Fleet: 358 vehicles (239 limousines, 23, sedans, one van, 95 buses)
Management Team: Brent Bell, Chief Operating Officer; Breck Opeka, Operations Manager; Gwenn Ellis, Dispatch and Reservations Manager
Reservation Software: Aleph Communications: two-way radios
Brent Bell is the perfect example of someone climbing his way up the corporate ladder. He entered the chauffeured transportation business as a teenager, working part time during the summers waxing cars and treating the vinyl tops of the Cadillacs in his family’s limousine business. At age 16 he worked his way up to tow-truck driver and gas jockey. As he grew older, he took on even more responsibilities, and eventually became the Chief Operating Officer of Bell Trans in Las Vegas, NV. “It’s a family business, so I was brought up in it and I have worked in it since I was 14,” he says. “And I really started from the bottom!”
So how did Bell go from waxing limousines to being the COO of one of the largest chauffeured transportation companies in the nation? “I think we’ve been successful because we’re well established and have a solid reputation for providing quality, consistent service at a very reasonable rate,” he says. “I also think it’s important to concentrate on many different markets. Concentrating on just one end of the market, in my opinion, makes your business very vulnerable. You need to have a mixture—do a little bit of corporate work, some weddings, some tourism.”
Bell Trans focuses its marketing efforts towards Las Vegas’s huge tourism industry by doing direct mailings, Yellow Pages advertisements, and working closely with travel shows, tourism magazines and Las Vegas visitors and convention guides. Bell also says that being heavily involved in community activities helps to get the word out to potential clients. Unlike most operators who find themselves increasingly utilizing sedans for corporate work these days, Bell says the luxury stretch limousine is still his biggest moneymaker. The flashy Las Vegas Strip is the perfect opportunity to take tourists out for a night on the town in a limousine, and Bell is definitely familiar with this demand. “The stretch limousine is our most profitable vehicle, and that has not changed at all over the past few years,” he points out.
Bell also caters to the interests of tourists by keeping consistent rates, unlike the rates of Vegas hotels that change weekly. Those who have ever booked a hotel in Las Vegas know the room rates can increase by hundreds of dollars during the busy weekends, but Bell refuses to do the same to his clients when it comes to his limousine service. “Clients don’t like to be charged one rate one day and another rate the next because it’s Valentine’s Day,” he explains. “They’re going to stick with a company that’s consistent.”
Bell also attributes much of his company’s success to being flexible and continually analyzing the market for changes. “To be a successful operator you need to be flexible enough to accommodate the mixture of the market,” he says. “We go every year and take a close look at the market and where we think it’s going, and we increase that particular vehicle type based on the demand that we feel is there for it.” His advice for an operator just starting out? “Concentrate on providing consistent, quality service and not just trying to make a home-run with one particular client or one particular market.”—Danielle Bouvier