Paul Walsh is the owner of Superior Executive Transportation in Virginia Beach, Va. and the president of the Virginia Limousine Association. He can be reached at email@example.com.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Observing a lack of civility has caused me to reflect during the last few months on the fragile state of the so-called grown-ups in this country.
Assuming that we are all on the same page of life — “Get up, go to work, come home and do it again tomorrow” — then it is easy to see that there is a problem.
On the move
Everyone moves faster, getting more demands and making more demands. Online reservations, easy divorces, texting, Facebook, the rise of social welfare. . . you can find any number of contributors to a decline in civility. For example, I am amazed to read that a major bank is relaxing its grooming standards.
But why do I write this piece? Frustration. In the era of instant 24/7 information and interaction, we have been hit so many times with rudeness that we are almost numb.
That’s why we must remind ourselves that those of us who choose to be involved with the industry of chauffeured service are in a rare position. We must exude civility like never before, and if we don’t, everything else about our businesses falls short. In our world, the term customer service is our livelihood, where in most of society, the new terms of endearment have become “self-serve, self-check out, drive-thru, drive by, etc.”
Easing client tensions
We are stuck with words and phrases such as chauffeur, limousine, concierge, “Yes Sir,” “No Ma’am,” “May I help with your luggage?” In a time when our schedules are inextricably tied to airlines, we send clean, well-appointed cars professionally chauffeured by well-groomed, suited ambassadors of civility holding up signs. We pick up complete strangers who may or may not have been through harrowing experiences at airports, ticket counters, and on planes.
Although not our fault, we can be at the receiving end of such client frustrations, absorbing their rage at being two hours late for a crucial meeting and hearing them scream “#@*% &*%$, you #$@* and %*&+# before I @%$#&scream!” at decibel levels reserved for a Who concert.
Yet, we are there again and again. We are on time, poised, professional, and ready to make that chauffeured experience the best it can be. If we are waiting for a client to emerge from a meeting or dinner engagement, we are like well-trained Labradors patiently watching for our clients so that we can drive right up to the pick-up point, as if we’ve rehearsed and everything happens on cue. We make a difference every time we do what we do: Get the door; make sure the evening gown is not shut in the door to be dragged down the street; provide cold water; and exude a confident demeanor as we get our clients where they need to be.
Rocket science? Hardly. A practiced art? Without a doubt. It’s comforting to know that in a world gone rude n’ crude, and stress levels measured in decibels, we as operators attempt to set standards that remind clients how high the civility bar can go. And that’s one of the most rewarding reasons to do what we do.