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As operators, we have the privilege of serving many types of passengers. Brides are commonly associated with limousines and minibuses. There are also the drunken bachelor and bachelorette parties, funerals, birthdays, anniversaries, airport and cruise ship passengers, as well as retirements, promotions and a host of other reasons to engage chauffeured transportation.
But there are probably no clients more demanding than corporate travelers with a list of expectations. Retail clients probably have no idea what is right or wrong as they have little experience with chauffeured transportation. For the corporate user, transportation is a part of normal life. One misstep easily could cost the company the account. This is why hiring and training the right person is so important to the success of a company engaged in providing corporate service.
Corporate passengers vs. retail passengers
The average retail passenger will express gratitude many times during an engagement. They feel almost honored to be riding in a chauffeur driven vehicle. They will ASK the chauffeur if it is okay to stop at a store on the way to church to pick up some bottled water. The corporate traveler might demand a stop at the store and send the chauffeur in to fetch the bottle while chastising the chauffeur for not having it in the car to begin with.
Beverly Dong, executive secretary to the board of directors of Chevron USA, says that anticipating the needs of the corporate traveler is one of the biggest challenges of delivering service. If they are arriving by air around a meal period, they may wish to stop to grab a bite to eat. Chauffeurs should be expecting this and be ready with a recommendation.
Client Kristi Beyer is a software installer and trainer for a national company who travels six days a week and uses car services from coast to coast. Beyer says in some cities she visits she has asked to be taken to a particular restaurant only to have the chauffeur counter with another restaurant recommendation that will be “easier for him.” She finds that to be annoying. While a retail client might keep checking his watch to see how much time remains in a charter period, the corporate passenger doesn’t care about the time. “The vehicle is a tool of our job, much like an ink pen to the rest of the world,” Beyer says. “We will not release it until we are done using it.”
Recruiting the corporate chauffeur
Everyone has to start somewhere. Having a person with a solid platform to grow upon is essential to success. People with a background in direct customer service, such as hotel desk clerks, banquet room managers, meeting coordinators/planners or a concierge, make great candidates. Off-duty firefighters or police officers also bring good qualifications, as their jobs place them in positions of making quick decisions after assessing the situation. Their decisions often are a matter of life and death.
All of the above go through rigorous training and are taught “chain of command” management. This is important in delivering excellent service since corporate travelers have many expectations. A chief expectation is that no matter which chauffeur is assigned to them for the day, the service will be delivered the same way each time. It is inconceivable that a candidate who lacks business experience could provide outstanding service for a corporate business person. These are not shoes that anyone can fill simply because they have a driver’s license. Manners must be impeccable. Vocabulary, grammar and speech must be clear, concise and accurate.