Luxury Coach & Transportation

August 2018

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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Page 52 of 79

LUXURY COACH & TRANSPORTATION AUGUST 2018 51 since every one is different. "In Houston, we've been through many floods and hurri- canes, so we've kind of perfected our plans and know what to expect. We know if there's going to be a lot of rain we will see massive amounts of flooding and potentially water on our old property, so we are going to need to move our vehicles. We have offices in two locations that are considerable distances away from each other, so we can move operations from one office to the other and still not miss a beat." Forgy said you need to make sure your employees know how to evacuate in the event of a disaster. You also want to have people move your vehicles to a place where they will be affected as little as possible. "e hardest thing is when things happen at odd hours, like on a weekend or a holiday, and you've got to handle it." You should also have some email templates ready to blast out to your clients with details like alternate phone numbers. "Just think of everything a client may need to know to be pre- pared if you do have some disruption." Who's In Charge? When a disaster strikes, who should implement safety and backup measures? Forgy said it's a group effort. "I've been in the business a long time. I have some thoughts and can lay out part of the plan, but I have a great operations manager and a chauffeur manager who's more than just a chauffeur manager. I have a couple of key people who will lay it out probably better than I would. I think you can get great feedback from your chauffeurs and reservationists. You need to get input from a lot of different sources, and make everybody a part of it. But in my case, our operations manager would probably be the lead to actually put the plan in writing." When Cuts Need To Be Made Buck had to do some layoffs to keep the business running. "We had to do some cutbacks and quite a few shift reduc- tions across the board. We all pitched in one way or another to make sure we could keep moving forward. I think in terms of prioritizing, going into those fires we had a surplus of per- sonnel, and it was actually fortunate because one of them was given notice a couple weeks before the fires and then another one was going to be leaving shortly after. So we actually lost two people at the right time." It's important to look at who your key people are before making cuts. "We didn't need six detailers after this. You have to think about if you can cross-use them for something else, and if you can still afford it. We dug into our reserves and credit lines to save jobs." Saving For A Literal Rainy Day Making sure you have a little cash tucked away will save you heartbreak during trying times. Several months' worth of ex- penses in the bank is a must, Assolin said. "If you're the right size, sell your vehicles first. You can always buy more vehicles. We put people back to work. We had reservationists cleaning up our old office and everyone pitched in." Forgy added it's important to have money saved up for deductibles and immediate out of pocket costs even if you have insurance. — "We are 100% in the cloud now. at saved us because we couldn't get into our office, and the ability to use our VOIP phones, cloud servers, and cloud software to contact people, dispatch, and assign things and still be able to communi- cate was key." Looking back, Buck said he really needed a phone tree sys- tem. "We didn't have a system where I would make one call, and then it branches out, and everybody else makes their calls, and reports back. We were doing it one at a time, and it was time-consuming. We didn't think efficiently." Assolin said one practice to follow before you create a di- saster plan is find out what disasters you should prepare for PHOTO/ILLUSTRATION: KEVIN HAEGELE, LCT ART DIRECTOR Gary Buffo (L), owner of Pure Luxury Transportation in Petaluma, Calif., who dealt with the Napa Valley region fires of 2017, led a panel on how luxury fleet businesses can prepare for and handle natural disasters. Panelists (L to R) included: Diane Forgy of Overland Chauffeured Services in Kansas City, Mo., Matt Assolin of Nikko's Worldwide Chauffeured Services in Houston, and Thomas Buck of Beau Wine Tours & Limousine Service in Sonoma, Calif.

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