Where is the nearest hospital in relation to your biggest client’s office? Do you know who the local sports team is playing this weekend? What’s the fastest route out of your downtown area on Friday afternoon? If you can answer all of these questions, then you probably don’t need to read the rest of this article because you are prepared.
However, more than likely, even if you know the local restaurants and routes, you probably aren’t familiar with hospitals and the nearest police facility. These are all equally important.
The client always expects the vehicle to be on time and thoroughly clean. The chauffeur must be in uniform and know where he or she is going at all times.
The chauffeur must be absolutely sure about the customer’s itinerary and be familiar with the logistics of the itinerary. If you were the client, imagine how disconcerting it would be to have your chauffeur ask you for directions to a local hot spot or hint that he or she is not quite familiar with the surrounding area.
However, this scenario is a lot more common than many operators would like to admit. So, what is to be done about it?
Prepare Your Chauffeurs How can chauffeurs be prepared so that they know all of the important locations and minimize occurrences of becoming lost? One idea is to take a new chauffeur that has previous knowledge of your particular areas, and teach him or her the specifics about a location in that area. Maybe even have him or her learn from other chauffeurs on staff. You also should provide them with maps, lists and any other appropriate assistance.
There is no such thing as too much information, especially about traffic patterns, detailed area maps and local restaurant guidebooks. The more information a chauffeur has, the better they will be able to serve the customer.
“Usually, good chauffeurs will find out about areas on their own,” says Ed Delgado, owner of Evening Star Limousine in Anaheim, Calif. “We give our chauffeurs updates. We have a briefing book where we include what’s happening in the company, new ideas, fleet news and anything that could be interesting for the chauffeur.”
Delgado gives an example of informing the chauffeurs of a local club that will allow his clients in for free. “We let them know that type of information so that when they’re going out and the clients say that they want to go to that particular club the chauffeur can say: ‘Hey guys, I’ll get you in for free. Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it,’” Delgado says. “It gives them the advantage of working toward a great tip at the end of the night.”
So, what information in particular is important for the chauffeur to know? Let’s look at seven categories of locations and the corresponding information:
This is a no-brainer. Your company should have a list compiled already. It should include the phone numbers and terminal locations of all the airlines as well. All airports will have roadway and terminal maps, along with other reference material that you can obtain through information booths, administrative offices or the various landside operations centers of the various airports.
2. Hotels and convention centers
Both of these facilities will be frequent destinations for your clients. There are many ways to gather a list of these, but the quickest is probably through the local chamber of commerce, or the visitors and convention bureau. First, check with your company. A lot of limousine business is generated from upscale hotels, so get to know all the ones in your area.
3. Restaurants, bars and night clubs
These are popular destinations for both retail and corporate clients. You may want to group restaurants by their cuisine, such as Chinese, Indian, Thai, etc. There are also theme restaurants such as Hard Rock Café or Planet Hollywood.
“It’s incredibly important that a chauffeur not only knows the current hot spots, because what’s hot today isn’t always what’s hot tomorrow, but also who’s at the door,” Delgado explains. “You need to make your clients feel that they’re more important that the 30 people standing in line outside the club.”
If a client asks for your recommendation, be sure to provide him or her with several choices. Remember, there is always the possibility of a restaurant not living up to its expectations. It is always better to let the customer decide. You should have a current, well-regarded restaurant guide of the local area. Also, don’t be afraid to let the customer look at the guide in order to make a decision.
Be flexible when going to bars and clubs. Remember that a client may want to go to many different types of nightclubs in the same night. You will need to be prepared for anything. You also may want to ask other chauffeurs that have experience in your area where the more popular hot spots are.
4. Theaters, concert venues and sporting facilities
These types of venues are very important for all chauffeurs to know. When you initially check out these locations. be sure to note drop-off points, and waiting areas as well as the easiest ways to gain access and exit. It can get hectic and very crowded quickly. Also, be current on what events are happening at any given time. So you should definitely do your homework.
5.Tourist attractions and historical landmarks
In every state, there are a wide variety of tourist attractions. In addition to those, there also are many historical points of interest as well.
You should maintain a comprehensive list or file with all of these types of places. In addition, you should also list general directions and notes about access and parking.
6. Major radio, television and film studios
Entertainers and tourists alike are interested in these types of facilities. One thing you should be sure to keep track of is the locations of the “talent” entrances and general entrances. Remember that you want to look like you know where you’re going and what you’re doing.
7. Hospital, police stations and fire stations
Here are some places that are a bit unusual for chauffeurs because these locations are not common customer destinations. However, it is important to know the locations of police and medical emergency facilities. Because when you do need them, you don’t have time to stop, grab a map and try to find a close location.
If you have a...for more information on this topic, check out the June issue of LCT!