New Jersey Operators Are Perfect Mix Of Old And New

Posted on April 19, 2017 by Lexi Tucker - Also by this author - About the author

PRINCETON, N.J. — Edward Santiago and Al Cohen, co-owners of First Choice Limousine, work together without a snag, despite an age difference and different backgrounds. Cohen, 68, had experience working in luxury transportation, while Santiago, 40, was a mobile X-ray technician, but they have the same desire to run a company respected by clients and fellow operators.

Different Perspectives, Same Goal

Santiago believes clients get the best of both worlds with him and Cohen. He acknowledges their strengths are polar opposites: “It’s like a black and tan — you get the old with the new.” Cohen builds business the old fashioned way by shaking hands, knocking on doors, and taking phone calls, and Santiago respects the results this has produced.

Being available at all times and making it easy for customers to get a hold of you is a large part of their customer service strategy. “Life is already as complex as it can get, and new tech has arguably made things busier. We try and think ahead by saying, ‘What are the roadblocks the client will hit with other companies, and how can we make that experience less painful?’” Santiago says.

Edward "Eddie" Santiago
Edward "Eddie" Santiago
If customers request either him or Cohen as a chauffeur, they gladly take the opportunity to show clients they aren’t above any job. Santiago shines in ensuring Millennials feel comfortable booking the way they want to. “If they want to make a reservation online and not really have a personal connection with us and are a little distant, that’s OK, too. We try to appeal to every possible type of client,” Santiago says.

Always Room For Improvement

Running a chauffeured car operation is far from easy, and 90% of your approach should be customer service focused, Cohen says. “You have to be there when the client wants you. As long as you can take that extra step to make you better than the other guy, you’ll excel,” he says.

The company provides car seats at no charge, for example. They also try to make sure they are the first people a new customer sees. “Clients like to know the company owner took the time to pick them up and treat them special,” Cohen says.

Another tactic to ensure lasting relationships is to stay in contact with your regulars if you haven’t heard from them in a while; this keeps your core customer base in tact while you explore new avenues.

Al Cohen
Al Cohen
While networking is also important for large operations, small companies can’t survive without some help. It helps you establish yourself as a legitimate company. “There’s enough business for everyone, and you can’t do it alone. Building your network and resources will only help,” Santiago says.

Something he’s tried to live by is the fact you’re not in charge of anything, so you have to be prepared for anything. In other words, you’re at the mercy of the airlines, baggage claim, and customers who oversleep or forget to bring something, so you have to be able to adapt. “You can’t get stuck on structure, because you have to be quick on your feet to respond to events you weren’t expecting.”

What’s Next?

To prepare for new business gained at the International LCT Show, the company has eliminated older vehicles, keeping only those model years 2015 and newer. They’ve also invested in new office space. Santiago and Cohen look forward to getting their name further out there as a reputable company every operator can rely on. As members of the National Limousine Association and the Limousine Association of New Jersey (LANJ), they aim to be involved in all aspects of the industry.

Santiago hopes to continue to identify with the younger audience by staying on top of social media and industry trends in terms of apps and other technology. “I identify with young families since I have two daughters myself, so from a customer perspective, I understand the complexities of traveling with small children. I try to be more compassionate and connect with them on that level.”

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

How Superficiality Destroys The Customer Service Experience

Don't just say you really care about your clients...show it.

MTA Bus, Charter Bus Collide In Queens

All victims were quickly taken off the buses, with the exception of one of the drivers who was pinned and needed to be extricated.

Grand Avenue Partners With Nashville Companies For Hurricane Relief

The businesses are working through the Austin Disaster Recovery Network to gather much-needed supplies.

All Resorts Group Shuts Down Following Bankruptcy

Some drivers and clients were still out on trips when the charter bus, limo, taxi, and shuttle company failed to find stopgap financing.

Addison Lee Buys New York-Based Taxi Platform

The largest U.S. chauffeured vehicle service is also venturing beyond its home taxi turf of London.

See More News

Facebook Comments ()

Comments (0)

Post a Comment



See More

LCT Store

LCT Magazine - September 2017 $12.95 MOTORCOACH / BUS ISSUE COVER STORY: * Irizar Racks Up A Good Rookie Year * *


Experience the three annual industry events for networking for business, showcasing vehicles and products, and getting the tools for success.

Read About Your Region

What’s Happening Near You?
Click on any state to see the latest industry news and events in that region.

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment



Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Metro Magazine

Serving the bus and passenger rail industries for more than a century

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

Please sign in or register to .    Close