8 Industry Ideas Worth Stealing For Success

Posted on November 4, 2016 by - Also by this author

Image by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay
CC0 License ✓ Free for personal and commercial use ✓ No attribution required
Image by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay CC0 License ✓ Free for personal and commercial use ✓ No attribution required
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Our LCT East Show this year speaks to the big shifts in how the industry and clients do business. After reviewing how we’ve explored and reported on these trends, I see some solutions emerging that offer new ways of doing the same old thing:

  1. Fancy fleets: The Lincoln Continental has reignited the industry’s passion for stylish luxury sedans. With more variety in the vehicle marketplace, the motto is: “Dare to be different.” Limo companies distinguish themselves through vehicles that stand out and above the TNC rabble. I was struck when Towne Livery’s David Bastian stated not one operator has yet bought a Maserati Quattroporte sedan since it debuted at the East show two years ago. Here is one opportunity to offer a rare chauffeured sedan. And if you buy that first Maserati sedan for your fleet, it’ll be news for LCT.
  2. Fleet finances: Break out each fleet vehicle as its own P&L. This can’t be said enough. No other metric will determine success while avoiding unwanted debt. Be careful with loss-leader vehicles. Make sure you can still quantify business being brought in. A Hummer stretch hanging out at the front of your lot on a busy street may look good, but how often does it carry clients? If the vehicle is not making money on its own, it’s time to sell it. Subsidies = losses.
  3. Flex pricing: Hotels, airlines, gas stations, and concert promoters all do it: Flex and/or tiered pricing. A chauffeured service needs to be flexible in its rates and pricing. The dynamic link between mobile friendly websites and instant data on client demand and competitor pricing makes this possible. Rates can vary by day of the week and time of day. All travel happens in real-time. When and where a client goes should inform rates.
  4. Revenue sources: Join business groups outside of the typical industry formula of the NLA, a state or local association, and your local Chamber of Commerce. Those are all musts for any limo business, but you can find big leads among professional groups that overlap with the chauffeured transportation business. As I reported in the August issue, operators are finding myriad groups in the meetings, corporate travel, hospitality, and luxury sectors. I learned of a new avenue recently from San Francisco Bay Area operator Harry Dhillon: Private aviation and charter jet trade groups. Your FBO/private jet clients are unlikely to tap an app upon landing.
  5. Experiences: We’ve heard from LCT Summit and trade show speakers about how the art of customer service involves creating fond memories and building bonds. Along with keeping databases on client tastes and preferences, are your chauffeurs trained as tour guides? Do most know area history and points of interest? Are they mobile local concierges? Luxury travel trends show wealthy leisure travelers are paying for experiences, or unique ways to spend time. With the right chauffeurs and fleet vehicles, limo companies can enhance a high-touch, luxury travel journey. 
  6. New apps & affiliate options: Operators seeking farm-in and farm-out business are no longer at the mercy of an established roster of traditional affiliate networks. Every operator now has the tools to customize an affiliate network as wide and deep as needed. LCT offers LCTConnect.com for online affiliate matchmaking, while plenty of formal and informal social media connections act as a live referral system. Apps such as iCARS (the subject of this month’s cover profile), Blacklane, and GroundLink offer connections and revenue sources to fill downtime or make use of parked fleet vehicles. The best thing about these new options is it frees up operators to set their terms for success.
  7. Enterprise: I see more operators starting other businesses on the side, some to complement their operations, others just to bring in more income. London, U.K. operator Reza Choudhury, for example, runs a package delivery service in addition to his chauffeured company. Connecticut operator Michael Lindsey, profiled in the October issue, has created a suite of website-based products that perform tasks for limousine companies. You can own a hotel, a restaurant, a marketing company, or a separate tour business. The tech-driven, global economy spurs businesses to find diverse revenue streams.
  8. Tell your story: Promote your company through the stories of clients. People tend to remember stories and anecdotes much better than a sales pitch. How did your chauffeur save the day for a client? In what ways do you save clients time? Protect them? Give real life examples. You can tell all types of positive stories via digital and social media. It’s not so much about price, revenue, or fleet size — you are generating and selling value.

Each of these eight ideas could take up entire articles and sessions. Taken together, they can create a vision for the future of your operations. Failure may loom as an option, but success is a choice that gives you a winning strategy.

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