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We have previously looked at mission needs- budget and the choice of methods available to the company when exploring Business Aircraft within these pages - but the most important part of the puzzle concerns the ‘People Side’ of the equation- according to Jay Mesinger.
Ultimately- the choices the company makes will be more-or-less successful based on the coach that guides it to a successful outcome. The following paragraphs deal with selection of the right team-coach when you are ready to acquire a business jet.

Perhaps you recall the neighborhood football games of your childhood in which one child would stand in front of all of the others and choose his team. The likely initial choices would go to the biggest- the fastest- or the best defenders. The one choosing had a plan to end-up with the winning team. The Board members will make a similar selection with the same outcome in mind.

The good news is that the Business Aviation industry is ripe with great talent. There are many players with years of successful buying experience able to assist the Board in making its decision. Just like looking at a long list of available aircraft- though- the Board must be able to sort through the list and create a viable short-list of potential partners to guide it through the aircraft acquisition process.

Flexibility: Remember that buying an airplane is not always the outcome to a successful process. First and foremost the Board should find a partner that has the skill-set to adapt the strategy potentially to charter- Fractional Ownership or a mixture. Not all dealers and brokers have the tools to follow this path. This does not make their process flawed; they may just be less familiar with Boardroom process.

So a key ingredient for the selection of the partner will be the partner’s willingness to determine an outcome that does not necessarily include buying an aircraft. More often than not- whole aircraft ownership is just not the right option.

Compensation: Developing a compensation plan for the partner that creates an incentive to find the right outcome that may not result in outright-ownership will be important for success. If the partner is only compensated for a sale and not the process leading up to the right answer- the Board may find itself doomed to an incorrect outcome- which will be far more costly in the long-run. So process-oriented partners who are compensated correctly start the foundation for the right choice.

References: Checking a potential partner’s references is a critical component in bringing a person into the Boardroom. One must be able to face the Board when discussing the choice or short-list with confidence.

When asking the potential candidates for references- it is important to get references for like-projects. Ask the right questions of the candidates based on what you as a Board member/Board liaison know about the process you want to undertake. Don’t just get names of past customers; get names of clients for whom the candidate has undertaken this type of process previously.

Specifically ask for references from those past clients whose processes ended up with outcomes other than whole aircraft purchase. It may be from this reference that you get the most qualifying responses.

Specializations: It may be difficult for the Board member/Board liaison to target partners on the basis of experience with a specific type of aircraft. Perhaps it is clear from the outset- though- that the solution to your company’s needs may be a turboprop aircraft rather than a jet. In this case- it will not be so difficult to focus on short-listing partners with experience in general categories of aircraft (turboprop- small jet- medium jet or large-body aircraft). Any initial qualifiers regarding skill-sets can be important to sourcing the right partner.

No different than any other work done to select the right person for a project- it is important that your partner should have the experience in the area that you want the input- and that they can demonstrate integrity and a successful history of results. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions- but be a good listener to the answers.

Finally- don’t rule out instinct: Very often your gut-feeling will be a great guide to personality compatibility. The good news is that our industry has many great people to choose from. So now you have the guide to process- as well as the tools to select the right acquisition partner. Happy Hunting!


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