2016 Aviation Business Conference | Gathering in Washington During Interesting Times

June 20, 2016

NATA members attending the association’s second annual Aviation Business Conference are arriving in Washington, D.C. at an interesting time. Congress will still be in session but can already see on its horizon July 15th, the date it will adjourn for the two national political conventions and its annual summer recess. Returning shortly after Labor Day, Congress will meet for only a few short weeks before adjourning to campaign in advance of the November 8th general election.

Not by coincidence, July 15th is also the date of the expiration of the FAA’s current authorization. On the House side, Chairman Shuster’s (R-PA) proposal to create an air traffic corporation continues to languish due to objections from other congressional committees, conservative Republicans, and virtually the entire House Democratic Caucus. NATA continues to voice its strong objections to the corporation concept at any and all venues that provide us the opportunity to discuss the dangers it poses to general aviation. Like presidential candidates, NATA has been on the road, updating the aviation business community in Florida, Wisconsin, Illinois, South Carolina, Indiana and Texas on the status of the Shuster proposal. We also continue to work the issue at the national level, educating the press and appearing at public policy forums here in Washington, D.C., to rebut the outrageous claims of the airline interests campaigning for ATC corporatization.

I am also pleased to report that in April the United States Senate took a different, more hopeful path than the House, approving by a vote of 95-3 a bipartisan FAA bill that does not include provisions to create an ATC corporation. The legislation instead embraces NATA’s long-stated belief that Congress should build upon its previous work and continue to improve the consistency of FAA decisions across its offices and regions, streamline the FAA certification process to better reflect today’s pace of innovation, and assist the agency in operating as efficiently as possible.

The Senate’s action now puts the impetus for further action in the hands of House Transportation Committee Chairman Shuster to decide whether or not to continue to press forward on his proposal to create a user fee-funded, air traffic control corporation, accept the Senate proposal, or simply extend the FAA’s authorization beyond its current expiration on July 15th. Senator John Thune (R-SD), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, who steered the legislation through the Senate, has publically expressed his hope there will be no more extensions and that the House will give serious consideration to the bipartisan approach taken by the Senate.

This puts NATA members in Washington, D.C. this June smack dab in the middle of it all. Our annual fly-in on June 9th will once again feature key aviation policymakers sharing their perspectives on the FAA reauthorization debate. We are also fortunate that once again Tom Hendricks and the leaders of the other general aviation associations will brief you in advance of your trip to the Capitol Building. And, of course, we will also gather informally that evening on Capitol Hill with aviation policymakers and their staffs for our annual industry reception.

However, the Aviation Business Conference is more than about politics. For that reason, we will be joined by TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger, who will discuss the security challenges facing our nation. FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Peggy Gilligan will be on hand to answer your questions about the FAA’s regulatory agenda. Finally, the conference will be packed with sessions providing insights on the state of the industry and the latest in effective business and safety practices.

So bring some good walking shoes (we can never guarantee the operating state of our subway), your questions and your insights. We look forward to seeing you in our nation’s capital!

By Bill Deere, Senior Vice President for Government and External Affairs (republished from Q2 2016 Aviation Business Journal)


Airlines…..Unplugged

April 1, 2016

I had the opportunity last week to attend the U.S. Chamber’s annual Aviation Summit. “Aviation” in the title is really a misnomer. Despite the fact the Chamber has member companies with corporate flight departments, and even a wide array of other aviation businesses, make no mistake about it — this was an airline conference. The summit’s lack of balance was startling; this was a vehicle for airlines to get their message out and other viewpoints need not apply. Comfortable in what was clearly an enabling setting, airline executives felt empowered to say what they really think.

The leaders of the so-called low cost carriers were in lockstep about the dangers posed by four airlines with 80-percent domestic market share. Through their dialogue, they invited us to peak behind the curtain for a look at the impact of global joint ventures, noting for example three mega-alliances controlling 87 percent of the transatlantic market. They called upon the Department of Transportation to revisit these anti-trust waivers and immunized joint ventures…..and in the next breath they called upon Congress to adopt the Shuster proposal to create an airline dominated air traffic control corporation.

