Texas Gyro

This isn't a Flea Market

TexasGyro | 25 August, 2015 10:07

One thing that I have never understood is why aviation, ALL of aviation has negotiable pricing.  What other profession allows the customers to negotiate what he pays?  For some reason most customers never expect to pay the invoiced amount and that includes quoted work.  When did this start and how does it get passed along to new generations of aircraft owners? 

Most owner pilots are Type As and are typically the most important person in their world.  Perhaps they look down upon us lowly blue collar types and assume they can manipulate us?  Maybe they think that everyone in aviation is out to screw them?  Maybe in their everyday business life everything is a negotiation and they bring that with them to the airport, or maybe as an industry we just don’t have a spine and fold under pressure.

My vantage point is from the avionics shop, so it is avionics that I will defend.  Most of us, especially those of us who have been doing this for very long have little, if any, formal training (OJT and military excluded), so we don’t have that expense.  What we do have is tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of test equipment.  Beyond the initial purchase price you have regular calibration and repair costs, plus your equipment has to keep up with emerging technology.  One instance is for us to perform a simple 91.411/91.413 pitot/static/transponder test, we have over $30,000 invested in test equipment.  Customer expectation is that this test shouldn’t cost more than a couple of hundred dollars for a single engine aircraft.  So if I have a technician making $30 an hour and it takes him 2 hours to do the test, then I’m out $60 (plus overhead).  That leaves me with around $100 to pay off, maintain and upgrade my $30,000 test equipment.  At $100 it will take between 8 and 10 just to pay for annual maintenance and calibration of the equipment.  Try taking that business model to the Shark Tank and see what they have to say about it.   

Other expenses that we have that is higher than many other professions is rent and insurance.  Decent airport property is expensive and insurance requirements are astronomical.  Ground power units, tugs, tow bars and specialty crimp equipment also cost a lot of money.

So the next time you take your German car in for maintenance, kindly tell the clerk that takes your money that you are being overcharged and refuse to pay the full amount.  Let me know how that works for you.

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