TULSA, Okla. — Charles “Chuck” Cotton, owner of VIP Limousine, said he is considering taking as much of his fleet as possible to Phoenix for a week or more, where his first “Limopreneur” graduate has set up shop.
With one full month under his belt, Chris Pruett, the owner of Six Star Limousine Service in Phoenix, has enjoyed a rapid start after going through the training and startup program Cotton launched five months ago for turnkey limousine business launches.
That success is especially important, said Cotton, since Pruett started not with one limo but three, plus a sedan — and he’s already ordered his first Hummer.
“His phone is just ringing off the hook,” said Cotton, reflecting how Pruett employed his proven marketing and advertising strategy to target weddings, parties, and other special occasions.
“Phoenix is probably the number one market for limos right now,” said Cotton.
Over the next five months the Phoenix area will hold two Nascar events, a professional golf tournament, and the Super Bowl. Two happen the same week — the FBR Phoenix Open and 2008 Super Bowl XLII, both concluding Feb. 3.
“He told me this week there were no more limousines available for the Super Bowl,” said Cotton, whose fleet now includes 16 limousines and eight sedans, vans, or limo busses. “He wants me to bring our entire fleet to it.”
It’s a tempting offer, said Cotton. His fleet would work as a subcontractor to Six Star, allowing it to drive under Pruett’s license. The main potential hang-up — Cotton wonders if he can find enough chauffeurs interested in making the trip.
“That’s what we’re working on right now,” said Pruett by phone, who credited the “Limopreneur” program for his turnaround.
“I’ve been running sedans out here for a couple years and thought I had a pretty good idea of what I was doing until I spent some time there,” he said of the VIP training. “I found out the limousine business is a lot more detail oriented. A lot of the stuff he taught me there has come to fruition, I guess.”
Those insights ranged from how to improve operations and training of chauffeurs to selling points on how to market the business and handle customers on the phone.
“Especially some of the advertising tricks he told me have saved me money,” said Pruett. “I would have been putting money in some bad places. He’s really helped me there”
With that amount of high-profile business, plus the busy holiday season, Cotton expects Pruett to finish the run through Valentine’s Day more than halfway through earning back his initial investment — with prom season starting soon after. Pruett also thought it likely.
“There’s no other Phoenix limo company doing that marketing approach,” said Cotton, despite competition from a couple of hundred similar firms. “It’s unique, and it works.”
Pruett’s success also bodes well for “Limopreneur.” No one else has followed Pruett in putting down $94,200 for two weeks of hands-on training and delivery of a new limousine, but Cotton blames that on his own marketing efforts, not the program.
“We’re still trying to find our advertising niche,” he said. “We really haven’t found the right platform yet.
“We are attempting to avoid misdirected advertising,” he said. “Misdirected advertising is the number one cause for new business startup failure. How well I know.”
VIP has just started another round of ads in 300 newspapers across the nation.
“It’s a rifle approach rather than a shotgun approach,” he said. “It’s getting a lot of feedback, but we haven’t inked anybody yet.”
SOURCE: The Journal Record — Oklahoma