Buying and receiving a private jet is more than simply going down to your local dealership, filling out the order sheet, and casually waiting for delivery. It isn’t a fast food operation – there’s a bit more logistical work to it for both the buyer and seller.
Take buying an aircraft from Embraer Executive Jets, the business-jet division of Embraer, for example. Interested buyers can visit their global Customer Center in Melbourne, Fla., along with their family (and pilot), for a test flight with a sales rep. With a personal tour through the interior, learning about the innovative features in the jet, the rep finishes the tour in the cockpit for buyers to view the avionics.
Post-test flight, potential customers can tour the manufacturing facility, and may even get to see the entire production line roll forward, as each aircraft lifts off to the next stage of assembly.
When the tour is complete, guests are treated to a three-course meal in the customer dining room, choosing from a menu printed with your name on it. It’s all a part of the courting process – the buyer and aircraft company know this – and if it goes well and you decide to buy the jet, a keepsake will be presented to mark the occasion.
They’ll receive a used aircraft part, perhaps a bolt with the grease still on it.
“We like to give people a greasy airplane part as a way of saying, ‘Welcome to the family,’” said Jay Beever, the vice president of interior design for Embraer Executive Jets.
Embraer understands that quality and fine-stitching leather seats are one thing – a memorable customer buying experience is something entirely separate, regardless of the seemingly clear link. After their huge success with their Phenom 300 jet model, Embraer wanted to offer potential customers more than just a new aircraft for their next project.
So they went forward with a a U.S.-based manufacturing plant that doubles as a buying experience center. Since then, they’ve added three other clean-sheet jet designs to their Phenom line, each with robust sales that they attribute in part to the buying experience they offer.
“We are dedicating a lot of energy to being the best, not just in service, but in the experience,” Marco Tulio, the president and CEO of Embraer Executive Jets.
Once a buyer receives their golden ticket (grimy airplane part), they’re invited back to Florida to begin customizing the interior of their aircraft. Choose from rooms filled with fabric swatches, or bring your own and have Embraer install it for you. The woods, leathers, and fabrics all come together at this stage, which could take hours or weeks depending on your decisiveness. Each step of the process includes a digital rendering from designers, so you can get a good 360 view before giving anything the green light.
Fast forward 10 months, and your aircraft with custom interior will be rolling off the assembly line. Upon completion, the buyer will meet the sales rep – at the restaurant of the buyer’s choosing – where they’re presented with another memento. The sales rep will hand over a wooden box containing the folded samples of your cabin’s fabrics, leathers, and carpeting.
“The idea is that you can put it on display at home and it becomes a conversation piece,” says Beever.
It’s clear Embraer’s customer experience surpasses those of other aircraft builders, and even rivals the service of other industries. Former clients can’t seem to get enough.
Luciano Froes, Embraer Executive Jets’ senior vice president of marketing, talked about one buyer who drove up to the facility in their Bugatti, with no appointment. The receptionist asked if he was interested in a facility tour, or a test flight, or to take a cabin mock-up tour.
The man wasn’t there for any of those reasons.
“I already have a Phenom,” he said. “I just wanted to come back and visit the place.”