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Entries in customer service training (8)


Survey: 53% of FBOs Increased Fuel Sales in 2017

Results of Aviation Business Strategies Group’s (ABSG) Annual FBO Fuel Sales Survey indicate that 53 percent of FBOs in the U.S. experienced increased fuel sales in 2017 compared to 2016 with 73 percent of survey respondents giving a favorable rating to the economy.

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FBO Industry Update: Was 2017 a Watershed Year?

Prior to releasing the results of our Annual FBO Fuel Sales Survey and Industry Forecast for 2018, let’s compare how the FBO industry fared in 2017 to the forecast we made in February last year.

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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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© 2016 ABSG


Use Good Customer Service Ingredients, and the Proof Is in the Pudding

“‘The proof is in the pudding’ is a popular figure of speech meaning ‘the quality, effectiveness or truth of something can only be judged by putting it into action or to its intended use.’”The Word Detective

We’ve all heard the phrase, the proof is in the pudding. This expression dates back to the early 1600s and is really a derivative of an expanded phrase: The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

This, of course, makes perfect sense because tasting the pudding determines whether it is good or bad. 

And so it is with delivering a great FBO customer service experience. You start with the best ingredients and follow the recipe to success. The recipe is very simple:

  • An ounce of sweetness in the form of a sincere smile
  • Two heaping tablespoons  of caring
  • One generous cup of reliability and dependability
  • And a pound of perceived value

Mix completely, and serve.

Now, all you have to do is ask your customers to find out if your pudding — or their experience — is to their liking. That’s why you should have a good way to collect feedback from your customers through a short customer service survey.

When I say short, I’m talking about a maximum of five direct questions regarding your deliverables. Here are some examples:

  1. Quality and reliability of line service
  2. Accuracy  and dependability of the customer service representatives (CSRs)
  3. Timeliness of response to customer service requests
  4. Cleanliness of the facilities, especially the bathrooms
  5. Evaluation of the value received

Always add what I call the bonus question: Would you recommend our FBO?

This question is really the most important. It is a key customer service metric, and, if you’d like, it is the litmus test of whether your pudding — the customer service experience — hits the mark or needs some extra ingredients.

Another Way to Test Your Pudding

Of course, customers can be too nice at times and might not want to offend you by being overly critical in a survey.

You should also look at a more definitive metric to see if your hard work at delivering an exceptional customer service experience is really paying off.

A loyal, happy customer remains a customer for a greater length of time. So you should be tracking your customers to make sure they are coming back to your facility every time they travel to your destination. You can use a flight tracking service to monitor incoming flights.

Your line service personnel should become familiar with regular customers’ aircraft registration numbers and be alert when tracking inbound flights to your airport and surrounding airports.

If you haven’t seen a regular customer in a while, pick up the phone and call to learn why. If your line service personnel notices a regular customer going to a competitor, again, pick up the phone and find out what you might have done wrong.

Source: Strativity Group, in partnership with Customer Service Experts.Research shows that most unsatisfied customers won’t tell you there is a problem before they jump ship. They simply change their buying habits. So you need to know why they made a change and why they became unhappy with your service.

Loyal Customers Lead to Financial Rewards

As the chart indicates, a happy customer is a loyal customer and stays with you for a longer period of time.  A satisfied customer also tends to spend more and, thus, take on more fuel at your facility.

And oddly enough, a satisfied customer does not need incentives or discounts to continue being loyal. In fact, they do not mind paying a small premium to be treated well.

In the end, the payoff for delivering a truly memorable customer service experience is a contingent of loyal, highly engaged advocates who will recommend you at the drop of a hat.

So it really does pay to include quality ingredients in delivering a good customer service experience. The proof is in the pudding!

If you have some good customer service ingredients you’d like to share, please email me at

Note: This blog was inspired in part by a Bloomberg Businessweek Research Services article titled How to Achieve a Great — and Profitable — Customer Service Experience.

Ron Jackson

Ron Jackson 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.


Reeling in Customers: Either Fish, or Cut Bait

I have returned from a much needed vacation to the Canadian outback where I enjoyed a week of fishing with no phone, TV or newspaper.

Every year, I travel to the far western reaches of Ontario for our annual fish camp outing that has been a part of my family tradition since 1961, when my father first went with his buddies to the same waters we fish today. I started going with my dad in 1984, and now his 16-year-old great-grandson, my grand nephew, is representing the fourth generation to wet a line in these great Northern waters.

