Operations

How To Know What Your Chauffeurs Know

Posted on March 23, 2016 by Anne Daniells - Also by this author

Most operators are data-rich: we know names, addresses, credit cards and emails. We protect this information to guard our business reputations and our clients’ commitment to us. C-suite executives and families with children need a deep level of trust to share personal cell phone and gate codes. Just letting a company know a house is empty for an overseas trip requires incredible faith.

That’s where your chauffeurs come in, using their eyes, ears and out-and-about 24/7 observations. Chauffeurs should be augmenting all that data, which can contribute to increased revenue in many ways.

Data Collection

We build our databases with every phone call, and we engage our clients every day. Maybe it’s a newsletter or a Twitter feed or emails around holidays. Articles related to local events or travel requirements might be shared with key clients or made part of a newsletter.

Such communication builds even more confidence. Clients know the transportation company is professional and focused on ensuring that every ride is at its best. But even more, we are entrusted with a deeper level relationship. Chauffeurs are integral to this rapport.

Good service goes beyond appropriate attire, polite language, and fading into the background with a client. Chauffeurs should be doing much more than driving. Using these company representatives to their fullest extent sets the highest quality standards, keeps clients informed, and most importantly, makes every passenger a personal client for the company. Because in luxury transportation, every trip is personal.

Chauffeurs are notorious for gossip, right? Even if it’s not always accurate, word gets around among chauffeurs. And there’s good reason for it — they have their fingers on more than the wheel. The pulses of a region and of clients beat strongly among those whom we trust to provide exceptional service levels.

We say that chauffeurs are the “face of the company.” They say good morning and greet paying customers. But there’s more than that — chauffeurs are the radar of every transportation company. Use them to learn about clients to find better ways to personalize service. From social media to private profile information, this highly trusted group of employees’ daily acquisition of information will resonate with clients.

Have I Seen You Before?

Social media has its place in every industry, and chauffeurs can help out in their roles. There are always a few who like to be on Facebook, ever-ready with their cell phone photos. Recruit these socialites to document city landmarks or local happenings. After all, they are in the middle of the activities every day. As you build your social media appeal on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, chauffeur viewpoints are a unique aspect to your company’s service. 

Tweets on weather, photos of area events, and updates on the airport become valuable to clients. One of the most popular posts I had as an operator was a simple photo of a well-liked chauffeur in front of a local landmark. How simple is that? Clients could recognize this person, and they responded with more personal comments and likes.

Ideas and connections spring from chauffeurs in their unique position with passengers. A managed social presence that includes their view resonates more with passengers than the back-end management of an account. Getting employees on social media has its risks, but it also brings benefits. Even Forbes has documented the benefits of employees spreading good information about an organization. This social encouragement has an “outsized impact” with employees 72% more likely to boost sales.

When the chauffeurs are already there and engaged, encourage them to add appropriate posts, photos, and tweets to attract a more tech-savvy crowd and to feed common human interest topics in your market. It enlivens the interactions and keeps customers talking to only your company.

We Can Help With That

Increased sales can result from chauffeur involvement in other ways, too. Depending on company size, sales efforts vary. Mid- to large-size operations may have a salesperson on staff to increase corporate accounts and develop retail packages. For a smaller operator, it may be the owner who does most of this, but don’t overlook the chauffeur staff. This untapped well of support extends every company’s sales force if used right.

Chauffeurs hear of sales opportunities more often than anyone else in the company — sheer numbers account for this. Even the most dedicated reader of the business section won’t have access to private information shared by local executives with their reliable chauffeurs. As an owner, our chauffeur supervisor commented nearly weekly on how a client did not know we would gladly drive them the longer distance from San Diego to LAX for flights, or that we could certainly arrange for transportation at their final destination in other far-off places.

In such a small world, it was always surprising how many clients “hadn’t thought” of using a company they already know to get the family and skis to the airport for a personal trip rather than taking a shuttle or paying for long-term parking. And for corporate clients, company holiday party transportation, meeting coordination, and group movements sometimes fit in perfectly. A simple “we can do that,” or just asking if the company has transportation for a meeting a client mentions, yields more (and more profitable) rides. Train the chauffeurs to listen for clues and respond appropriately during every airport transfer and point-to-point trip.

Get It Down

Only a chauffeur knows exactly what happens in those moments with a passenger. Making each trip a personal experience is innate to good chauffeurs, so make it a priority for all. Chauffeurs should be expected to keep logs of client preferences to provide more personalized repeat service. As an operator, our best chauffeurs knew the cars that clients drove, if they preferred the front seat, and what they liked to drink. Newspapers were regularly brought to the door in the early morning, and chauffeurs in-the-know could ask intelligent questions about a client’s child by name. Small talk about favorite sports teams, hobbies, and vacation destinations are second nature in a good chauffeur’s conversation with passengers.

These intimate details form a stronger bond when done in a familiar and professional manner. Certainly, discretion is critical in our industry, but private knowledge when used appropriately improves each ride. This wellspring of information can be crafted to increase trust to a company’s advantage, something TNCs can’t do. No matter how the industry may work with or around TNCs, we all know trust is not one of their offerings. We have to use this advantage intelligently and with great discernment as a way to stand out.

Chauffeurs have the face, the eyes, the ears and the exposure. Train them to see, hear, and record what they glean from client interactions. If chauffeurs return to base with additional information for a client’s profile, it will further deepen trust between a company and a passenger, and boost personal satisfaction on future trips. Even if a chauffeur has never picked up a particular passenger, he should be equipped with key information and trained to use it with discretion to personalize customer communication.

Operators know that chauffeurs influence customers most closely. Acknowledging and fostering their involvement in an operation makes financial sense. We trust them to be safe, courteous and efficient. Surely, we can use what they already do well to enhance a company’s overall performance and enrich every client’s ride.

Anne Daniells joined LCT Magazine in January as a contributing writer. She previously was co-owner of Torrey Pines Transportation in San Diego. She can be reached at [email protected]

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