It is a little unusual for a limousine service operator or manager to take the time to send us a testimonial letter about one of their chauffeurs. It is a pleasure to receive such letters, and they often open the door for us to meet one of those elite chauffeurs who help to give the en tire limousine industry a favorable image in the eyes of the public.
This was our experience when we received a letter from Tasha Tamulevich, general manager of N.S.L. Limo Rental of Nashua, NH, a division of Nashua Subaru, in which she brought our attention to chauffeur Wayne Kendall. After talking with Wayne, he is obviously one of those rare chauffeurs who treats every trip as a once-in-a-lifetime event for his clients.
As a chauffeur for slightly over two years, Wayne has left a long trail of satisfied customers thus far in his career. His "sincerely genuinely shines through every time he opens the door to serve a customer. No air port run, night on the town, or wedding is insignificant to Wayne," says Tasha.
Like many chauffeurs, Wayne is largely self-taught. "I actually had no training except for having read a copy of Limousine & Chauffeur," he says.
Having been in sales before be coming a chauffeur, however, Wayne had experience in providing customer service. "Sales is also a service industry," he says, "and I was already service-oriented. I was also a good driver."
Using mostly common sense, Wayne developed a basic philosophy toward the job. "I had a natural feeling for what people wanted. They are looking for a clean car, comfort, and a smooth ride since they sometimes have a drink in their hand."
At the same time, Wayne regrets not having had more specific training in chauffeuring, "Judgment and common sense are good prerequisites for this work, but I think I could have benefitted from training in a number of situations such as working the airport.
"I have since attended a seminar presented by Sherrie Van Vliet of Executive Professional Chauffeuring School and received some very good information. I would highly recommend this school to all drivers. Mostly, however, I have just learned from experience," Wayne says.
When asked how he prepares for a trip, Wayne explains that his company is based at an automobile dealership where the limousines are cleaned and serviced. "I always al low enough time to make sure that my car is properly cleaned," he says.
"I check the ash trays, and use air freshener. Another thing is to take a walk around the car and check the oil, check the fire extinguisher, and check the first aid kit." Wayne also loads a small cooler with ice to restock the ice bucket as necessary.
"Then, I go over my trip so I know exactly where I'm going. I try to have the dispatcher ascertain where all of the stops will be as I dislike having clients inconvenienced by having to give directions unnecessarily.
When clients get in the car for the first time, Wayne gives them a brief explanation of how the interior controls and accessories operate. Wayne says, "This lets the client know that you are genuinely concerned that they fully enjoy all the comfort and convenience that the vehicle has to offer. I have had several clients tell me that it's the first time a driver bothered to tell them anything. Their appreciation of this personal attention to detail is definitely reflected in the gratuities."
"I go on to explain the use of the dividers for their complete privacy, and the use of the intercom system for driver communication. I then thank the new client for selecting our service and express our desire to assist them in any way we can."
"I like to let people know when we are about five minutes from the destination so they don't have to rush at the last minute," Wayne continues. "Then as we pull up, I check the traffic outside the vehicle and inform my clients as to what door I will be opening in order that they might exit safely. I feel it most important that you assert strong control over the opening and closing of the client's door; they should never do it themselves at the risk of their personal safety."
"I pull up as close to the destination as possible, open the door, and give them my business card with the limo phone number in case they want to leave early. Many of my clients also enjoy getting a little extra mileage out of the limo by asking their waiter to call their car around when they are ready to leave. It impresses their dinner guests.
"We also use the LimoCall Commander," Wayne continues. (The Commander is a pocket-size solid- state transmitter which allows a user to signal a chauffeur within approximately a one-mile radius.) "I always stay with the car be cause I want to be available if they want to leave early," Wayne continues.
While clients are away from the limousine, Wayne uses his portable vacuum to clean the carpets, upholstery, and ash trays in the passenger compartment. He also cleans the glasses, replaces napkins, and uses an air spray concentrate.
"I make the car look exactly like it did .when they first got in," says Wayne. "One thing I don't like to see is when chauffeurs climb in the back of a car to smoke or watch TV during a trip. That area should be treated as though it were the customer's living room."
Wayne feels that the reckless driving of some chauffeurs is another problem affecting the limousine industry. "I was approaching the air port recently when a new sixty-inch stretch flew by me like a sports car," he says. "We all run late once in awhile," Wayne continues, "but when I talked to him in the airport, he said 'I drive like that all the time...even when I have customers in the car.'
"We have some fine young drivers out there, but we need some system to catch the dangerous ones. Those drivers reflect badly on the rest of us, and are one of the reasons we have such high insurance rates."
At the end of a trip, Wayne distributes his business card to encourage future business and referrals. Once back in the garage, he removes trash and any leftover beverages from the car in order to avoid lingering odors. Cleaning and detailing is handled by Nashua Subaru.
Over the past two years, most of Wayne Kendall's clients have been private rather than corporate customers. He has driven his share of prom kids, weddings, stag parties, and nights on the town. Along the way, he has learned to avoid problems by setting clear ground rules in potentially troublesome situations.
"When you find that a situation is getting a little bit out of line, you have to take a firm stand and let them know you will terminate the trip very quickly unless you have their cooperation." He cites stag parties and proms as occasions when firmness is particularly needed.
"Prom kids will try to get away with anything they can," Wayne has found. "At first, I didn't think I wanted to do proms, but I have found that prom kids can be fun. They usually want to bring along a cooler which you have to confiscate and put in the trunk. They sometimes have a bottle wrapped up with their change of clothes too. Of course you can't al low that either.
"I explain right up front that I hope they have a great time, but that they can't drink in the car/Usually we can come to an understanding."
One reason that Wayne is able to communicate effectively is his genuine interest in helping clients have a pleasurable trip. "I like to think of my customers as though they are part of my own family. That helps me really enjoy what I'm doing. If you are just chauffeuring to make a buck, you miss the opportunity to really get involved with people and be of service to them. You can't look at it as just a job.
"Every time I take someone out, I try to make it a special experience for them. Attitude is everything. If you have a good attitude toward serving the public, it's great to reflect that. It has really worked well for me."
As Tasha Tamulevich of N.S.L. Limo Rental says, "I can honestly say that chauffeurs don't come any bet ter." Many of Wayne Kendall's clients would undoubtedly agree.