With airlines' continued struggle to cut costs and focus on greater operating efficiencies along with their ongoing requirements for enhanced ground services; ground handling companies need to concentrate on the delicate balance between expenses and services. PrimeFlight Aviation Services has outlined four basic principles to produce a cost-effective top quality product while delivering more benefits to its airline partners. These four key areas include the employment and training of qualified individuals, the utilization and development of management technology, flexible services with creative delivery and specialized safety environments. The PrimeFlight team will tell you that the goal for successful providers of ramp and additional ground services is the unification of these fundamental elements with a back office system and management structure that deliver efficiency, enhancement and greater value for the airlines while being progressive in service delivery.
PrimeFlight Aviation Services became a division of SMS Holdings two years ago. Located in Nashville, TN, SMS Holdings is a family of four companies which provide housekeeping, security and managed staffing services to high-traffic public facilities. "The common thread among the four companie...," states CEO William Coakley, "we're in the people-driven service business providing niche services to our individual customers." For Coakley, PrimeFlight was a perfect match with the province, attributes and best practices of the other companies, which could be applied directly to PrimeFlight's strong base of qualified people, specialized services and business in the aviation industry.
Hand-picked, Hand-trained, Hands-on
With an excess of 4,000 employees serving more than 60 airports, PrimeFlight's employment and retention perspective is that they are in the business of providing exceptional people to do the job. From a corporate standpoint, their commitment is to not only find outstanding people but to package and provide the services so they can be of even greater value to their customers. Successful practices in any business or operation, according to Keith Wolken, president of PrimeFlight, begin with the profile and talent of each individual employee containing three key ingredients, first and foremost, people skills; second, the ability to develop a strong interest in the job and desire to develop an effortless relationship with the customer, and finally having the technical skills and requirements necessary for the job.
Every PrimeFlight client is assigned an on site manager who has completed a progressive training program. "PrimeFlight had a good group of management people who came along with the acquisition ... it was just getting them acclimated with our philosophy and approach to service," says Coakley. Orienting each new employee to the company and its philosophy of providing the best possible service to the customer is the next step. This hands-on training consists of teaching managers every aspect of the business, from technical to administrative to financial, ensuring the ability to provide the best possible service. In addition, different ramp training specifications required by each airline have to be learned and monitored.
"Trained once, trained for life" is NOT the motto at PrimeFlight. "Every person, whether a supervisor, station manager, regional or division vice president, needs to have their success rate identified so when the time comes, they're able to take on additional training and responsibilities," explains Coakley. With station manager and supervisor training programs already in place at the other SMS Holdings companies, PrimeFlight is in the process of applying these programs to their company and identifying permanent locations across the country. "We feel personally obligated to allow our employees through these specific programs to identify their strengths and weaknesses in order to achieve some of the personal and professional goals they have in their life," declares Coakley.