Listen To The Leaders
Lest there be any doubt regarding the value of Business Aviation- says Jack Olcott- listen to what entrepreneurs say about this form of transportation.
Warren Buffet- perhaps the world’s most respected guru of value investing- calls his business aircraft the Indispensable. Golf legion Arnold Palmer said that using business aircraft for over 50 years is the single-most productive process he has employed to compete more effectively in golf and in business- and to do so from his home town of Latrobe- Pennsylvania - a location without airline service. Neil Armstrong- the first man to walk on the moon and a trusted technologist- said now is the time to create opportunities by employing the enormous power of Business Aviation to arrive first at locations that matter.
Each of these gentlemen has aligned his name and reputation with the “No Plane No Gain” program of Business Aviation advocacy organized by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). Both GAMA and NBAA are Washington-based trade groups that promote best practices for the Business Aviation community and lobby on behalf of owners- operators- original equipment manufacturers- and aviation services providers.
While endorsements by business and cultural leaders are important to expanding the public’s understanding of Business Aviation- the most compelling arguments are those offered informally by businessmen and women who use business aircraft routinely to engage customers and expand markets.
One such testimonial that remains fresh in my mind was offered over 15 years ago by an engineer who developed specialty furnaces capable of producing extremely high temperatures. Because his company was small and his technology new- the potential customers for his product were unfamiliar with what the entrepreneur was offering.
His traditional marketing efforts were unsuccessful. Frustrated with his lack of success in attracting potential purchasers to his facilities- the inventor decided upon a novel approach. He called a prospective client that he had been attempting to interest in his product- re-introduced himself and the specifications of his high temperature furnace- and offered to demonstrate the unit in the prospect’s laboratory. When the client said that such a demo would be acceptable- the inventor said he would be there in three hours.
The engineer/inventor/cum businessman was a private pilot- and the furnace was sufficiently small to be transported in a small aircraft. Recognizing the need to meet face-to-face with potential buyers- he exploited his ability to fly directly from his laboratory in New Jersey to the factory of a promising prospect in eastern Pennsylvania. The client was impressed- and the visit produced a sale.
So successful was the face-to-face presentation that the entrepreneur employed the same approach with other prospects- mostly with the same positive results. What had started as a fortunate coincidence of opportunity (the customer’s need for high temperature lab equipment) and preparedness (the inventor’s ability to fly) quickly became the company’s principle means of marketing.
Sales people who also could fly were hired- and their travel was facilitated by providing them access to private aircraft. Eventually the company acquired a small fleet of business jets- formed a professional flight department and focused on its ability to reach out to customers quickly and efficiently. Addressing a group of invitees to a special luncheon at an Annual Meeting and Convention of the NBAA during the 1990s- the inventor emphasized two points: First- he attributed the success his shareholders enjoyed to his company’s use of Business Aviation- commenting with a smile that he trusted his competitors were not in the audience to learn of his secret sales tool.
Second- he emphasized that much money and at least a year of education specific to the firm’s technology were needed to develop a successful salesman or saleswoman in this trade. His marketing force was- therefore- too valuable to waste its time using inefficient forms of transportation. Business Aviation was essential to capitalizing on opportunity and creating a successful enterprise.
That our speaker was successful is reflected in a new name given to an established four-year college in the inventor’s home state- following a sizable gift to the institution. Leaders- well known and anonymous- embrace the benefits of Business Aviation. Some do so openly with words of praise- while others subconsciously endorse Business Aviation by their actions.
For example- high elected officials- many of whom are quick to bash business jets- are heavy users of Business Aviation. They may fail to call their use of air transportation “Business Aviation” per se- but it is just that — the use of purposeful transportation under their control and in support of their specific scheduling needs- to locations unable to be served appropriately by scheduled airlines.
Listen to the leaders: Business Aviation provides unique benefits unavailable from other forms of transportation.
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