One of the biggest benefits for our Aviation Marketing Master Class is the opportunity to network with aviation professionals. Our members, or Insiders, one another to help us get to know one another better, make better referrals to each other, and generally learn more about the smartest people in the industry.
We’re looking forward to learning more about smart aviation professionals!
In this interview, Mark Leeper is interviewing Brian Rauch.
Mark Leeper: Brian, you’re located down south of Phoenix, Mesa, is that correct?
Brian Rauch: Yeah, I’m right by Falcon Field.
Mark Leeper: Yeah, good deal. Do you fly or have you been up in a smaller aircraft much or?
Brian Rauch: No, no, that’s a thing that’s on my to-do list. I’m doing a home study right now, and we’re saving up money to get me into flight training, so we’ll see how that goes.
Brian Rauch: Yes, absolutely.
Mark Leeper: Good, if you don’t mind, let’s start out and maybe chat a little bit about your background and where you’re from and stuff like that.
Brian Rauch: Sure, where would you like me to begin?
Mark Leeper: Well, I know you’re in Phoenix now. Are you from Phoenix?
Brian Rauch: No, sir, I’m originally from Longview, Texas.
Mark Leeper: Okay, all right, I’m a Wichita Falls guy, myself. Yeah, I seem to have around this way. So how long have you been in Phoenix?
Brian Rauch: I moved here, it’ll be 12 years ago this October.
Mark Leeper: And what brought you to Phoenix?
Brian Rauch: Well, I finally finished my undergrad work back at University of Texas, Tyler Branch, and I came out here because there’s a little bit opportunity than in Texas, and started working for University of Phoenix for about four years.
Mark Leeper: You did? Okay, what did you do for the University of Phoenix?
Brian Rauch: I was in enrollment, what I did was vet and recruit students for the freshmen/sophomore level courses, and assist them through getting into class and then staying in class, working through to finish their associates. And move onto their bachelor’s programs, either with the University of Phoenix or the Western National University campus.
Mark Leeper: Would you call that a sales business development type position?
Brian Rauch: Yeah, yeah, my educational background was in, I had a bachelor of arts in history with a double minor in secondary education and marketing. So working University of Phoenix kind of put some of those things together, which was really nice because I actually got to help some people out over the course of my tenure there.
Mark Leeper: Right, right, so yeah, you had that position immediately on getting to Phoenix, or have you had other positions since?
Brian Rauch: What I’ve done since then is I work for a local charity as their director of facilities for, they’re called Maggie’s Place. It’s a Catholic charity organization that helps homeless moms through their pregnancy, with follow-ups afterwards.
And I help them maintain the homes that were here in town, and one in Ohio, and at the time Idaho as well. Plus a major rebuild of the original property that was destroyed by fire. So did that for a year, did some handyman, remodeling work on the side, some repair things.
Those are just side things I do. Currently, I’m with Venezia’s Pizzaria down here. And that’s just kind of my survival job, while I work on, go ahead.
Mark Leeper: No, go ahead, I’m sorry.
Brian Rauch: While I work to break into the aviation industry is how I found ABCI, seems to be the only organization out there that seems to have information to educate, inform people without having to spend tens of thousands of dollars to go through a full bachelor’s program.
Mark Leeper: Yeah, they’re a full resource, a tremendous help to people that are trying to build businesses, etc. So tell me a little about some of the things you’d like to be able to do in aviation?
Brian Rauch: Well, on the near to midterm, I’m looking to get in probably something that fits more of my background, sales oriented definitely.
I kind of like the flight training aspect of it. So that might be a little FBO or a flight training outfit. There’s also, I saw in your background you’ve worked with UPRT Company out of California, correct?
Mark Leeper: That’s correct, yeah.
Brian Rauch: And I’m interested in one of your competitors out at Williams Field APF.
Mark Leeper: Yeah.
Brian Rauch: So.
Mark Leeper: They’re a tremendous organization, growing one of the biggest in the world.
Brian Rauch: Yeah, and I’m just amazed with what that is. My father was a commercial pilot in the military, fighter pilot as well amongst other things in the service, and so aviation’s kind of in my blood, and I’m going hm, that might be an organization be nice to join.
So I’m educating myself on what’s involved, not just basic flight training, but also what is the sales and marketing process. Not just for them, but for the general aviation flight industry, and sales industry, so forth.
Mark Leeper: What type of aircraft did your dad fly?
Brian Rauch: Gosh, commercially, two sevens, three sevens, four sevens, five sevens, six sevens.
DC3, eights and then military, he was C47 so the DC3. OV-10s, A-10, A-37, PC-10s, and there’s a cargo plane in there that I don’t remember.
Mark Leeper: [LAUGH] Yeah, where was he based? Where did he fly? Probably all over the place.
