If general aviation ran like Publix Super Markets

Southerners are familiar with the name Publix. The supermarket chain is more than a thousand stores strong, with something in the neighborhood of 150,000 employees. They embrace a family friendly attitude from top to bottom in their business model, and prize superior customer service above price. It’s a formula that works, and has worked amazingly well for more than 80 years.

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A long road to a big win

Tourism may not seem like a natural partner of the general aviation community, but it can be. It can even be argued that it should be. And as an naturally argumentative sort of fellow, I’ll be happy to take up that issue and carry it wherever I have to in order to make progress for GA.

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Winners and losers

Regardless of what kind of business you are in, there is one common component that has massive influence on whether you experience economic success or disaster. That component is known as the customer. Yep, customers are the magic elixir of business, regardless of whether you’re selling toothpaste, muscle cars, or flight lessons. In the end it’s all about the customer.

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A word of advice: Be polite for a better outcome

When viewed from a comfortably detached perspective, the ironies of life can be entertaining. Let’s face it, we all get a lot of good stories from the oddities that happen all around us. Then again, those same ironies can be an infuriating series of experiences if seen from a viewpoint that includes personal involvement.

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Celebrities brought down to earth

While watching an episode of Top Gear recently (the English version on BBC America with Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond) I noticed that a familiar American celebrity popped up on screen. Tom Cruise was given the cheery task of being their Star in a Reasonably Priced Car feature for the episode. He did this job in tandem with Cameron Diaz, his co-star in whatever movie they were plugging at the time. But that’s beside the point.

What caught my attention was that Clarkson, a gear-head of massive proportions (and I say that with the greatest respect) was very interested in Tom’s P-51 Mustang. [Read more…]

Don’t forget the little guy

As regular readers of this column may have noted, I often write about airports and administrative issues that effect the municipally owned airports of Polk County, Florida. Because most of the issues that one airport faces will eventually become an issue for others, there is a certain universality to the topics covered here, even if the focus does appear on the surface to be narrow, including only the four municipally owned airports in this county.

That’s the magician’s trick of it all. There aren’t four airports in my county. The four airports I’ve mentioned here, in relation to the Polk Aviation Alliance for instance, are just the tip of the iceberg. They are the big dogs in a kennel filled with dozens of yapping pooches. You see, although there may be only four municipally owned airports in my county, it is entirely reasonable to say that there are as many as 40 aviation bases of operation.

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The loser in us all

The saying goes, “You can’t win if you don’t play.” That’s true for the most part. But of course the corollary to that expression is, “If you play you will lose — at least sometimes.” That’s the reality of the situation. Get used to it.

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Say again?

I get no joy out of admitting this, and I certainly mean no disrespect by discussing it publicly, but almost every week I get at least one email that makes no sense to me at all. I feel bad about that, because the person who sent the message almost certainly had something specific in mind. It seems likely they intended to convey an idea that was of importance to them. But they only got half the job done. They sent the email, they just forgot to read it to make sure it actually said what they intended it to before hitting the send button.

Of course poor communication isn’t limited to badly written emails. [Read more…]

First responders and pilots: The follow-up

Now online: Powerpoint presentation for first responders

It was the day after Christmas 2011 when I filled this space with talk of first responders. Specifically, I wrote about the self-interest the aviation community has in reaching out to work with first responders before something bad happens. If you wait until flames erupt from wreckage on the runway, it’s probably too late to do anything meaningful in the way of preparation.

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The $64 million answer

Here’s a good quiz question for you: What do Stuart Jet Center, in Stuart, Florida, Region Air in Sparta, Tennessee, and Missouri Aviation Center in Warrensburg, Missouri, have in common? They’re all running specials with discounts on fuel for pilots traveling to Sun ‘n Fun. That’s right, the reach of Sun ‘n Fun extends well outside the borders of Florida. Said another way, general aviation has a positive economic impact on North America that is absolutely undeniable. Better yet, it’s quantifiable — and that matters to all of us.

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