This is a demonstration of the old political adage, “where you are is where you sit.” Market concentration, it appears, is dangerous….unless of course you are part of it. This inability to either see or understand other perspectives is disappointing from people who are seemingly aware of the dangers created by market concentration. Even if we all saw creating an air traffic control corporation as a good idea, which we don’t, why would aviation businesses willingly sign up for a proposal that leaves their future costs to be determined by airlines?

However, the low cost carriers were just the warmup act, next came the airline association and a representative CEO from the big carriers. These speeches were carefully orchestrated and honed to two messages. First, congressional policymakers who offer pro-consumer proposals related to airline seats or pricing of various airline fees are intent on nothing less than re-regulating the airline industry. The airlines’ view of consumer legislation was best summarized by the head of their trade association who told the crowd, “Members of Congress, with all due respect, if you want to run an airline, buy some planes, hire some employees and sell some tickets.” Well, to paraphrase Ricky Bobby, he did say, “with all due respect.”

The wrath of these airline leaders was especially reserved for those who dare oppose their plan to create an air traffic control corporation. Those in opposition to the corporation are nothing more than “entrenched interests fighting to maintain their advantage.” Their response to the bipartisan work of Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune and Ranking Member Bill Nelson that did not include a proposal to corporatize air traffic control, “The Senate took the easy way out.”

Worse are the half-statements that come along with addresses of these sort. For example, we were told airlines believe in a user fee-funded corporation so much they are willing to write their own checks to the corporation for the air traffic services they use. How altruistic. Except of course the real cost will be borne by the customer and the corporation proposal neatly removes accountability for those costs from a consumer’s direct scrutiny — let alone the costs the airlines will attempt to shift to general aviation. Other whoppers rehashed in front of a largely adoring crowd included the suggestion that air traffic controllers are using 1950’s technology, or that 60 countries currently operating corporatized systems are in some way more efficient or safer than ours.

Airlines also tried to dispel the notion they don’t want to run the corporation by noting the composition of the air traffic control board was changed late in the House committee process with the addition of two more seats for general aviation, bringing GA to the same number of seats as the airlines. While no doubt equal in number, it’s arguable those seats are not equal in weight. The corporation CEO, who also holds a board vote, will undoubtedly feel the pressure of the four votes that represent the overwhelming amount of corporation funding. In addition, this is not a proposal that is yet set in stone.   Neatly forgotten by these airline leaders during the conference, their complaint to Congress that the original proposal already lacked a sufficient number of airline stakeholders, particularly given the representation from general aviation — stakeholders that in their view pay next to nothing. We should not expect the airlines to give up on their attempts to “perfect” the board’s composition.

I report all this to remind you that despite some press reports, the airline industry is not giving up. Between now and July 15th (when the current FAA reauthorization again expires) we must be vigilant and engaged with our elected lawmakers if we are to withstand the imposition of the airline worldview on consumers and general aviation.

By Bill Deere, Senior Vice President for Government and External Affairs


A Confession about Community

April 17, 2013

I moved to the Denver, Colorado area about a year and a half ago, and I have a confession to make. I joined the Colorado Aviation Business Association (CABA) pretty early on in my stint in Colorado and even sit on the legislative committee, but I only just recently attended my first big CABA meeting. Why did I pass on the last two holiday parties and several other events? It snowed – a lot. The roads were bad. I traveled for work that week and my flight was late the night before. I was sick. I broke my foot and spent six months on crutches. Basically, I had one excuse after another (although that crutch thing seemed kind of legit), because the truth was rather embarrassing for a full-grown adult to admit. Joining a new group like that – even a group of like-minded aviation professionals – felt a bit like going to a new junior high school. What if I don’t know anyone in this new community? It might be awkward. I might be bored. It might be a waste of my time.

