Bessemer - The Value Of A Great FBO


The key to a successful FBO ? Customer service in every area. For passengers and pilots alike, the FBO is the first human encounter that they engage with. What are their expectations, desires, and needs ? Every FBO staff member must be professionally trained in customer service and relations. Second, they must be professionally trained in flight operations and have a competent ramp staff. According to Jon Tonko,

director of customer support at Banyan Air Service, “A first rate FBO is one who puts the customer first. They anticipate their needs, do it right the first time, do what is promised and take the time to build long lasting relationships.”

What customers need is a smooth operation. First, to safely land at the FBO. If this a rest stop, be provided with amenities that ensure a comfortable short stay complete with concierge or simplistic access to surrounding local amenities and recreation designed for short term visitation. A pleasant experience guarantees repeat customers.

The foundation of a good FBO relationship is costs. Costs always matter and you should consider any overarching and potential expenditures of an FBO. You want your FBO agreement to achieve low costs while maintaining quality services. A proficient FBO blends strategy, quality, and cost-efficiency for each and every customer.

Fuel prices are an essential factor. A solid FBO provides its customers with refueling options for your aircraft. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), forecasted this past April that for 2020 revenue losses would be by 25% to $314 billion. This means that fuel prices will be relatively low for quite some time, equating for lower travel fare for private travel.

Airport FBOs need quality storage for both the short and long-term for a safe storage system for aircraft. A full-service FBO airport requires regular maintenance and repairs on aircraft. These are essential to running airport FBOs

A happy flight crew is the best flight crew. Flight crew amenities are also very important and necessary. FBO staffers tend to forget that flight crew members are customer service representatives as well. It is there job to ensure that the passengers are happy. In addition to successfully flying the plane, they are also tasked with ensuring a pleasant flight. On their downtime, flight crews and passengers need the option to stay close to an

FBO airport during their downtime. Complimentary coffee and snacks may not be sufficient and luxury food options may not be available. That is why the best FBO's have a courtesy car available. The ideal FBO will be located within two miles of major food outlets as well as retail stores for quick shopping. Bessemer Airport (EKY), as well as Shelby County and Atlantic Aviation in Birmingham (BHM) are all located near ideal restaurants, and retail stores, as well as museums and other sites. These all add to the quality of life for the ideal FBO experience.

What ultimately sells an FBO is management and staff. First, an effective FBO manager solicits and responds to customer feedback. A solid FBO manager knows a strong corporate relationship can’t protect their FBO from a poor customer experience. Such a manager should regularly review feedback submitted through surveys and website comments and ratings. In doing so, the FBO managers ensure that their customers always have an optimum and superb experience.

Second, an effective FBO manager knows that as with any company, organization, or any other entity, an FBO is as strong as its networks and allies. A progressive FBO

manager is constantly pursuing ways to network with industry colleagues and stay on top of the latest trends in the industry. Business aviation organizations such as NBAA, NATA and others are treasure troves for networking. Networking is about establishing and nurturing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with the people who are conducive to propelling an FBO forward. The most connected people are often the most successful.

Thirdly, an effective FBO manager knows the value of a good support team. A productive, competent, and expedient line service team is paramount, especially in high traffic FBO's. The Bessemer Airport experienced this first hand upon President Trump's visit to an Alabama Crimson Tide football last year in Tuscaloosa. Dozens of aircraft were diverted to EKY from Tuscaloosa to accommodate for Air Force One.

This was a sudden change of pace for the much smaller FBO. However, due to the commitment to customer service and satisfaction, as well as training, the line staff was able to meet the needs of the pilots/passengers, position, and refuel. A premier line service crew and supervisor are ones that are thoroughly trained in customer service and safety procedures. Furthermore, they're able to professionally execute monitoring safety procedures, fuel and hospitality service, towing, and marshalling of general aviation aircraft. ensure quality of aviation fuel being dispensed from fuel trucks and self-serve unit by conducting daily sump testing, ramp set-up, movement and hangar storage of business/general aviation aircraft.

Lastly, an effective FBO manager is driven by metrics. Its all about the numbers. When numbers correlate through assets and liabilities,

and ultimately into profits, the numbers do not. Every move and decision made should be done so with what is best for the customer, without jeopardizing or compromising most importantly the mission of the FBO. Of what value is the FBO when it is operating in the red, or has becoming a legal liability?

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