Page 1 of 2
RMA Worldwide CEO Robert Alexander surveys finishing touches on his new headquarters, just two weeks before
the big move-in.
NORTH BETHESDA, Md. — Robert Alexander may occupy a spacious corner-window executive office, but when he looks through his glass door, he can see his fleet vehicles being washed — at the other end of the 19,000 square-foot building.
For the CEO of RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation [www.rmalimo.com], “activity spurs activity,” as he says while showing the nearly renovated company headquarters on a midday in late July. Alexander and his 49-member office team moved onto the redesigned floor in early August. The open-floor plan — shaped by lowered work walls, alcoves and glassed rooms — resembles a digital newsroom or social media company than the typical warehouse-garage styled limousine service.
The “Millennial” era design emphasizes collaborative work pods and offices defined by glass, windows and skylights that pour in natural light, and carefully arrayed lines of sight. Calm blue and white tones accent the interior under an exposed industrial-style ceiling. Considered unique by industry standards, the upgraded building, a former biotech company, culminates Alexander’s vision to adapt his company to a more competitive chauffeured market, evolving technology, and shifts in client behavior.
More Tech, Better Talk
In the two months since staffers moved into the renovated floor from the basement below and private homes, new workplace dynamics are being rewired. “It almost immediately created excitement and a boost in morale,” Alexander says. “We’ve gone to great lengths to think through almost every aspect of design and function.”
One of the intents of the redesign was to create a work environment more suited to the Millennial generation, with their natural bent toward social media, technology and interaction. “Employees are taking ownership and communicating in an enthusiastic manner,” Alexander says. “Having everyone collectively work together is a change. It’s certainly increasing communication and building cohesiveness as a team. It’s much easier to collaborate now.”
For a chauffeured transportation company, the layout enables staff to be more creative in booking and planning multi-vehicle runs and enhancing customer service. By also using auto-dispatch, Internet booking and paperless routines, staff members are freed up to spend more time on the calls that involve more detail-driven requests.
“Now everyone needs to be a salesman in the company,” Alexander says. “We want people to focus 110% on that call, and not feel rushed.”
During the design phase, Alexander and his executive team talked to staff often to get their ideas. “The biggest challenge was getting people to squeeze their brains,” Alexander says. “We wanted them to think toward the future and how business evolves and changes, and how to adapt.”
Alexander advises operators who want to revamp their facilities to think through all aspects of the end result. “How do you envision business processes to work in the future? Get opinions and be flexible. What’s on paper may look different once you’re putting on the drywall. If you think cookie-cutter, that’s what you are going to get.”
T-Word = Transform
Like any operation that spans chauffeured sedans and/or taxis, RMA must adjust to the stiff challenges from transportation network companies (TNCs). TNCs pressure RMA and its companion company, Orange Taxi, started in May 2011, in several ways, especially in finding qualified chauffeurs and taxi drivers.