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In our quest to land accounts and special event contracts, we sometimes find that we have bitten off more than we can chew. As a fellow operator, I have been there. Once the proposal is accepted and what was originally planned to be transportation for 50 becomes 70, you might need more vehicles. The client usually has no idea what the burden is when 20 extra passengers are added to the workload. Using extra vehicles requires many considerations.
NO. 1: When to add vehicles
Running airport pickup trips is by far the most volatile type of scheduling. A single delay of 30 minutes can upset logistics if the delayed vehicle is scheduled for later assignments. I like to use a rule of thumb of two hours between projected drop-off time and next scheduled pickup time. If you can’t achieve that, you probably should consider adding another vehicle. Sometimes clients may request a type of vehicle not in your fleet. You can either rent one for the day (depending on state regulatory laws) or use an affiliate that has the vehicle. Requests are not always for luxury vehicles. Handling luggage with a cargo van is a fairly common request. However, Scott Woodruff of Majestic Limo and Coach of Des Moines, Iowa, recently went really big and rented three full size moving vans to handle the transportation and storage of luggage for a Chinese delegation in their area.
NO. 2: Where to get vehicles
Where you obtain additional vehicles is based on many factors. Make sure your state permits you to use rentals before placing a passenger in a rental. Sara da Cruz, managing partner of Cruz Limousine in Montreal, Quebec, says operators must pay for special transportation permitting on each vehicle in Montreal. A vehicle found providing transportation for-hire without the permit would be impounded, leaving the passenger stranded. Using a local competitor is an option that eliminates the need for insurance arrangements on the extra car, and the need to staff the car and addresses other considerations as well. Da Cruz says she “handpicks only local operators with high professional standards and vehicle quality.” Using an affiliate pipeline is another option. If you are part of a network such as Carey or Music Express, you can ask them for assistance. Even if you are their affiliate in your service area, chances are they have a back-up provider. In many smaller towns, it is not uncommon for small operators to loan each other equipment. If you choose to do this, both companies should inform their insurance companies.
NO. 3: Human resources and training
If you add vehicles through rentals, you may find yourself short of chauffeurs to drive them. Woodruff maintains a list of “seasonal drivers” that drive only for large events. Some of them may go as long as 90 days without driving but they are always ready to go, Woodruff says. Making sure that everyone is on the same page while serving a large event is “capital to its success,” da Cruz says. When farming out work to assisting companies, da Cruz says “transportation sequence and special client needs are forwarded to affiliates with exact addresses, maps and all relative information for a successful event. When special rules apply, a detailed grid listing actions to take before and during the service is passed along to maximize the service quality and attention to detail.”