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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Before hiring an affiliate manager, Jeff Shanker
recommends you evaluate the need for such a position within your organization based on a combination of your sales volume and business growth plans.
New Jersey operator Jeff Shanker explains what business skills and qualities are needed to help grow business, expand operations for more farm-out work, and provide seamless one-call transportation service.
As a general rule, Shanker advises against hiring an affiliate manager if your sales fall under $100,000 a month, since it is unlikely you could afford the type of manager needed. Also, a seasoned affiliate or sales manager has specialized training, knowledge and skill sets you may not understand or be able to manage, said Shanker, who led a session on the subject on Nov. 9 during LCT-NLA Show East. About 100 operators packed into the room hoping to expand their affiliate bases and hear what attributes make a great affiliate partnership.
Attributes Of Affiliate Managers
Affiliate managers must be very personable. By the nature of their job, they should have the gift of gab. “This means smiling on the phone when they speak,” Shanker said. “They must be outgoing and friendly with social skills that allow them to easily converse with clients, fellow employees, and other limousine operator in person, through emails, social media and of course trade shows, such as next month’s International LCT Show in Las Vegas.
In addition to being personable, affiliate managers must be good with numbers, geography, and of course, negotiating rates that benefit your company and meet the needs of incoming farm orders without giving the farm away. They also must be empowered to make quick decisions on behalf of the company.
What Affiliate Managers Do
“Affiliate managers are ambassadors of your company who take ownership in the company,” Shanker said. “It is their job to analyze where your clients are traveling to and develop affiliates in those cities to handle the continued transportation needs in their respective cities. They must be able to negotiate the price you will pay to an affiliate that allows you to make a small profit from each transaction. They must be able to quickly provide an all-inclusive price an affiliate will pay you for inbound orders. They must represent your company at trade shows.” Shanker admonishes, “You don’t want your affiliate manager to be dancing drunk on the table at a trade show, but they do need to know people in the industry.”
Hiring An Affiliate Manager
You can promote from within or hire from the outside. However, the person must thoroughly understand the business from the services offered, sales processes, the reservations process, and details of your company. Erich Reindl, president of Avanti Transportation in Houston, added, “You must be able to sell your limousine service to another limousine service.” Added Shanker, “Make sure your affiliate manager clearly understands geography.”