Client types: Starry Nights focuses on weddings, Quinceaneras, birthdays, and special events. Operator Geoffrey Jacobs says many spry senior citizens in the area that have become clients, too. “We live in a unique area with a lot of seniors, and we have a couple groups that use us to take Hummer limos out to dinner, or go to casinos and dancing.” Jacobs says he also has corporate clients who use Starry Nights routinely for transportation to the airport.
Starry Nights’ Geoffrey and Angela Jacobs with Richard Murillo (L) of American Limousine Sales at an International LCT Show.
Growth steps: “It’s happening organically,” says Jacobs, who started Starry Nights with one limo. Once he got off the ground, it was within a year that he had four more. “The [senior clients] talk and pass our business cards around and some of the business clients like doctors and lawyers recommend us to colleagues and friends.”
Best marketing strategies: Jacobs says he’s held off on using Google Ad Words and that exploratory efforts with Limos.com proved unrewarding. But he has seen success with Craig’s List ads, bridal shows, and word of mouth. “Our whole Quinceaneras business started with a few ads on Craig’s List and then from there it spread through word of mouth.”
Business origins: Jacobs worked as a motorcycle officer with the highway patrol before starting Starry Nights Transportation in 2012. Wanting to make a career move, he traded in his boat for a Lincoln Town Car stretch limousine.
Business loves: “The people, and when you provide good service and everyone is happy,” Jacobs says. “The relationships we’ve built with so many people mean it’s not just a business. It’s a little personal too, and I like that.”
Customer service approaches: For weddings, Starry Nights will decorate the limos with napkins that match bridal colors and they are stocked full with soft drinks on ice. “We try to really do it up nice,” says Jacobs of his wedding work. “It’s a special event, so it’s key to remember that, and we just try to make [each wedding] a little more special.”
Success strategies: Having a good personality is key in this business, says Jacobs, who adds that phone etiquette is one of the quickest ways to impress clients. “Imagine the reception you’ll get if you’re grumpy on the phone and short. We take the time to answer all of our clients’ questions and it doesn’t matter how long we’re on the phone. We treat people like they are family and that’s a big thing. People call and tell us how they’ve dealt with others who are so rude and that they love booking with us because we’re nice.”
Fleet vehicles: Starry Nights has added a sedan to the fleet to keep up with corporate work. “When I first got the SUV, I figured about four jobs a week would cover costs, but we ended up doing 56 runs that first month, so I turned around and bought a Chrysler 300.”
Chauffeur retention: Jacobs says he pays his chauffeurs a straightforward, hourly rate and they keep gratuities. “My chauffeurs make more here than working for local competitors or TNCs, and every one of them has stayed around.”
Future plans: For now, Jacobs wants to grow his business for retail and corporate clients, but says he doesn’t want to add party buses yet. “I don’t want to go in the party bus direction because of local legislation working to change the laws where a host has to be in every party bus during transport for security. Combined with the insurance costs for buses, it’s more hassle than it’s worth for us. But we’ll see if that changes. We’re hoping to add another sedan soon.”
Operator advice: “Give it a try and enjoy it. Just expect a ton of work!”