Handling the FBOs

Fixed Base Operators offer a look inside the day-to-day business of customer service on the general aviation side of the airport ramp, reports Michelle Garetson. October 2003 What is an FBO? Depends on who you ask, but the acronym can stand...

"A good FBO is somebody that's going to be out there to take care of that corporate transient customer as well as their base customer," offers Bretz. "I look at it from a standpoint of a corporate pilot or passenger going in and then also from my position as a GA manager for this group. Quite frankly, I think the services over the past 2-3 years at many FBOs have gotten better because of competition. If you have a new entrant on an airport, or somebody else comes in and spruces their facility up, or offers something else; the other people almost have to do it just to stay in the game. I travel quite extensively in a Cessna 310 that the company owns and each one of our regional managers has an airplane. So, we experience every degree of service each time we land at either our branded FBOs or at a prospect FBO. It's kind of fun to go in to some of them - here's a guy in a 310, he's not in a $35 million Gulfstream - what kind of service am I going to get? It's interesting to see how we're treated."

"Customers first and foremost are looking for quality service," says Walsh. "Someone to park and meet the aircraft, pull passenger vehicles up and be prompt in any service requests. They like to see nice facilities for their passengers and many amenities like free iced tea, lemonade, cookies, fruit, Internet access, a nice pilot's lounge, crew cars, etc. We do not charge for many of the services and amenities we offer and we like to think that our service level is a bit higher than most. I know it is very "clich'" to say that "we're all about service," but our customers truly value the service that we provide for them. If we provide inadequate service to a flight crew, all we do is make them look bad to their employer. That is how you lose customers. Customer service isn't brain surgery, but it takes a lot of common sense and understanding that the corporate aviation industry is very unique and special.

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