Today I had lunch with yet another limousine operator who claims that nearly all the business he needs simply rolls in by itself from satisfied customers and I still don’t believe it.
Usually when I hear this, the person claims that most forms of advertising just produce fruitless calls from price shoppers. Sure you can waste money on advertising but you still need to keep your name out in public, you still need to communicate with customers by mail and phone, and you still need to keep involved with local organizations where personal contracts can lead to business.
Any operator too busy or cash poor to maintain a solid marketing program is going to have a tough time in the dog-eat-dog Nineties. But here’s one marketing idea that anyone can do in 15 minutes with virtually no $$$. Make a list or a computer file with your top 10 current accounts as well as 10 top prospects who are not presently customers. Try to call each of them on a regular basis—like once a month.
Keep the conversation light but convey the message…” We value your business and would like to serve you in the near future.” The typical business person in a sales-oriented position, such as a limousine operator, averages at least one call to a current or prospective customer each work day. These calls usually last five minutes or less. You might want to keep a few notes about each call in order to follow up with a letter or future phone call. I think you will find this idea brings in new business as well as helpful suggestions and other dividends.
You may already have heard rumblings that every chauffeur in California must now have workman’s compensation coverage. Operators can still declare their chauffeurs as independent contractors, but that may be inviting an IRS audit. There are a few exceptions to the requirement—namely that owner/operators and husband/wife teams are exempt—but the law may force to make the switch form independent contractors. California operators should contact their local association and operators in other states should be on the lookout for this type of legislation.