EAST COAST BLIZZARD: When snow is imminent, owners of limousine companies go into high gear. Storms bring chaos and chaos needs to be managed as much as possible. When my husband and I owned our company prior to our merging with TOC Chauffeured Transportation in Trenton, we would pack a bag and plan to hunker down in our office. This was a way of life for us. We had a futon in the back and a shower. I would take the phones while he plowed.
My routine was always the same. I would start with checking out bound flights to see if they were canceled. I am always amazed that people don’t want to give you their outbound flight information. This is the perfect reason why it is so important to get outbound flights. Most of the time I knew that customer’s flight was canceled before they did. If they were canceled, I would send them both a text and email letting them know and telling them that we would not send a car for them until they contacted us with their changes. This also avoided late cancellation charges.
I next would look at who was going out from where and checked to see which customers were traveling to see if I could switch them to four-wheel drive vehicles. In most cases this isn’t an issue during bad weather but it’s important to know your clients. We had many senior citizens who were not capable of getting in and out of SUVs.
Having good customer profiles is important. Clients who have steep driveways may need to be alerted that the chauffeur will not be able to get up it during the storm so that alternate arrangements could be made. Although we made every effort to provide outstanding luxury service, we always put safety first of both the client and the chauffeur.
I also would look to see if any rides could be combined. We never make a practice of combining rides, but when the weather is bad we too worry about the number of vehicles we have on the road as well as the safety of both our passengers and our chauffeurs. I have never had anyone turn me down to combine rides in a bad storm. It wouldn’t be a problem if they did as my husband always was willing to jump into a car and drive should we not have enough chauffeurs.
Before a storm, we always made sure that windshield wiper fluid was full. We checked with all of our chauffeurs who were on the schedule if they would still drive during a storm. We prepared them that flights might be cancelled and that we may call and wake them if plans changed.
We always let retail customers know that we put safety first and if their travel is unnecessary that we would not charge them a late cancellation charge during and after a storm should they want to reschedule.
I would always monitor the weather to make sure that roads were not closed to the airport. During today’s storm, I-95 was shut down. This is the main route to the airport.
Before a chauffeur left our garage, we would remind him to leave their car keys. We always made sure that the chauffeur’s own vehicle was not snow covered or plowed in. We cleaned their cars before they returned.
Chauffeurs who didn’t mind working on storm days typically made out well with tips. One chauffeur carried a shovel with him and he would shovel a path for his passengers so that they would not have to walk through snow to get into the vehicle.
With storms, business owners cannot take anything for granted. Between roads, flights, clients and employees, there are lots of chaotic balls to juggle. Sleeping in the office is sometimes an unfortunate consequence but one many of us know well!
— Linda Jagiela, LCT contributing writer
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