Total Service Experience
From taking a reservation to closing the ticket at the end of the job, just giving a good ride to an affiliate’s passenger isn’t enough to be considered great. Like any other customer, it starts with a phone call for rate information. If all goes well, the service experience ends with you charging the affiliate’s credit card and providing a receipt. How you handle an affiliate should be no different than how you handle any other customer. Delays in any process from beginning to end can lead to a tragic end of the relationship. In our business, the word “customer” encompasses affiliates, clients and passengers of the client or affiliate.
The Price Inquiry
If you are forced to farm work outside your known cronies and networks, most operators start calling around for price and availability. Day after day hundreds if not thousands of affiliate phone calls begin with, “Calling to check price and availability for a specific date,” and the service experience begins. Pricing should not be complicated. Rates should be easy to quote. Anyone with phone answering responsibilities should be able to produce a quote or never answer the phone. Everyone appreciates getting a quote in a single call. If you have to call back with a quote, the prospective client already has called someone else in your area who was more efficient. If a verbal quote is provided, make sure it is e-mailed between the two parties immediately. This can save you both problems down the road when the trip ticket is closed.
Once the order has been received, confirmations should be sent within an hour. Technology has changed the way we do business with many orders dispatched by e-mail or portal, such as BostonCoach’s Afnet, with no verbal communication.
Everyone wants that comfort of a written confirmation assuring we are all on the same page with addresses verified, flight numbers, cell phone numbers, meeting locations, specific signboards, and of course, expected fees. Wait too long and you will soon get a trip cancellation order because you were too slow. Failing to acknowledge a farm-in trip sets a bad tone from the beginning. When someone is throwing money at you and you are too busy to acknowledge it, it can cause a lack of confidence in your ability to deliver a timely ride for their customer.
Times & Charges
Once an affiliate ride is done, send the final charges as soon as possible so they can charge their client accordingly. It is industry standard to also provide “times” that include “On Location,” “POB” (Passenger Onboard) and “Drop” time. This is important for an hourly rate structure and can prevent disputes from any involved party. Most large affiliate networks have submission time requirements written into their affiliate agreement mandating final charges be submitted within 24 or 48 hours. Failure to submit final charges within the window usually results in no payment being issued to the farm-out affiliate. Since both parties agreed to that at the time of affiliation, there is no recourse for a tardy submission. Network affiliates generally send an inquiry the day after a trip requesting final times and charges. If you are a great affiliate, they won’t even have to ask.
Affiliate Process Timing
• Provide a quote: Immediately upon receiving a request
• Send confirmation: Within one hour
• Send final charge: Within 24 hours