Oklahoma FBO backs up marketing with service

 - March 30, 2007, 1:05 PM

Greenwood Aviation wants to earn aircraft operators’ business, one customer
at a time. Chuck Greenwood, owner of the Ponca City, Okla., operation, spends $30,000 per year on marketing, but emphasizes that it’s the little things that bring people back. For example, he said, “In talking with more than 400 pilots over two years; we identified the number-one image maker of FBOs. It’s the restrooms.

Customers can overlook some other inconveniences, but they want clean restrooms.” So he installed the latest in touchless toilet fixtures and keeps fresh-cut flowers on the counters.

And Greenwood doesn’t forget the needs of his four-legged customers. At the urging of his 13-year-old son, he added a Pet Port doggy run, complete with a fire hydrant and pet snacks “for the most precious fur you have in your airplane.”

Not all the marketing moves are small. Greenwood’s year-over-year fuel sales doubled by focusing on margin. He said, “Too many FBOs think they need to pump 100 gallons more each day. But I wanted to make $100 more each day. Growth isn’t about gallons, it’s about margin per airplane.” With that in mind, he has an unusual fuel-pricing structure. Transient customers buy fuel at Greenwood’s cost, and pay a $100 charge for any amount up to the first 1,000 gallons that go into the tanks. After that, the pump fee is a dime a gallon. The program has proved popular.

Greenwood said, “When a program starts to fly by word of mouth, you know you have a winner. My goal is to make the transient fuel-stop business cover all overhead costs, so that all other business income is total profit. That means my profitability is driven by local business growth.” That’s a strategy that sits well with those who decide what local municipal funding goes to the airport.

Greenwood Aviation has six acres of ramp space with access to the 7,000-foot runway. Fourteen employees include seven line techs and an aircraft maintenance inspector. The storage hangar has 15,000 sq ft available, with three other hangars totaling about 10,000 sq ft. Greenwood plans to turn his primary ramp to a “drive through” format, allowing the wingtips of quick-turn aircraft to pass within 20 feet of the terminal door.

As a novelty, Greenwood posted the original flying regulations in each rest room, for his customers’ enjoyment and edification. “Did you know that it’s illegal to fly with spurs on?” he asked.