Following The Fluid Schedule

Posted on May 25, 2010 by - Also by this author

In a life filled with schedule changes, last minute bookings and cancellations we are forced to adapt to change at the last minute.
Last Friday, it seemed we were attacked by phone calls in the last 45 minutes of the day. They all wanted to change their pickup time for the next day, add an hour here, cancel an order there, and my office staff was in a tizzy about all the last minute changes.
One staff member even commented that we should charge a “change fee” when someone makes a last minute change just like the airlines do. The next day, I was cooking scrambled eggs on a griddle that also had bacon. As I poured the eggs onto the griddle, I tried my best to keep my eggs out of my bacon by running the spatula in all directions trying to contain the eggs.
A light bulb went on in my head. This is what scheduling is like in our business. As fast as you can catch a little of the egg drifting into the bacon zone there is another area oozing out where it doesn’t belong. I thought about how people try to add an hour on to their wedding by calling in at the last minute on the evening before. We sometimes cannot accommodate such a change as it drifts in to the next bride’s wedding time. As much as we would like to earn the extra hour of pay, we cannot make someone else sacrifice their charter time.
Then on the other hand, if the time is available we should make every effort to accommodate the needs of our clients. It helps us and the chauffeur make more money. It also causes an inconvenience. New paperwork might need to be generated if the client changes a pickup location. The chauffeur must be notified. The data must be loaded into the reservations software. The credit card must be processed. There may be several other steps to handling a change in your operation but if you can make the change, why not do so?
While last minute changes present challenges that no one really likes, the clients we serve are the reasons why we exist. They are not an interruption of our work but the purpose of our work. While everyone would like to get out the door by 5 p.m., I have never seen anyone drop dead from missing the door at 5 p.m. We must never forget our purpose is to serve.

— Jim Luff, LCT Contributing Editor

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