One of the fundamental responsibilities of an aviation business leader is to plan for the future success of the business. The first step in this strategic business planning process is to develop or update a strategic aviation business plan. This article will discuss the reasons for, the value of, and the elements of a strategic aviation business plan.
A strategic aviation business plan uses a logical and disciplined structure to set out the aviation business’s mission, vision, goals, objectives, and actions plans. In essence, a strategic aviation business plan transforms the mission and vision of the business into specific goals, objectives, and action plans for each product, service, and facility of the aviation business that will drive the day-to-day management and operation decisions.
There are several fundamental reasons for developing and implementing a strategic aviation business plan. A strategic aviation business plan:
(1) identifies steps to take to retain and attract more customers
(2) justifies the addition of new or the elimination of existing products, services, and facilities
(3) creates strategies to generate more operating revenues and reduce (or eliminate) operating expenses
(4) helps secure capital funding for the expansion of facilities and equipment or the acquisition of other complimentary products, services, facilities, or operating locations.
The value of developing and implementing a strategic aviation business plan includes the plan’s use as a planning tool, a management tool, and a communications tool.
As a planning tool, the aviation business leader is able to utilize the plan to (1) articulate the aviation business’s mission, vision, values, and goals; (2) set forth the objectives for achieving goals, (3) identify action plans for accomplishing objectives, (4) establish parameters for checking progress, and (5) provide a basis for making adjustments.
As a management tool, the plan helps keep aviation business leaders, management teams, and employees focused on achieving the aviation business’s goals and objectives and realizing the mission and vision while providing an actionable game plan that builds on the business’s strengths, addresses weaknesses, capitalizes on opportunities, and manages threats. In addition, the plan provides the framework for making informed, prudent, and defensible decisions concerning the management and operation of the aviation business.
As a communication tool, the strategic business planning process provides the opportunity for the aviation business leader, management team, and other key business stakeholders to engage in discussions about the future of the aviation business. Once implemented, the plan increases internal and external awareness of the business’s mission and vision and builds support for the future decisions made by management.
The primary elements of a strategic aviation business plan include mission, vision, and value statements and associated goals, objectives, and action plans. Following is a description and example for each strategic aviation business plan element.
A mission statement conveys the reason for the aviation business’s existence and the core competencies and/or product, services, and facilities of the business. As an example, the mission statement for Banyan Air Service is “To provide exceptional aviation services to our customers through dedication to quality, safety, and efficiency while maintaining a commitment to growth and the development of our team.”
A vision statement articulates the aspirations for the aviation business; it is a picture of success. As an example, Florida Aviation Business Association’s vision statement is “To be recognized through effective advocacy, regular public outreach, and consistent membership support as the leading information resource, principal promoter, and lead advocate of general aviation in the State of Florida.”
A values statement outlines the collective beliefs held throughout the aviation business. Values are enduring and will not be compromised or abandoned. As an example, Signature Flight Support’s (and its parent company BBA Aviation) core values are:
Integrity – We earn the trust and respect of our stakeholders with honesty, fairness, openness, and by honoring our commitments.
Responsibility – We are committed to managing our impact on, and contributing positively to society and the environment.
Service – We strive continually to anticipate customer needs, exceeding their expectations.
Performance – We focus on the delivery of long-term and sustainable value, continuous improvement and reliability.
Safety – We are dedicated to safety and security, the elimination of hazards and protecting people, property and our environment.
People – We are committed to investing in and empowering our people through training and education and to providing them with opportunities for rewarding careers.
A goal is a statement of a desired result, outcome, or level of attainment that needs to be reached to realize the mission and vision of the aviation business.
An objective is a significant step toward achieving a goal (i.e., it is a means to an end). Goals and objectives should be specific (simple, straightforward, and compelling), measurable (tangible, able to be tracked), attainable (possible, yet challenging enough to be motivated), relevant (connected to the business’s mission and vision statements), time bound (includes a beginning and ending point).
Action plans answer the key questions of who is going to do what, when, where, why, and how in order to accomplish each of the objectives established during the strategic business planning process.
Jeff A. Kohlman, Managing Principal, Aviation Management Consulting Group (AMCG)
Jeff is a founding principal of AMCG and has over 30 years of aviation industry experience including managing an FBO for 6 years and providing aviation management consulting services to aviation businesses, airports, aviation industry associations, and aviation agencies for the last 25 years. Jeff has an undergraduate degree in Aviation Business Administration with an emphasis in accounting and finance from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He is an instrument rated private pilot and aircraft owner.