The job responsibilities and personal costs of becoming an aeroplane broker differ greatly from the responsibilities of aeroplane sales representatives. An aeroplane broker can run his operation from a small office or his home via the Internet while salesmen work through aeroplane manufacturers. Since brokers act as intermediaries between plane owners and buyers, these professionals do not have to purchase inventory and aeroplane insurance as do sales people. Your success as an aeroplane broker depends on your ability to stand apart from competing brokers.
- Skill level:
Pursue a career as a flight instructor, aeroplane mechanic or aeroplane insurance agent before becoming an aeroplane broker. Former pilots, trainers, agents and mechanics have evaluated aircraft in the past for structural and mechanical defects. Prospective clients are more likely to list with former aviation officials instead of sales people without flight experience.
Detail your annual operating budget and geographic focus in your brokerage's business plan if you plan to become an independent broker. Your annual budget should reflect advertising costs, plane tickets and fees for appraisers and mechanics. Limit your operations to buyers and sellers within the United States to avoid international travel costs.
Earn your stripes as an aeroplane broker through an established firm such as USA Aircraft Brokers Inc. New brokers with USA Aircraft and other firms are trained to list and evaluate aeroplane listings before handling closing documents. While your broker commissions may be lower than those of an independent broker, an established firm lends legitimacy to every listing under your name.
Join the Aircraft Brokers Association International to gain access to training and exclusive listing tools. This industry group conducts brokerage training at sites throughout the United States each year to get brokers acclimated to industry trends. ABAi members are trained in registering listings with the Aircraft Exchange Network, the largest database of brokered plane listings in the world.
Recruit an aircraft appraiser and a mechanic for your brokerage. Your aircraft appraiser should be able to meet with sellers nationwide to determine the value of their planes in the current market. A retired mechanic should be available for phone and online consultations with sellers who need help repairing their listed planes.
Investigate interest rates and loan options for prospective buyers through aircraft lenders. National Aircraft Financing Company is among dozens of aircraft lenders nationwide that specialise in loans for aircraft buyers. Your familiarity with down payments, collateral and financing terms through major lenders will be helpful to inexperienced buyers.
Produce a broker agreement that will be used in every listing between the buyer, the seller and your office. This agreement should outline your commission on the final purchase price, your responsibilities as a broker and a provision for terminating the agreement with consent by all three parties.
Look for a website designer in your community who can create a simple website for your listings. Your website should feature an introduction on the home page, a tab for listed aeroplanes and an explanation of additional services such as appraisals and repairs. Include your e-mail address and phone number on the main page to simplify communications from prospective clients.
Assemble a call sheet with names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of aviation experts you have met. Your call sheet should be filled with aeroplane insurance agents, pilots and state aviation officials who can expedite licensing and registration for your clients. A contact within the FAA can help certify listed aeroplanes as flight worthy, improving the odds of a quick sale.
Attend aviation events throughout the United States to network with buyers, sellers and industry experts. The Experimental Aviation Association holds its annual AirVenture exhibition each summer with hundreds of small aircraft demonstrated for aviation fans. Use these events to create buzz for your brokerage services, and stay conversant in trends in the aviation industry.
Debate flat-fee services and commissions with your industry contacts before becoming an aeroplane broker. Independent brokers who charge flat commissions on each sale may leave money on the table with large aircraft but earn more for smaller aircraft sales. A percentage-based commission system will yield more income on high-end listings but could discourage sellers from listing multiple aircraft with your brokerage.
Tips and warnings
- Narrow your focus on certain aeroplane models to corner a niche of the aeroplane brokerage market. As other brokers look for classic aeroplanes and charter jets, your brokerage can focus on overlooked aircraft, such as helicopters, to attract motivated buyers. Your knowledge of a particular model or type of aircraft will increase a seller's comfort in listing his plane through your brokerage.
- Anticipate spending several days each month away from home broking aeroplane sales. Brokered aeroplane sales typically involve buyers and sellers across the United States that want personalised attention. If you are starting a family or working for another employer, you may not be able to broker as many deals as competitors due to time constraints.
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