We did our own marketing
When we first acquired the company we said ‘we won’t expand in the tour operation business; we will do our own marketing and fly customers who purchase tickets.’ To keep up with this, the company had to turn 180 degrees. For instance, when you fly for a tour operator and you make the customer dissatisfied, you do not suffer because the problem goes directly to the tour operator; but that is not the case in our model. If there is a problem, you have to deal with it directly.
For this reason, the first thing we did when we took over the company was to hire an English flight crew trainer to train our cabin supervisors on weekends on ‘how to act towards the customer’. In the tour operator business, everything was free. With meals, for instance, you could select two from chicken, fish and red meat. Since I did not know much about the aviation business, I said let us calculate the cost of the tray we are serving. When calculating the cost of the tray, even its weight is important. We started with this detail. We analyzed the main course.
I will never forget, there is 90g of red meat, chicken or fish in a main course. I asked the business leaders of that period, ‘What happens if we bring the 90 grams down to 80 grams?’ They protested, saying, ‘our guests are of a certain quality.’ Firstly, they are not your guests. Secondly, Mr. Blogs does not care if he is flying with Pegasus or some other company. ‘Then let’s do the math,’ I said. At the end, the cost of 10 grams turned out to be around 400,000 Euros. I said ‘What now?’, they said ‘Let’s lower it.’ This was a very important lesson for me. You shouldn’t ask someone, ‘Should we do this?’ You need to say, ‘Should we do this? If we do, this will be the consequence’.
Pay to send a CV
Not one of our friends who had insisted on the 90 grams are around today, because now Pegasus even charges for water. One day I read somewhere that an airline charged for job applications. Now we charge for job applications, too. Why? Let’s assume you are looking for a ‘high school graduate, 25-35 year-old employee with English skills’ for a particular position. Nowadays it’s very easy to send a CV online. You are 45 years old, your mother once went to England and you are applying for this job. I need three or four people to evaluate all these applications. What happens when you charge for job applications? Then you pay 15 TL to apply for a job with no guarantee that you are going to take it.
So you check the criteria and do the evaluation yourself instead of leaving it to me. Where previously, we would receive 75,000-76,000 applicants per year, that number is now between 50 and 90.1 brought this idea to our Human Resources management. The HR manager at the time said, ‘We can’t do this’, first telling me, ‘Such is the present socioeconomic situation in Turkey’ etc., then saying, ’What if people hear about it?’ But that’s what I want. Today we make 200 billion from that in a year.