When I worked for NATA and lived in the Washington, DC area, my sense of “community” was never in question. From the outside looking in, one might think the aviation community in DC is forced. We were “required” to spend quite a bit of time together at seemingly endless receptions, dinners, meetings, and other functions, but the people who make up that community – my trade association friends and colleagues, our wonderful association members, and even to a varying degree the regulators with whom I worked – are such incredible people that I felt blessed to be part of such a great community. Since I left DC, life has taken me to Kentucky, Kansas, and now Colorado and my incredible Beltway community seemed irreplaceable. I never even tried to be part of the aviation communities of those other states. They were just bases from which I parked my car at the airport and flew to visit a client somewhere else.

I attend most of the “big” national aviation trade conferences with a soft spot in my heart for NATA events. For me, NATA functions are like class reunions, and I am always excited to visit with other attendees and hear what’s new in our industry. In fact, I’m currently getting revved up to attend NATA’s Aviation Business and Legislative Conference next week in DC. But I always assumed the local events were unnecessary – a drain on my already limited time at home with my family.

Let me share with you what I learned at that CABA meeting last week: Our local aviation community is essential to our professional development and even sense of well-being. I cheated a bit at this event and found a client of mine to visit with at the beginning of the evening, but soon found my way to colleagues who overlap with my DC community and yes – met new people. I came away from the event energized for the future of my own business, excited about the opportunities to participate more fully with CABA, and amazed at the power of shared passion.

Are you active with your state or regional aviation business organization? The national trade associations increasingly rely on these state and regional groups as essential pipelines of state and regional issues and concerns. Aside from the obvious networking opportunities these local groups provide, I learned they can bridge the gap between the national events most of us attend and give us that injection of energy only found in large groups of people that have a zealous devotion to the same industry.

NATA’s new Aviation Business and Legislative Conference is being held next week in conjunction with the association’s committee meetings. I am looking forward to seeing my DC community, catching up on important issues, and experiencing the enthusiasm of my colleagues. Are you in need of a little community? It’s not too late to register for the Aviation Business and Legislative Conference and committee meetings!

Submitted by Guest Blogger Lindsey C. McFarren

President of McFarren Aviation Consulting

www.mcfarrenaviation.com


First NATA Safety 1st FBO Audit Completed

March 27, 2013

Originally appeared in the 2013 1st quarter edition of Aviation Business Journal
By Lindsey C. McFarren

In November 2012, the first audit was conducted in accordance with the NATA Safety 1st Ground Audit Standard. I was lucky enough to observe the audit and will share my experiences with you below. The Aviation Business Journal published an article introducing the audit in the first quarter of 2012, but here’s a quick refresher on the program.

NATA Safety 1st established the NATA Safety 1st Ground Audit Standard to promote industry best practices and Safety Management Systems (SMS) development among ground handling providers. This audit standard is the first published audit for FBOs and other ground handling service providers. The NATA Safety and Security Committee, which includes representatives from large and small FBOs, on-demand charter operators, fractional program managers, insurance brokers, fuel companies, and more, assisted in drafting this important new audit standard.

The NATA Safety 1st Ground Audit Standard’s two primary objectives are: to create a consistent operational safety standard for FBOs, airports, and other facilities, while increasing the overall safety level of these operations, and to provide FBO or other ground handling facilities customers with an alternative to costly proprietary audits of these operations.

How It Works

NATA Safety 1st manages the audit standard but does not actually conduct audits. This audit allows for two levels of certification: self-certification, whereby the FBO has a qualified employee, trained by NATA Safety 1st, to conduct internal audits, and third-party certification, in which the FBO contracts with an NATA Safety 1st-trained auditor to conduct the audit. A self-certification audit must be completed within a specified time period. NATA Safety 1st must be advised of the start and end dates of the self-certification audit. The audit I observed was a third-party audit.

