Luxury Coach & Transportation

August 2018

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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Page 32 of 79

LUXURY COACH & TRANSPORTATION AUGUST 2018 31 To set Executive Limousine apart from the numerous competitors in the region, Schwartz has created a company image and mantra of being "the friendly company" that goes out of its way to treat people the way he would want to be treated. Schwartz says he is amazed by the abruptness of many operators he calls who seem rushed to get off the phone rather than spend the time developing relationships during farm-in or farm-out calls. He doesn't believe success is achieved by having the newest or flashiest vehicles. More important is to cultivate happy and content chauffeurs who care about their jobs, running vehicles in top condition, and delivering attentive service. Even if a vehicle is a few years old, providing a positive experience in a clean and safe car will do more to garner repeat business than having new vehicles. "It's all about paying attention to the things that matter," Schwartz says. Schwartz strongly recommends operators collectively embrace the technology available to the industry and individual companies. Applying technology always saves money. Schwartz encourages operators to "embrace the available technologies ASAP" to counter competitors who use it against the industry. Executive plans to move into a much larger facility. This new location will allow the business to look and function more professionally as they will begin a major campaign to capture more of the retail market sector including the wedding market, a segment Executive has previously ignored. MARK KINI founder and CEO, Boston Chauffeur, Beverly, Mass. At Boston Chauffeur, a boutique, concierge level of service is what sets the company apart from its competitors. Owner Mark Kini ensures clients are not treated like just an account number, and takes time to get to know them better. "I'm always telling my staff we're not in the transportation business; we're in the customer service business," he says. He's always up to fulfill special requests, and only sends the text and email alerts his clients want rather than bombard them with unsolicited extraneous communication. He says it's important to know your market and not try to be all things to all people. "When you're really strong in one area, that should be your focus," he says. If there was one thing he wishes he could go back in time and change, it would be complacency. "It was simple to make money when I started. It's easy for entrepreneurs to get too comfortable. You have to be constantly grinding and moving forward. Things are changing so rapidly; you always have to be on your toes," he explains. Now, Kini does a lot of reading and aligns himself with people who are further along than he is to make sure his company keeps growing. Putting in 18-hour days six days a week is not sustainable, so his goals for the coming year include making some key hires, delegating more effectively, and improving how technology can streamline his business. "Uber has set the precedent for the experience customers are looking for; we need to be able to offer that experience anywhere as well if we are going to be a viable choice. The business is out there — it's one thing to get it, and another to keep it." MAURICIO HERRERA president, A Luxury Limo Inc., Miami, Fla. Herrera believes knowing what a client wants and/or fulfilling their service expectations are the only ways to become a top-notch operation. That means predicting the needs of your clients, whether you're taking a corporate client home after a long, tiring business trip so he can be with his family; treating a group coming back from a cruise to a leisurely sightseeing route; or transporting an older client who needs a patient, caring chauffeur. If your heart isn't in this industry, you won't last very long — especially with all the rapid, disrupting changes coming. "Passion, commitment, and will power go a lot further than thinking of it as 'just a job,'" he says. "Make sure you do it for the magic that happens, not just for the money." He wishes he had planned ahead more. "You want to make sure you are taking advantage of opportunities, but you have to be smart about it. You might see a vehicle for sale, but you need to have the money available to make the purchase. Save a little before you invest and grow. You need to make sure it's a good time; don't just jump at the first opportunity." As TNCs continue to take over, it's more important than ever to be prepared for more last minute runs. Try to stand out as much as possible with different vehicles, on- or near-demand service, and a top performing staff. To prepare for the future, Herrera is considering more exclusive vehicles, possibility hybrid or electric vehicles. "It's also vital to consider affiliates as clients as well. If you are going to be an extension of each other's brands, then you need to communicate their needs. Do they want a special kind of water, sign, or a certain way of greeting? This is necessary to providing a uniform service." Mauricio Herrera with Ariadna Noches (L) and Yury Velasquez (R) of American Transportation and Limo Service in Miami, Fla.

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