Front Line Report from the Oscar Limo Lot

Posted on February 25, 2013 by - Also by this author

BIGGEST LIMO NIGHT OUT: A trusted veteran operator in Southern California who drove for the Oscars last night gave me some candid observations today about the Academy Awards from a chauffeured perspective. [Under a full moon in Los Angeles]. To borrow a cliche and mix some metaphors, the Academy Awards is considered the "Super Bowl" for Southern California limousine operators.

Before 9/11, the highest call number for limousines used during the Oscars was more than 1,900. On Sunday, night the highest was around 1,150. There were few stretch limousines in the mix of sedans, SUVs and high-end premium sedans. The limo business model is being pinched from all sides, due to post-Recession fallout, corporate budget cuts, movie studio budget cuts, and changes in corporate travel policies.That adds up to a lot of rate and pricing pressure, with some companies even quibbling over a one dollar rate differential and taking their business to another provider. Chauffeured transportation companies always have been rate driven on thin margins, but the above factors have only squeezed those margins further, the operator says.

But he concludes on a hopeful note. There will always be demand for limousine services, including stretches to a certain extent. He advises that limousine operators with the most robust future are those who commit to these four rules:

1) Innovate with the latest technology and tech-friendly vehicles
2) Manage your operators “hands on” with a relentless attention to. . .
3) Customer service, service, service (can’t say it enough, but that’s what differentiates your operation the most).
4) Watch the bottom line intensely, as in ALL P&L components.

— Martin Romjue, LCT editor

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