What are you doing to take advantage of the declining number of services in your area?
We are intensifying our advertising. Luck is a big part of it. We could have knocked on doors forever, but it just so happened that the editor of the local newspaper changed and decided to do a story on limousine service. We had been soliciting the previous editor for years and she never wanted to do a story. Our persistence paid off. We also got a television story. The only thing you can do is keep pushing for more exposure. The corporate market here has dried up, so there aren’t any available corporate customers to obtain as new clients. The National Basketball Association All-Star Game has been the only business in town for the past two months. -Rick Labuda, Coachman Limousine Service, Statesville, NC
For every limousine company that went out of business, there seems to be someone else who comes back into business. A year ago, there were 46 limousine companies listed in the Albany Yellow Pages, and 12 of them were new. This year, there are 45 companies and nine of them are new. Business has been slow but it is starting to pick up again. The problem is that hourly rates dropped during the slow time and now it is tough to make a profit with the rate we have to use in order to stay competitive. -Keith Irish, Empire Limousine, Albany, NY
We are offering rate changes. We were $65 per hour for our long stretches, and now we are down to $55. We are also on the phone more than we have ever been before. I tell people “We want your business. What do we have to do to get it?” We let people know that we specialize in corporate accounts and all of our license plates are now personalized, which really makes a difference. Ever since the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, there have been too many limousine companies. Only now is demand exceeding supply and potential accounts are increasing. -John O’Laverty, Esquire Limousine Service, Upland, CA
The decreasing number of competing services doesn’t change the way we go after accounts or do business. Besides, most of the companies that go out of business have already lost their accounts beforehand. There really haven’t been any big corporate accounts left stranded without limousine service like I thought there would be. The corporations that used defunct services have probably already found an alternative service to handle their transportation needs. The only thing I could possibly do is begin targeting accounts of limousine companies that I think are having a tough time and may go out of business soon. -Alan Schlein, Carey/Astor Madison Ave. Limousine, Newington, CT
There have been several companies in our area that dropped out of business, especially during the winter when the war was going on. Unfortunately, be cause of the war the corporations were not traveling and renting limousines. It was slow for a few months. This spring it picked backed up better than last year and I believe we are getting a bigger piece of the pie. -Mark Barrow, DiaMar Limousine, Houston, TX
We stressed our marketing in order to take advantage of the potential business. We initiated an aggressive direct advertising program that includes brochures and personal calls. I picked up a really good sales manager from another company who goes out and visits new corporate accounts. You can’t sit around and wait for the phone to ring. The companies that are still service-oriented are still in business and are getting the overflow business. But the operators who are running taxi-style service with 30-foot cars are dropping out quick. -Bob Moden, Royal Limousine, Warren, RI