Using Mystery Riders

Posted on May 11, 2011 by - Also by this author

Do you really know how your chauffeurs behave? You can easily solve any mysteries.
One unique problem with personnel management in our business is that most of our employees leave in one of our vehicles and we don’t see them again until they return. There is no direct supervision. The only time you hear about a problem is when a client actually takes the time to contact you and tell you about it.
Over the years, I have heard so many “in-car” horror stories from my own clients and from other operators. The absolute worst is when an affiliate calls and lets you know there was a problem with their client in your car with your chauffeur.
I recently heard from an industry veteran about riding in a sedan. At the end of the ride, the chauffeur actually asked her for a tip. She told him that he could add it to the credit card. He went on to tell her that he needed the cash for lunch. This message was delivered to one of the most powerful women in the limousine industry. I was shocked, but then again, not really. I have heard worse stories than that.
An affiliate once called to tell me that my chauffeur had left the premises after arriving but before the initial loading. He told the client he could not make the two-hour drive without getting some Starbucks coffee. I was horrified. That chauffeur is no longer employed with me.
This begs the question: Do you REALLY know how your employees are acting? Mystery riders can easily spot problem drivers. I intentionally called them drivers instead of chauffeurs. Drivers are a dime a dozen. A true professional chauffeur would always exercise politeness and professionalism, and never do the things mentioned above.
When I refer to a mystery rider, I don’t necessarily mean a professional company. You can use your parents, good friends, and even regular clients. A regular client would probably love a comp limo and an invitation to evaluate your chauffeurs for you. You know who these clients are already. Those of you that just gasped at asking a client probably don’t have personal relationships with your clients.
Arm your mystery riders with an evaluation sheet of the things that are important to you. Have them write down any strange comments or actions as well as using check boxes. You would be surprised at the things you learn with just three rides a month.

-- Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor

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