PHONE PROCEDURES: Put a group of operators together and the conversation will eventually circle around to drivers’ cell phone numbers. Do you give the client the driver’s cell phone number? There are many different opinions on this but let’s look at all sides.
If the client has the chauffeur’s cell phone number when he gets off the plane, he can call and find him quickly. This is a convenience that many clients want.
On an as directed job, the client needs the number to call the car up when they are ready to go on to their next stop. For the client, this is a necessity as he doesn’t want the layers of first calling in to dispatch while they then call the chauffeur.
Affiliate companies want to deal directly with the chauffeur — call to see if he is on location and if he has the client. Many of the large networks are now asking for this.
Once the client has the chauffeur’s number, they will use it for future trips. Some chauffeurs may take the trip on their own and pocket the job.
It’s a bad habit to get into — everything should go through dispatch or reservations.
Now folks you get to hear my thoughts on the subject. I believe if the client asks for the chauffeur’s cell phone number, you give it to him. You train your chauffeur staff though that all reservation s and changes to reservations must be called in to the reservation line. They are not able to make the changes for the client. You need to have a level of trust with your chauffeurs that they are not going to jeopardize the job by stealing the ride and you instill the fact that if it does occur that you have a zero tolerance policy.
The reality of this hits home though every day with operators. “Mrs. Smith” only wants “Scott” to drive her. Favorite chauffeurs for passengers is a bad habit to get into. Yes you want to accommodate the client but at some point you lose that client. Yes, they may still book through you but the client goes from being your client to the chauffeur’s client. Make sure that those clients have two or three favorites. It is never good to keep the same chauffeur on the same clients. If your chauffeur leaves, so will your client.
How many of you have interviewed chauffeurs who tell you that they have a book of clients that they will bring to the job? My personal thought on these folks is that you don’t want to hire them. It’s enticing because business is business and some of the people that they are spouting off are clients that you may not have gotten entrée to or have been trying and just couldn’t penetrate. Take a step back or better yet a look forward when this same chauffeur who has worked for you is now sitting in your competitor’s office on an interview giving the same pitch. You all have company chauffeurs who tow the company line and have been with you through thick and thin. This type of person though is not that. He is knifing his current or past employer when he is offering to bring the business to you. Those clients don’t belong to him — they belong to the company who gave him the opportunity to drive them. He is directly stealing from them. Okay, shame on the company for letting him do this to them but when you hire him you open yourself up to the same thing. But I digress.
The trick with this cell phone thing is training and trust in your employees.
— Linda Moore, East Coast Editor
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