If you’ve ever ordered a spare part for a U.S.-based Falcon, you may know Patty Van Zile. Her title is Spares Marketing & Administration Manager. But it might as well be problem solver extraordinaire.
Our operators know about our recent spares challenges, which fortunately are abating. It was employees like Patty who saw us through a tough period.
Patty joined Falcon Jet 36 years ago at age 20 (it wasn’t DFJ yet). During seven years in the sales and marketing department, the Vice President challenged Patty to find her passion by exposing her to all aspects of the company. She spent time learning about contracts, the intricacies of spec and design, and even served time as a flight attendant. The one department Patty was not exposed was to become her perfect match—Spares Customer Service.
In 1994, Patty made the move to Falcon Spares account representative. She was given a territory, and a big one at that – almost everything west of Colorado. With the Falcon 2000 entering service, she traveled on the aircraft several times to visit customers face to face.
“What better way to build relationships,” she recalls. “My favorite part of visiting customers was learning how they used their aircraft and realizing what a critical role the Spares team plays in supporting them. I try to convey this when training new employees. The closer you are to customers, the greater your sense of urgency to get them the parts they need.”
In 2001, she became the Spares Marketing Manager at DFJ. At the time, the organization was creating the very first version of Spares Online and the beginnings of a sales department, dedicated to selling parts and programs. Moreover, Spares was globalizing to serve a worldwide market integrating more with Dassault Aviation.
Customers noticed. Dassault started to rise in the annual surveys taken by Professional Pilot and Aviation International News magazines, routinely capturing the number one or two spots.
But the system hinged on two home-grown spares systems, one based in the U.S. and one in France. As the Dassault fleet expanded worldwide and the service organization grew, logic dictated the development of a single, state-of-the-art system worldwide. In 2021, management decided to go live with it.
Things did not go according to plan.
“It was a perfect storm. We went live with the new system at the very same time aircraft flight activity returned to full operation post-Covid. We had customers who urgently needed support” Patty remembers. “It was a very challenging time for customers and employees, but we pivoted quickly to get back on track. We brought in experts who helped us debug the system. We also worked with vendors to address high-demand parts with supply chain issues. Our sales managers and tech support people jumped in to answer phones and solve customer problems. Everyone, from top Dassault management to the trenches, knew we had to react, and we did.”
Inventory management is now more efficient. The system is truly global, with hundreds of customers logging in daily. “We’ve given customers the tools to manage their aircraft needs and we’re getting good feedback,” Patty said. “I’m optimistic that Spares Online will become a hub for many Falcon support interfaces, improving the customer experience, and utilizing the data we get to manage inventories and other facets of support.”
As the years progressed Patty and Bob Fantozzi, Director of Customer Service Sales and Marketing worked closely to develop many valuable and cost-saving programs for customers such as the popular Falcon Advantage program.
Patty wanted it noted that her success has been tightly tied to her close and warm working relationship with her Spares Sales and Marketing team and her counterpart in Mérignac, Joëlle Phung, with whom she has been collaborating since 2019.
“We’re a family,” notes Patty. “The distance between Teterboro and Mérignac is far, but the relationship is close, and that has benefits worldwide. I hope our customers know how much we care. Supporting Falcon customers is one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of my life.”
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