Luxury Coach & Transportation

August 2018

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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LUXURY COACH & TRANSPORTATION AUGUST 2018 43 erage and allows them to keep fleet ve- hicles at home. But in return, they can- not call in sick on the same day without notice. He also doesn't waste time with paperwork because they all use iPads. "I've had chauffeurs quit and change companies and come back saying no oth- er company treats them as well," Dhillon adds. He's helped five chauffeurs start their own companies and now guaran- tees them a certain amount of business. Looking toward the future market, Dhillon hopes to grow to a 40-45 vehicle fleet while increasing his farm-outs. He also plans to target more travel agen- cies and DMCs interested in luxury transportation service for their corpo- rate accounts. "I'm investing my time and resources to have a database of affili- ates. e goal is to fill in the gaps and not compromise on quality." — Martin@LCTmag.com has helped his fleet diversity. Ecko's 33-vehicle fleet consists of an all-Grech Motors fleet of 10 minibuses, and 23 sedans and SUVs. ose include the Cadillac XTS and CT6, Lincoln Con- tinental and Town Car, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, a BMW 740i, Audi A8, Hyundai Equus, Lincoln MKT Town Car, Lincoln Navigator, Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Suburban, and Cadillac Escalade. Dhillon seeks employees who meet his high expectations, and have the mindset to match his specific train- ing so he can grow the operation. "To continue on a bigger scale, I need more people who can work to that high stan- dard," he says. "e caliber of my hired experienced staff is equal to my newest employee with my training." For chauffeurs, Dhillon says he doesn't have trouble recruiting and keeping them because he pays above av- bookings with minimal entry. "It comes from travel agencies direct to reserva- tions and saves me manpower, increases accuracy, and reduces liability," Dhillon says. "We understand and use it to the max. We don't need more manpower or resources to generate more revenue." Ecko employs 30 full–time and six part-time chauffeurs, three office em- ployees to handle all tasks, and a team in India to cover nights and weekends. "ese are all consolidated positions. at's the power of technology. Instead of hiring 20 people, we use three." Advocating, Not Advertising Since 2015, Dhillon claims he has not mar- keted or advertised his business through typical avenues, not even through Google Adwords. "Whatever we do at LCT shows and with affiliates is all. It's just word of mouth based on service quality." Dhillon does not employ a sales team, relying on his networking and in-person pitch efforts and cross-trained employ- ees who know how to convert emails into sales inquiries. He says his national farm out business has grown from near- zero in 2015 to $1.5 million now, averag- ing about 12 farm-out rides per day. Ecko's performance stands out when considering the explosive growth of Uber and Lyft in the San Francisco Bay Area, where they are based. He takes on the role of a "limo-vangelist" in trying to educate anyone about how the value of chauf- feured rates includes driver background checks, a secure experience, insurance, and safety all coupled with his "one-stop- shop, boutique level of service." "You could be a new customer expect- ing a quote or price point, and in our re- sponse we explain all of these things," Dhillon says. "We're helping customers understand faster than before." Because of the drawbacks of TNCs, "we're seeing a shift on the corporate side, as companies are not as concerned about rates or the easiness," Dhillon says. "Most are now making us sign non-dis- closure agreements for confidentiality on their accounts and asking for pools of regular drivers for weekday commuters. With Uber, none of that is possible. at's how I'm leveraging their presence." A Fleet For Everyone Dhillon believes in running the most di- verse fleet possible to provide a vehicle for every client, brand, taste, and pref- erence. Buying four smaller companies DHILLON ENHANCES FLEET WITH FORD EXPEDITION Operator Harry Dhillon drew some wide industry acclaim on Nov. 6, 2017 when he and Chi- cago operator George Jacobs each bid $77,500 on two 2018 Ford Expedition MAX XLTs being auctioned off by Ford/Lincoln during the LCT-NLA East Show in Atlantic City, N.J. The auction was held during the Ford-spon- sored People's Choice Awards gala to benefit the National Limousine Association's philan- thropic arm, the Harold Berkman Memorial Fund, which benefited from the proceeds. So far, Dhillon says the Ford Expedition has proven versatile in serving both sedan-rate and SUV-rate clients. It's commonly used for road shows and charters, and carries an overhead similar to that of a luxury sedan. "It rates a 10 out of 10 for what it brings to my company," he says, crediting its distinc- tive new body style. "The look is so uncommon. Clients ask me, 'What is this vehicle? Can you send me the newest Ford?'" He says he gets the same interest in the Navigator, and some prospective clients stop by to see both SUVs before reserving them. In the bidding, Dhillon vied with longtime operator Jacobs of Windy City Limousine and Bus, who had made winning charitable bids at the 2016 event for a Lincoln- Continental and during the 2015 event for a Ford Transit. Like the auction last year, the 2016 contest cast Jacobs against industry titan and Boston operator Dawson Rutter of Commonwealth Worldwide, with the friendly rivals bidding up to a draw resulting in both getting vehicles. Since LCT Show East, Jacobs has bought six more Expeditions for his 300+ chauf- feured and coach vehicle fleet. Although he runs many more sedans than SUVs, the SUVs average more revenue and attract more bookings than the sedans. The Ford Expedition is less expensive than other top luxury SUVs, Jacobs says. "It makes perfect sense. The economics are better and it's a classy enough vehicle that clients like." Ford Expedition MAX XLT For the latest details on the livery package version, go to: www.fleet. ford.com/showroom/limo-livery-and-funeral/ or https://files.lctmag.com/ pdfs/2018fordexpedition.pdf. (L to R): George Jacobs, Ford/Lincoln's marketing manager Craig Hall, Harry Dhillon, and Bill Sunner of Ecko Worldwide Transportation celebrate the winning auction bids on the donated Expeditions on Nov. 6, 2017 during the People's Choice Awards at LCT-NLA Show East in Atlantic City.

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