Losing It All And Gaining More

Posted on March 7, 2013 by

Before the limo industry: At age 19, Ben Zaharie hit $1 million in sales for his construction business. He was on top of the world until the Great Recession struck like the Grim Reaper and put him back to ground zero. Zaharie left Arizona for the tropical climes of Florida, where he stayed until his application at the Phoenix police academy got accepted, at which point he returned to the Valley of the Sun. But law enforcement wasn’t for him. Upon a recommendation from a friend, Zaharie got a job with Penske chauffeuring company executives and customers.

Phoenix operator Ben Zaharie saw success at an early age, but lost it all during the Great Recession. His entrepreneurial drive, experience and passion have helped him build his limo business.
Phoenix operator Ben Zaharie saw success at an early age, but lost it all during the Great Recession. His entrepreneurial drive, experience and passion have helped him build his limo business.

Start-up costs and methods: Zaharie purchased a Town Car to drive for Penske as an independent operator. He built his own clientele and started his company, AZ Sedans, in 2007. He built a website and budgeted Google advertising. He focused on delivering personalized, detail-driven service to retain his clients and acquire new ones. “Being 19 and doing $1 million and having everything you want in life, and then losing everything overnight, makes you appreciate things. Having lost everything, I knew it could be done again, and the people that didn’t have confidence in me motivated me even more.”

Business influences and mentors: Zaharie looks up to Phoenix operator Misgana Kebede from Accent Transportation. “Misgana runs a really good business and I try to learn as much as I can from him.”

Best marketing strategy: “We tried everything from TV commercials to magazines to radio,” Zaharie says. “We recently did an announcement on a local station. But Google advertising has worked best to generate website traffic and new clients. We also get customers from affiliates and word-of-mouth referrals.”

Unique approaches to customer service: AZ Sedans sends a customer satisfaction survey to clients to understand how their experience was and what the company can do to improve. “90% of our business is repeat business,” Zaharie says. He installed iPads in every car and offers free Wi-Fi to clients. Every car is detailed every time it leaves for a run, and after clients exit, chauffeurs wipe down the seats and clean the carpets. The office follows up with a call to the client after he arrives at the airport. “And we don’t just focus on transportation. We have clients [who] may need some errands to be done, and we do it for them, whether it’s setting up an appointment, taking care of clients’ arrangements when they travel out of state, or checking up on their houses when they go out of town.”
What he loves about the limousine industry: “Even to this day I still do a lot of the driving. I enjoy meeting and connecting with people and making friends [with] my customers. I have regular clients [who] I hang out with. You never know who you might meet.”

Advice to operators: “Don’t ever give up, just keep your head up and keep on going,” Zaharie says. “Focus on the positives instead of the negatives. Have passion for what you do, because at the end of the day, you can make millions of dollars but if you hate getting up every single morning, it’s not worth it. I do the job the same whether I make $1 or $100. Everybody has to pay bills, sure, but I really enjoy what I do. That’s a key to success — have passion for what you do and the money will come.”

Plans for the future: Build corporate accounts and grow revenue.

[email protected]


Location: Phoenix, AZ
Founded: 2007
Main service region: Phoenix metro area
Types of vehicles: Lincoln Town Car L Series, Cadillac Escalade ESV, Lincoln Town Car stretch limousine, Chevrolet Savannah passenger van
Fleet size: 6
Employees: 7
Annual revenues: N/A
Owner: Ben Zaharie
Website: www.azsedans.com
Information: (800) 964-6780

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Brazil Operation Builds Affiliate Trust At Home And Abroad

Flavia Coppa of Shift Corporate Mobility gets to know the companies she works with wherever they are by using whatever means possible.

Uber Extends Sexual Harassment Probe

The TNC faces more pressure over the results of its review, particularly after the scandal that ousted Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. 


Only 4% Of Uber Drivers Stay A Year Or More

Retention is an even worse problem for the TNC than for the taxi and limo industries.

New Jersey Operators Are Perfect Mix Of Old And New

eNews Exclusive: The co-owners of First Choice Limousine play to their strengths to create a blend of traditional customer service with an understanding of the Millennial mentality.

Pot Party Bus Operator's Revenues Surge 66% In Past Year

Colorado Cannabis Tours takes around 200 people each weekend in the marijuana "Napa Valley" of the U.S.

See More News

Facebook Comments ()

Comments (0)

Post a Comment



See More

LCT Store

LCT Magazine - April 2017 $12.95 F&I / SPECIAL EVENTS ISSUE COVER STORY: * Don't Panic: Confronting Worst Fears - Fleet Risks * *


Experience the three annual industry events for networking for business, showcasing vehicles and products, and getting the tools for success.

Read About Your Region

What’s Happening Near You?
Click on any state to see the latest industry news and events in that region.

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment



Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Metro Magazine

Serving the bus and passenger rail industries for more than a century

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

Please sign in or register to .    Close