Operations

Being Meticulous Helps Operator Outshine Competition

Posted on April 1, 2006 by LCT Staff - Also by this author

Twin Lakes Limo, Inc., began in 2001 with an office in a corner of a bedroom and a 1993 green six-passenger limousine. “I saw this green Lincoln limousine for sale and decided to buy it,” says owner Melody Cotner. “Even though the color was unusual, I had a feeling I could make it work. I began business as a one-person show booking, cleaning and driving the car.” When it came to the image of her new business, Cotner was meticulous. “I am a very picky person,” she says. “Everything from the look of the vehicle to the way I dress has to be perfect.” Before long Cotner noticed she was receiving many referral clients. “People were recommending me because of the professionalism they experienced. I would hear comments about the cleanliness of the vehicle and the professional attire and attitude of the chauffeur.”

Over the next four years, Twin Lakes’ reputation grew rapidly. “Even though we have radio and Yellow Pages ads, most of our business still comes from referrals,” says Cotner. “We now run all new vehicles from Krystal and Executive, but I am still as adamant about appearance as I was when I was running that green six-pack. That is what we are known for and the client expects nothing less.” Cotner also says her vehicles are so well cared for, other companies are eager to purchase them when she upgrades. Cotner also gives credit to a woman who has helped mentor her in the intricacies of the limousine business. “My sales rep from Executive, Ivelene Mullikin, has given me many pointers and has been a great support,” she says. “She has become my mentor in this industry.”

Company Opens New Facility The evolution of Twin Lakes Limo has recently taken its largest step yet: a new location. “We had outgrown the home-based business model,” says Cotner. “We needed a place where we had room to grow.” She began searching in the surrounding areas for a location that would best suit her needs.

Cotner purchased a well-located 1.28-acre parcel of land in Lenoir City and built a state-of-the-art 7,200 square-foot facility. The new building houses offices, vehicle storage areas, in-house maintenance and detailing departments and chauffeur locker rooms with showers. “This is a place where clients can see the professionalism of Twin Lakes even before they book a car.”

Cotner’s business is currently comprised of approximately 90% retail, but she is determined to expand further into the corporate side of the business. “Corporate travelers want the level of service that is second nature for us,” she says. “I know our service will speak for itself.” But Cotner’s goal doesn’t stop there. “My vision is to become the leading limousine service for Tennessee and its bordering states. It is to also provide the most professional quality deemed possible with the friendliest service in the country.”

Operator Strives To Help Others In 2001, not long after opening Twin Lakes Limo, Inc., Melody Cotner decided she wanted to do something special for the less fortunate. “I have always been a firm believer in helping others,” says Cotner, “but this time I wanted to do something big… something really special.” With spiritual faith as her driving force, Cotner decided to build a church in Kenya and share spiritual growth with the people there. “My aunt and uncle had been missionaries in Africa for many years,” she says. “I have heard about the struggles of these people, and the fact they walk many miles just so they can attend a worship service was heartbreaking. I made my mind up to help.”

The John Cotner Memorial Church, dedicated to the memory of Cotner’s late husband who died in a car accident several years earlier, was built. The church is the largest in the district, accommodating up to 1,000 parishioners. “I went there for the dedication,” says Cotner. “It makes you feel great when you see the joy something like this brings.” Cotner still sends substantial amounts of her business proceeds to maintain the church, as well as provides money and services to other charitable organizations such as the Dream Connection. “I firmly believe you reap what you sow. Doing good things for others is just something I enjoy and will continue to do so as long as I am able.”

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