LINDA MOORE: Are 5 Affiliate Calls Per Ride Too Much?

Posted on July 21, 2009 by LCT Magazine

TOO MUCH PHONE? Many operators are pushing clients to move to online reservations as a way to cut costs and increase efficiencies. But these same operators are the ones who call the affiliate company three to five times with each reservation doing quality checks. Why is it necessary to make so many calls? 
1) Did you receive the reservation?
2) Has the chauffeur left for the job?
3) Is the chauffeur on location? 
4) Has the chauffeur made contact with the client?
5) Is the job over and what are the charges?
On the job for which you made $20, you just wasted all of the profits on phone calls. 
Some software allows you to view the “affiliate screen” and see the updates automatically. But this only works if both companies use the same software. I wonder if it is a quality control process or a trust issue. Do you need to make five phone calls to be certain that the ride will go smoothly? Granted, you are taking the control of your best client out of your hands and putting it into your affiliates.  Part of the problem is that many operators farm to people that they just don’t know. I get calls daily asking who I would recommend in a particular area. I have been to many operations and seen the facilities and how the operators work but in some cases I have only met owners at shows and have to trust their instincts. 
The issue also could be that you don’t trust your own internal staff. Did we farm the job? Did we select a good affiliate? Will we be able to fix a problem if it occurs?
I listen to the frustration of operators who say, “I won’t work for X company as it is just too much work. They make five calls for every ride. Who has time for that?”
If you want that business, you need to endure the calls. Is there an easier way?  Could you set a system where the chauffeur sends a text to the affiliate or is this just as much work? 
I have heard of affiliate companies who ask for photos of the chauffeurs, bios, and personality profiles. Wow! They send the photo to the client so that they will know what the chauffeur looks like. This sounds like a dispatch nightmare as that chauffeur is stuck on that job because of the process when it might be more efficient to change the chauffeur to a different chauffeur in a better location, etc. 
Are the companies making all these demands giving that much volume or paying a premium for this extra level of service? I think at one time they were but I am not sure anymore. With the current economic conditions are operators staffed to handle this level of service? Is all of this really necessary?
— Linda Moore, LCT East Coast Editor 
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