Rising to the top doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a consistent, calculated, and constant effort to run a successful business. You can read every book out there on business growth, but in this industry, it takes a distinct type of personality to be one of the best. Sometimes having a little bit of insight into the makings of that personality can be just the thing that can help grow a business.
LCT got a hold of some of that golden information from the CEOs, presidents, and directors of major chauffeured transportation companies. Their feedback may be the very thing that will help you change your mentality about the future of your company.
What qualities do you possess that you think have led to your success in this business?
“The ability to lead and motivate people and I’ve always tried to surround myself with great people who think ‘out of the box.’” -Russ Cooke, CEO, TownCar International
“My ability to diagnose and solve problems before they negatively effect the profitability of the company.” -Lorraine Wilde, CEO/president, GO Airport Shuttle/GO Tri-County Transportation
“Success in any business is the result of hard work and dedicating your energies to the proper places within your business. I believe my strong background in operations as well as my knowledge of fleet insurance and finance has led to my success.” -Jon Epstein, president, Royal Coachman Worldwide
“I personally call on large corporate accounts and actively call them every month until they start using us. One client took three years but then switched over and they have been with us for the past 11 years.” -John Ferrari, president, AFC Corporate Transportation
“I read a lot! I read LCT to see what is going on in our industry, but I also read magazines that focus on other major industries. I watch to see what the Fortune 500 companies are doing and scale their tactics down to where they will fit my business. If a tactic is working for these billion dollar corporations, then you should try to mirror what they are doing.” -Jeff Nykios, COO, Leros Point to Point
“I know that hiring great talent and delegating responsibilities is critically important in enabling us to achieve spectacular results.” -Jonathan Danforth, president/CEO, Boston Coach
“Attention to detail, consistent quality, and getting it right the first time.” -Jeff Conly, managing director, Execucar
What drives you?
“Achieving goals and seeing a plan come to life after a lot of hard work and watching people around me grow and become successful in business and their personal lives.” -Chris Groepler, director of operations, Transtyle, Inc.
“Happy customers and happy employees are what drive me every day. I believe it is difficult to have happy customers without happy employees who deliver exceptional customer service each and every day.” -Jon Epstein, president, Royal Coachman Worldwide
“My inner sense and desire to succeed in all that I do, personally and professionally, is constantly with me.” -Kristina Bouweiri, president/CEO, Reston Limousine
“I absolutely love a challenge and the opportunity to affect change. Just tell me that something can’t be done and then watch me.” -Jonathan Danforth, president/CEO, Boston Coach
If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
“I would have graduated from college. Otherwise, I have had a great life and would not change a thing.” -Dawson Rutter, president/CEO, Commonwealth Worldwide
“I wish I had more patience.” -Lorraine Wilde, president/CEO, GO Airport Shuttle/GO Tri-County Transportation
“Being able to better balance family, work, and success.” -Barbara Chirico, CEO, Gem Limousine Service, Inc.
How do you know when it’s time to expand your business?
“I want to expand the business yesterday and I guess that can be attributed to being young and impatient. My mentors tell me to slow down, and focus on taking care of current clients, and to tread carefully when looking at expansion.” -Kristin Aulenbach, president/CEO, Eagle Transportation Services Worldwide
“I have a simple formula — if you farm out enough trips per month averaged over three months that one vehicle can cover and pay for all its expenses, while generating a 5% profit, then you should increase a vehicle or two, or however many needed.” -John Ferrari, president, AFC Corporate Transportation
“Growth is any combination of a number of factors. Fleet size, personnel, bottom-line numbers, and market share can all be considered signs of growth. However, the ability to handle these factors is what growth is all about. If you can’t handle more business, more vehicles, or more employees then you aren’t growing — you’re just expanding.” -Jeff Nykios, COO, Leros Point to Point
“I don't decide to expand the business, the demand determines whether or not we grow/expand the business. When we need more vehicles, we buy them. It's pretty straightforward. Currently, we are trying to grow our out-of-town business, but it really comes down to asking for the business when our clients are booking their local trips.” -Rick Brown, president, La Costa Limousine
“I run my business by keeping one car empty for every four cars I have full. This allows me to respond and react very fast to changes that occur during the day. And in this business, change is constant. So when all my cars are full and I cannot keep cars empty for back-ups, I know its time to expand by buying more cars.” -Joe Carletto, vice president U.S. Limousine Service, Ltd.
“As far as making a decision to grow, that is just a gut feeling that you want to be a larger company. As far as building infrastructure to accommodate increasing revenue, we always add infrastructure when we perceive that we are bumping up against our operational limit. We don't ever want to be in the position of not being able to handle all of our clients on any given day. We track growth trends and anticipate larger volume that we see coming based on historical analysis.” -Dawson Rutter, president/CEO, Commonwealth Worldwide
Top 10 Concerns for Top Operators 1.New Jersey state sales tax
3.Finding people with good attitudes
4.New York and Nassau County TLC border wars
8.Gas Guzzler tax
9.Real Interstate Drivers Equity Act (RIDE)
Women in Control
Over the years, the presence of professional women in the industry has grown. It has been a long road, full of challenges, but gone are the days where women had to struggle to be taken seriously in this business.
What have been some of the challenges you have faced leading the industry as a woman?
“I don’t think my challenges have been any greater because I am a woman. The livery business is a challenge in itself. I occasionally come in contact with people who don’t take me seriously because I am a woman, but that usually doesn’t last long.” -Lorraine Wilde, president/CEO, GO Airport Shuttle/GO Tri-County
“Today there aren’t many but years ago, trying to convince a male-dominated industry that I know about vehicles, gas mileage, and the operation of a limousine company were my biggest challenges.” -Barbara Chirico, CEO, Gem Limousine Service, Inc.
“Although the business environment is changing, some of the professionals I deal with do not expect to interact with a woman CEO in the transportation business. It's outside the norm. I enjoy being quietly assertive and proving that I know my business.” -Kristina Bouweiri, president/CEO, Reston Limousine
“Being young and being female, it makes everything a little more challenging. I think everything I say and do is looked at more closely, because of my age than my gender.” -Kristin Aulenbach, president/CEO, Eagle Transportation Services Worldwide
Even Leaders Need Leaders
We asked industry leaders about people they admire.
“Scott Solombrino, for his ability to communicate and vast knowledge of the industry.” -Jeff Greene, president/CEO, Greene Classic Limousines
“My father, who owned 23 car dealerships, instilled the reality in me that all he did was sign paychecks. The customers are the ones who provide the money.” -Stephen Qua, president, Company Car and Limousine
“A few of the big guys who are mentors for us include David Seelinger, Jonathan Danforth, Scott Solombrino, and Dawson Rutter.” -H.A. Thompson, president, Rose Chauffeured Transportation
“Outside the industry, I think that Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group, is just about the most fascinating guy out there. He has to deal with logistics, and planes, and a myriad of employees from different cultures with different skill sets. I would love to meet him someday, and be able to drive with him for a few hours, just chatting.” -Jeff Rose, president/CEO, Attitude New York