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Waiting Near the Wings

Posted on April 5, 2010 by - Also by this author

LOS ANGELES The office of operator Avi Karpel has a wide interior glass window that looks out over a rear garage. Lincoln Town Car Executive Ls and black Mercedes sedans glide in and out for car washes and interior cleanings throughout the day as workers turn around the vehicles for client runs.

Located just two minutes outside of the Los Angeles International Airport, A-List Limousine Service Inc. needs to keep its attention on the details.

"We will not connect our chauffeurs between jobs where we can risk a job," owner Avi Karpel said. "We are looking at flawless execution on each and every job, and that is priceless to any operator. Once the reservation lands on our desk, we provide a peace of mind, and it will be perfectly executed."

A-List Limousine Service Inc. operates out of a renovated commercial warehouse unit it bought in 2006. The offices and garage were built to A-List's specifications, featuring the latest technology in surveillance cameras, surround sound music, and a complete communication utility room which holds the servers that run 24/7. The servers are capable of receiving reservations from major clients and travel agencies such a Carson Wagonlit and BCD Travel, which are preferred vendors.

Troubleshooters

With its location next to LAX, A-List has to be prepared for demand that can spike at any time, given its heavy corporate clientele, flight delays and schedule changes, and last-minute calls from affiliates needing a run.

In fact, A-List gets much of its business from affiliates who can rely on an operator close to LAX that can respond immediately to airport requests and serve as troubleshooters to pick up client runs. "We're very affiliate friendly," said Vice President Johne Baker. "We picked up a lot of business in 2009 and helped a lot of operators."

Many affiliates through the country favor A-List Limousine Service because of its fast response to email or phone requests, its ability to pick up at LAX within minutes, and the fact that it has a stand-by chauffeur available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Karpel met Baker via a farm-out run that he was handling for the local company where Baker worked as a sales and marketing director. The pair clicked and Baker came to work with Karpel full-time. Karpel now handles the finances and management while Baker takes care of sales, marketing, and affiliate relationships.

In 2005, A-List bought two limousine companies in the Thousand Oaks and Camarillo area that enables it to serve clients efficiently from Orange County and the greater Los Angeles area through Ventura County to Santa Barbara. 

A-List's 5 Rules for Success

1. Training:
Extensive chauffeur training and follow-up. A-List uses Tom Mazza NLA-approved training programs, teaches defensive driving, uses ride-a-long instruction for new chauffeurs, and conducts spot checks and “ghost rides” to rate chauffeurs for behind-the-wheel performance.

2. Treatment
Everyone gets treated as a V.I.P. on the “A-List.” Clients are more likely to remember you, and first-timers are all potential repeat clients when they experience attentive, seamless, and personalized services from start to finish.

3. Cleanliness
Constant cleanliness. Vehicles are washed and cleaned inside at all times. Each vehicle is cleaned thoroughly between client runs, even between short airport runs. Chauffeurs who take vehicles home overnight must park them in garages and are responsible for “automatic amenities” such as water, newspapers, hand wipes, Kleenex, treats, etc.

4. Affiliate
Network constantly for affiliate work. A-List makes clear that it serves all major destinations; “One Call Books All” of a client’s transportation needs worldwide. Its executives are on the phone daily looking for new affiliates in every city and location while networking with major city operators.

5. Technology
Use advanced technology. The combination of office software, the latest updated fleet software, satellite GPS, Bluetooth cell phones for chauffeurs, and flight tracking ensure smooth communication and minimal missteps. A-List is directly connected to the travel services of Carlson-Wagonlit Travel, which is a major travel management source of business clients.

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