After either type of audit has been completed, the facility has 120 days to review the findings and implement any corrective actions. If the facility successfully closes all findings, it will be listed on the NATA Safety 1st registry of audited facilities. This registry will be available online at no charge to aircraft operators and other consumers to verify the successful completion of the audit.  

NATA Safety 1st maintains oversight of the audit by reviewing each audit report, including corrective actions, upon completion.

What Does the Audit Cover?

The audit covers seven separate operating areas within an FBO, ranging from the company’s management system to environmental policies and procedures.

  1. Management SystemSection 1 evaluates the management policies and procedures of the organization.
  2. Safety Management System and Quality AssuranceSection 2 evaluates the facility’s safety program, emergency response procedures, and quality assurance procedures.
  3. TrainingSection 3 evaluates the training programs (i.e. general training, hazardous materials training, vehicle and equipment training, security training, and more) of the facility.
  4. Standard Operating ProceduresSection 4 reviews the standard operating procedures of the facility to ensure they are properly document and executed. This includes aircraft marshaling, taxiing, fueling/defueling, deicing, and more.
  5. SecuritySection 5 reviews the security policies and procedures of the facility.
  6. Occupational Safety and HealthSection 6 reviews the facility’s occupational safety and health policies and procedures to ensure the facility is in compliance with state requirements. (Note: This is not a full OSHA audit.)
  7. EnvironmentalSection 7 reviews the facility’s environmental policies and procedures, including storm water pollution prevention, hazardous materials handling, and underground storage tank requirements.

First Audit:  Lessons Learned

The on-site portion of the audit was conducted at one base of an FBO with a few locations. The FBO is not notably different in size, shape, or make up from any other FBO in the country. It is not a part of one of the large chains nor is it a “mom-and-pop” organization. It is a happy medium in terms of fuel sales, daily operations, and so on. Because this audit was the first “real” one of its type, the auditor was conservative in timing and allotted two and a half days to conduct the on-site portion of the audit. The company is currently in their 120-day window to review and correct findings so I will not disclose the company’s name or location at this time.

However, a number of lessons can be gleaned from the initial audit.

Lesson 1: Document everything! The NATA Safety 1st Ground Audit Standard requires an FBO to say what they do and do what they say; in other words, every standard must be met with written, implemented policies, processes and procedures. In this particular facility, high turnover is an unfortunate, but not uncommon, concern. Written policies and procedures can help ensure that new personnel perform to your standards and existing personnel continue to perform in a consistent manner. Be sure your company’s policies and procedures are well-documented.

Lesson 2: The goal is to exceed requirements. For this audit, line operations and safety training are particularly important. Many of the ground handling training programs – including the NATA Safety 1st program – available to FBOs only require training every 24 months. This facility has fully implemented the NATA Safety 1st program and meets the 24 month requirement. However, the Ground Audit Standard requires training every 12 months in most cases. There is no need to make this requirement too difficult though. Continue to use the training program you currently use. Just write a policy in your manuals that every applicable employee will complete recurrent training every year and set a schedule to be sure that training is in fact completed. This could be the entire PLST program or an overview of selected modules. (Note: The NATA Safety 1st PLST is not the only formal training acceptable for this audit – it is just one method of meeting the training standards and happened to be the program used at this location.)

Lesson 3: Be prepared. Electing to complete this audit is a commitment. Certain resources are necessary to perform the audit. If you intend to commit employees to the process only for the few days an auditor is onsite, frankly, do not waste your time. You will need to spend some time getting prepared for the audit. It might be in your best interest to review the checklist several weeks or months prior to the audit to gauge how you think your facility will perform and to close some gaps in your operation prior to securing an auditor and setting a date for the audit. Once you have chosen an audit date, complete the pre-audit checklist thoroughly. List the manual in which each standard is addressed along with the appropriate page number or other identifying details. Not only might this lessen the auditor’s time at your facility, but also it provides the auditor with more opportunity to observe your operations instead of being buried in manuals for days.

