Luxury Coach & Transportation

March 2015

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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LIMOUSINE, CHARTER & TOUR MARCH 2015 55 devising long-term business plans because you often have to "zig and zag" depending on unexpected business and market fac- tors — and opportunities. Assolin, how- ever, says, "You have to fgure out what kind of com- pany you want to be and then stick with that and have a clear pic- ture about your money in order to grow." Rose says, "My best friend's Ital- ian grandmother says, 'Man plans, God laughs.' A lot of times people have a plan and when conditions change they try to stick to the plan. I know that is counter to conventional wis- dom, but I believe more in preparation that sets you up to be in a position to play the cards that you are dealt. If things change for whatever reason, sticking to a business plan can set up false expecta- tions rather than being fexible to zig and zag — not because the plan is faulty — but life is fckle," Rose says. Both agree that growing from a one- owner, jack-of-all-trades, operation, to mid-size is the hardest hurdle because it requires hiring staff for the frst time, coupled with ensuring cash fow to pay for all of the additional costs. "I don't think there is much difference in growing from, say, 20 cars to 30. By then, you have staff on board and you know your fxed costs. You've passed T he "hell zone" is how Jeff Rose sums up the move from a small to mid-size company. Rose, founder of Attitude New York in 1986, has systematically grown his operation to 40 vehicles to- day, and can testify to the growing pains from launching a bare-bones company at his kitchen table to a well-regarded Man- hattan luxury transportation provider. "I call it the hell zone because if you have one to fve vehicles and make the move to the 10 to 15 range and beyond, that multiplies your obligations because you may not have the revenue to hire staff to handle the growth to run the op- eration — and the problems," Rose says. Matt Assolin, vice president of Hous- ton-based Nikko's Chauffeured Services, adds, "When you're small, you analyze dollars. When you get up to the 20-30 range you analyze pennies. I think I made more money when I had 10 cars," he muses. Running an international operation, including a new Austin offce, Assolin says the company posted a 40% jump in revenue in 2014 compared to 2013. But his cautionary words about growing to the mid-level range stem from his de- gree in fnance and experience growing the company. Growing Pains Rose and Asso- lin know frst- hand the trials and tribulations of scaling from small to mid-size, but they differ a bit on their ap- proach to man- aging a company on the rise. As in any business or industry, there is not one uni- versal business plan or operator blueprint that will work for a unique op- eration or market. But both offer strat- egies and lessons-learned that worked for them that yield general insights and pearls for success. For example, Rose doesn't believe in "You have to fgure out what kind of company you want to be and then stick with that and have a clear picture about your money in order to grow." — Matt Assolin, Nikko's Chauffeured Services New York City opera- tor Jeff Rose has been through what he calls the limo-growth "Hell Zone," and lived to tell about it. Houston operator Matt Assolin believes a detailed tracking of all aspects of a company's fnances should deter- mine the timing and stages of feet growth. k Note To Readers: This is the second of an ongoing series focusing on how small, mid-size and large operators can grow their businesses. The series will examine making the jump from small- to mid-size fleet operations, from mid-size to large, and large to top-tier. PHOTO/ILLUSTRATION: KEVIN HAEGELE, LCT ART DIRECTOR

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