At Elite Aviation, it is not the type of aircraft the company charters that is important to the management. Nor is the size or shape of its building at Van Nuys Airport. Elite distinguishes itself by taking techniques from the corporate world to create a culture not typically found in aircraft charter and management companies a culture where every word and movement is designed to achieve the single goal of complete customer satisfaction. The firm achieves that with continual training for its employees from receptionists to in-flight attendants to mechanics. “Unless you give your people the skill sets and teach them exactly what creates customer satisfaction, no major changes take place, no matter what the company, no matter what the product, no matter what the service,” said Neil Shaw, executive vice president for Elite. Without Shaw handling the day-to-day operations, Elite would not have taken the path it has followed. The innovation at Elite is not found at the physical level but at the level of human interaction of employee relating to employee and employee relating to client. It can be summed up by the Japanese word “kaizen” meaning improvement or change for the better. With a background as a motivational speaker and consultant to Fortune 500 companies, the expertise Shaw was once paid for when leading his own consulting firm he now provides solely for Elite, including leading seminars for employees. One recent seminar included how motivational psychology plays into customer satisfaction. To create the next level of satisfaction, to keep improving the client experience, there needs to be an understanding of what motivates people, Shaw said. “Without the understanding and practical business application of motivational psychology you will never have the ability to take a current or prospective client to levels of satisfaction not reached before,” Shaw said. The charter aircraft industry is very diverse and the type of service varies greatly depending on the client base. Elite’s clients include business leaders and big-name entertainers. The common thread throughout business aviation is in the customer service, be it making things available or being sensitive to the privacy of the clients and their destinations, said Michael Nichols, the vice president of operations for the National Business Aviation Association in Washington, D.C.. The follow-up calls Elite makes to clients is unique in the charter industry, Nichols said. “That is above and beyond what the typical charter company does,” he added. Since joining Elite in late 2005, Shaw said he has learned much about the aviation industry. What he found was a corporate environment not inclined to hiring consultants or familiar with the academics of selling. Elite was in the same boat or plane until owner Robert Lyle brought Shaw on board. Lyle and Shaw had a previous working relationship when Shaw provided him consulting services. Not all that Shaw teaches is about getting into the head of the client. His methods trickle down to how an e-mail is written or how the phones are answered and or even how calls are transferred. Elite is investing $100,000 in a new phone system that handles calls more expeditiously and that is consistent with the power and control wielded by those who regularly travel by private jet. “It is our job to make them feel that,” Shaw said. Key to client retention for charter companies is to make the experience positive. Because there are factors that are out of the control of the operator bad weather, equipment malfunctions, etc. it is the companies who communicate frequently with clients to propose alternatives, while balancing safety and FAA regulations, who get the repeat customers, Nichols said. “They know it is a good operation and safe operation and the company is doing everything they can to meet the expectations of the customer,” Nichols said.