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Panel moderator and Toronto operator Joe Ironi visits with an attendee at the Show session, titled Mastering The Art of Winning Lifelong Customers.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — There are many reasons why we want to keep our clients for the rest of their lives, or the lives of their companies. An obvious one is to earn a living. But clients can be more than a single source of revenue. A client who is treated well and enjoys your service can become an ambassador for your company.
In fact, a satisfied and happy client can become one of the best salespeople imaginable for your company. A client referring business to you requires little effort on your part to close the sale. It is more a process of simply accepting the new orders.
At the International LCT Show on March 1, Joe Ironi, CEO of Global Alliance Worldwide based in Toronto, moderated a session of longtime successful operators including Rick Brown of La Costa Limousine in San Diego, Calif., Neil Goodman of Aventura Worldwide Transportation in Miami, and Michael Southwick of LTI Worldwide Limousine in Boston. Each operator has decades of experience in growing their businesses. They answered audience questions and provided solid advice for growth through client loyalty.
Ironi laid out the foundation for what it takes to keep a client for life. His first piece of advice: “Sweat the small stuff.” While this is opposite of what we usually hear, Ironi explained the difference between providing a ride versus providing one with great attention to detail. “You must differentiate yourself and focus on customer satisfaction at all times,” Ironi said.
Southwick advised dedicating someone in-house to manage the relationship. That person will call a client to ask if everything was okay and how the relationship has fared in the past. By encouraging communication between the client and the company, the client is less likely to ask his assistant to “get me another car service,” Southwick advised. If they have a dedicated relationship contact, they are more likely to call and report problems and seek a resolution instead of simply going elsewhere for their transportation needs. Goodman said when a regular client goes “MIA,” he will call them to ask if everything is okay or if something happened that he is unaware of.
Goodman also said he calls the booker of every major job Aventura performs to see if the vehicle arrived on time, was loaded on time, and everything went exactly as planned. Southwick offered his personal cell number to all large jobs, and any client who wants to be able to talk to the top boss in the company. Such action allows a client to see the commitment to service. “You’re only as good as your last ride,” Goodman said.
Sometimes jobs don’t go well. Perhaps traffic or an accident caused a chauffeur to arrive late for a pickup. Southwick advises the best course of action is to immediately remedy the situation with sincere apologies and meaningful actions, such as sending flowers to a hotel with an apology note if something went wrong at the airport. Does this seem extreme? Maybe. However, close attention builds loyalty. The client knows the mistake occurred and now sees a sincere apology effort.
Out & About
While approaches such as shared cell numbers, post-trip follow-up calls and dedicated relationship managers help, the information needs to be shared with potential clients. Goodman views his attendance at numerous charity events as “his job.”