Operations

How To Create A Two-Way Affiliate Network Bond

Posted on March 22, 2016 by - Also by this author

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Global affiliate networks such as Music Express, BostonCoach and Commonwealth Worldwide farm orders to small operators in small cities every day. Less frequently, local clients often ask small-fleet operators to provide transportation in another city.

Is this an easy process? Not always. Here’s how to create a two-way affiliate street:

Networks Might Decline Farm-In 
Some networks would like their small affiliates to reciprocate when the need for a farm-out arises and might be willing to assist. However, you may be surprised that some networks might turn down your order for a variety of reasons. For instance, while Music Express’ website proudly touts service in 650 cities, if your order isn’t in one of the four major cities where it maintains operations (Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington, D.C.), it will not accept your order, says Perry Barin, affiliate manager of Music’s Los Angeles office.

Perry Barin, affiliate manager for Music Express in Los Angeles.
Perry Barin, affiliate manager for Music Express in Los Angeles.
Not only will they not take your order, they aren’t going to give you a referral for a small city either. “We have spent years building up our network of affiliates through trial and error,” Barin says. The company considers its affiliate network of operators to be proprietary information. Other networks welcome and encourage affiliates to use them for help since they maintain vast networks of affiliates in every city imaginable. Ask the networks you serve what their policy is and note it in an affiliate network file.

About Payments
Most networks such as LimoLink, BostonCoach and Music Express require affiliates to invoice them for services performed and have very stringent requirements on the submission window of final charges since they must in turn promptly charge their own client for the ride. If you miss the window of submission after numerous automated emails prompting the submission, you simply don’t get paid.

Music Express requests terms of Net 60 in order to invoice their clients, receive payments, and disburse payments to affiliates. They will reciprocate the process for any of their affiliates by invoicing for jobs they perform on behalf of the affiliate. Each of their four offices establishes an account in their independently operated accounting systems for all affiliates. When an affiliate calls to place an order, Music Express is ready to go.

Not so at Flyte Tyme Worldwide in Mahwah, N.J. Established affiliates who perform work for Flyte Tyme are expected to invoice Flyte Tyme, which also makes disbursements about 60 days after the date of service.

However, a completed credit application must be submitted, processed and approved in advance to be considered for invoicing of affiliate-submitted jobs, says Darylann Wright, affiliate manager for FlyteTyme.

In the absence of an established billing account, FlyteTyme’s policy requires the presentation of a credit card at the time of booking for a reservation to be accepted. This is why it is important to establish the financial terms in advance, without the pressure of a pending farm-out job if you prefer to use a particular network and want to be invoiced. Don’t wait to set this up. As you become an affiliate for a network, establish and learn the procedures of reverse farming and set up an account in advance.

 Tami Saccaccio, national affiliate director for Commonwealth Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation in Boston.
 Tami Saccaccio, national affiliate director for Commonwealth Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation in Boston.
How To Select A Network
Tami Saccoccio, national affiliate director for Commonwealth Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation in Boston, recommends only farming out jobs to a network that runs its own vehicles at your client’s destination. Otherwise, “You’ll end up paying more money and it’s double farming which can always lead to human error,” she says.

Barin also advises against double farming for the same reasons, where an affiliate accepts your farm-in order and farms the order out to another one of their affiliates. There are many networks with offices in large markets such as Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco offering multiple choices of which network to use. In San Francisco alone, Black Tie Transportation, Mosaic Global and Music Express all maintain offices in the area.

“Do your research by going to all the (limo) shows and interviewing (them) and get word of mouth referrals to find the great ones,” Saccoccio recommends. Another consideration is the reservations system used by the network. The process of sending the farm order to a network from livery system to livery system without involving human interaction is much more reliable since everything is in writing with less possibilities of a piece of data being omitted.

Saccoccio recommends asking potential networks to complete an application similar to an RFP to determine what software systems they use, and learn more about operational expectations ahead of time.

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