Having successfully completed three years of operations since its inception in the UAE, Global Jet Centre is all set to take on the business aviation sector by storm. Here’s an excerpt of our interaction with the budding entrepreneurs…
Three like-minded individuals founded Global Jet Centre in November, 2013 – Naushad Ahmad, Bashar Beasha and Claudio Lietaert. The trio have more than 35 years of combined experience and have put together an interesting product offering: flexible and readymade aircraft charter solutions for business, leisure as well as medical evacuations.
Naushad Ahmed, Managing Partner and Co-founder of Global Jet Centre, reveals that the idea of starting the business came about when the three friends felt it was time to use their experience to create something of their own. “We’re essentially brokers,” he says. “Between the three of us (co-founders), we put up a sum of thirty thousand dirhams to start the business. We hardly have any liabilities and fixed costs, and have fairly good relationships with both clients and service providers – so we capitalised on that.” This allowed the partners to hit the ground running. Naushad confidently implies that the enterprise has been making money from the first month, and there has been no looking back since.
But what sets Global Jet Centre apart from other companies following a similar business model? Naushad believes that his personalised business relationships have helped him stay competitive. “In a world where there’s an app for everything, we acquire our business based on our personal relationships with clients. We deal with our clients one-on-one. We pride ourselves on 24/7 personal availability. Human interaction is vital in understanding our clients’ requirements; whether a business trip or personal time off with family, we’re able to provide our clients with solutions customised to their needs and budgets,” he explains.
He also emphasises the need to be flexible in terms of the solutions his company offers. “We offer a comprehensive range of solutions to our clients. Yet, if there is something that needs to be tweaked to suit the individual requirements of their business, we are happy to do that. The team works hard to understand the likes, dislikes and preferences of every customer; such is the nature of our business.”
As with any business, Global Jet Centre’s journey has not been without its challenges. Naushad remembers a certain period in the previous year when market rumours and forecasts resulted in business slowing down temporarily. “Because of our relationships with clients, we know their likes, dislikes and budget preferences. This allows us to offer customised packages and that’s really our USP. We don’t work 9am to 5pm. If a client needs a quotation or a proposal at 2am and someone isn’t able to immediately take that call, we have a system in place to ensure the call is returned in 15 to 20 minutes.”
“No one has the time to draft a detailed e-mail anymore,” he stresses. “WhatsApp and cheap call rates have changed how clients like to get in touch. An unreturned call means missed business.”
Naushad also confesses that 2016 seemed like it was going to be a difficult year due to a lot of market speculation, but the company actually ended up doing fairly well and is now in the process of expanding the team. “We’re getting a bigger office and also looking into establishing an international office,” he beams. “What we’re NOT doing is getting our own aircraft.” He quotes Richard Branson on this one: If you’re a billionaire and want to become a millionaire – start an airline. Naushad feels that keeping abreast of happenings in the industry and adding to the basic business is a big enough task.
“We felt a bit of a shift in demand for leisure-based charters towards business charters, and had to tweak our offering accordingly. Every market has its own dynamics and it’s only possible to be flexible if one is well-versed with the market,” he continues. “We also realised that learning is a never-ending process even if you have been working in the industry for 10 to 15 years. You cannot allow yourself to get complacent. The moment you start to think you know it all, an entirely unforeseen situation will come along and give you a very hard reality check. There are a lot of situations and challenges that only an industry insider can be aware of and we need to keep abreast of these at all times.”
Drafting the flight plan
“Yes, we are looking into another platform,” Naushad lets on. “Even though our business model is based on our personal relationships that apps don’t really cater to, we can’t ignore that apps are the way to go. Technology has reshaped our business and we have a website that clients can visit and get updated information about basic products and special packages. We’ve done our best to make the website as user-friendly as possible. At the end of the day though, it all goes back to personal relationships with the client, how well you assist and guide them into choosing the best aircraft service. Retaining clients is never easy, and to do so a business must keep innovating and looking for that sweet spot to keep clients coming back.”
The entrepreneur concludes his chat with SME Advisor on the note that while apps undoubtedly are the future, it would be unwise to become fully reliant on technology and ignore the human interaction aspect of a business relationship. “We started this business on the basis of our relationships with clients and service providers alike and that will continue to be the USP of our business model.”
In an era where apps are the new way of doing business, it is perhaps easy to get carried away by all that technology can do. Global Jet Centre’s business model however represents a more traditional modus operandi. Traditional client engagement involves personalised interaction that strengthens brand loyalty versus an app that allows 24/7 remote engagement with clients, all while taking advantage of the most basic features such as comments, feedback and usage metrics. While there is a large client base that appreciates more human interaction, there is a growing number of innovators and early adopters who prefer the convenience of a few thumb-clicks on their smartphones. The way forward we feel is one where digital and traditional business practices are used together to achieve a harmony of the opposites, and one complements the other for a more holistic consumer experience. The consumer, after all, is king.