Brian Rauch: Barstow was his primary station. He spent time also I forgot, England Air Force Base in Louisiana as well.
So those were his two stations.
Mark Leeper: Yeah, so you got to see a lot of parts of the country probably growing up.
Brian Rauch: No, he was a reservist, and you’re probably old enough to remember Braniff, he was one of the senior captains when version one went out of business, and came back for versions two and three.
Mark Leeper: [LAUGH] My goodness, yeah.
Brian Rauch: Then he also flew from North America, and his final commercial job was with Polar Air Cargo, now part of, I believe, Atlas.
Mark Leeper: Right, right.
Brian Rauch: So we just stayed stuck in east Texas, and then occasionally, we used flight benefits to go visit family up in New York and out in Denmark where my mother’s from.
Mark Leeper: Right, what are you doing right now to try and find out their opportunities in the sales area for the aviation industry?
Brian Rauch: Well, one is I’ve been doing a lot of online research. I’m looking at the materials that Paul and John have put together on the marketing aspects and some of the companies that are participating in the circle and the master’s class prior to that..
I’ve talked to some of the mid-level and mid-level senior management over at CAE Oxford here at Falcon Field, Classic Aviation, Falcon Aviations, because it’s kind of convenient learning because they’re about a mile away.
So I kind of drop in and just kind of pick their brains, talk to the higher ups of the people that work there and learn what the processes are involved and so forth. And just trying to find out what it takes to get in. And what I’m learning is it’s kind of challenging for an outsider such as myself who doesn’t have experience in the industry.
And so that’s why I’m trying to learn more, get into the ground school position, maybe go for private, though that would benefit me regardless within the industry. But try to understand the terminology regulations, and the specifics of the market that’s involved, that would be the prospects and existing customer bases.
Mark Leeper: I noticed the amount of flight instructors that are in demand right now. It seems to be increasing tremendously with the shortage of pilots coming up.
Brian Rauch: Absolutely.
Mark Leeper: And that really bodes well for flight schools, and Arizona being a flight school hub. Flight schools as a whole are always looking for ways to attract students.
How would you compare and contrast maybe what you did with the University of Phoenix, what opportunities that you see are part of the transferable fields you learned at Phoenix Aviation that can be moved over into flight schools?
Brian Rauch: Sure, of course you have the basic processes that is just kind of universal with a direct sales environment which is lead qualification and building rapport.
My personal view and my understanding with the industry is depending on who the target age group is. So if you’re looking for a younger student, you’re trying to inform as much as possible, but you’re trying to see how qualified and really prepared and dedicated they are to what they’re going to undertake.
So that requires some, kind of like we’re doing now, in depth questioning and interviewing to understand what the knowledge base is and to answer their questions. And also come up with clear expectations of what’s involved such as okay, well, how are you gonna pay for it, which is the most critical thing, and the most challenging thing for flight schools no matter where they are.
Because the cost of flight training on the low end for a school such as CAE and ATP amongst others, you’re looking at 60, 70 grand all day long, and it goes up from there. It’s quite a bit of money to pay for something, but you’re looking at fast track training of 18 months, plus or minus, to be CFI rated, and in many cases, APP rated on the low end.
Mark Leeper: What resources have you discovered that are available out there for financial assistance?
Brian Rauch: Well, if you’ve got some add initiative sponsorship programs like the big one that Jet Blue came up with, and then what that leaves a lot of students with is they try to line you up with, if you’re an American student and it’s a qualified program, you’re former military, you’ve got your GI bill and VA benefits.
If you’re just a student off the street, you may have some of the federal student loan and grant programs available if the school is qualified. Then, of course, you have private financing. Other than the good old fashion pay it with cash, or some people if they choose to do so, they pay it on credit, or from the family or whatever.
So those are the general resources that are available on the financial side of the equation. The question is, is the student willing and able to take care of that kind of debt load now? You also have some of these sponsorship trainings, what is it, not Mesa Airlines, but gosh, Transamerican.
I know they’re doing reimbursements if you qualify through schools such as APP, for example, of at least 11,000 in tuition reimbursement, along with sponsorship programs, which if you meet the minimal requirements and you pass the first interview, that you become, as part of the program, you become a paid trainer for whatever flight school, in this example, APP.
So you’re getting paid while you’re going to school, that kind of offsets some of the cost. And then you’re guaranteed an interview or possibly a slot to be a first officer as soon as you meet the qualifications, once you’ve built your time. So that’s another way to pay for school.
I’ve learned about more creative ways. Some people kinda hanging around FPOs for example and just picking up odd jobs, washing the aircraft, answering phones. Kinda trading their service or their labor as a way to offset costs to learn to fly. So that’s some of the non-traditional way, and then I’ve learned of others.
