Over the past 15 years, Limousine & Chauffeured. Transportation
has provided vital information covering a wide range of topics to its readership. As the industry evolves, operators continue to look for innovative ways to establish new profit centers. However, there are often revenue sources that are unintentionally neglected in the quest to take your business to the next level.
Weddings have always been a reliable source of income for operators. LCT has provided extensive coverage on wedding work over the past 15 years and has published many innovative ideas from operators nationwide. So in celebration of LCT’s 15-year anniversary, let’s revisit some of the most creative, innovative wedding ideas to grace these pages.
CLIENT EDUCATION IS CRUCIAL
Limousine operators have often grumbled that when a bride and groom plan their wedding, they will shop around for every wedding essential except their limousine service. Often the only concern to the couple is cost. But what if an operator only has 10-year-old limousines in his fleet? A great deal of time is spent on shopping for attire, the reception hall, cake, and flowers. Why isn’t the limousine service treated in the same manner?
A bride and groom should take the time to view as many limousines at as many companies as possible. They should care about the condition of the limousine and the professionalism of the company that will be serving them on their wedding day.
An operator’s office staff should take the time to educate brides on appropriate questions to ask when shopping for a limousine service. Consider training your office staff on what to say to prospective wedding customers. Educate brides to ask limousine services the following questions:
- Is your company properly licensed and insured?
- What year are your vehicles?
- How long have you been in business?
- May we come to your showroom to view the vehicles?
- Do you offer anything other than limousines?
- Do you have any custom vehicles?
BE PROACTIVE TO ACQUIRE WEDDING BUSINESS
Create wedding business volume by getting out of your office and actively pursing business. “You’ve got to promote yourself,” says Matt Silver, owner of Ultimate Class Limousine in Hicks- ville/Long Island, NY. “Do not wait for your Yellow Page advertisement to do the work for you. Call photographers, tuxedo shops, and bridal shops in your area, and negotiate a trade-out with the owners. Offer them free time in one of your vehicles for the opportunity to display business card and promotional literature in their shops.”
Chauffeur attire is also a vital aspect of how you present your service to a client. Try to do something that sets you apart. “My chauffeurs are attired in a tuxedo with a hound-stooth bow tie, a pocket square cummerbund, and white gloves,” says Silver. “It is unbelievable how impressed people are with a $2 pair of white gloves.”
ESTABLISH RELATIONSHIPS WITH BRIDAL CONSULTANTS
To create additional wedding business, establish a relationship with your local bridal consultant. The clients of bridal consultants demand exceptional service. If your operation offers excellent personal service, bridal consultants can add volume to your wedding business.
Marion McCormack, owner of Sterling Limousines Limited, Inc. in Houston, TX, works with bridal consultants. “I am involved with wedding consultants at several churches and country clubs,” says McCormack. “I’ve worked with them for a number of years. If you are a proven operation, they will not hesitate to recommend your service.”
To further increase wedding business, consider joining the Association of Bridal Consultants. This association is an international organization consisting of more than 1,500 members in 20 countries.
“The association represents the entire wedding industry despite the name,” says Gerard Monaghan, president of the Association of Bridal Consultants in New Mil- ford, CT. “We represent everything from invitation companies at the front end of the wedding planning process to travel agents at the back end. We have established a separate vendor membership category for limousine operators.”
The Association of Bridal Consultants is the most cost-effective way for limousine operators to reach the wedding market on a consistent basis. The association provides its membership with names of wedding professionals in their specific region of the country.
“Given the fluidity of the wedding market, it is much more difficult to sell directly to brides because there is a new crop of brides every month,” says Monaghan. “If an operator develops relationships with wedding professionals, they will do the selling for him. Selling to wedding professionals is a force multiplier. Instead of constantly seeking the new business, you’ve got other people doing that for you.”
A limousine operator must work closely with the wedding planner to ensure a successful business relationship. “There is an excellent opportunity for a limousine operator to increase wedding business by getting involved with wedding consultants,” says Gayle Labenow, director of. You are Cordially Invited, a wedding planning company in Long Island, NY. “Many operators don’t get involved simply because they don’t know our service exists.”
