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In 2010, Ambassador Limousine saw 63% growth and had gross sales reaching $1.06 million. CEO Myron Fonseca projects $1.2 million to $1.3 million in 2011. What’s going on here?
Fonseca entered the industry in 2001, buying a 1995 six-passenger limousine in February which he intended to resell. He ended up using it for the summer and made money driving high school kids. By the time September came around, he bought a brand new limousine and started Ambassador Limousine. Then 9/11 happened, causing “the most significant economic setback in travel industry history,” according to the Travel Industry Association of America. Domestic travel expenditures plummeted $27 billion that year. Yet, against all odds, Fonseca’s business actually grew.
Adjusting to client needs with a personal approach helped Ambassador Limousine grow during tough economic times.
“I’d originally owned a staffing company, because my mom had been in the business, and 2000 was a great year. But after 9/11, staffing took a dive, so I marketed my limo service to my staffing clients,” Fonseca recalls. “I gained business from some clients who needed a stretch limo, and I just went from there.” He used a guerilla-marketing approach, relying heavily on visiting offices door-to-door and personal interaction. One of the first accounts he landed was a Miami law firm that has remained his client for the last 10 years. “It was all about that connection made when I walked into their office,” he says.
This personal approach drove his company’s growth for the next three years. “I eventually had four to five stretches, one SUV, and two motorcoaches. I had issues with the coaches, so I got out of that game, but a lot of people were spending money on limos. Partying in Miami was good, and that’s how I grew.”
In 2005, things started to level out as Ambassador “hovered around the $600,000-$700,000 [revenue] range, keeping around seven or eight vehicles,” Fonseca says. It was around this time that he started to focus on the corporate side with his Ford Expedition SUV.
When the market crashed, Fonseca saw many companies go under, mostly those “who didn’t do business the right way or were making shady deals.” When things get tough, he says, you have to shift your focus on what clients will need because that’s what will make money.
Fonseca believes having a good team and delegating responsibilities are crucial to running a successful operation.
“It’s also important to have a good team. I learned to delegate and not do everything in the company,” Fonseca says. “My employees care enough to take pride in what they do, and that helped a lot.” He hired a dispatch crew and tries his best to stay away and let them do their jobs, which he says they do exceptionally well. But when it’s busy, he drops everything and goes to dispatch to make sure he can efficiently provide the transportation solutions that meet his clients’ needs. “Good fleet management equals good scheduling,” he says.