MARLTON, N.J. — I saw a person wearing a badge recently that read: “I refuse to participate in a recession!” I thought about how I want that to be my motto. I am sure all of you are sitting back patiently waiting for the government to come in and stimulate you?
Good luck! Not me. I wish I could turn the television sets off across America and get people to think on their own again without the noise on the screen predicting doom and gloom.
I spoke to an operator this week who told me that retail business is essentially dead. How can that be? The children of the baby boom generation are at the ideal marrying age. High schools are still having proms. The problem is that they are now doing them without us. I saw an article that told how you could save money on your daughter’s quincera.
It said have a relative with a nice car drive her. If I gave that newspaper any ads before, I would never do it again. If you are an operator who does retail work, you can’t sit back and wait for the phones to ring anymore. You need to now go out and shake the bushes. The paradigm has shifted and those of you who are sitting on your duffs are going to be left behind. We are a luxury item that is easily cut or replaced with a less expensive alternative.
Here are some thoughts:
Think Public Relations
Proms: Get in touch with your local media and explain why riding in a limousine is a safe rite of passage for prom goers. Tell them about your policies to keep the divider down with all bags in the trunk. Explain your prom contract which has all of the parents’ cell numbers and a signed agreement that the ride is terminated if anything illegal occurs.
Touch on those emotional ties — the parents of the kids who took a limo. For some people, it is their first and only ride in a limousine. The time to do this is now. Lay the ground work and the foundation for the good stories to be told about our industry and not the bad ones that they tend to sensationalize on. Hundreds of proms occur every weekend in spring but you only hear about the one bad one over and over where the kid gets drunk. Be proactive and promote the positive.
Think differently. Find people to sell your services for you on a commission basis. How about a barber? Many times the grooms take the responsibility of finding the transportation for weddings. Find the places that they might frequent. Put together flyers to be distributed at the barbershop. One operator suggested a “get out of the dog house” package which creates a romantic night for the guy who can’t figure out how to get out of trouble. A tax preparation service might also be a great place to do cross marketing or commission sales. Everyone is heading to their accountant this time of year. Get him to hand out your specials and pay him a cut of those that book. Our industry is not the only one dealing with today’s economic conditions. Everyone is looking for ways to increase their personal income. Working with others is a great way to get your word out at a low cost.
How do you find customers? One of the biggest trends today among baby boomers is computer dating. How can you get a piece of this multimillion dollar business? Think local. There are local dating clubs everywhere. Some of them arrange outings for their members. How about a scavenger hunt? Or an outing where you visit stops along the way and at each stop you get a poker card. At the last stop you show your hands and win a prize which can be included as part of the package. You may even be able to get clubs or restaurants to sponsor this type of program and dual market it. They too are looking for ways to gain business in tough times. Look for non-traditional ways to reach your customers. Sitting at a wedding show with five other limousine companies may not be an effective use of your time and money. Be a trailblazer instead of a pack follower.
Now more than ever, it is imperative that you get out and network. Attend industry functions. Attend meetings where your customers go. Attend meetings that you have never thought you could get business.
Think Current Events
Focus on the news of what works and what sells. I read recently that sales of Mary Kay cosmetics and Avon products are up. The thought process is that people are willing to spend a little bit to make them feel better. Make a deal with some of these independent reps to give your flyers out along with their sales books. Read the papers and watch the news. Be current on what is happening in your market and capitalize on it.
If you are going to maintain or gain market share in this environment, you must work harder and think differently. Do not participate in a recession. Create your own stimulus!
Source: Linda Moore, LCT Magazine