The wedding industry is a $35 billion a year industry. It is made up of entrepreneurs similar to limousine operators. “If I consistently work with a particular limousine company, that limousine company will be the beneficiary of all of my business,” says Labenow.
Current dues for membership in the Association of Bridal Consultants is $125 a year. Dues include all of the informational and educational benefits within the association. Operators can use the association’s logo to identify themselves as members. For more information on the Association of Bridal Consultants, call (860) 355-0464.
CHAUFFEURS PLAY A SIGNIFICANT ROLE
It is vital for chauffeurs to be trained specifically for wedding; and to be paid well for their work Chauffeurs are the employees the represent your company. Compensation must be appropriate because of the importance of their role.
“If you pay a chauffeur well for three hours work and you require him to be extremely involved with the bridal party at the home, in the church, and with the pictures, he will be more helpful,” says Silver. “The bride and groom will feel much more at ease. Many operators may disagree with me. But I’ve been doing this for more than eight years and my business volume has always been very good.”
Silver requires his chauffeurs to arrive at their pickup destination early. “You always want to be at every job early,” he says. “However, for a wedding, it is especially important to be early. The bride is starting to look at her watch 30 minutes before you’re supposed to arrive, anyway. If you show up 20 minutes early, she will be much more relaxed.”
McCormack has the philosophy. “I require my chauffeurs to show up 20 minutes early because it gives the bride the feeling that things are under control,” she says.
McCormack believes a chauffeur should always try to provide help when needed. “If someone needs assistance, the chauffeur must react appropriately,” says McCormack. “If something needs to be done, he should volunteer his services.”
According to Silver, the chauffeur should talk to the bride or her father when they are driving to the church. “Try to make the bride, her father, and anyone in the wedding party feel at ease,” says Silver.
When the limousine arrives at the church, the chauffeur should not let the bride out of the car immediately. Wait for the photographer to get appropriately positioned. The chauffeur must coordinate with the photographer. This will help the photographer get better pictures and videos.
In the church, the chauffeur should work with the bridal party. “The chauffeur should not be standing around,” says Silver. “He should try to get involved.”
It is very important to always have a professional demeanor. “A chauffeur must maintain proper etiquette at all times,” says McCormack. “Sometimes it is difficult if the chauffeur has been working long hours.”
Additionally, it is very important to take children into consideration. They often play a key role in the success of a wedding. “The chauffeur should always talk to children at eye level,” says Silver. “Don’t ever talk down to children.”
When the bridal party is ready to enter the church, the chauffeur should, once again, attempt to get involved. He should initially keep the interior doors to the church closed. When the ceremony begins, the chauffeur should then open the interior doors. The chauffeur must space the wedding party evenly so that the photographer can get the best possible pictures.
“When it’s time for the bride to enter the church, the chauffeur should close the doors and then reopen them when the music starts for that grand, elegant entrance,” says Silver. “The chauffeur must then hold the train and briefly walk in with the bride before the train is carefully laid down. He should then immediately close the interior doors.”
Maximizing your wedding business depends on several factors. The above highlights a few of the innovative wedding ideas LCT has published, among many, in its 15-year history. Weddings have always been an industry staple and will continue to provide excellent revenue for operators of all sizes.
BRIDAL EMERGENCY KIT A LIFESAVER FOR OPERATOR
Matthew Silver, owner of Ultimate Class Limousine, Inc., in Hicksville/Long Island, NY, has developed the bridal emergency kit to aid a bride and members of her party in emergency situations. The kit contains the following items:
- Floral Wire (in the event of a problem with bouquets and boutonnieres)
- Cosmetic Stain Remover
- Panty Hose — three or four sizes
- Sewing Kit
- Bobby Pins
- Safety Pins
- Disposable Camera
- Hair Spray
- Static Guard
- Peds (padding for feet)
- Breath Mints
- Extra Studs for Men’s Shirts
- Children’s Toys (for children of party that attends wedding)
- lollipops (with parents’ permission)
- Throwaway Bouquet
“This idea has taken our wedding service to a higher level,” says Silver “A bride’s wedding day is the biggest day of her life. I have averted several catastrophes by being able to provide a bride with something from this kit.”