In today’s slumping economy, many would consider it risky to enter or be involved in a luxury service based business venture. The limousine and car service industry would fall into that category. While it may be true that business is not what it once was, there is still more than enough opportunity to be both successful and profitable. If you’ve ever considered becoming involved in or actively run a limo service, it is important to recognize some of the key aspects and details necessary to make you one of the next success stories within the industry.
Being behind the scenes and not the wheel fail to expose you, an office person, to the many tales of horror that are often discussed in a car. These prior car service experiences are at times the conversation of choice coming from what should be the most important priority of your limo business: the customer. Customer service is at the tip top of the list when it comes to building and maintaining not only an honest relationship but a returning base as well. The customer will take everything from their first phone call and follow it through the entire experience. Behind the scenes, the customer service baton is quietly handed off from the office to the dispatch department, into the hands of the chauffeur and left up to them to deliver. It is important for the driver to be on time, properly attired and ready to greet the customer with a smile and a handshake. Small things such as bottle of water or a glass full of mints can also go a long way to improve upon the image of your service. A problem and incident free ride results in a happy customer and a happy customer is always a returning customer. Let the mistakes others, through your customer service, be your ticket to company growth.
A beat up vehicle with high mileage and a mediocre ride is no definition of the word luxury! It is important to remember that characteristic when maintaining or shopping around for the golden eggs of your business: the fleet. If customers do not have standards that must be met, they will surely go the budget friendly route and use a taxi. As a luxury service provider, it is important maintain a clean image and provide vehicles that are newer, clean and also properly maintained. Smoking in a vehicle this day in age is almost grounds for disaster and must be avoided at all costs. Routine oil changes, staying current with maintenance, repair, and quality car washes not only extend the life of your vehicles but will also aid in the resale value when it comes time to upgrade or expand. Also, be sure to keep track of all of your vehicle costs and service records as they do play a role in determining what you can expect to charge your customers. A customer riding in style is yet another reflection of your business and the tight ship you run. It is critical to not neglect what truly is the driving force of your business.
Think like a customer while preparing an effective marketing campaign and target those outlets. Once you’ve accumulated a client base and have a niche for delivering the quality of service that meets not only the customer expectation but your own as well, it’s time to find new business. While every market is different and the target audiences vary, the objective always remains the same. Being a bit more aggressive with your marketing is often the key to finding new business. Set aside a budget but also be prepared to spend money for the new target audience. It takes money to make money. A more aggressive marketing approach can include your internet campaign. Is your website up to par at the very least? Can people even find your website? Search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and social media are to be considered when looking to build your company profile or rank your website among search requests on the big search engines: Google, Yahoo and Bing. Make sure to target keywords and search phrases that generate volume and strive to place your company website within first two pages of results. While professional marketing materials such as brochures and business cards are still effective and nice to have in this day in age, the internet is the king of advertising this generation. Also do not neglect the power of word of mouth through quality of your service. Many referrals come from the mouth of customers who have been happy and satisfied with what you have provided.
Finally, affiliates are your friends. There is plenty of work to go around and let’s face it, there will be times where you will be in over your head no matter how big you may get to be. Having that reliable someone to turn to in such an event is the key to not only keeping your business running problem free but also your peace of mind. Whether it be the one car operator or an established business, look to build these quality relationships and be sure to treat affiliate clients with the same level of service as if they are your own. Doing business together is one of the more underrated outlets for income in this industry and also a critical backdoor to turn to when you get stuck in a bind. As with life itself, it is better to make and have more friends than enemies.
Having found success providing limo service in a faced paced and demanding market, the tips I’ve been able to share with you are the result of some first hand experiences I’ve accumulated being both behind the wheel and the curtain as well. To go above and beyond not only your personal expectation but also the services provided by most others will be critical in establishing and maintaining your loyal customer base. Remember to never cut corners and always put these customers at the forefront of your operation. Failure to perform at the level expected is the only reason why many services fail to stay alive in this industry. Being ambitious, creative and using due diligence in your decision making will ultimately determine just how far you go within the limousine and car service industry.