We’ve been hearing a lot of troubled voices lately, talking about recessions, cutbacks, and being lean and mean. As we at LCT celebrate our silver anniversary, it is time to take stock of some silver linings. I’ve been thinking about what this industry is really going through – and what it means to me after many years publishing this magazine. We don’t have to get buried in negativity — this is a big opportunity to face challenges, learn deep lessons, and come out ahead.
Tap the Tough and Talented Our Operators of the Year finalists and winners represent the best in our business, and if you’ve read their stories and met them at the International LCT Show 2008, you’ll find they don’t factor pessimism into the business plan. All of them, in one way or another, have managed to succeed regardless of both their unique and wider obstacles they’ve faced. They can provide you with the inspiration to succeed further, whether you are a first-timer starting out or an industry veteran wanting to rekindle your professional passion. One of our winners, Neil Goodman and his wife, Toni, of Aventura Limousine in Miami, recently lost all of their belongings in a house fire. The Goodmans are just thankful to be alive. They will no doubt emerge stronger from the ordeal, and draw upon the loyalty of family and clients to see them through. In business as in life, we often must play the cards we’ve been dealt.
Relate and Innovate What has amazed me during the years I’ve published LCT is this industry’s endless ability to innovate. Adapting new sales and marketing approaches, integrating improved products, and finding new efficiencies are just a few of the ways to keep your business growing. It cannot be said enough: Your customers are your primary asset. When you remember what they like and need, and then speak to it through your business, you will earn their longstanding loyalty. In challenging times, they could very well keep using your services and look upon you as a necessity rather than a luxury.
Get Out of the Box Whether the economy is up or down, there is never a better time to keep thinking outside the box. Are there untapped potential customers in your market area? Have you considered pitching new packages or services to your clientele? Are there related businesses you can develop out of your operations? What are your competitors’ weak spots? Does the weak dollar mean more foreign tourists and visitors who would enjoy an American-style limousine? Can you market your services to the commuter carpool market that wants to save on drive time and fuel costs? Some of the most aggressive operators in our industry are constantly evaluating their fleets and customer preferences, and making more moves toward alternative fuels and vehicles.
Optimism and Opportunities Since I joined LCT in the early 1990s, our economy has proven dynamic and resilient. Our industry has weathered recessions, fluctuations in costs, and 9/11 — and I’m confident it will keep meeting challenges into the future. Technologies keep improving, and problems get solved. New ideas get borrowed, refined, and passed around. Every challenge presents an opportunity – it’s up to you to find it, take it, and work it. You’ll discover many operators deal with the same difficulties you do, and many have mastered them. Always be alert to new advice and accomplishments.
We are Family Finally, the ILCT Show and other LCT-sponsored events throughout the year provide you with the venues and forums to explore all of the above. Get out and meet new operators. They’ll be glad to swap experiences and advice. You can make more connections, and cut some good deals. This industry is like one large, extended family producing new members all the time.
I’ve always been heartened by the genuine passion we show for our industry and for helping each other out. So remember, this is the time to take a deep breath, take stock of your potential, and take worry out of the equation. Your business will be healthier – and you and your customers, happier. Thank you, and see you — for many more years to come!