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Creating a Strong Customer-Centric FBO Culture Begs the Question: What Do Customers Really Want? 

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

Creating a strong customer-centric internal culture at your FBO has many benefits, chief among them being the ability to build long-term profitable customer relationships. The starting point for creating this customer-friendly environment is to listen to your customer by putting yourself in their shoes.

Start by asking yourself, what do your customers — the pilots, flight crews and the schedulers/dispatchers who have a strong voice in deciding which FBOs to use on a trip — really want?

Whenever we get the chance to talk to flight crews and schedulers/dispatchers, we often ask this question and use this information in our NATA training, both for the FBO Success Seminar and the CSR Certified Workshop, as well as our acclaimed FBO customer service training program, Don't Forget the Cheese!

Written in the voice of the customer, here is a condensed version of what we have learned about customer observations and, ultimately, what they really want from an FBO relationship.

  • “As soon as I pull onto the ramp, we like to see the line service technician there, waiting to guide us in, using sharp and precise signals.”
  • “We like to see the auxiliary equipment lined up and clean. If not, we wonder what the inside of the FBO looks like.”
  • “We want to know that the catering as been ordered and that it is correct.”
  • “Are the restrooms clean with plenty of toilet paper and hand towels?”
  • “Is the coffee fresh, and is there plenty of cold bottled water?”
  • “Is the crew car clean with plenty of gas?" “We like to see the limo or rental car there waiting, either cooled down or warmed up, depending on the weather.”
  • “Are my passengers taken care of first?”
  • “Is the baggage handled properly and timely?”
  • “Am I approached with my service order in hand, and is the order repeated clearly and succinctly?”

This last item seems to be a universal concern among customers to whom we have spoken. Most flight departments and fractional operators put a lot of time and effort in communicating their service needs and requests by reaching out to the selected FBOs prior to the trip. This includes placing numerous phone calls, sending faxes and even calling from the air before arrival.

As one pilot said, “The biggest turnoff is when I’m approached by an FBO employee upon landing, and the first words are ‘how can I help you?’ It makes us think that the FBO is not paying attention.” Therefore, FBOs can further strengthen their customer relationships by having the service order in hand, and repeat it in an orderly fashion when first approaching the customer.

Ultimately, what most customers want is peace of mind, knowing that they are being listened to and that the FBO is ready and has covered all the details.

If you haven’t done a formal survey of your customer stakeholders to find out what they really want from an FBO, we suggest you conduct your own informal survey as they frequent your facility. Also, if your FBO is attending the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Las Vegas next month, you can do an informal survey from your booth.

Another good source for acquiring customer information is a dynamic customer relationship management (CRM) software program that farms specific information, including customer choices and preferences. There have been a lot of technological advances in this area including offerings by TotalFBO and FlightBridge.  

We encourage you to add your comment on this subject below. We’d like to know what your customers want from an FBO. 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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