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PAX founder and Kansas City operator Bruce Heinrich (background) and COO James Blain demonstrate the interactive, online chauffeur training program to attendees during the International LCT Show.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Operator Bruce Heinrich once worked as a full time model and actor in Chicago and Los Angeles, a career that also spanned jobs at a Ritz Carlton hotel, Houston’s restaurant, and Empire CLS.
On the surface, his multiple roles could be viewed as temporary common gigs done out of necessity to help build a dream career. After all, how often do we hear of actors also working in hotels and restaurants, or as chauffeurs?
In hindsight, the experiences helped inform Heinrich’s success as the 15-year owner of LEADER Chauffeur Services Worldwide of Kansas City, and eventually laid the groundwork for his new chauffeur training program, called PAX. Tiered to chauffeurs and company employees, PAX Certified Training launched on the exhibit floor of the International LCT Show in Las Vegas, Feb. 29-March 2.
High, Wide & Deep
In creating and developing PAX, which is the Roman word for “Peace,” Heinrich aims to provide the limousine industry’s first consistent, yet flexible, online training program that strives to set universal industry standards for client service.
“Everyone is farming worldwide,” says Heinrich, a 2009 LCT Operator of the Year Award winner. “Not many operators know how the chauffeur at the other end has been trained or if he’s been trained. PAX was created to create a gold standard of what passengers should expect, especially when TNCs are making such an impact. It’s a way to differentiate ourselves from the TNCs. If you are farming a trip to another city, you’d feel better knowing the chauffeur has been PAX certified and up to that standard of training.”
The PAX curriculum involves six key components of service for which users can be tested and certified: customer service, preparation, safety, punctuality, chauffeur presentation, and vehicle protocols and etiquette. Trainees work online at their own pace. Limousine company clients can add to the components or integrate them with their in-house training programs.
As of March 9, 60 limousine companies ranging from small to large fleets have signed up with or incorporated PAX Certified Training. Among well-known companies: Reston Limousine of Sterling, Va., Premier Transportation of Dallas, and Hermes Transportation of Denver.
“The Ritz is what made the biggest impact on me,” Heinrich recalls. “My first day of orientation at the Ritz changed my world. You only have one chance to make a great first impression. The big key to reducing turnover and getting more of a team unity and spirit into an operator’s business is to get that chauffeur on the first day to buy in on how important their job is and what it means to the company. Ultimately, I’m only as good as my chauffeurs. My chauffeurs act out my branding.”
Heinrich also was a devoted student of the late industry consultant and educator Tom Mazza, whose predominant chauffeur training program inspired him. “Tom Mazza was a good friend of mine,” Heinrich says. “Back then I could see where I wanted to improve his program, but because he was Tom and I was running a company, I didn’t act on it. After Tom [died], there was a huge void for training. My company, LEADER, was known for providing excellent service. People came to me asking about training, and asked, ‘Who do you use? Can I use it?’
“Very few people in the industry come from a service program,” Heinrich adds. “It’s just a hodge-podge of pieces they pick up along the way. You wouldn’t believe how many people are still using a Mazza video from 2001 and a program from the 1990s.”
Multiple Sizes Fit All
PAX can adapt to any number of chauffeurs and employees of any fleet-sized company. Unlike list-oriented training programs, PAX is tiered and comprehensive.
“The whole premise is to provide peace of mind for passengers, for their dispatches, for the owner/operator and for the chauffeurs because it empowers them to make good decisions with the common end goal in mind,” Heinrich says.
For small operators without a big budget or in-house trainer, PAX can provide a fast, affordable training program easy to administer. For larger companies, trainers can use PAX to create custom courses. The online training takes about two and a half to three hours to complete. Trainees who pass get a certificate of achievement and a lapel pin for a uniform.
“This gives the chauffeur an overall vision for peace of mind by showing the three levels of service to prepare and to execute,” Heinrich says. “Chauffeurs feel more confident going on the road. It raises their game. This was created to raise their self-esteem. Owners and chauffeurs alike don’t always value how important they are to get business done, for people to arrive safely feeling good, and providing an experience that is warm and welcoming. The passenger should get out of the car feeling relaxed and better than when they got in. They may not know why, but that should be the end goal.”
Time Stamped & Sealed
As part of the program format, operators can communicate and update training points with employees via email as often as they like. E-verification options ensure employees have read and understood any training policies or instructions. All communications are time stamped, enabling supervisors to see how long employees were on the program.
“If something changes in the industry or there’s a better idea to do something, we can do it instantly and it will go out to everyone,” Heinrich says. “With others it was on a DVD and you couldn’t change it. Anybody can train someone, but how do you know they’ve comprehended it? This is all online. You can assign it to an entire chauffeur team, no matter five or 500. You can assign a test in less than 20 seconds, or a course. Then when you do a report, you can see when they went on to take a test and how long they were in the test, and you can see the results. It’s all time stamped and saved so the owner can prove they have done their due diligence.”