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Maria Hernandez, senior associate of Leap Solutions Group in Santa Rosa, Calif., addressed attendees of the 2014 International LCT Show in Las Vegas, Feb. 16-18, on how strong leadership can lead to limousine companies that run on better teamwork and customer service.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Ask any long-time operator the difference between success and failure and the word service will be at the top of the list. That should be a given. Unfortunately, maintaining a consistent high-level of service can fall to the wayside if owners and managers don’t set the tone and foster a service-focused company culture.
That’s the drive-home message from Maria G. Hernandez during her session presentation at the International LCT Show in February. A senior associate for the Santa-Rosa, Calif.-based Leap Solutions Group, Hernandez titled her presentation “Executive Leadership: Changing the DNA of Your Company to Increase Team Performance” for good reason.
“Operators who do not provide exceptional service today face tremendous challenges to stay in business,” she said. Citing consumers and business people who are more in command of their transportation options and requirements, Hernandez pointed out that it’s all about creating a company culture — the DNA embedded in every employee who is laser-focused on service.
Citing her experience, Hernandez said she has used the same limousine service and chauffeur for the past 20 years because of the company’s consistent commitment to a high level of service that filters throughout the organization. “My chauffeur always calls me the day before to make sure everything is OK,” she said. “I’ve known him for 20 years and he cares about me and is always available and has my best interest at heart. I don’t ever think about changing companies because that is one less thing I have to think about. That’s service installed from the top down.”
Hernandez stressed that it’s all about how you are treated, starting when you are greeted while calling to reserve a ride and ending when you leave the vehicle — from start to finish. “Owners have to know what their customers experience in order to maintain their culture of service. For instance, do they periodically call their own reservation line to experience what a customer does? Do they place an online order to see how well that works? Do they examine the cars to make sure they are clean and well maintained? Again, it’s creating a team-oriented culture that focuses on all aspects of customer service.”
From attentive service from booking a ride to drop off, Hernandez stressed that operators must “engage” customers consistently in every aspect of their service — including modern and clean fleets. “Why are companies like Starbucks and McDonalds successful? Because they are consistent in what they do and people appreciate that because they know what to expect.”
Hernandez referenced a Harvard Review article to further make the point: The author was in a plane, and when he pulled down the seat tray, there were coffee stains, which made him wonder what’s going on with the engines. “Little things can make a big difference,” she added.
Regarding service, Hernandez noted that every component of a company must be service-oriented — and owners must invest not just in hiring great employees, but also invest in the infrastructure to make sure systems and technologies support a service-based culture. “Even a small operator can invest in the right technologies to perform like a world-class company,” she noted.