Aircraft Management Companies are complex organizations with many moving parts. We interact with a large number of management companies, and with our Audit Services, we have seen both the good and the bad. We often hear about the promise of high levels of service offered by management companies, and after seeing scores of different management companies, here are the three things that the best companies do very well.
The first thing is that they Anticipate their customers’ needs before being asked. This goes beyond automatically having their preferred drink onboard the aircraft, but more along the lines of knowing that each year they go to Masters or the Kentucky Derby so you always set the support well ahead of time and often before the client has even given you the trip. They may have processes in place to charge and wash one client’s car while they are away and always have cold water (or favorite beverage) waiting for them in the cup holder when they get out of their car plane side. They know that a different client does not want anyone in their car at all, and the time for chit chat is not when they are coming home but only when they are leaving. They learn other things about clients in a non-intrusive way that allows them to better anticipate future needs. They are a learning organization that has a system to track these items so that the service is not tied to an individual.
The second thing is that the Management Company never puts its financial reward ahead of being a Financial Steward of the aircraft owner. They don’t take bad charter trips just because it will make the management company money. They are fiscally conservative and treat the clients’ money responsibly and balance the cost of operation with the clients’ goals and operational needs. For example, they shop the parts to get the best value on a normal basis but balance the need for expediency when an aircraft is AOG with the owner needing to get home quickly. The management company should always act as a financial steward for the owner and should not make decisions on third-party services based on their own benefit. For example, by selecting the FBO and fuel purchase based on the points the pilots will be awarded from some FBO reward or rebate program. Once a managed owner realizes that a management company is not being a financial steward to the aircraft owner, it’s the beginning of the end of the relationship, especially if the behavior is not rectified and stopped immediately.
The final attribute of the best Management Companies is that they are Great Communicators. They understand when and how to communicate with each owner and their staff. They balance the need for details when appropriate with the need for expediency at other times. They have relationships not just with the principal but also with other key members in their organization, such as their assistant and the CFO, so they can be a resource to all of the people in the organization. Communication is what staves off problems before they manifest themselves and how a true authentic connection is built.