Operator-owner Deanna Ballard with her Mercedes E-class sedan in front of the Octopus Car Wash in Santa Fe, which was used in the American Movie Channel’s critically acclaimed series Breaking Bad.
Why Mercedes-Benz? Deanna Ballard believes operators should look at the retirement of the Lincoln Town Car Executive L as an opportunity to expand with the many choices on the vehicle market, instead of just one predominant vehicle. “I have gone with the Mercedes vehicle option and my clients are very happy with it,” she says. “Clients tell me how refreshing it is to be in a Mercedes as opposed to the rundown Town Cars that are still hanging on out there.”
Fleet growth strategies: Ballard is slowly building up her fleet. She focuses on maintaining the business she has instead of rushing into more work that requires a bigger fleet. “That’s in order to keep my sanity and keep enjoying what I do,” she says. “Quantity is not quality from the limo operator or client perspective.”
Customer service approaches: To keep up her company’s high level of customer service, Ballard tries to find ways to motivate her staff daily and remind them how important they are to her in representing the company.
What she did before: Ballard was a co-owner of Star Limo LLC, also located in Santa Fe and founded in 2003, before starting World Travel Management in 2012.
Start-up costs and methods: Vehicles and insurance were the biggest start-up costs. Ballard called up many of her previous clients to maintain the relationships and transfer them to her new company. “Those loyal relationships helped me tremendously when I started my new company, which I am humbly thankful for.”
Types of clients: WTM Worldwide focuses on corporate clients and business travelers. As of now, all of Ballard’s clients come through existing client references.
Setbacks to learn from: For Ballard, the biggest setback has been spending too much time worrying about problems that could arise, while neglecting to come up with solutions when challenges presented themselves.
Biggest success: By teaming up with a local Destination Management Company (DCM) in Santa Fe and by networking with hotels in the area, Ballard was able to form a successful partnership in attracting clients who are having their upcoming meetings and conferences in Santa Fe. “I am successful because I love what I do and it shines through in the service I provide and the company I operate,” Ballard says.
Best marketing strategies: Word of mouth and personal referrals have been her best way to attract new clients and keep her loyal customer base. She works hard to keep them coming back with good service.
Favorite technologies: Limo Anywhere is WTM’s main reservation software. Ballard believes the company has stepped up its pace over the years. The improvements and updates from Limo Anywhere have helped Ballard with her business, and she likes the affordable cost of the service.
Ballard with an E-class and the GL450 SUV at the John B Robert Dam, another local attraction featured in Breaking Bad, also set and produced in Albuquerque.
What she likes most about the business: “The endlessly challenging task of logistics every day,” Ballard says. “This industry can challenge you every day on every level.”
Future plans: Helping the industry to improve. “There are not a lot of women in this industry and it’s a shame. There should be more of us because we could make a positive impact on our industry.”
Advice for other operators: “Always remain humble and don’t let your ego or ‘limo muscles’ get in the way of creating a positive representation of our industry as a whole.”
WTM World Travel Management
Location: Santa Fe, N.M.
Year Founded: 2012
Owner: Deanna Ballard
Main service region: Santa Fe, Albuquerque, N.M.
Fleet Size: 5
Vehicle types: Sedans, SUVs, passenger van, limo bus
Annual revenues: N/A
Information: (505) 913-9627; [email protected]; www.wtmllc.com