With five years of experience in the limousine industry as a chauffeur, reservationist, and dispatcher, Michael Karapetyan jumped at an opportunity to solve one of the problems of the industry and to be his own boss — he started his own call center, Limo Call Service Solutions.
Michael Karapetyan was on duty for 24 hours most days during the first month after launching his limousine call service center.
“I see a need for this kind of service because there are a lot of companies that are just one or two or three cars, and they don’t have the type of capital it requires to hire someone 24 hours a day,” Karapetyan says. “They miss calls or it goes to voicemail, and they miss out on a lot of possible clients.”
Distinguishing his company from generic call centers is the fact that his employees all have limousine industry experience. Each employee must pass a test on industry basics. Then employees learn the specific protocols of each client.
The billing set-up resembles that of a phone plan — the client chooses a plan by estimating how many incoming minutes will be needed and pays a monthly amount. Outgoing calls are free. Overage minutes are prorated with the same rates, 65 to 85 cents per minute, depending on the plan, and calls are charged to the second, not the minute.
The company’s website estimates an $11,000 monthly savings for companies if they choose a plan calculated based on hiring one full-time reservationist for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Karapetyan says that it’s easy to join, and set-up takes less than a day, sometimes only two to three hours. “All they need to do is have a way to forward their lines. Anyone with a cell phone can do it,” he says. Clients can use their “forward when busy” feature on their phones so they are not answering calls in the middle of the night or in loud airports, or missing calls altogether.
Clients can choose to pick up some of their own calls or not to pick up any at all. “Two of our clients forward all their calls, but most don’t,” Karapetyan says.
Although he started in April 2008, by October he already had grown to service eight clients, bringing in total revenue of $26,000 for the month.
Karapetyan moved from his native Los Angeles to Atlanta to start the business, citing a good work force and advice from friends in the limousine industry. Starting a 24-hour call service alone is exactly what it sounds like: working all day, every day.
“I started off with just me working 24 hours a day. I did that for a month until I had a few accounts, then I had one person work during graveyard hours,” he says. Eventually, Karapetyan was able to hire the six employees he has now.
Karapetyan’s clients hear about him through word of mouth and referrals. Current economic conditions haven’t deterred the company’s growth. In fact, they could even be a positive factor. As companies cut employees, outsourcing work might just send more clients his way.
For now, the company deals with one client at a time, one call at a time. Karapetyan recalls a phone call at 3 a.m. from a chauffeur who had locked his keys in the limousine during a homecoming dance. As high school students crowded around the Hummer stretch, waiting to be let back inside, a reservationist called a tow truck that came to unlock the door. “Some other answering services may have said that it wasn’t their problem. But we go a step beyond that,” Karapetyan says.
Name: Limo Call Service Solutions
Location: Atlanta Founded: April 2008
Owner: Aram “Michael” Karapetyan
Employees: 6 Clients: 8
Phone: (866) 229-1005
Web Site: www.limocallservice.com