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BUSINESS JET CASE STUDIES
It is said that “to know the road ahead- ask those who are coming back”. Over the following paragraphs are several examples of companies that use business aircraft to achieve great success.
While the signs of success may vary from expanding market share for the benefit of workers and shareholders to enabling the entrepreneur to be more mobile and therefore more productive- users of Business Aviation find that this form of transportation offers unique benefits.
The extent to which a business aircraft is a business tool as well as a means for multiplying the talents of leaders is found in the various applications of Business Aviation by companies and individuals in the USA- a region of the world where business aircraft have established a strong acceptance since their initial applications over 75 years ago.
Experts who study the ways business aircraft are applied to common business challenges have defined over 20 applications- ranging from travel for key individuals such as the CEO or the owner of a company- to moving production and engineering teams.
Key Man Travel Consider the case of a highly talented Vice President for Research at a leading university. His institution is located in the heartland of the USA- and he often uses the university’s business jet to reach locations where research contracts could be awarded.
Speaking with David Almy (at the time a leading journalist with a penchant for advocating the virtues of business aircraft) he explained- “If we are going to Washington [the location of government agencies that award universities research contracts]- we will be off the ground shortly after 5:45am and arrive in Washington at 8am.”
He would often then spend a full day working the halls of Congress and relevant government agencies- returning to the airport at 5pm for the trip back home- arriving there about 6pm local time (there is a one-hour advantage traveling westbound due to crossing a time zone).
“We’ll usually have some kind of evening business at the university - work- receptions- or something with the students or alumni organizations- and occasionally with the Board of Trustees. I usually get home at about 9:30pm. In a normal week- it’s not unusual for me to work 65 hours.”
Reflecting on the universality of time and the importance of traveling efficiently- he added: “We have the same travel needs as any business- even though we’re an educational organization and a foundation. We’re a $1.2 billion-plus company with 18-000 employees within the [university’s] system. This is a big operation.
“Our aviation department has allowed our university to become more efficient in a business sense. If I take a commercial flight to Washington- DC- it’s not impossible to do it in one day- but I end up spending my day in airports rather than meeting with people. I don’t see how we could do what we do without this [Business Aviation] operation. It makes us more efficient.”
Customer Trips A leading U.S. manufacturer of office furniture has found that using its business aircraft to bring customers to its factory complex located about equal distance from each coast- has proven to be a very effective marketing and sales strategy.
“Historically- we flew customers to tour our factories and see how well we make office furniture-” said the company’s vice president and general sales manager. “But in the last four or five years- that’s changed dramatically. We still bringing customers here to see new products- but most importantly we show them how we are using our space to achieve our business results.
“When I started work 17 years ago- our company tag line was ‘Quality Office Furniture’. Today- our aspiration is to transform how people work. We first need to understand what their business needs are. So each customer visit is unique. We do not have a standard tour. It is customized- based upon what the customer needs and what we want to show them.”
He noted that bringing customers to the company was more than simply showing them how business was conducted at the manufacturer’s facility.
“When you spend a day or two with people- through all kinds of settings - breakfast- dinner- studying office space; flying back on the [company] aircraft together - you’re cementing relationships- and relationships are at the core of what we do-” he outlined. “Customers get a chance to know you better- understand your company- and understand what you’re trying to accomplish—and we get to understand them.”
Customer Service The owner of a heavy metal fabricator liked to talk about customers who would call in a mild state of panic about difficulties. He said a typical phone conversation would begin with the words- “We have got a problem.”
The owner’s response to the customer was simple. “We’ll get the parts- and the repair people you need on our company aircraft and get ready to go.
“We’ve discovered that the aircraft creates a material competitive advantage for us. We make things. Sometimes those things break. When a product becomes inoperative you have got an operator who is inoperative too- and that can be very costly.
“So we focus the resources of our company quickly on the problem- and get that customer back up and running. No one else - none of our competitors - can do that. People remember that type of service.”
Many companies in the USA use their business aircraft to provide emergency service to customers. A major manufacturer of food processing equipment- for example- routinely provides its executive aircraft to transport technicians and parts to the facilities of a customer experiencing an interruption of service. Because customers are aware that the manufacturer is able and willing to provide immediate service should a problem arise- the company’s reputation and the customer base has grown.
Personal Security and Fulfillment While Business Aviation maximizes the productivity of people and time- it is also a powerful tool for encouraging and recharging the entrepreneurial spirit. It provides a secure travel environment—one conducive to communications between associates as well as peaceful contemplation for those who wish to be uninterrupted.
Business aircraft significantly reduce the stress of travel- and allow the entrepreneur to achieve success while still having time to focus on those elements of life that go beyond business.
Consider the case of a senior officer of a leading supplier of components for the furnishings industry. The company’s eight-seat business jet allowed the executive- a father with a 15-year old son- to spend time with his family.
Commenting on the value of the company aircraft- the executive remarked- “Many times in the last eight years- if it weren’t for the airplane I wouldn’t get back home to attend to family events- or see my son. Everyone places a value on time with their children- but because of my travel schedule- I’m especially sensitive to missing time with my family. That’s why the aircraft is so important.”