“We have a very well-thought-out transition list, some five to six pages long with about 100 items,” Cordell adds. “But at some point, the training wheels come off and the new general manager has to run the show.”
Cordell firmly believes in developing his GMs from within and providing them with all the data they need to run operations efficiently and effectively.
Consider a recent contract that JetStream won to handle ground service for Delta Air Lines at Jackson-Evers International Airport, Jackson, MS. The company will provide below-the-wing support for Delta’s 12 daily departures. This represents JetStream’s first contract with the airline.
“We need to shine in Jackson,” Cordell says, adding that operations with 10 to 25 flights a day is “our strike zone. There are tremendous opportunities for growth in those markets and we can make a big difference.”
Cordell promoted a shift manager from a Charlotte, NC, operation to be the GM at Jackson. The technological firepower given to the GM is one very important aspect that Cordell says isn’t necessarily visible to his customers, “but is vital if we are trying to run an organization that’s predictable and that delivers flawlessly.”
Cordell now puts the budget in the hands of the GM at stations.
“That may sound simple,” Cordell adds, “but we wanted them to know they should focus on controllable costs, such as wages and maintenance of GSE.”
From there, every Monday the company provides a financial dashboard – sort of a financial report card. Secondly, there’s a web-based operational dashboard. It’s mandatory for the GM to enter various performance metrics on a daily basis that might help pinpoint, say, causes for delays and other problems in performance. Last, but certainly not least to Cordell, the company has aligned its company goals with the goals of the GM.
Again, another simple change Cordell says makes a huge difference.
“Before, GMs were reviewed on their employment date,” he adds. “But now they are evaluated on a calendar-year basis and we’ve also put into place a performance-based compensation plan that provides higher earning opportunity for leaders that deliver exceptional operational performance; financial performance and individual performance.”
What’s more, the GM’s operational goals are directly aligned with the goals of the carriers which they serve.
“So if an airline, for example, has specific goals for baggage handling performance,” Cordell adds, “our GMs not only know that, but can be rewarded accordingly.”
Cordell firmly believes in the old management adage that what gets measured gets accomplished.
“I think this year we’ve built a firm foundation to excellence,” Cordell says. “In 2012 we’re looking to build that second layer of bricks. The changes we’ve made so for, while I’m certainly not saying they were easy to make, were easy to identify. As we get better, the bar gets raised.”
To keep pushing ahead, the company credits success to WorkBridge, a mobile resource management software. Successful ground handling requires quick decision-making combined with sophisticated capacity and resource management. The program improves communications in airport operations, provides real-time updates to a mobile workforce and enables more effective planning and allocation of resources.
“The program works in so many ways to help us in real-time to dispatch crews and enhance productivity,” Cordell adds. As an example, he used aircraft cleaning services.
“Often times, you’ll see the cleaning crew waiting on the jet bridge for passengers to deplane,” he adds. “That’s some of the biggest sources of nonproductive time.”
With the program, however, JetStream managers can analyze how long it takes to deplane a particular aircraft, how long it will take a crew in transit and a number of other variables that hinder productivity.
“It’s a great third set of eyes to help us identify ways to be as efficient as possible,” Cordell adds.
Solution capabilities will cover optimized planning and rostering, and automated real-time dispatch based on live flight data from airlines.
However difficult a problem is, there is always something constructive that can done about it.