That some people will go out of their way and get into house flipping, or they’ll start a side business, or so forth. So there’s many ways to pay for school, but the most common seem to be financing it.
Mark Leeper: Right, well, we’re fortunate. Our industry, people have a true passion for aviation especially when it comes to flying, so they’ll go to great lengths to, most of the time, facilitate their education somehow.
Which is great, so we’re all dealing with passionate people. It’s a very small industry as a whole and a very close knit society,. So that’s good, and when you develop a reputation in the aviation industry, it can serve you well throughout the years.
Brian Rauch: Yeah.
Mark Leeper: If you looked at your combined skills that you’ve developed and educate yourself, what would you say, if you looked at the sales process from marketing to Prospecting, contacting, presenting, closing, follow up, what would you say is your top skill that you have?
Maybe the one you enjoy the most. Maybe the one that becomes the easiest and that you’re best at.
Brian Rauch: The one that comes best will be prospecting, followed by closing. Cause the prospecting is very challenging and interesting because you get to learn, it’s a new puzzle to be solved everyday.
So to speak. And when you have your prospective student client, whatever, on the phone or in person depending on however the sales process is setup. You get to know more about their needs and then match them to what the organization offers. For example I’m gonna go back with upset prevention in training.
Seems to be the target market right now is existing pilots, mainly commercial air transport. And those people are extremely busy, but with the requirements coming down, what 2017 the FAA is making it required for your current training to remain certified, something to that effect? Communicating the importance of going through this training is a challenge because, while I’ve, you know, we’ve done upset training when I did my flight.
And we do it in the sim, but it’s not the same as getting behind the controls of the aircraft and with somebody who’s versed in it. Because upset of an aircraft in flight is the most common cause of accidents and I believe many of the pilots that you’d be prospecting, they understand this.
They’ve gone into rough weather, they’ve fallen into turbulence from an aircraft ahead of them, something like that. And knowing how to quickly and safely recover the aircraft is a skill that It needs to be developed and it can be done quickly with competent training. And so illustrating that for the pilot and directing them to resources that are out there, YouTube videos that are posted, some of the research from ICAO and so forth, can help with the process of convincing them.
And then also showing how airlines are taken as seriously because they’re integrating that into their ongoing training to keep all their pilots current, and just let them know, hey you can be ahead of the curve on some of these things getting some people to think ahead. I know that can be attractive to some pilots, especially the more serious they are about the work they do.
So that’s kind of an off the chest scenario that I could foresee and just speaking to them on their level and directly, very plain spoken, don’t necessarily have to get in too much of the jargon. But from my experience has been just a facts man, because I don’t have a lot of time.
Mark Leeper: Yeah, exactly.
Brian Rauch: Very procedural, but yeah, if you do that.
Mark Leeper: I was gonna say people that have skills with the prospecting part of things and closing steps. A lot people will say that they enjoy sales. But that’s the hardest part of course, is contacting people on whether it’s cold or semi warm prospects.
So if you have skills at that and can You can exercise those skills, you should have an extreme of values on these companies, from my experience in sales training, there’s been too many of us in the field that have stepped back to rely only on social media, etc.
To try to close deals and that’s not where it’s at. It’s being in the trenches with the people that have skills like yourself and want to prospect and want to get on and come meet people and follow up, follow up, follow up until you find a point where the point where the customer is, all the needs are met and then you close the sale.
That’s a good thing to say. Most people will not say that, most people will say they like the marketing side of things, which is just as important honestly, but the personal contact.
Brian Rauch: Absolutely, because at the end of the day, I know this from my own experience.
When I need a product or service, there’s some things that are very transactional, say. I’m going to use spot-automotive because I just got done swapping a motor in my 4-Runner. I need some oil, I can go on Amazon and order a bottle of oil, I really don’t need help for that.
But if I don’t understand how certain gaskets are supposed to be used, or how to break a drive shaft that’s in the wrong position because it’s been there for 300,000 miles, I’m going to need somebody that has experience with that. I can read so much on the internet, I can watch so many videos but until somebody who’s actually done it.
Yeah, they tell you those things, but here let me show you. It doesn’t necessarily always click, plus it gives more confidence I think, to the consumer. And also to the business on the same hand, because you believe you’ve established that communication, and the rapport link that makes everyone more comfortable with what’s going on.
Mark Leeper: Our discussion to ABCI, tell me what you like best about ABCI and why?
Brian Rauch: Well, what I found very interesting about ABCI is how the scope of the information seems to be so broad and deep at the same time. It, from what I’ve been observing since January with the free posting of stuff, is how Paul and John have put together basically a marketing in a binder I’m gonna say, because I haven’t seen the binder.
