WHY HE GOT INTO THE BUSINESS: “Even though I grew up in the industry, I never thought I’d do this,” Tim Wiegman says. His father worked for operator George Jacobs at his former Chicago-based American Limousine, then moved to Kansas City where he and Wiegman’s grandfather started their operation in 1986. In June 2006, Wiegman was on his way to Kansas City from Oklahoma when a truck smashed into the car behind Wiegman as they were stopped at a red light, killing the driver in the middle car and wrecking Wiegman’s truck. A couple of weeks later, he passed the scene of the accident and experienced a moment of enlightenment. “I saw the spot where the vehicles had burned, where I’d come so close to dying. I realized that I wasn’t happy with what I was doing and I decided I wanted to provide safe transportation to people.”
Boulevard Limousine owner Tim Wiegman, Jr. advises new operators to buy their first vehicles in cash because debt can be a business-killer.
WHAT HE DID BEFORE: Tim Wiegman, Jr. graduated with a bachelor’s degree in meteorology in 2005 from the University of Oklahoma, after which he entered the university’s graduate program where he studied and worked.
START-UP COSTS AND METHODS: Wiegman put up his two personal vehicles as collateral for the loan on his first livery vehicle, a 120” Lincoln Town Car stretch, in January 2008. He added a Town Car sedan in late February 2009.
BEST MARKETING STRATEGY: “Attending networking events are good, especially with the Chamber of Commerce.” But just joining the chamber won’t do you any good, he says. You have to be active and go to the events and mixers and after-hours parties to get face-to-face contact, which is important because it builds brand recognition and people get to know the face behind the name. “For repeat clients, you need to have repeat interactions,” he says.
BIGGEST MISTAKE: Buying a brand new limousine. “It was a mistake to start off with a brand new stretch. When you first start off and you have no business, you take a huge kick in the butt with depreciation and it’s hard. I don’t think it’s a smart move when you can get something that’s a few years older with some miles on it, but the same generation, at a more reasonable price.”
BIGGEST SUCCESS: “The corporate accounts that I’ve managed to gain who use me multiple times a week,” Wiegman says.
UNIQUE APPROACHES TO CUSTOMER SERVICE: Wiegman sends handwritten Thank You cards to every new client. He solidified the relationship with his first big corporate account this way.
ADVICE TO OPERATORS: “Always plan long-term,” Wiegman says. “In everything you do, from daily operations to marketing, you have to think long-term because it’s a long ride.” Wiegman also suggests buying your first vehicles in cash, even if they’re pre-owned with some miles on them, because debt can be a business-killer. “It isn’t the vehicle that is going to make or break your business, it’s your service. Clients are more interested in a safe, smooth, comfortable ride in a clean, well-maintained vehicle with a clean, professionally-attired chauffeur who pays attention to detail and provides a high level of service.”
FUTURE PLANS: To be completely out of debt by the end of the year.
Fast Facts about Boulevard Limousine
Location: Olathe, KS
Owner/operator: Tim Wiegman, Jr.
Founded: 2007; opened in February 2008.
Main service region: Kansas City, Mo., metro
Vehicle types: sedan and stretch limousine
Fleet size: 2
Annual revenues: $125,000
Web site: www.BoulevardLimoKC.com
Contact: (913) 712-8372; (888) 801-9743