Activity : Training for pilots and mechanics of aeronautics
Sales : 13 M€
Headquarters : Le Bourget (93)
Managing customer risk in a tight sector
Monique Zaccardelli – Chief Financial Officer, FLIGHTSAFETY FRANCE
Falcon, Embraer, Bombardier : FlightSafety specializes in pilot training on business and regional aircraft. Its customers include billionaires, armies around the world, as well as manufacturers and airlines. The aviation industry sector has been particularly tight since 11 September, and customer risk management is a strategic issue. Review with Monique Zaccardelli, Chief Financial Officer.
What was the impact of recent industry restructuring in relation to customer risk management ?
Monique Zaccardelli : It is more difficult to obtain payment on the payment date and the number of disputes has increased. Some of our customers have been the subject of bankruptcy proceedings, which often offer little protection for the interests of the creditors. Once again recently, an airline that was unable to pay agreed in return to help in the training of some of our instructors. However, the official receiver was opposed to offsetting invoices, and we had to pay for it, without any hope of recovering the payment for our original services. A net loss of 35,000 euros.
What steps did you take to deal with the situation ?
M. Z. : We tightened our terms and conditions of sale and we monitor our files more strictly. Beyond a certain threshold, when the invoices are not settled, I block the delivery of training certificates and access to flight simulators for the customer concerned. However, credit insurance does not prove to be a viable option, the cost is too high and numerous transactions, considered too risky, are not covered.
You have nevertheless invested in debt collection ?
M. Z. : Because I was sure I would get a real return on investment with Cabinet ARC. They are highly skilled business lawyers able to understand complex issues, and with a real mastery of negotiation. They also have a very good knowledge of our business, airline companies and their culture. They are also involved internationally on all airports in the world, a must for a company like ours who works with the whole world.