Growing up I can remember Kmart’s infamous Blue Light Special deals and the announcements you would hear over the loudspeakers. Many thought this was the “cat’s meow” of all deals because you felt like you were getting something at rock bottom prices, but who was it benefiting? Was it a smart move for Kmart or an act of desperation? For most of my life, Kmart has been on life support financially with barely enough money to pay their employees and their bill, while still servicing their debt. Sound like a company you want to do business with?
Since joining Sparkchasers earlier this year, I’ve met all too many people looking for the Blue Light Special. I’ve met people who want to buy used equipment for their airplane from all over the country, compile it, and then pay local avionics shop to install it, all the while beating them up over their labor rate. I’ve met people who are spending days getting bids from 5 different avionics shops from Florida to Tennessee with one factor in mind: low price. I’ve had pilots fly in to get an avionics quote and when you walk out to the airplane to look at it you notice a puddle of brake fluid by the wheels. When you point it out to them you get the response “I just keep adding more fluid because it’s going to cost too much to fix.” Surprisingly, the aviation industry is full of Blue Light Special shoppers and I just hope there is always a Kmart with their heart still beating so they can get the deal they aspire for.
I’ve had the great privilege of working with some amazing CEO’s and having great business coaches over the years. From that, I learned a couple of important lessons that I will never forget:
- A business can’t be all things to all people. You have to decide who you are going to be.
- If you’re going to be the low cost leader, you better be really good at it because that kind of business model is unforgiving.
Sparkchasers is an amazing company with an amazing history. It has a grassroots history of two guys who had a dream 28 years ago and you know what….they are both more financially stable than Kmart is today. It’s unlikely that we can change an entire industry, but we can change who we want to be in that industry. We sincerely want to be a trusted brand in the aviation community where aircraft owners, who want a quality job, at a fair price and a company who will stand behind their work can go. We want to be the company who leads with “how can we help” for all your aircraft needs. We’re not there yet, but we’re working passionately at it.
People come to Sparkchasers because they’ve heard good things or because someone recommended us. The quality of our work product is directly tied to our organizational passion for excellence, and to having some amazing employees that we’re investing in so they can be even better. When you have a culture that is built around excellence and service, it’s not going to be the right fit for every employee and it’s not going to be the right fit for every customer either. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t passionately pursue it; It just means that not everyone that comes through your door will be there to stay.
The great game of business is like a never ending race, and it helps to know who you are before you start. As 2017 winds down and our focus becomes 2018, you can bet that you’ll see incremental progress and a better version of Sparkchasers. We’re committed to it!