Luxury Coach & Transportation

December 2016

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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Page 22 of 75

LIMOUSINE, CHARTER & TOUR DECEMBER 2016 21 International TNC Combatant Carsten Kahner, director of affiliate management, Blacklane, Berlin, Germany Unlike TNC executives, Blacklane's director of affiliate management Carsten Kahner walks the talk and actually visits companies who want to become affiliates — and that's pretty cool. His team has traveled to more than 20 countries and met with more than 500 of the company's local partners. Although one can schedule rides online or via its app, Blacklane is about the furthest thing from a TNC. "We aren't just a tech company," he explains. "Technology is great, and it's a major facilitator — it's the backbone of our business, but the differentiator is the local chauffeur and operator. We understand the chauffeur is the face of your com- pany and is the one that has contact with the customer. Our mindset, culture, and daily operations take all of this into account." One unique attirbute of being a Blacklane partner is operators get access to customers who normally wouldn't consider using luxury ground transportation. Most rides are airport runs and the average trip is mid- to long-distance. This allows users a chance to really enjoy the difference in quality and service Uber and Lyft drivers lack. "The industry by nature is global, and we can provide [small busi- nesses] access to a global customer base, not just additional revenue and rides, which helps them grow," he says. Fun Fact: Carsten's hobbies include sailing, biking, hiking, and relaxing with his family. Client Turned Operator Richard Fertig, president, Brilliant Transportation, Brooklyn, N.Y. Before he became a cool operator, Richard Fertig started out as a cool client. This is an experience that has given him a particularly interesting vantage point when it comes to improving the industry. "We are constantly questioning 'is there a better way to do this?,'" he says. "When we look at our business, we look at it forward-facing. What's the industry going to look like five or 10 years down the road?" In fact, his company was one of the first operations that saw a market opportunity with the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van. Fertig spotted them a lot in Europe where he traveled for business, but hadn't yet seen wide scale adoption in the U.S. As an operator, he's always looking for ways to better serve his clientele. "We've really analyzed our customers and examined where we add the most value, and are spending every minute of every day on scaling and au- tomating whatever can be," he explains. "We're adding value through relationships with our clients by designing event transportation and solutions for them." Fun Fact: Richard enjoys skiing, working out, being with his kids, and thinking about his future. Cool, Calm, Collected Californian Aaron Schiff, president, Ascot Limousine, Beverly Hills, Calif. Millennial operator Aaron Schiff proves it's cool to be kind. With his meticulous attention to detail, Schiff knows it's important to stay one step ahead by anticipating client needs, and then meeting and exceeding their expectations. To do this, he advises other operators to "treat your employees well." He believes keeping your best people happy reduces turnover time. "25% of the chauffeur staff has been here 15 years or longer," he says. Schiff offers his employees 401k plans, pays for half their health care, and has a profit sharing incentive. "Also, always try to see it from your employ- ee's perspective. Incentivize those who work late shifts; start them a few dollars higher than you normally would." He also gives his staff bonuses at the end of the year and holds work parties. Schiff has been involved in every aspect of the limo business, except being a chauffeur. "I started out doing event coordinating at award shows. Then I came into the office and learned how to do reservations, eventually became a dispatcher, and then worked in accounting," he says. After experiencing all of those roles, he jumped into the vice president position. "It was a little overwhelming at first, but it made the transition from vice president to president a little bit easier." Fun Fact: Aaron loves to surf and bodyboard, plays guitar, and enjoys graffiti art. Carsten Kahner wants to use tech for good, not evil. Aaron Schiff has a kind heart and a sharp mind for business. Richard Fertig is working to improve the industry. "THE CORE OF ALL BUSINESS IS ALWAYS PEOPLE. BEING ABLE TO RELATE TO AND MOTIVATE OTHERS IN ALL AREAS OF THE WORKPLACE IS MY MOST IMPORTANT QUALITY." — Anuj Patel, Pontarelli Worldwide Ground Transportation, Chicago

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