You wouldn’t take your vehicle to the first auto mechanic in the book would you? You’d take some time, do some research and then make a decision. Well, the same should be true of finding an avionic shop. Finding an establishment that you can build a long term relationship with is beneficial to both parties. The shop gains a repeat customer and you gain someone who knows your aircraft inside and out, which in turn means potentially lower troubleshooting bills! Yes, it might take a little time and effort, but basing your decision on something more than the shop with the lowest price will save you plenty of headaches in the long term. Before you even start researching shops, you need to think about what it is you are looking for in a shop.
For example is it important that:
The saying ‘you get what you pay for is very true’ and high quality work which encompasses the above points often comes at a price. Choosing a shop based purely on the lowest bid rather than the standard of service and quality of the finished product can be a mistake.
Once you’ve decided what qualities you are looking for how should you go about your search?
The easiest thing to do is to ask other pilots for their avionic shop recommendations. Other people to ask for recommendations include local flight instructors, the FBO and your mechanic. None of these are going to risk their reputations by recommending a poor quality shop. Do remember though that no shop is ever going to please all of the people all of the time. But, if the majority of people you speak to give glowing reviews, the shop is definitely one you should consider.
Once you’ve got a few names contact the shops directly and arrange to visit them. I know first impressions count, but don’t always judge a shop by its appearance. Large hangars with painted floors are impressive, but not every business can afford these things. The majority of shops have much more modest surroundings, but are still producing high quality work with great service. When you visit the premises try looking past the initial building appearances and ask yourself instead: were the staff friendly and knowledgeable? is the shop clean and well organized?, overall what was the feeling you got from the shop and its staff?. It’s also worth asking for customer references – a reputable shop with satisfied customers should be able to do this fairly easily.
Don’t forget to ask questions of the staff. Do they belong to any professional organizations? Have they done the type of work you require before? Are they authorized dealers for any manufacturers? What is their warranty policy? etc.
Ultimately you are looking for a shop you can feel comfortable and build a long term relationship with. Why is this important? Well, manufacturers are not always able to deal directly with their customers, referring them back to the dealer/avionic shop who sold the item. The avionic shop (acting as the interface between you the customer and the manufacturer) will therefore be the one providing you with the answers to any questions or technical problems you might have, so it’s important you are comfortable with them and that they will support their work and the products they install after the sale.
Most avionics shops have years of specialized training, experience, knowledge and resources. As a result, the right avionic shop should be able to properly assess your needs based on factors such as your currently installed avionics, your aircraft, the type of flying you do and how open you are to learning new equipment. As we have mentioned in our other article (A Buyers Guide For New Avionics), they should be able to foresee any conflicts between your new equipment choice and your existing equipment and offer you solutions – at least, this is the approach we like to take. Beware the shop that is too busy, unwilling, or unable to give you the product assistance you need before you make the purchase – ask yourself, if this is the service level now, what will it be like after the sale is completed?
Hopefully, after all this effort you have found the shop you feel most comfortable with, and will be on your way to a long term relationship!.
Our philosophy at JLC Avionics is that we want to develop relationships with our customers that will continue for years to come. We’ll give you an honest assessment of the work you need done, with the options available to you, and the prices involved. We don’t provide low-ball quotes only to vastly inflate the final invoice with lots of additional extra charges – nor do we hard sell you into equipment you don’t need. We don’t see any of these things as a successful business model in customer building, so with us the quote you get is the price you will pay. If something unexpected is found we work with our clients to find the best solution that meets both parties needs, and if the job takes less time than we estimated, you’ll pay a lower price! We feel that our company provides high quality services and produces a product we will stand behind for years to come.
If we can be of any assistance please contact us at our main office number (541) 488-1964.
Member of Antidrug / AMPP Consortium per 14 CFR part 65 , 121 & 135