CLINTON, N.J. — Business may be flat for operator Alex Mayer, but as the saying goes, that’s the new up.
Since hitting bottom with a 1Q 2009 sales drop of 20%, AAA Guaranteed On Time Limousine Service, which serves the tri-state region, has seen its corporate and group transport clientele bounce back.
As of Tuesday, AAA had a fleet of 29 vehicles — about the same as last year — after adding two vans and cutting one Town Car sedan, said Mayer, general manager and partner in the company, which is in the process of changing its name to AAA Worldwide Transportation.
Most notable has been AAA’s ability to land several Fortune 500 affiliated client companies since the first quarter, leaving the company with an 85-90% corporate and 10-15% retail breakdown. Of its total runs, group transportation is about 15%, up from 3% about six months ago, Mayer said.
Mayer said the company has not added staff — just taken on more work. AAA hasn’t cut rates either, except for some long-term corporate contract discounting. Mayer said AAA emphasizes constant attention to customer service instead, which he believes wins out in the long run.
“People have to concentrate on giving good service,” Mayer said. “That’s what the bottom line is. I have a sign in my office, in the dispatch reservation area, and in the sales office that says, ‘Customer service is not a department; it’s an attitude.’ [Clients] are willing to pay extra if you give the correct service.”
More companies are calling to get shuttles, while worldwide affiliate group is also growing for AAA. “We had groups from Amsterdam and Italy come in that got referred to me and are now a huge part of my business,” Mayer said.
While the recession has spooked the business travel sector, companies must face certain realities, finding that chauffeured transportation still provides the best value, Mayer said. Some clients who left for lower prices with other types of ground transportation have returned after experiencing frustrating delays and poor service, he added.
Overall, the corporate business is still there from executives and upper managers, Mayer said. “These corporations really don’t question higher-ranked individuals using Town Cars.”
“To these people, time is valuable,” Mayer said. “If you’re making $150,000 to $200,000 per year and you break it down hourly, their rate could be $100 per hour. If they go with a cheaper company, did they save anything because it’s a waste of time for the client? They have to be productive.”
Source: Martin Romjue, LCT Magazine