On the perils of assigning one chauffeur to a specific client.
I always have preached that you should never, ever assign a chauffeur to be the exclusive chauffeur of a given client. I am all for assigning two or three chauffeurs to one account so they can learn the specific needs of the client, their habits, quirks and desires.
There are probably some of you that will say, clients like to have a dedicated chauffeur. They may even request the same chauffeur each time they place an order. Even if the requested chauffeur is available, you need to switch it up regularly so that your client does not become the client of the chauffeur instead of your company.
If your client decides to move to another livery service, he may just tell that client about your great chauffeur and ask the new company to recruit the driver. A more likely scenario is your chauffeur gets angry about something, leaves the company, and tells his new company to contact the client. Don’t think for a minute that your chauffeur doesn’t have the client’s cell number programmed in his phone from the many previous trips. Once that contact is made, say goodbye to your client.
Even if the client doesn’t leave your company, if they get too spoiled, they may actually cancel trips simply because their regular chauffeur is not available. That happened to me last Friday on a farm-in order. The affiliate placed the order and specifically asked for a particular chauffeur. I advised the affiliate that the requested chauffeur was not available and had asked for the day off. They gave me the order for Monday anyway and said they would advise their client the requested chauffeur was unavailable.
Hours later, I received a cancellation of the order. Of course, affiliates never tell you why an order was cancelled. We have driven this lady well over 15 times in the last year so I had all her contact information and decided I would call her house during the middle of the scheduled trip to see if she was home. Shady? Perhaps. I wanted to know if she still made her five-hour trip that I lost out on.
Much to my surprise, she answered the phone when she should have been on the trip. I told her I was contacting her to express my apologies that her “regular driver” was not available. At the same time I attempted to explain to her our scheduling policies based on seniority, requested days off and other parameters. She volunteered the information that she cancelled her trip because “Michael” was not available to drive. I asked her about the other three chauffeurs that have provided service. One drove too slow. One drove too fast. One wasn’t very friendly. All interesting things to learn but disappointing that I lost a run because she wasn’t willing to ride with anyone else. Well, it may not have been just that trip because I have no plans of sending Michael every single time or changing the way we’ve been doing things for 22 years.
— Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor
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