Despite running a relatively new company, Wisconsin operator Alex Levitan has gained key hotel clients in a short time by providing a consistent high level of service.
Unique Customer Service: Although operator Alex Letivan acknowledges that it’s not a unique customer approach in larger markets, he says that always answering phone calls works well in his smaller market.
That’s how he got one of his earlier corporate accounts. “One company, years ago, found us, and the reason they started working with us was because the other company never picked up the phone.”
Biggest Success: Quality of service. He says he’s able to provide a higher level of service than the companies around his area. As a result, he has become the preferred provider for the best hotels in Madison despite being one of the newest companies in the area.
Lessons Learned: Early years in business taught Letivan that he needed to know a business before recommending it to a client. One of his clients got stuck in Chicago, an area he services on occasion but didn’t have any vehicles available.
He didn’t know any local businesses at the time so he called a company he remembered seeing during previous trips. They told him that before they would send someone over, they wanted a faxed copy of his credit card. Alex told them he would send it over when he got back in to the office, but he got delayed.
Before making it back, his client called wanting to know why he was being charged $700 for the trip and wasn’t being let out of the vehicle until he paid it. This was more than double what Alex charged, but he admits it was his mistake for not asking how much it would cost. He just couldn’t imagine someone would charge twice his rate.
Origins: Before starting his business, Letivan worked in a factory. He was making decent money but wasn’t happy. He had a friend who owned a limousine business and would always tell him about his success. Alex decided to start his own business when his friend lost his job. “The only thing that was stopping me from starting was that I didn’t know anything about this business. But my friend had lost his job, so I was willing to invest the money and he was willing to invest the time. We wanted something new; we wanted to change our life.”
Startup Costs: “We didn’t really have any startup costs. At the time, I had an older BMW, but it was in good shape. So we used that for a couple months; then we bought a Lincoln Town Car for $14,000. Basically, what we had to pay for was printing brochures, but we mostly went to people and talked to them.”
Marketing Strategies: “What I have learned is that personal acquaintances are best. Some people work with me just because they know me. Some of my competitors have business just because they’ve been doing this for a long time and they’ve had these accounts.”
Future Plans: Levitan’s company has reached the point where he doesn’t need to worry about chauffeuring and can manage the business side. “Now, my next step is focusing on marketing and sales to grow our business and keep the guys busy.”
Advice: Hire specific people for specific roles. However, as a small business owner, he knows that’s not always possible. “You have to figure out how you would manage your time, set up a plan, and just follow it through. Time and knowledge are two factors you need to learn how to handle.”
AJ Prestige Worldwide Transportation
Location: Madison/ Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Owner: Alex Letivan
Vehicles Types: Sedans, SUV, Ford Transit
Fleet Size: 5
Annual Revenue: $200,000
Phone: (608) 338-5800