As a Chief Pilot or Flight Department Manager, how do you go over and above to offer a truly memorable service to your company? Andre Fodor, VP Aviation, Johnsonville shares his tips, using ‘The 3% Rule’…
Everyone who knows me (and those reading my blogs) knows that within a few minutes of starting a conversation I tend to mention ‘Global Excellence’, or words to that effect. I coined the term to explain how I do things; the essence of how I seek to think and act personally and professionally.
It explains an attitude: how do I tackle situations and take responsibility for the good things and also the bad things when they happen? It’s a conscious effort to always seek the ‘higher road’. Unfortunately it seems that many people and companies have forgotten to train, qualify and make an integral part of their mission statement and operational philosophy – even though it’s essential to Business Aviation service.
Do you unflinchingly take ownership of challenges when they arise, or when problems that aren’t your fault (or even necessarily your responsibility) present themselves, but as an engaged individual you carry the torch on behalf of your company until it’s solved to satisfaction?
The concept of Global Excellence encourages my Flight Department to think differently and with greater flexibility.
It also frees us to use our imagination to deliver innovation that complements proven processes and changes the overall experience of the Business Aviation services offered, both to us and to our principles.
And therein lays one of my favorite applications of it, ‘The Rule of 3%’.
The Changing Face of Flight Departments
The face of the corporate flight department has changed dramatically from the days when I washed airplanes for a living. The original mission description of a corporate pilot/flight department was to fly our charges legally, efficiently and safely.
Today, while these basic principles remain paramount and must never take second place, the level of expectation and nature of business has changed significantly. In my experience, our cabins are less filled with suited executives heading to high-stakes meetings, and today polo shirts and golf clubs are carried more often with business being ironed-out over 18 holes.
Quality of service has become a highly-prized aspect of Business Aviation today, and the ‘making time’ that BizAv enables has become the new wealth factor. The level of expectation has evolved and technology, media and modern amenities will continue to increase, fueled by a hunger for constant newness and higher levels of service.
Attaining That 100%
Returning to the concept of ‘Global Excellence’, I argue that within the flight department we should constantly aim to operate 100% within the legal, efficiency and safety realms, but at 97% for service. We should reserve the remaining 3% for the ‘WOW’ factor.
It’s a small percentage, but it can change a trip from being routine to memorable – and when it comes to assessing the necessity of the Flight Department at Board level, you want them to remember the services provided.
By knowing the reason for the trip, the destination, the necessary routing (and alternatives) and the activities ahead, we can use our imagination to provide a thematic value to the trip, enhancing the experience and ultimately the desire to make further use of executive aircraft.
As an example, we change the interior decoration according to seasons or destinations; accent colors are changed along with the scent of the interior to help set the mood. Audio and video contents are carefully selected to accentuate the overall experience and make valuable contributions to the trip experience. Food is chosen carefully, and complements the occasion, and we even research historical data including old newspaper clippings, magazines and news reels to make the time spent aboard go fast and be significant.
We tailor the arrival, de-boarding and post-flight services making sure that the flight continues all the way to our passenger’s meeting, hotel or residence. No detail is spared, and we receive the plaudits for it most of the time (although occasional valid feedback and criticism is received).
The 3% Rule essentially allows us to become chameleons. We change, adapt and morph into different roles that allow us to provide the highest level of tailored service. We are allowed to use imagination and that makes the job even more fun!
And all the while we come closer to becoming essential and as we all know, being essential is the be-all and end-all in Business Aviation.
If you have ideas or tips on how we can make trips amazing please share them below. Just like anyone passionate about their job, I’m always up for new ideas!
Read more from Andre Fodor at our author's page.
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