Thierry Boutsen, Boutsen Aviation
Few aircraft brokers have taken a less conventional route into the aviation industry than Thierry Boutsen. Having made his name as racing driver with three Formula One grand prix wins under his belt, Boutsen now relies on selling business jets and helicopters for his adrenaline fix.
Starting his business in 1997, selling Citations, King Airs, Learjets and the aircraft which he knew best, Boutsen says: “We try to sell the aircraft for the highest possible price, but also as quickly as possible.”
Having realising that he had his work cut out, Boutsen came up with a number of strategies to help match these two goals. “We work on an exclusive basis. We want to be the only ones representing the airplane, in order to have the power to negotiate,” he says.
He adds: “We take care of the whole transaction. We do the marketing, publicity and advertising, we do all the phases of negotiation and we organise and supervise pre-purchase inspections ourselves.”
How did you get into the industry?
“When I wasn’t driving Formula 1, I had my own airplane. I bought one, and two years later I sold it and bought another one. Two years later, I did the same thing again. I started with a Piper, I’ve had two Citations, and I’ve always done the transactions myself.
“Just before I quit racing, I was approached by Heinz Harald-Frentzen, the Formula One driver, who said he wanted to have exactly the same airplane as me, but said he had absolutely no clue how to organise it.
“So I did one, and then I did ones for Mika Hakkinen and Keke Rosberg, and I decided that once I had done four or five very successfully, it could well be a second profession.”
How does the thrill of driving a Formula One car compare to the thrill of selling an aircraft?
“It’s very different, but I must say I have as much pleasure completing a transaction today as winning a race in the past.”
What does it take to be a good aircraft salesman?
“You need to know the aircraft inside out – all the models and manufacturers that you want to represent and sell. Secondly, you need to tell your client the truth. No matter if it’s good news or bad news, you need to tell them the truth rather than going around it. That’s a very, very important factor.
“Lastly, it’s important to offer as much service as possible to client – not just on the sale of the airplane, but everything around it, from the technical point of view to the administrative point of view and to the legal issues. Don’t spare any money doing that, because the client will always come back to you if you do a good job.”
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