On this most recent outing, I started to think about writing a blog post based on the similarities between fishing for dinner and casting a net for new FBO customers.

Planning the Trip

As many times as I have gone on this fishing trip, there is still a fair amount of planning to do. Same goes for developing a sound marketing plan to increase your FBO business.

Blogger Ron Jackson and 16-year-old grand nephew Chas holding a 20-inch Walleye on a Canadian fishing trip.As author Stephen Covey says in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, you have to begin with the end in mind. Because I’ve been on this trip before and have had success in hauling in some nice fish, I can visualize my goal: A 29-inch, 10-pound Walleye!

Same goes for the FBO business. You know the type of valued customer you want to attract, so you should visualize reaching your goal, whether it’s five more new customers or 50. And you should be updating these goals annually.

Research shows that a business can lose up to 30 percent of its customer base annually due to attrition or churn in the marketplace. Factors include companies downsizing and selling their aircraft; companies going out of business; mergers and acquisitions; new flight destinations; and the worst case scenario, defection — losing a valued customer to a competing FBO.

New customers are paramount to keeping a healthy balance sheet.

Fish or Cut Bait

You have set your goals, you have written your business and marketing plan, and you have followed your map to your destination. Now you have to ask yourself, “Are you going to fish or cut bait?”

Sometimes we can take planning and strategizing too far. We can call too many meetings and second-guess our way to being highly ineffective. As one of my bosses at a Fortune 500 company years ago said, “If you don’t get started, you’ll never finish.”

And so it is with catching fish or a new customer. If you don’t get your pole in the water, nothing will happen.

Years ago, I read a book titled Bunkhouse Logic by Ben Stein. The premise was about the same. You can’t win at anything unless you first get started. You’ve got to start the cattle drive and you’ve got to finish the cattle drive, point A to point B. Also, if you want to win at poker, you first have to get yourself to the table. In other words, you have to get your feet wet and sometimes force yourself to get started.

Using the Right Bait

Catching a good customer on your terms is a far better scenario than catching a customer on his or her terms. Remember the blog I wrote titled Building Long-Term Profitable Customer Relationships, Part 2: Do You Feel Lucky?

In this post, we discussed the danger of attracting the wrong customer by subjectively lowering the price of fuel. Remember, you have to use the right bait in attracting the right profitable customers if you want to keep them for the long-term.

You have to give them a reason for choosing your FBO by providing them with a sense of delivering a real customer value proposition (CVP). For instance, done properly, the CVP can be the right combination of clean and attractive facilities, fair fuel prices and a knock your socks off customer service experience.

Now that is baiting your hook with something more than corn from a can. 

Keeping Your Fish Healthy and Happy

When a person goes to a fish camp in Canada, he is there for primarily one reason: catching fish. So the fisherman is up at the crack of dawn and fishes all morning and then from late afternoon until sunset, which is usually after 9:30 p.m. this far North.

Therefore, having a live well in the boat is a great asset so the fish stay fresh.

So it is with attracting new customers to your facility and keeping them. You have to figure out a way to keep them happy and satisfied while they are in your facility.

In my post Building Long-term Customer Relationships, Part 3: Don’t Forget the Cheese! I talk about delivering a memorable customer service experience that will keep your customers coming back for more. Here is a recap:

The use of Cheese in our proprietary customer service training course serves as a key reminder to CSRs, as well as other employees, to practice exceptional customer service. A few fundamentals of great customer service are:

  • Smile. Remember to say, “Cheese,” to yourself, as if someone were taking your photo. Even when answering the phone, put on a smile, and the customer on the other end will sense they are talking to a happy person.
  • Add a little extra when delivering customer service. Cheese represents the added touch, the little extra that puts a smile on the customer’s face and makes them keep coming back.
  • Remember a customer’s name. In the FBO environment, adding cheese can be as simple as remembering a customer’s name. Most people react positively to being called by their name and are impressed when you remember. Are you the restaurant owner?
  • Go the extra mile. Going the extra mile could be something as simple as showing the customer where the pilot lounge is located instead of pointing in the general direction.

If you’ve had success in casting your net for customers, I’d like to hear from you. Please email me at

Ron Jackson

Ron Jackson 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.