Luxury Coach & Transportation

November 2018

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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Page 39 of 75

MOTORCOACHES / OPERATIONS Motorcoach Roundtable: Operators Focus On Driver S hortage, Long-Term Growth Despite challenges hiring drivers, business is thriving as operators expand their services at a more measured pace. By Alex Roman, Managing Editor, METRO Magazine M ETRO talked to motorcoach operators from around the nation to discuss recent challenges and their long-term growth plans. Identifying qualified drivers ranked high among issues, so the operators shared some of their recruitment strategies. JOHN BUSSKOHL What is your operation's biggest challenge? Having enough qualified motorcoach operators. You have to have folks who are really excellent, not only from a safety perspective, which is number one, but also from a customer service perspective. ose people are really hard to find, especially when you need as many people as we do. If you don't focus on it and put up with some unsafe behaviors, or people who are delivering sub-par customer service because you need bodies, that af- fects everything. How are you handling this challenge? e way people look for jobs now and make decisions on where they will work has changed with the advent of the internet and social media. We've had to change how we go about get- ting applicants. It's a funnel. If you need 25 drivers, you probably need 300 or more applicants to find those 25 that are going to become the real stars. You have to generate a lot of applicants, and then, how you screen and bring them in into your organiza- tion has to be well thought-out and structured, so you do end up with the best people in the end. ere are some interesting things you can do now with tech and social media to generate applicants, and we were getting a lot for a while, but we weren't seeing the flow we had hoped for. Recently, we streamlined our appli- cation process to limit the information we ask for to a phone number. We then have dedicated staff who calls every applicant back as quickly as they can, which has really worked well. People don't want to have to put in too much effort; they would rather you did all the effort, and really, we have to make that effort. By calling, we were able to capture people on a greater scale and feed that funnel better than before. It was a real 'a-ha' moment. e other thing we have done is increase pay. e industry has to do a better job of recognizing the need for a career wage for motorcoach opera- tors. If you look at it, wages have been on the decline since the 80s when the industry was deregulated. It is a tough business. It is hard to make a profit, and driver wages are a huge expense for us, so we are always careful about how we manage that. On the flip side, if we want to have the best people and retain them, then you have to pay them something they can live off of. We have pushed very hard to be on the top end of the pay scale in the markets we serve. Drivers are the most important people in your company. ey are the only people the customers see when they are on our coach, so that person has to be the best. Since joining the company a couple of years ago, what have you brought to the table? 3 8 WWW.LCTMAG.COM LUXURY COACH & TRANSPORTATION NOVEMBER 2018 John Busskohl CEO, Silverado Stages Inc., Phoenix

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