Most of us focus on a business model that we would consider, for lack of a better term, focused. In the “old days” (Wow, that would be just a few years ago) profitability meant streamlining — targeting one primary market and doing it over and over again.
I believe Michael Gerber, author of the E-Myth and a keynote speaker at our 2001 LCT Show, first introduced this notion to our industry. It served us well for some time. How nice it was that we could train our salespeople to say the same thing to the same mindset. Boy, they all got pretty darn good at it too.
Well gang, the days of specialization are now over — at least for the time being. The emerging companies in this industry that will rebound first and become highly profitable — and soon — are those that are the fastest to differentiate the old client book.
Today, we are “people movers,” not luxury transportation providers. Now we will train salespeople to address the growing number of retirement homes who need our transport services. We will get to know the owners of private parking lots to see where we can gain some business moving people from Point A to Point B.
We will pinpoint and capture all that medical transport business that has been a burden to try and market to when times were good. We will do crazy things such as direct mail to the millionaires in this country. When is the last time you sent a flyer directly to the home of a rich person suggesting that they call you for a night out? The rich are still spending on personal stuff. Staycations, local mini-vacations, are en vogue as a more affordable way to enjoy time off. Where are you in that travel space?
Many of you have noticed that LCT is no longer Limousine & Chauffeured Transportation. We repositioned the magazine earlier this year to capture bus business. We are now Limousine, Charter & Tour — same acronym, different focus. And we are no longer a vertical magazine. We are a more horizontal one, which is my point. New business is everywhere around us but it looks and feels different.
At this point, so what? The downside is that you have more to learn about what is emerging in the world of “people moving.” You may feel like you have no room to spend on fleet diversification, but you do. You may want to scream that you have to completely reboot your business model and may even have to show up at a wedding expo. So what, again? Life is hard; wear a helmet. We have a lot going for us. We have street-fighter mentalities; we came from nothing; we work hard; we know good service; and we are all our best salespeople.
You pioneer new territory now and it will be hard work. A few years from now when you look back at this period of time, you will be debt free, you will be diversified and less vulnerable to other economic setbacks, and you will be smarter. It will have been worth it.