ABSG

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