Customer Service Strategies: All About You Limousines co-owners Andre and Karen Gaughan believe in always answering the phone, live. “You’re not going to get a voicemail or answering service. You’re going to talk directly to myself or Karen,” Andre says. They make themselves available 24/7 to ensure they don’t miss an opportunity to take care of their customers. “Nobody is going to represent your company like you,” he says. Andre has a background as a firefighter and EMT, and prides himself on being punctual and doing things right the first time. His wife Karen is a former law enforcement officer, and believes in the importance of service to the community and operating with a high degree of integrity. “Our former professions have really been incorporated into our business model,” she says.
Client Types: All About You serves a variety of different clients, including wedding parties, proms, graduations and nights on the town. However, as they’ve been building the business and working to together, the Gaughans have discovered their real passion lies in the wedding industry. “We want to be a one-stop shop for the client,” Andre says.
Origins: Andre has been driving in the industry for almost 20 years, and had a chance to observe how many companies handled clients. He experienced different types of vehicles, including some that weren’t well-maintained. When he’d arrive at a client’s house and wasn’t in the same vehicle the company said it would provide, he’d had enough. “It was time for me to take all of the knowledge and information that I had learned and put it to work. I wanted to provide a chauffeured professional transportation service to the people who live in our community,” he says.
Biggest Success: While All About You was the preferred chauffeured transportation company for the 2015 Miss World and Miss United States pageants in Washington D.C., that isn’t what the Gaughans believe to be their biggest success. They love being able to give back to the same community that gives to them. The company offers payment plans to those who can’t necessarily afford to pay everything up front, and they participate in charity work as well. They’ve supported “Enough Cries,” an organization that assists teen women who have been abused. They surprised a group of the girls and gave an encouraging speech: “I said, ‘Don’t think that because you aren’t paying for this you shouldn’t experience it. You absolutely should look forward to success and the good things in life,’” Andre says. “To me, that has more value than any one customer or any one thing that we’ve ever done.”
Marketing Strategies: Behind word-of-mouth, Facebook ads have been their most successful marketing endeavor. Learning about the importance of SEO and using it to minimize marketing and advertising costs has saved them a lot of money as well.
Lessons Learned: Starting a limousine service isn’t easy. “You can’t just build a website, create an email address and expect the phone to ring,” Karen says. The Gaughans believe the key to survival is to build relationships before business. You can’t be afraid of hard work.
Advice: “Before you start thinking you can run a business, go out there and learn your craft,” Andre says. Owning a limo business is a big step from just driving for one, and many companies don’t make it because they don’t do their research. Determine the needs of the market you want to serve before purchasing a fleet vehicle. He also recommends becoming acquainted with your affiliate base. “In this industry, your competitors are your friends,” Karen says. In addition, you must have all of your licenses and be bonded and insured. There are no shortcuts to success.
Future Plans: The Gaughans, who still work full-time day jobs, plan to continue to grow their business, and hope to purchase one car a year for the next several years. “We want to be self-sustaining on every front, become more technologically sound, and never jeopardize customer service,” Andre says.