1) How would you market my aircraft?
Gone are the days where brokers would simply call around to see if anybody might be interested in buying an aircraft. The internet has opened up new marketing avenues for aircraft brokers, and you’ll want to make sure you hire a broker that’s taking care of all of them. Will your aircraft be listed on every online database? Will your broker be sending marketing emails to potential buyers? Will he or she handle photos and video? Do they have an attractive, user-friendly website? Ask your potential broker what their marketing plan is for your aircraft, and look at any other online listings they might have to get an idea of how your aircraft might be promoted.
2) Do you charge a flat fee or a percentage?
Different brokers handle commission different ways. You’ll want to know if your potential broker will charge you a flat fee to help you sell or acquire an aircraft, or if they’ll charge you a certain percentage. You’ll also want to know if they will charge you a retainer to continue marketing the aircraft, or if they’ll eat the cost of marketing for you.
3) How long does it typically take you to sell a plane?
Although every transaction is different, you should ask your potential broker how long it typically takes them to sell an aircraft. If they’ve had the same few listings up for a couple of years, what makes you think your plane will be any different? You’re going to want to work with somebody that will do whatever it takes to sell a plane. Granted, some planes just. won’t. sell. However, if it seems to be a recurring issue, it may be a pattern likely to repeat itself.
4) Will you be there in-person for showings, test flights, pre-buys, etc.?
Ask your potential broker if they plan on being there in person when the plane is going to be shown, if it’s being given a test flight, a pre-purchase inspection, etc. While it may not always be necessary, a hands-on broker is typically the best kind of broker.
5) How discreet can you be?
If discretion is something that’s important to you during the purchase process, let potential brokers know. Most brokers will be able to “ghost” the aircraft for you by removing registration and serial numbers from marketing materials, just in case one of your pilots happens to be surfing the internet and stumbles upon a listing that implies he may be out of a job soon. Discretion can also be important if you’re a publicly traded company with stakeholders that may not be super excited about their money being put toward a private jet.
6) Have you worked with a number of service centers, lawyers, escrow agents, etc, and have you burned bridges with any of them?
This question is especially important if you have a specific service center, lawyer, escrow agent or other entity that you know you’ll want to use. In a niche industry like private aviation where everyone knows everyone, you don’t want to end up with a broker who may have experienced a deal gone bad with your favorite escrow agent.
7) Do you have lots of listings similar to mine?
Ask your potential broker if they have any listings similar to your aircraft. If you want to sell your Lear 45, and this broker already has three others listed, what will make yours stand our from the rest? Will he or she give your plane priority? If he already has three that haven’t sold, what makes you think yours will? Do your research online, as well, to see the types of aircraft that broker has listed. You may want to reconsider if that broker either A) has a ton of your same aircraft listed that haven’t sold or B) has never sold an aircraft like yours before.
8) How far is their reach?
Private aviation is a global industry, which means, to ensure you get the best possible aircraft, you have to explore every corner of the earth. Are you selling a plane that typically sells most often in a Spanish-speaking country? You’ll probably want to make sure this broker has somebody on staff that speaks Spanish. Are you selling a European aircraft? It would probably be beneficial to work with a broker that’s done business in Europe before.
9) Would you be willing to buy my aircraft?
Ask your broker if he or she might be willing to buy your aircraft if it doesn’t sell within a certain period of time. Once your marketing agreement is up, would that broker be willing to buy the aircraft at a lower price point? What about to facilitate a deal? Sometimes you need a broker to act as the middleman during a transaction to get the aircraft to move hands.
10) What kind of research do you do? How do you know the value of my aircraft?
One of the first steps when selling your aircraft is to ask your potential broker for an evaluation. Brokers have access to online resources and word-of-mouth relationships with valuable market information that should give you a good idea of how much your aircraft is worth. Once you have that, make sure you know how they came to that number. What kind of research did they do? How many of these aircraft have sold lately, and for what price? All of this is important for you to know to make sure you know your aircraft’s true worth.