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By All Accounts Pentastar

By All Accounts: Account Management, the Pentastar Way

At a place like Pentastar, where a high level of engaged personal service is so central to our professional identity and our promise to our clients, the role of an Account Manager takes on heightened importance. Our account management team consists of experienced and dedicated professionals who display an extraordinary level of care and commitment. Their work and willingness to go above and beyond for our clients is an essential ingredient in a recipe for success that helps everyone who flies with us feel the Pentastar difference.

We talked to Rick Sieg, Pentastar Director of Managed Client Services and one of the most accomplished and respected account management professionals in the industry, to pick his brain about what account managers do on a day-to-day basis and why their work is so important.

Rick, first off, congratulations on your recent Certified Aviation Manager (CAM) designation from the National Business Aviation Association.

I appreciate that—thank you!

That kind of recognition is obviously reflective of your ability to demonstrate a high standard of management and leadership in your work. How does that play out in your role as Pentastar’s Director of Managed Client Services?

Quite honestly, it’s a reflection of the quality of our team as much as anything I do individually. But to speak to your question, my role as Director of Managed Client Services essentially means I’m responsible for overseeing all of our efforts when it comes to account management and customer care.

Those are responsibilities you’ve been managing for Pentastar for quite some time, yes?

Absolutely. I actually joined Pentastar before it even was Pentastar. I came on board in June of 2000 in the Corporate Flight Department of Daimler Chrysler. I’ve been working on the account management team since 2008.

What kind of responsibilities are you and your team handling on a daily basis?

At a high level, we are managing almost anything and everything needed to deal with the logistics of managing, servicing, and operating private aircraft. Each member of our team is assigned to a handful of customer accounts to make sure we get as much familiarity and comfort with each client and each aircraft. In terms of our day-to-day operations, it varies considerably. We take care of things like utilization reporting, budgeting, trip cost analysis, subscription management for any third-party services our aircraft require, billing and invoicing, answering client questions, and coordinating with in-house teams across our organization to handle things like maintenance (both scheduled and otherwise) and to make sure any client issues are addressed promptly and that we can deliver the kind of high-touch service we are known for.

What goes into being a great account manager?

As an account management professional, you need to be a problem solver. Whether you are answering questions or handling special requests, an account manager is essentially a single source of contact for the customer. There are no set hours in this line of work: our customers could be anywhere and fly almost everywhere at any time—and providing them with high-end service means taking care of them whenever and wherever they need us. That means we need to be on-call and available 24/7/365 for everything from small requests to critical decisions—or sometimes just to answer questions and provide counsel for clients looking to make or change plans.

Sounds like people skills are obviously a big part of what it takes to be successful in this work?

We are dealing with multi-million-dollar aircraft, but fundamentally, account management is really people management: building and maintaining great relationships over time. That’s not just external-facing, but internally, as well. Because we are the single contact for our clients for all things Pentastar, our team relies heavily on our in-house experts. An account manager is regularly communicating with other members of the Pentastar team to help us do things like explain a maintenance invoice or provide data from HR about pilot salaries. Sometimes we’ll be talking to catering about gluten-free options, or our FBO professionals about hangar storage details. We couldn’t do our job without their insights and expertise. Of course, that also means we need to navigate that space thoughtfully to make sure we are balancing client needs and realistic and fair expectations for our in-house folks.

Are there any noteworthy trends you’ve seen in the last few years that impact your work in account management?

We’ve definitely seen client interest in cabin amenities skyrocketing, especially with respect to aircraft connectivity. Folks used to get excited about being able to send a fax or make a phone call, but now the airplane is viewed as an extension of the home or office—and people’s expectations have changed accordingly. There have been remarkable technical advances in this space in recent years, but there are always costs and limitations associated with airborne Wi-Fi. We help them navigate that space, balancing their needs with their budget and determining what the best solution might be for each client.

What would you say to someone who is interested in getting into account management in private aviation?

Every day is different! To me that’s the best and most interesting part of the job. The variety and the opportunities to continue to learn new things is really exciting to me. I’ve been doing this for well over two decades and I still learn new stuff almost every day. If you like people and you find variety and flexibility interesting, you should consider a career in this space.