Ground Damage

roiJust reading with great interest in Ground Handling International (October 2013 issue) an article starting:
“Can we ever hope to rationalize the slightly surreal situation that sees a poorly-paid ramp agent driving an expensive unit of GSE around a multi-million pound aircraft? Alwyn Brice considers ground damage solutions”

Reading “[…] drew our attention to the fact that an insurer has no obligation to conclude a deal with a handler if he (the insurer) feels that the risk is poised too high.”
Just a reminder: Insurances are modern betting companies. Here, they bet that the ground damage stays long-term below the insurance fees. Insurance wins. If you mess up their risk-evaluation, they get rid of you as quickly as (in-)decently possible. Unfortunately, they rather frequently happen to tell their friends (the other insurances) about you. And yes, that’s the case for insurances anywhere.

That said: It is in the “common” interest to have experienced, reliable staff operating. One approach can be, to demand that in the contract. Just not yet part of any contract I’ve seen.

Ground Damage
Ground Damage

And every time (airline) managers tend to “outsource” existing business parts, they most times do know their new “partners” provide lesser quality for less money, safe on salaries and training quality – as the airline sure tweaked their operations already to cost effectiveness (within internal quality levels). The only the ground handler can become cheaper is to compromise quality. What worries me often, is the nonchalance with which security and safety are as such willingly put at stake by senior aviation managers “for the sake of business” (cash).

Not to misunderstand me. There are business cases that make outsourcing reasonable, I know General Sales Agents (GSAs) and Ground Handling companies serve a purpose when there is not enough “own business” to justify own staff. And in such cases they can provide better quality by consolidating business and having the advantages coming with the larger scale of operations.

Food for Thought
waiting for comments

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General Sales Agents

GSAThis week I addressed the issue of General Sales Agents (GSA).

In general, the GSA is a very good idea. If you cannot afford your own staff, why not share with other companies just as yours? There are two major hurdles:

1. In many cases, the GSA is considered a “second class employee”, as they only spend a part of their time on your product. My recommendation: Have the key people (reservations, sales) invited within four weeks to your location to get familiar with your product, philosophy and work style. Have them meet the decision makers personally they need to have contact to. This will not only motivate them, but also make them truly represent you in their respective markets. Repeat this frequently. Your GSA sales representative(s) usually should be invited to attend your sales meetings. I have seen results by thus motivated staff, that exceeded the results of an entire airline office in another market. And listen to them. Their prime interest is (or should be) to increase your revenue and make your product sales stable.

2. In other cases, GSAs work on a “minimized effort” scheme. Instead of sharing the resources properly, they try to tweak the last dollar out of you, until you recognize they just drain you. Ensure to have an as close contact to their sales teams as you have to your own. Ensure to have a clear manpower commitment. It is reasonable for a GSA sales person to have three or four, either similar or complementing products. I have seen cases where one person was asked to fully represent six or more products.
That might work, if the products are complementary, but that is not the common case.
Assure to have your GSA benefit fair from all sales in their region. In that case they are interested to support you to spread your distribution channels. Otherwise they will try to keep all dropping through their office, limiting the market awareness.

So GSA can be a very good thing, there are many very good and motivated GSAs out there working 150% in their client’s interests. But ensure that the principal and the GSA work on the same goals. Set targets. Find a GSA that has experience in your market. Not only the branch, but also the global region. Ethics, work style, etc. do differ.

The GSA is not a panacea. They need reasonable funding. But usually, you can pay them a base fee covering their normal operations, with marketing funds depending on the revenue they generate. But check what interest they have to sell you!

If you have questions or wish to select a GSA in Europe, ask me. And if you want to build your team and seek experts for sales, business development, reservations, etc., let me know, there are some good out there seeking a decent job 😀

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