The staff and chauffeurs of AES Limo Services
stand with owner George Henzel (front row center).
Biggest success: Henzel credits his biggest success to the 16,000 sq. ft. building he had built in 1995 that houses all of his businesses, including the eight fleet vehicles that can be kept in the garage.
Customer service approaches: “Whether right or wrong, we don’t dispatch or book through the Internet.” Henzel makes sure all calls, even after hours, dispatch to someone on the team. “We want to talk to the person and find out what they need, and once we do that, give them a package that meets their budget and impresses with service.”
Business origins: Before the limo company, George Henzel ran a commercial janitorial service. “Accidental happenstance,” says Henzel of his entry into limo service. “My wife was selling janitorial services, and people said they’d also be interested in getting rides to the airport. They were impressed with our level of service and I had a luxury conversion van that I had for myself that I put into service. We soon incorporated and became AES Limousine Services.”
Early marketing strategies: Henzel says an ad in the Yellow Pages early on brought a number of phone calls, and also clients from his janitorial business proved good prospects. “We were the only professional people in town,” says Henzel of his start. “I came from a corporate background, and that was our business, we wanted the corporate market.”
Growth steps: Henzel says the immediate requests for limousines and airport transfers prompted him to buy a stretch and Lincoln Town Car sedan. The fleet ratio has been steady over the years with a mix of sedans, stretches, vans, and SUVs. Recently, Henzel bought an 18-passenger limo bus.
Lessons learned: An early mistake Henzel made related to SEO and website design. “We went through two websites before we finally realized that it wasn’t the website or the look, it was the SEO. We had beautiful websites that just didn’t search, and we’ve since rectified the problem.”
Business loves: Dealing with the chauffeurs is one of his joys. “We have nine chauffeurs and they’re all retired part time people,” Henzel says. “They all have customer service or management backgrounds, and they’re all professionals.”
Advice: “Focus on the two most important parts of your business,” Henzel says. “The hiring and the driving. Make sure all chauffeurs and team members are 100% committed, and recognize above all else we are in the people business, not the car business. [Your clients] are going to remember how you treated them, long after they forget who had the lowest price.”
Future plans: Moving into more retail business, as corporate and government sales have been trending down. The addition of the limo bus has increased bookings. Henzel sees more demand for the vehicle for weddings and bridal party work. “People want to go in groups but they don’t want limousines. We can’t move our limousines. They want to go together but also have stand-up headroom.”
AES Limousine Service Inc.
Location: Winchester, VA
Owners: George and Victoria Henzel
Service region: Northern Shenandoah Valley
Fleet vehicles: Sedans, vans, SUV, stretch limo, limo bus
Fleet size: 8
Annual Revenue: $400,000
Contact: (540) 667-8303