Most business owners aren’t fortunate enough to see the future of their company sitting right in front of them everyday, but Tony Hernandez, owner of A-1 Limo and Sedan Service in San Antonio, Texas, has an advantage many operators don’t. His 21-year-old son Andy has been working by his side since the beginning of the year. Andy’s next step is to sit behind the wheel of his father’s five-year-old company.
“He truly is my partner in this business. I have, without a doubt, someone I can trust with my life,” Tony says. The Hernandez’s recent father-son partnership prompted a turning point for A-1. Andy’s enthusiasm for business coupled with Tony’s steady and calculated tactics strike a perfect balance. Since Andy was brought aboard earlier this year, A-1 has seen a 100% increase in business. The company’s second operation began in Austin last month. “Business has never been better,” says Tony. “It’s been prom season all year!”
One Car and a Velvet Rope The limousine business wasn’t Tony’s first venture. The former nightclub owner originally had one car that he used in conjunction with his establishment. Before he knew it, he was working on weekends and added a second car to the lineup. Andy came into the picture after years spent as a dispatch operator for fire and police units. Once he joined the police academy, Andy realized that he was driven in a different direction. He gave his notice to the academy and hasn’t looked back once. Being a part of his father’s business appeals to Andy’s desire to manage situations and make a big difference.
“When Andy was little, he would dress up and carry around my briefcase. He loves responsibility,” says Tony. A long way from the velvet rope, the company now operates with a fleet of 12 sedans, seven limousines, six SUVs, and four vans. And many of those vehicles were purchased just this year. Their clientele is about 45% corporate, with the remainder of their business concentrated in weddings. They operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Their reservationists are always available to clients.
San Antonio’s bustling corporate and tourist markets have also been instrumental in the company’s growth. According to A-1, the booming necessity for transportation has funneled much business to the company, whose word-of-mouth reputation is unsurpassed. Tony claims his company has never lost a client.
“To keep the customer, all we have to do is a good job,” he says. It is this constant attention to customer service that has enabled business to grow, despite the slower seasons faced by other operators. The company has kept it simple by completely focusing on the customer. It prides itself on consistently providing a level of service it says its clients won’t find elsewhere. Just one click on A-1’s website (www.satlimo.com) reveals several letters from a long list of satisfied customers. “We will do most anything to make their event satisfying,” says Andy.
Born Into Business Striving to provide phenomenal customer service isn’t the only thing the company is doing right. For one, Andy’s inherent knack for business has added to A-1’s growing success. When asked what contributions he has made to the growth of the company, he says he trains A-1 reservationists to sell, sell, sell. Treating reservationists as the most valuable assets to their business has paid off for the company.“Producing call volume, website hits — none of that means anything unless we make the sale,” says Andy.
He also emphasizes his unique outlook on the well-being of his company’s chauffeurs. Andy claims to double the asking salary of every driver that walks through the company’s door. By taking care of its chauffeurs, the company retains long-term employees on the frontlines that care about the work they do.