Lesson 4: Be realistic. This goes back to lesson 3. If you have prepared appropriately, you will not be especially surprised by most of the findings the auditor discovers. Similarly, do not set unrealistic expectations for yourself (or your staff!) in closing audit findings. This audit is a totally new ballgame for many FBOs, and you might be surprised by the overall number of findings. This is not an assessment of you or your team’s abilities or dedication to your work. It is a process intended to make your operations safer and more efficient.

Lesson 5: Address safety issues quickly. If an auditor points out an unmarked cabinet containing flammables or a lineman smoking within 50 feet of an airplane being refueled, do not wait until you receive the audit findings before you address those issues. There is no time like the present to address a safety concern.

Bragging Rights: A.K.A. Why Perform an Audit?

I could say the benefit of doing an audit like this one is to evaluate your facility objectively to become a safer operation ultimately. Certainly that is one great reason to consider doing any audit. But there is also a business case for conducting an audit such as this. An audit that focuses on safety and quality can help identify a safety risk before an accident or incident occurs. It can also help reveal inefficiencies in your operations, allowing you to tighten your procedures and become more efficient and effective. 

Another reason to undergo an audit such as this is to lower insurance premiums or at least slow the rate of increase in premiums. Contact your insurance broker. Would the broker help subsidize the audit or provide resources to help you prepare? Could a third-party safety and operations audit lower your insurance premiums?

Pursuing this type of audit could keep your customers (and airport) happy. Part 135 air carriers eventually will be required by the FAA to implement a Safety Management System (SMS) within their operation. Some airports will be required to implement an SMS soon. There will be a trickle-down effect when SMS is required of air charter operators and these airports. Part of a complete SMS is the oversight of service providers, and FBOs should expect oversight from air charter operators to increase as SMS implementation progresses. FBOs, based at designated airports, will be required to comply with SMS regulations because they operate on the airport’s ramp.

However, FBOs are not in business for the express reasons of being safe, efficient, or making customers happy. Cleary if you accomplish none of these goals, you probably will not be in a business long. But one other, more important thing keeps your doors open and your staff employed: revenue. With any luck, PROFIT! You could be the safest, most efficient, most customer-centric company on the planet but if you do it without making money you will not be around long. Completing an audit like the NATA Safety 1st Ground Audit Standard, especially while it is in its infancy, can set you apart from your competitors. If you have only one other competitor on the field and you have completed this audit but they are known for both cheap fuel and hangar rash, where do you think most customers will go? There will always be aircraft operators who would sell their first born to save two cents a gallon, but as SMS and risk management concepts become more prolific with corporate and charter operators, expect more customers to choose the lower risk – if slightly higher cost – FBO.

Stay tuned for more information on the NATA Safety 1st Ground Audit Standard. Several auditors have been trained and are available to conduct the audit. Visit http://www.nata.aero/Safety-1st/Ground-Audit.aspx for more information.


Walk a Mile in His Shoes – Aviation Business Journal Article Series

February 13, 2013

We have all heard the saying: Walk a mile in his shoes. Many of us have used it to help our children understand that different people view things differently. How does that apply to aviation businesses though? A new three-part article series appearing in the first quarter’s Aviation Business Journal (ABJ) explores this issue.

Paul Meyers, the Principle in Charge at Aviation Management Consulting Group, Inc. an NATA member company, wrote Walk a Mile in my Shoes – the Art and Science of Doing Business with Airport Sponsors. In this three-part series, Paul explores the airport management/airport tenant relationship from the perspective of each of the parties with the aim of creating a better understanding of the concerns and values faced by all involved.

The first article in the series, now available in NATA’s Aviation Business Journal, takes a look at the airport sponsor perspective, exploring the many rules and regulations that an airport sponsor must adhere to when negotiating lease agreement.

