A Good Chauffeur Is Hard To Find…So Make One Instead

Posted on October 10, 2012 by

Chuck Psotka and Greg Perdue of Metropolitan Limousine with their BMW 7 Series

One of the biggest challenges I keep hearing from operators around the country is that it’s difficult to find and keep good chauffeurs. Chauffeurs are the linchpins of limousine service; they either make it happen or they don’t. As the primary contact that clients have with a company, it’s incumbent upon the chauffeur to shoulder the bulk of responsibility as regards the trip experience.

So how do you find the right people to do the job? Let’s rephrase the question: How do you find people, and once you have, how do you get them to do the job right?

A recent visit to the headquarters of Chicago’s Metropolitan Limousine, situated just southwest of Solider Field, helped me find an answer. It’s not a specific technique, but an idea: Get chauffeurs to see beyond the monetary motives of their jobs and value the work itself.

Simple, right? Easy, not so.

But Metropolitan figured out a way to do it, and I’d like to share.

Art is good for business
It begins with driver training. Greg Perdue, Metropolitan’s fleet manager, created a program called “The Art of Precision Driving.” It covers in detail an arsenal of driving techniques tailored to the demands of luxury ground transportation. Chauffeurs learn how to operate vehicles with finesse and efficiency from start to stop.

The program’s name also motivates chauffeurs, because it’s pretty cool to master the art of precision driving. Getting chauffeurs to think of themselves as artists is one way to reframe their perception of the job. It gets them to connect their job to a higher purpose — the creation of art. The open road serves as canvas, the vehicles are brushes, and the end goal is to paint an experience that generates positive emotions in the passenger(s).

Perdue developed his system by fusing his passion and knowledge of driving with years of hard work. But it is the kind of work that makes him happy, and he wants to share the joy with his team.

“For most of these guys, being a chauffeur isn’t their first job choice,” Perdue said. “So part of my job is to make sure they enjoy driving.”

The difference is in the details
Perdue uses the DriveCam in-vehicle camera system to monitor driver behavior and capture incidents such as hard braking, swerving, fast turns or collisions.

Perdue analyzes the incident and marks it down on the chauffeur’s file. At the end of every quarter, each chauffeur receives a detailed report that scores their driving habits. The reports identify exactly what was wrong and how to fix it.

“A huge motivating factor is when chauffeurs see their score and compare it to the average driver pool score, which I also include on their report,” Perdue says. “If they see that they’re below the average, they usually want to raise their score, and I always offer them different choices on how to do that. They can either implement immediate changes in their driving technique to avoid the same mistakes, or they can take full remedial training. Most of the time they’ll opt for learning the quick-fix techniques.”

The chauffeur training model used by Metropolitan Limousine succeeds because it strums the right emotional strings. It starts by empowering chauffeurs to succeed by reframing their jobs as an act of art and equipping them with the right tools. Then it taps into the competitive human instinct to get them to sustain or elevate their performance and consistency.

But this is just one example, and I believe there are infinite possibilities to getting chauffeurs in the right mindset. Maybe you teach them to focus on the fact that they are transporting the most precious of cargo — human life. Or maybe it’s by focusing on the valuable skills they are learning. Do whatever you can tap into their basic desire to feel needed and valued, and your chauffeurs will become master magicians of the limousine experience.

How do you motivate and mobilize your troops to be the best chauffeurs they can be? Please share in the comments below!

— Michael Campos, LCT associate editor

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