Luxury Coach & Transportation

February 2014

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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12 WWW.LCTMAG.COM LIMOUSINE, CHARTER & TOUR FEBRUARY 2014 Sara Eastwood-M c Lean PUBLISHER'S PAGE I FEBRUARY 2014 2013 MARKED THE 30 TH ANNIVERSARY of LCT Magazine. Now, we celebrate the 30 th birthday of the f rst-ever in- dustry convention – the International LCT Show. While I was still in braces when this portfolio f rst launched (smile), I've had the pleasure of being a part of its growth and change for more than 22 years. Many of you, I know, are also cel- ebrating milestones, whether you've been in business 10 years, 20 years or more. With an average national failure rate of 80% for start-up businesses within the f rst three years, anyone who has made it past f ve years should be proud. Moreover, anyone who has lasted decades prob- ably already knows the true secrets of longevity. While successful companies lasted an average of 67 years in the 1920s, they typically exist for only 15 years today. So, just how does a company, service or a product stay relevant and withstand the tests of time? First, it takes passion and desire to execute a company vision that is destined to carry on for generations and ages. Examples still exist. More are emerging. Given the sobering odds, we should acknowledge these great ven- tures still further, and even redouble our efforts to learn what long-term companies understand that the rest of us need to learn. In that spirit, I dedicate today's column to the great wisdom of companies that are built to endure. 1. It's about the ideas. Enduring operators strive to cre- ate ideas that have life in and of themselves. 2. It's about the principles, too. Long-term owners are able to surpass their near-term self-interests to recog- nize that a successful idea must evolve in a way that outlasts the lifetime of its creator. 3. Build a strong company identity through careful man- agement of the company's culture . If you expect your company to enjoy longevity, your company culture is vital. Your company has a "personality" and even a persona that ref ects the people within it but is stronger and more durable than the sum of its parts. A strong company culture determines the level of an organization's success, and must be cherished and protected for it to survive. 4. Maintain a laser-sharp customer focus. For example, the Girl Scouts of the USA focuses on understanding how each generation of girls lives so the organization can stay relevant. 5. Be willing to chart new territory. You must always be assessing your unique value proposition. A trait inherent with almost all long-term owners is their ability to act on logic and not on emotion. They don't get dangerously attached to old methods. They don't reject change. Denial is not in their vocabulary. 6. Forge long-term community relationships . Communi- ties are able to trust and uplift the organizations that are willing to work, to give and to make sacrif ces to meet the community's needs. 7. Emphasize tradition and core strengths . When large- scale change is called for, take ample time to plan and implement it. Core strengths and priorities of a company should be nurtured to last, even if the products change with the times. Traditions should be applied to changing circumstances. 8. Develop future leaders (and create a solid succession plan) . Companies built to f ip have no succession plans. In fact, the "succession" is typically enacted by force, directed not by the company but by the investors and the board of directors. These are harsh realities that lead to many anguishing experiences by the entrepreneurs and employees who have given their lives and service to create a winning company. In a company built for the duration, leaders are not discarded — they are fully developed — and their sacrif ce and efforts are rewarded with greatness. 9. Use conservative f nancial practices . A company that is built to last will emphasize bottom-line prof tabil- ity over high volume "churn." To create a 100-year company, you should be highly conservative about borrowing money. Allow the richer seasons to create reserves your company can call upon in the leaner cycles. A compensation plan that pays everyone in the company a combination of base pay and commission can be a great strategy for maintaining the company's f nancial health, with the help and involvement of all of its members. 10. Forget the sacred cows . Even a much-respected, ven- erable business can't rest on its laurels or guarantee prof ts from an illustrious history. It can be diff cult to "shake up the establishment" but that's what good leadership is all about. Most importantly, look ahead, stay informed and pursue a vision. No company will succeed if it doesn't survey the big picture. How to Survive for 30 Years – The Art of Reinvention sara@lctmag.com IT TAKES PASSION AND DESIRE TO EXECUTE A COMPANY VISION THAT IS DESTINED TO CARRY ON FOR GENERATIONS AND AGES. L I M O _ 0 2 1 4 p u b p a g e . i n d d 1 2 LIMO_0214pubpage.indd 12 1 / 2 4 / 1 4 9 : 4 4 A M 1/24/14 9:44 AM

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