Luxury Coach & Transportation

May 2019

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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WWW.LCTMAG.COM 32 LUXURY COACH & TRANSPORTATION MAY 2019 By Lexi Tucker, LCT senior editor MAY 2019 Top Rated Local in 2018. Wise Words: Start with what you have. Don't get hung up on buying many vehicles. Research your market and determine your fleet size based on what you can afford. "Don't try to be something you're not. You'll end up hurting yourself and your bottom line. Avoid high interest rates. e best way to start is with one car bought outright, and don't be afraid to buy lightly used," he says. Network often and go to in- dustry trade shows to educate yourself. "ere's a lot of work out there; you just have to know how to get it." Clients Come First: Professionalism at all times is vital, and reliability is his top reason for getting repeat business. You show clients you care by always answering the phone and giving them information. His clients are kept in the loop with tracking updates through automatic text messages. "Our custom- ers love this feature and are always surprised. ey appreciate being well informed. We keep ourselves reliable by placing tracking devices in all vehicles, which are monitored by our dispatch staff. at's how I've built relationships with my clients. ey feel confident when choosing to ride with us. ey stay because they know what it feels like to use a company with reliability issues, and they don't experience that with us. New cars are great, but if you can't follow through, it's not as important as actually being there for them. is business is not about having a lot of cars; it's about providing excellent customer service." Marketing Smart: Brahim started with Google AdWords, and is active on social media. He's found word of mouth works the best and costs the least. He goes to various offices in his area to in- troduce himself and his company, and passes out business cards frequently. e past three years, he's gotten a lot of business by attending LCT events, which he says has helped his bottom line. Retargeting and remarketing with reservation databases also costs very little and has helped him save money promoting his company. Getting Started: Brahim started out Who: Abdou Brahim, VA Executive Se- dan & Limousine Service, Norfolk, Va. Best Practices: Brahim started with one vehicle and now has nine. All are three years old or younger. Eight are paid off, so he's not struggling to pay his bills. He is almost debt-free and maintains one of the newest fleets in the Hampton Roads region. He suggests op- erators look for the best possible deals, specifically 0% interest purchases on their vehicles. "Having a good credit his- tory will benefit you in the short term as well as the long term," he says. Brahim is an elected board member of the Virginia Limousine Association (VLA). His com- pany also was recognized as the second ranked limousine service in Virginia by in the restaurant business. After six years, he discovered it was difficult to have time with his family in the U.S. and Mauritania, his home country. When he would try to take time off, he'd see a large drop in sales, so he knew he had to find something differ- ent that would allow time for both. "As a previous business owner, it helped make it easier to start a new business with experience in customer service, problem solving, advertising, and mak- ing the right financial decisions." He came upon the luxury transpor- tation industry, bought a used 2008 Lincoln Town Car in 2013 for $14,000, and started doing airport runs to and from Norfolk International Airport (ORF). Every day, he'd talk to a supervi- sor there, let him know he started a limo company, and give him some of his business cards. Business grew through word of mouth and Facebook. In 2014, he started getting requests for buses, so he applied for a broker's license to take care of those clients. Future Plans: Brahim expects to grow his fleet as demand increases, and plans to eventually get into bus service. "I'm waiting for the right time to move forward," he says. He also would like to grow his affiliate base to receive service opportunities from around the world, and is working on national accounts to expand the business. Just For Fun: Brahim likes spending time with friends and family, drinking Moroccan tea, and playing and watch- ing soccer. He'd also like to thank his wife, Kathleen Brahim for helping his business succeed. FAST FACTS VA EXECUTIVE SEDAN & LIMOUSINE SERVICE LOCATION: Norfolk / Virginia Beach, Va. OWNER: Abdou Brahim FOUNDED: 2013 VEHICLE TYPE: Sedan, SUV, Sprinter, stretch limousines FLEET SIZE: 9 EMPLOYEES: 14 WEBSITE: PHONE: (757) 716-1060 Abdou Brahim track his numbers closely to stay out of debt. (L to R) Brahim's daughter Laila, his wife Kathleen, and Abdou. Virginia Operator Knows Financial Health Means Everything COOLEST BIZ THIS BUSINESS IS NOT ABOUT HAVING A LOT OF CARS; IT'S ABOUT PROVIDING EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE.

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