Cecil Marrow stands with his most recent fleet addition, a Turtle Top Van Terra.
Startup costs and methods: Cecil Marrow started Marrow Transportation with a $20,000 loan to himself. He began with a 2002 Mercury Grand Marquis, and worked every aspect of the operation: chauffeur, dispatch, car washer, etc.
Why he got into the business: Marrow began the company thinking he would serve the senior citizen community and provide transportation for errands and medical appointments. Williamsburg has been noted as one of the most desirable cities to retire in the U.S. Marrow, however, found greater success catering to the local hotels and tourists who arrive in the city for its historic landmarks.
What he did before: Marrow found his first love for customer service in the restaurant business. After working in the industry for eight years, he realized that at heart he enjoyed being around people, and got the most satisfaction from interacting with employees and customers.
Types of clients: The main market Marrow serves is the tourism industry within his town and nearby areas. “The Historic Triangle is made up of Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown,” he says. “It’s where the earliest colonies are located, going back all the way to the early 1600s.” The area has a large conference center, and Marrow frequently provides airport transportation. “The tourist attractions have intertwined with some work with the colleges and students, all touring through colonial Williamsburg,” he says, and notes that he also does a small number of local weddings.
Marketing strategies: Marrow’s client base comes through Internet marketing and word of mouth. Building relationships with concierges at local hotels also has been successful. “We are doing pretty well now where we get a lot of business from referrals coming from previous clients, and that percentage is growing every year.”
Customer service: One thing Marrow does is emphasize the quoting process. “I’ve found when I call other companies from an affiliate perspective and ask quotes, some of them sound like a message board,” he says. “They just read out numbers for costs, whereas I believe in building value in that number. If you’re going to spend money with me, I want to tell you what the value of the service is, and not just the cost.”
One of Marrow’s Lincoln Town Cars in front of the Williamsburg Inn
, a five-star hotel ideal for tourists exploring the nearby historical sites. Marrow often hires chauffeurs who are local and familiar with the history so they can share facts about the area to clients.
Industry likes: “The opportunity to meet people is what I love the most,” Marrow says. “When I was in the restaurant business this guy asked me why I was doing it, and I said, ‘Man I miss it. I love the restaurant.’ And he said ‘it’s not the restaurant itself you miss, it’s the people.’ And he’s right. I like meeting individuals, and I know the difference between my leisure clients, where we get to converse and share facts about the historical sites, and the corporate clients where it is professional business travel and less conversational.”
Future plans: Marrow intends to keep the business small, but hopes to one day own a facility where he can house the vehicles indoors and provide chauffeurs with a lounge. “I want to stay small so I can continue to focus on customer service.”
Advice for operators: “Do a lot of research on your market, and talk with some of the larger companies for insight. Go to trade shows and get a more in-depth feel and knowledge base about our industry.”
Location: Williamsburg, Va.
Owner: Cecil Marrow
Main service region: Virginia Peninsula; southeast/central Virginia
Vehicle types: sedans, vans, minibus
Fleet vehicles: 6
Contact: (757) 564-5466