• Staffing — Do you have too many people? How does the headcount compare with other maintenance operations? How do salaries compare with various surveys? Do you use part-time personnel to help with peaks and vacations (very effective) or do you have full time staff to cover all possibilities (very inefficient)?
• Expenses — How closely are they controlled? Does your staff take advantage of all discounts available to your company?
• Spares inventory — How big is your spares inventory? Does it increase in size each year? If it does, your operation is buying more spares than it needs.
• Contract services — How do they compare with your own costs? Can you save money by contracting out certain maintenance tasks? And the list goes on. It may seem at first glance that there are no savings to be had with this approach, but experience proves otherwise. Every organization that has really focused on this has generated substantial savings.
Focus On Training
Training falls in two categories. The first is the obvious one and concerns regular training on aircraft systems, engines, avionics, troubleshooting, composite repair, etc. It costs a little money, but the payoff is in higher quality work and faster turnaround time. The second one is not so obvious and concerns training people to move up in the organization. This includes mechanics' helpers becoming full-fledged maintenance technicians and training technicians to become shift supervisors. Very importantly, it includes training your own replacement, so that when you go on vacation or get tapped for the next step up the promotion ladder, you don't have to worry about what will happen to the maintenance department.
An important part of the long-term success formula includes training yourself on management and business issues. Take management courses presented by the various trade associations, Embry-Riddle and others. Read management books. Read business magazines. Read magazines about your company's or your customers' industries. In short, develop a perspective about the art and science of running a service business with a big budget and a large capital investment.
Focus On Giving Credit To Others
When you are a manager, it's really important to realize that almost all successes in your operation are the result of others doing a great job. Be generous and recognize their contribution. Your reward will come when your customers tell others what a great job your operation is doing — and your boss tells you how pleased the company is that you are the new manager!
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The Conklin & de Decker Helicopter Maintenance Management Seminar will be held on March 28th and 29th at the Sheraton Grand DFW Airport and costs $800 per person.