April 21, 2014

Fleet Sales: Breaking Down a Complex Transaction

For companies and institutions that own a private aircraft fleet, there will invariably come a time when there is a need to sell. Whether it’s a multinational corporation looking to upgrade their fleet of Sikorskys and Challengers, or a US-based aviation services company aiming to sell their Citation 560XLs, fleet sales can come in any shape or size. There is no cookie cutter approach to handling these transactions.

Because each fleet sale is unique and entails a large scope of planning, preparation and execution, most aircraft brokers simply don’t have the knowledge or capability to handle these transactions. Each fleet sale involves a high level of trust, a wealth of experience and a unique ability to be flexible. It’s also the type of transaction that Jetcraft specializes in.

“We’ve been handling fleet sales for a long time, but these types of transactions aren’t something that Jetcraft started doing overnight,” explains Jetcraft President, Chad Anderson. “You have to earn these deals, through referrals and strong relationships built upon a solid foundation of trust.”

Preparation Matters

Every fleet sale customer looks forward to the end of a transaction, where they can sign the dotted line, shake hands, and close the deal. But long before that can occur, a broker must meticulously plan and strategize far in advance to make that day happen.

“Our salesman Scott Ritchie completed six transactions with a company in a span of 90 days, which is an extremely large work scope in a very short period of time,” explains Chad. “But what you have to realize is that leading up to that 90 day period, he probably had three year’s worth of planning and effort.  Fleet sales, start to finish, can actually happen pretty fast if a customer demands it, but there’s an incredible amount of preparation needed. A good broker will offer customers a clear, well-planned strategy and direction ahead of time.”

The Benefit of Accepting Trades

When talking about transactions as complex as fleet sales, the ability for a broker to be flexible can make or a break a deal. For Jetcraft that means offering the financial capability to accept trades in order to facilitate a deal and get it done in a timely manner.

“For buyers that cannot afford or choose not to hold both aircraft at the same time, trade can be a viable solution,” says Scott Ritchie, Jetcraft’s VP of Sales. “If I have a client with an inbound new delivery, but they do not yet have a home for their current aircraft, then trade allows for some flexibility. We can backstop the new delivery if they are unable to find a suitable buyer before the new delivery takes place.”

Managing Expectations

One of the most overlooked, but critical pieces of making a successful fleet sale happen is the ability to balance the interests of both the sellers and the buyers, facilitating a win-win situation for all involved.

“We play the role of matchmaker,” explains Chad. “It means carefully managing the seller’s expectations as well as qualifying the buyers expectations, so that we can match them and put together a deal that works for both parties involved.” 

Managing the many competing interests of a fleet sale can be trying, but Scott believes that establishing a level of understanding early will help avoid problems down the road.

“A good broker must first understand what the client’s expectations are based upon. This is important in all deals, but paramount in fleet transactions,” explains Scott. “Once the expectations are identified and plotted out, a broker can then advise on how to reach them or realign them toward an achievable solution.”

Scott’s experience of managing client expectations has routinely been put to the test over the years, as he’s executed some of Jetcraft’s largest and most complicated fleet sale transactions, including one that was truly unique.

“I once had a fleet client that needed to maintain their ongoing routine daily flights while we transitioned out the old aircraft and in the new aircraft without disruption,” recalls Scott. “Once we had a deal struck up on one of the outgoing aircraft, we worked with the buyer on the timing of the deal to keep the flights supported. We explained to them in the beginning what we needed to achieve, and although it had its challenges, it all worked out well in the end.”

Do you have a fleet that could benefit from the expertise of Jetcraft? Contact us today at +1 919 941 8400 or [email protected].