In the second and third quarter edition of Aviation Business Journal, the series will continue with a look at the airport tenant business perspective and a review of best practices for negotiations between airport sponsors and airport businesses.

A special thanks to Paul and the entire team at Aviation Management Consulting Group for their work on this project.

The first quarter ABJ is available online right now and print copies should arrive at your location in the next few days. Be sure to take a few minutes and read Walk a Mile in my Shoes.

Click here for the digital version of NATA’s Aviation Business Journal.


What does snow have to do with spring?

February 1, 2013

As I sit and write this morning, snow is falling over the Washington, DC metropolitan area, snarling traffic and generally making everyone’s Friday morning difficult (except for the kids who don’t have to go to school!). Of course, sitting here in my warm office as a member of the staff here at NATA I find it hard to complain. It was just a few years ago that on a morning like this I was out on the ramp at the airport pulling aircraft out of their hangar or clearing snow off a fuel truck. It was back during those times that I got my first introduction to NATA and the Safety 1st training seminars. My employer sent me to the NATA Line Service Supervisor Training (LSST) in Chicago. The first seminar marked the moment my job became a career; the opportunity to talk with other attendees and meet with industry experts broadened my horizon beyond just the FBO and airport where I worked.

Now, we are coming up on one of my favorite events of the year, our NATA Safety 1st Spring Training Week in Las Vegas, NV. NATA Safety 1st Spring Training Week is Safety 1st’s premier training event, combining the LSST Seminar with the Safety 1st Trainer Seminar, Environmental Compliance Seminar and FBO Success Seminar. I love this event because of the opportunity it provides to interact with line service supervisors, general managers, training coordinators and compliance specialists from aviation facilities around the country. The discussions that occur during the seminars and even between sessions never fail to teach me something I did not know about our industry. Of particular interest to me this year are our Environmental Compliance Seminar and the FBO Success Seminar.

The Environmental Compliance Seminar, led by industry environmental compliance expert George Gamble of 2G Environmental, will give supervisors, managers and owners of aviation facilities the basics they need to know to comply with existing environmental regulations. George provides a solid understanding of what your company needs to do to comply with regulations such as Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures (SPCC), Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans, underground storage tank and universal waste. Most aviation facility managers spend a lot of time working to make their businesses successful. George and the Environmental Compliance Seminar will help you make sure that environmental compliance does not become an obstacle to that success.

One of the great things about NATA Safety 1st Spring Training Week is the wide variety of learning opportunities it provides. Take the FBO Success Seminar for example. Taught by John Enticknap of Aviation Business Strategies and Ron Jackson of the Jackson Group, this seminar provides tips and techniques for maximizing profits and reducing expenses, building productivity and improving your company’s bottom line. John and Ron’s coaching technique creates lively discussions that lead to a better understanding of the management practices that will help your business be successful.

While I mention those two seminars in particular, our LSST and Safety 1st Trainer seminars, as always, provide the foundation for productive and safe line service operations. I firmly believe in the value that NATA Safety 1st Spring Training Week can provide to your company and employees because I have experienced it firsthand.

I look forward to seeing you March 11-14 in Las Vegas for NATA Safety 1st Spring Training Week and I promise, no snow!

For more information, or to register, please visit NATA 2013 Safety 1st Spring Training Week webpage.


Spring Training Highlight: FBO Finance Fundamentals

February 14, 2012

“One of the great things about our industry is that we frequently see people work their way up through the ranks from the line to management positions,” said Phil Botana, president of Tampa International Jet Center. “It’s the American dream writ large across the general aviation industry, but it also presents a challenge: These are good, hard-working people who deserve to be promoted, but they are frequently also people with no real financial management training. How do you give them opportunities to learn about the business side of things and give them the tools to empower them to be better managers? I made the mistake one day a few years ago of saying I might have some answers to that question, and here we are.”

