I recently overheard two unshaven shabby dressed men on a bus bench commiserating about hard times. In a comforting tone, one said to the other, “Don’t get down on yourself.” It was as poignant an exchange as I have over heard and I pass it along as sound advice for livery operators in a slow economy.
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the United States emerged from its last recession in November 1982. White we’re not officially back in a recession at the moment, the economy is sluggish thus far in the fourth quarter of 1990 and so is the limousine business. In our seven years of publication, we have never heard so many operators complain that business is soft.
Fortunately, hard times can be good times for those who run an efficient limousine company. Your tight ship should sail smoother than those dinghies in your waters. And even though the limousine market may not be expanding, you can still capture business from less able competitors.
One danger during a soft economy is that some efforts to control costs during lean times can come back to haunt a company in the long run. The temptation to run an extra couple thousand miles between oil changes is one example. One of the most successful operators in Chicago changes the oil in every vehicle once a week whether business is up or down. That is the wisdom of nearly 20 years in the business.
Another temptation is to hold on to vehicles an extra year rather than follow the normal replacement cycle. That same Chicago operator continues to replace his stretches every 24 months whether the economy is hard or soft. And he buys high quality limousines having learned over the years that his customers know the difference.
After the test recession ended, there was a two-year boom in the limousine business. The number of limousine services doubled… as did limousine production. White waiting for the upturn, we encourage operators to maintain the highest possible standards in service and vehicles. Short term compromises that hurt your reputation will make your job that much harder when growth opportunities return.