By Jim A. Luff
While it certainly might sound like bragging, I almost feel guilty for telling anyone.
I hear from so many operators on a daily basis who are struggling to keep the doors open or worse yet, closing their doors as a result of the economy.
I have been feeding business to other limo companies out of the area who have called and asked if we had any work for them. I have given large orders to operators all over California including Palm Springs, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and even in my own back yard in the past month. They all keep asking me how we are generating so much work when others are struggling and taking less than a single order a day.
I wish I had the magic answer but I really don’t. The best I can say is that there are many factors to our success, which all start in what I call tending the garden.
Only, instead of having tomatoes, sunflowers and daisies growing, I have medical, funeral, corporate, and other sections of garden to attend. So, when you are gardening, you are taking care of one section of your garden at a time based on the specific need of the plant. In this business, you must meet the unique needs of each sector you serve. That doesn’t mean just dropping off brochures once in awhile. It means entrenching yourself with them. It means socializing with them. It means breaking bread, toasting wine glasses and spending time with them on their turf.
When you develop personal relationships with your clients, you breed loyalty. While no one likes mistakes, it is much more difficult to be “fired” over a mistake when two people are friends. The result is your relationship is stronger and able to survive minor “speed bumps” you may encounter. Likewise, if you do a good job, your client is more likely to refer more business to you and actually sell your company for you. That removes the work from you to obtain new business. All you need to do is treat the new addition to the “garden” the same as you would a growing a new plant in your backyard garden.
It takes a lot of time and energy to be out almost every single night at community events, parties, and places that your clients hang out. I always buy extra tickets to events and concerts so that I can invite clients to go with me on a social basis. I do not use this time to market or gloat about our company, but to develop personal relationships with my clients and effectively make them marketing ambassadors for our company. Clients frequently run into people they know when we are out in a social setting, and they always introduce me as their “limo guy” and tell them about our company. Perfect! You can’t ask for a better introduction and implied reputation by association.
If you want your garden to grow, you have to tend it. Concert tickets, community event tickets and the like are the fertilizer. Your time commitment is the water to make the plant grow. When the plant starts sprouting vegetables, that is the money in the bank.
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