Operations

Georgia Operator Rolling Smooth On SUVS

Posted on June 5, 2014 by

Frederick A. Walker of WSI Limousine with his fleet of five SUVs, including Chevy Tahoes, Suburbans, Lincoln Navigator, and Cadillac Escalade.
Frederick A. Walker of WSI Limousine with his fleet of five SUVs, including Chevy Tahoes, Suburbans, Lincoln Navigator, and Cadillac Escalade.

Unique approaches to customer service: “First off, I call my clients ‘executives’ because that is what they are and should be treated as such,” Walker says. “My drivers then are ‘executive assistants’ or EAs. My goal is that by any means necessary we give that executive a VIP experience that only can be received at WSI Limousine. Also, for early morning runs, I have coffee and a snack for them in the vehicle. It’s one less thing they have to worry about.”

Limo business likes: The people. “My wife Renita of 17 years always asks me when I get home, ‘What story you got today?’ And every day I have one. Some good, some bad, some sad, and some funny, but it is true reality at its finest, and it keeps me humble.”

Best marketing strategies: Walker’s primary form of marketing is through word of mouth and reputation. He has spent 15 years in the industry, and met many people. Facebook and Twitter as well as affiliate relationships have played major roles in growing his business.

What he did before: Before limousine service, Walker worked as a maintenance manager for a large multifamily real estate company. He interacted with customers daily, which helped cultivate his customer service skills that now come naturally.

Why he got into the industry: “At one of the buildings I managed, a limo company leased there and I noticed this guy who worked there was always dressed up,” Walker says. “After talking to him and hearing the kind of money he was making, I was hooked. He gave me my first driving job. He sent me on a prom run in a 200-in. stretch Excursion. I had never driven a limo before, but once I got in and got comfortable, I was cool, and after about 20 minutes I knew this was for me.”

Start-up costs and methods: Walker decided to do an all-SUV service, and went to the dealership to pick one out and found a new Chevy Tahoe. “The feel was right,” he says of the purchase. “My thinking was if I get a call for a sedan, I can send an SUV upgrade, and if I get a call for an SUV, I have that as well. Two for one. And the only expense out of pocket was about $5,000, with deposit, insurance, permits, and license, which all was made back in less than two months.”

Biggeset mistake: Walker quickly learned to be wary of investors and other people who have seen his success and want to join. “They want to be part of the glory and have nothing to do with the sweat, pain, and tears,” he says. “You’ve got to go through a lot to get to a place of success and you have to be willing to nourish your dream.”

Biggest success: Repeat business from regular customers. “I take pride in my company and my executives,” he says. “I value their time, money, and safety. For someone to call me and use my service again is a great personal appreciation.”

Growing the fleet: Through budgeting and planning, Walker has steadily increased his fleet count. He is adding a new vehicle (or replacing an old) about every six months.

Technology and software used: As of now, just his Android phone, social media, and a self-designed software on his computer to take care of dispatch and reservations is enough to conduct business. “It’s simple and it works for me,” he says.

Future plans: Walker hopes to have 21 SUVS in his fleet and be the top executive VIP SUV service in the Southeast within the next five years.

Advice for operators: “Keep your word and do what you say you are going to do. Always provide what you say you are going to provide and charge what you say you are going to charge.”  

FASTFACTS
WSI Limousine LLC
Location: McDonough, Ga.
Owner: Frederick A. Walker
Founded: 2012
Main service region: Atlanta
Vehicle types: SUVs
Fleet Size: 5
Employees: 6
Website: www.wsilimousine.com
Contact: (404) 427-2211

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