A new year and a recovering economy mean operators are in
full gear with preparations for growing their business.
Adopting new and improved marketing programs, upgrading or
adding vehicles, and spending additional money and effort
on advertising are among the ways operators are greeting
Tom Sturdivant, for example, owner of Nashville-based Sedan
on Demand, is tapping into his current airport business to
increase his retail bookings.
“These clients may typically use more corporate service,
but these same clients also have birthdays and
anniversaries and other events that they could use our
service for,” Sturdivant said.
Sedan on Demand worked with American Express on a direct
mail program. American Express helped the company send
coupons to some of American Express’ local clients.
Last year’s coupons featured 20% off airport service if
customers used their American Express card. Businesses
working with American Express must offer a discount when
clients use the card.
“It’s a great lead for us because it targets clients who
hold [American Express] travel entertainment cards, and it
only costs us about 75 cents per piece mailed out,”
Sedan on Demand sent mailers through American Express to
2,500 people in 2003. Sturdivant said about 14%, or about
350 coupons, were redeemed.
With a better economy in sight, the company decided to
target 5,000 people this year.
Sedan on Demand also opened an office in Nashville Airport
Dec. 1. It took three years of planning and preparation,
but once the Airport Authority gave the OK, Sturdivant
brought in four cars to be kept at the airport, four
drivers and one person working the counter.
The cars are kept busy about 50% of the day, Sturdivant
said. Service from the airport to downtown Nashville is $30
and service from the airport to anywhere else in the county
Like many operators, Dave Murray, owner of Total Luxury,
Minneapolis, has been focused on the prom and wedding
season, advertising more on radio and television for these
markets. However, his overall goal is to bring up Total
Luxury’s corporate bookings, which account for 35% of his
business. He has already increased his phone book ads to
include all three local directories.
Boston-based Limousine 18 owner Marc Shpilner said his
company’s marketing efforts are targeting its current
client database. He noted that many of Limousine 18’s
accounts reflect small portions of companies and he is
looking to market to other departments.
Almost all of Limousine 18’s work is corporate. From 2002
to 2003, Shpilner said the company saw about a 25% increase
in business. Ten percent of that came from Limousine 18
purchasing another, smaller company in July 2003.
In addition, Shpilner upgraded his limousine management
software in April 2003, which has helped prepare the
company for more growth with advanced functions such as
online reservations and credit card processing through its
For Julie Herring, owner of Julie’s Limousines and
Coachworks in Clearwater, Fla., preparations for more
business have her evaluating her fleet with an eye toward
adding vehicles or upgrading them.
She also is planning on adding an interactive presentation
to her company’s Web site. This presentation will have a
picture of Herring, who will introduce herself and the
company’s info, such as fleet size and services offered.
She has found that personalizing her service, making it one-
on-one, is something customers like.
“I get a lot of positive customer feedback on my phone
answering recording,” Herring said. Her automated answering
service has her voice as the first thing customers hear
when they call.
Herring also added a telemarketing program with one full-
time employee, and is anticipating more sales from that
- Alisha Gomez
Economy Expected To Continue Recovery
According to a survey by the Wall Street Journal,
economists forecast the economy will continue to recover in
2004. The WSJ reported that this recovery should prompt
increases in employment and business spending.
The WSJ also reported that corporate profits were up more
than 25% in the third quarter from a year earlier, and are
expected to continue to rise by 15% in 2004, “providing
executives with cash flow and confidence.”
According to the WSJ, the economy is expected to register
its strongest growth during the first quarter and then
taper off by year end.