Botana and Mark Chambers, managing partner at Aviation Resource Group International (ARGI) in Colorado, will present their FBO Finance Fundamentals seminar March 6-7, 2012 during NATA’s Spring Training in Las Vegas. The seminar places emphasis on understanding financial reporting, business flows, key ratios, and metrics, as well as business planning, budgeting and accounting, allocating costs, negotiating, and developing operating and capital plans.

Over the last eleven years Botana and Chambers have trained hundreds of new and seasoned managers from FBOs across the country, helping them better understand the key financial metrics of the business.

“The seminar was originally geared towards people at FBOs who have just been promoted or are in line for a promotion but just don’t have any background in finance and business fundamentals, but what we’ve been finding is that everybody in management  can benefit from the sessions,” Botana said. “We’ve had several hundred people come through this seminar, from CEOs and finance people to line managers and folks who are just getting into the charter or FBO business and want to understand it more. Our goal is not to make them all into accountants, necessarily, but to help them understand the numbers, what the numbers tell them about the business, and how they can use that information to make the business better.”

Botana and Chambers draw a distinction between financial accounting and what they call “management accounting,” the process of identifying, measuring, reporting, and analyzing information about key business metrics, understanding those numbers and where they come from, and using those metrics to develop solid business plans to improve business performance. And while the seminar focuses on timeless tips and tools, Botana believes those business fundamentals are even more important in a down economy.

“Before you price your product you really need to know what the true cost structure of that product is,” Botana said. “It’s absolutely shocking to me how few people really understand cost structures and total operating costs, you know, ‘What portion of the sale of a gallon of fuel goes to pay my people, my rent, my insurance, my facility costs and so forth?’ It’s key to know that information before you’re negotiating with a customer so you don’t end up selling it for less than it actually costs you to provide it. And it’s even more critical now, when there’s less business out there and you need to size your business appropriately.”

It’s critical for anybody in a management position to be exposed to the practical side of financial management.

“This course is really aimed at people in our industry, and there a lot of them, who have been working in line positions and are moving up to management positions that put them at the table with other managers, talking about all things financial,” Chambers said. “The line manager wants to know, to the degree that he can control things, how much money he is making, how to read a financial statement and how to talk intelligently in a management meeting. When the president of the company turns to you and asks you a question about profitability – ‘Why is it high? Why is it low?’ – you need to be able to answer that with confidence, and to do that you need to be able to speak the language. You need to understand the metrics involved. Our seminar is a pretty intense couple of days, but you’ll come out of it knowing how to talk intelligently in a management meeting and knowing how to read a financial statement.”

It is also important, to learn how to use the numbers in a financial statement to move the business forward.

“The way a lot of managers learn to read financial statements is like learning to drive a car using the rear-view mirror,” Chambers said. “There’s a real tendency to look back and lament the numbers, and then keep heading in the wrong direction. The leap we try to get them to make – and admittedly they’re drinking out of a firehouse during our two-day seminar – is to start talking about how you practically manage your business going forward using some basic rules of thumb and some key metrics that are the targets you want to hit as a manager on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis.”

Fundamentals are just that: Fundamental.

“Yes, the economy is down and the business landscape is always changing, but the fundamentals stay the same,” Chambers said. “In the summary description for this seminar the title is ‘FBO Finance Fundamentals for New and Seasoned Managers Responsible for the Bottom Line in Aviation Services,’ but for the line manager it’s really the middle line that we’re trying to hit. The manager of the line department shouldn’t be worried about larger business decisions he has no control over, but he can learn to understand his revenue line and his cost of sales line and focus on producing enough gross profit in his department to make it make sense. What we’re asking of these managers doesn’t vary a lot in up or down economies: Give us the middle line and let the president of the company manage the rest of it. These middle-level managers have to be in there watching the middle line on a deal-by-deal basis, they have to have the financial tools to talk about it and make a compelling argument. They’re the heart of our business and they should be empowered to improve it.”

Submitted by Guest Blogger: Colin Bane (article first appeared in the Q4 2011 issue of ABJ.)

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