Jay Gogel is a third generation worker at the family owned My Limo
in East Hanover, New Jersey, which has 130 vehicles including sedans, SUVs, stretch limousines, shuttle buses, and motorcoaches.
Jay Gogel started working at the family business 11 years ago, just after college. My Limo was founded in 1983 by Jay’s grandparents. His father Stewart Gogel and uncle Howard Gogel own the business now, and when Jay first started out he was in the reservations department, a position he thought at first would only be a temporary stay. “I wasn’t intending to stay on long [with the company] as I studied music education in college and my plan was to be a teacher eventually,” says Gogel, but as time went by, he got comfortable and started to enjoy what he was doing more, and decided it was time for him to “make my mark on the family business.”
LCT got a chance to interview Jay about how he’s handling new challenges like TNCs, and also on how his experience coming up in the company has given him a good understanding of the current chauffeured transportation landscape.
LCT: How did you first make an impact at the company after working in reservations?
Jay Gogel: My Limo already had a nice loyal customer base, but we were not offering nationwide service to our clients yet. I knew this was already becoming a norm in the industry and saw my opportunity. I started the affiliate program and buildt our network from the ground up with really no guidance or idea of what I was doing. I started with Philadelphia (a bordering city to NJ), with my logic being that if the affiliate messed something up we would be close enough to send our own car.
From there I picked up the phone and started calling companies all over the U.S., starting with major cities like Boston, Washington DC, and L.A. I knew whether I wanted to work with [the affiliates] from how they answered phones and how their websites looked. Simple things like stock vehicle photos vs. actual photos of the company’s vehicles made a difference. I started encouraging our reservations team to offer nationwide service and it has grown from there.
How many hats do you wear at your company?
JG: Many, I’m an affiliate manager, reservationist, I help out a little with accounting. I help out with I.T. issues and push and develop new technology. I work with the sales department, customer service (researching and resolving service issues). I help manage our website (mylimo.com) and I run our Facebook page and oversee all social media marketing. Lastly I’m the company in-house “graphic designer” for ads and signage.
What motivates you about this industry?
JG: To be perfectly honest it’s becoming a major challenge to stay motivated with the rise of the TNCs and where this industry is headed because of their presence. But I’m not giving up. They have just become a reminder to me to never get too comfortable and to amp up the overall customer experience. We’ve been reminding our team to always be pleasant when interacting with customers, and we keep our fleet immaculate and our chauffeurs happy so they have a positive attitude and will always be on time.
Things about this industry that also inspire me are actively reaching out to customers if an issue arises, attending Limo shows, and reading the news in LCT. It is great seeing people freely sharing ideas and trying to better our industry, especially during this scary time with TNCs. We need to come together more and not be so paranoid about competition and sharing ideas. This might be a little weird but, think of TNCs as an alien invading our planet and all the different countries around the world representing different limo companies. If we don’t band together and help defend our limo industry (our world), we will not win this battle.
To what do you credit your expertise as an Affiliate Manager?
JG: I like to think I’m good at working with people and not afraid of taking chances. I see things from the customer’s perspective and the affiliate’s perspective so I am very good at resolving service issues without losing our customer and damaging a growing relationship with an affiliate. I know who’s in my network well without even having to look at my affiliate list. I always call multiple affiliates in a city to get an idea of the average rate before picking which one to add to our network.