And it starts from the beginning, okay let’s identify your market, what are your wants and needs, and what do you believe the wants and needs of your target customers are. And okay, let’s build up from there, what is your grant? What do you do best? How do you communicate this, are people trained to deal with customers?
Are you trained? Do you have systems in place, which helps with efficiency, let’s work on that. Trade shows, which we just covered last month. Okay, that’s a big thing that most people just blow off set up, I’m gonna set up my booth, and wait for the people to come.
No, it’s more than that. This is a great prospecting opportunity to draw in more leads, that are, that want the. How do you interact with people? How do you make sure that your information is from the market that you worked at prior makes that connection with the person where it generates their interest?
Where they want to learn more. The fact that ABCI wants to take a possible person, like me, to a professional, such as yourself, where they’re at and guide them along the way. For my case, inform them more about the industry and the processes, and then for a professional, such as yourself, how to make your processes better or help you generate a system that works for you.
I just find that tremendous. And in my prior sales experience, I wish I had some of these things before I was in those sales positions because I know I would have been even more successful than I was. And that’s just the value that I’ve found thus far learning from ABCI.
Mark Leeper: Yeah, I would agree with that. Paula and John have done an unbelievable job of building relationships throughout the aviation industry. And you’re right about their work and depth of companies that they work with, I mean, key individuals. It never ceases to amaze me that I can plug myself into ABCI and they’ll usually help me connect the over a short period of time with various different players in the aviation industry.
So that’s a real key thing. If you could help them and us out by saying, well what might you like to see us add to our menu so to speak, or what would you like to see improved? Could you think of anything that comes to mind?
Brian Rauch: Well again I, from my perspective I’m not the usual customer so to speak.
I’m a guy from the outside looking in what needs to get it. What I’m enjoying thus far is seeing how, the material even though it’s targeted towards people that are currently in the business, that information is not only informative to me, but it’s also applicable.
How would that help, or what offers can be added? Well maybe long term is how could ABCI actually develop something more of a training program for people like me or beginning professionals in the business that are going to be working in the marketing and the sales and the customer services.
All the things that keep the revenue flowing in order to. Help develop better professionals. The industry seems to be at a very critical point. General aviation is just kind of a wait and see mode right now. It’s kind of shrunk a lot, but there’s, you can just see there’s under the surface bubbling demand just about to happen especially with this pilot shortage.
And I really foresee some of these efforts that ABCI is helping to undertake with the business say hey, you need to ramp up. There’s an opportunity here that you can take advantage of. And I think that would be a neat thing, is how to identify possible prospects such as myself, or others again, that’s my biased perspective coming in.
Mark Leeper: Yeah, I think that’s a great point, giving back to the industry is always important, and it’s certainly done that, and you’re right about general aviation being a bit of a slump right now. So it will be interesting to see how things shake out, those are really good points.
Wanting to keep this to about 30 minutes, but the insider’s circle, how long have you been a part of that group?
Brian Rauch: Formally since last month. I’ve been informally watching since January. So here and there on the free webinars and some of the podcasts and everything. Since then because of my work and family demands, but I’m really bearing down right now to catch up on the past information and push forward.
Because I’d really like to be prepared and in a position to get on, again, we’re not or somebody else to start within the business in the next six months. And I’m hoping being within the insider circle will give me a broader knowledge base from which to present myself to prospective employers.
Mark Leeper: Well I’m sure with your passion for aviation and your professionalism and ability to sell, you’ll find a great position within the aviation field, especially in the sales, it is the lifeblood, we all love airplanes, we all love to fly. But nothing happens is when somebody sells something and it’s just so critical that everybody in a organization, the FBO, the flight school, etc is that part of that process on their mind is to how to network you know their services and professionalism out to the aviation community to bring in new customers because that’s what keeps things, again the gears turning.
Brian Rauch: Yeah, gotta grow the sales funnel and keep it filled.
Mark Leeper: Yeah, I’ll have you tell me as we conclude, what’s your next step? What do you see as your next critical move that you could take in pursuing this?
Brian Rauch: Well I’m hoping that an opportunity such as this Mark, getting some in-depth feed back from you.
Maybe connecting with others that are within the circle or some of your broader network. Maybe you said as a referral for mock interviews. Get to learn meet some of the owners and learn what the reality is from their side of the equation and determine whether or not I’m a good fit for the business.
Maybe for them or in general and then utilize that as a step to actually interview for real positions.
Mark Leeper: Well tremendous. Again, we’ve been talking with Bryan aviation, buddied professional, we certainly appreciate your comments and your positive response about aviation business consultants. And we’ll close this up, but again thank you so much for your help.
Brian Rauch: Thank you very much for your time Mark.
Mark Leeper: Okay we’ll talk to you soon.
Brian Rauch: Have a great day.