By Ron Jackson, Co-founder, Aviation Business Strategies Group

Like many businesses, FBO owners and operators are interested in finding ways to improve their bottom line performance. However, some companies make the mistake of taking the short cut to this end by concentrating on controlling costs. After all, controlling costs seems like a logical business strategy.

In the process of controlling costs, there are often cuts made in funding for essential services, deliverables , facility improvements and systems.  In the short term, cutting costs has a noticeable improvement on bottom line performance. But in the long term, customers will notice a difference in the way they are being treated, the level of service being offered and a deterioration of facilities.

In his book, From Worst to First, former Continental Airlines CEO Gordon Bethune states that part of the plan to turn around his failing airline was to adopt the philosophy of what gets measured gets done. Another way of saying this is what gets measured gets improved.

As an example, Bethune states that improving bottom line performance by controlling costs is, in effect, measuring the wrong thing. What Bethune did at Continental was to concentrate on measuring and improving the things that irritate customers and give cause to defect, such as late flights, lost luggage and poor customer service. These were all measurable variables and often used by the airline industry to compare the competitive landscape. In most every category, Continental was last.

If these variables were fixed, Bethune felt the company would get back on track, attract old and new customers and rejuvenate bottom line performance.

But benchmarking and measuring was just part of turning things around at Continental. It also required cooperation and buy-in from employees, vendors and suppliers. When mutual objectives were set, there was a new heightened awareness among these stakeholder groups for a need to improve. Working together, and with a common set of goals to be obtained, employee attitudes changed and improvements were made across the enterprise.

In time, customers began to notice, became loyal and spent more travel dollars with Continental. The result was a sustainable bottom line performance over the long-term.

With this in mind, think what FBO services, deliverables or systems, if measured and improved, will create better long-term profitable customer relationships, increase recommendations and add to better bottom line performance.

Here are a few that come to mind:

  • Accurate Invoicing
  • Service Order Accuracy & Fulfillment
  • Correct Catering Requests
  • On-time Limo and Car Rental Scheduling
  • Ramp Safety and Reduced Accidents
  • Aircraft Towing and Hangar Rash Incidents
  • Customer Service Performance and Reduced Complaints

Utilizing the new generation of cloud based software programs designed and written specifically for the FBO industry, such as Total Aviation Software, can help benchmark and measure what FBOs want to improve. With real-time updates, customizable and scalable dashboard reports can provide a constant and consistent snapshot of  these types of variables.

Add to that mobility and seamless communication across the enterprise where every employee can gain instant feedback through reports that are easily generated. The old adage of getting everyone on the same page can be a reality. With this kind of setup, what gets measured will get improved.