Daniel Perez of Boston-based DPV Transportation received a degree in electrical engineering but found that he enjoyed the challenge of running his own business and could make more money as a transportation operator than an engineer.
WHAT HE DID BEFORE: Daniel Perez was studying electrical engineering at Wentworth Institute of Technology and the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology when he got a job working for a small Boston limo operation. He worked for about a year before founding DPV Transportation at age 17.
WHY HE GOT INTO THE BUSINESS: Perez graduated from his electrical engineering program and discovered that he made more money running his van than accepting an entry-level engineering job. He enjoyed the challenge and responsibility and decided to stay in the industry and expand his business.
START-UP COSTS AND METHODS: While still in college, Perez found athletic teams that required reliable transportation and put $5,000 down for a van to serve these groups. After landing contracts with two college teams, he added minibuses to his fleet. Eventually Perez moved into corporate work and added SUVs and sedans to perform the service. He lived with his parents while in college and ran his company from their house. He has since moved to a location two minutes away from Logan International Airport.
BEST MARKETING STRATEGY: Although he advertises on Google, Yahoo! and Internet search engines, Perez believes his best marketing strategy is to provide superior luxury service that generates word-of-mouth referrals. He also has succeeded with farm-in work he received from affiliates. “My first good account was from an affiliate I met at the International LCT Show in Vegas,” he says.
BIGGEST MISTAKE: While Perez doesn’t consider starting his business at such a young age a mistake, he does admit there were challenges. “I was this 17-year-old kid who set up a transportation business but it was hard to find the right insurance because of my age. I had to pay higher rates because I was under 25.”
BIGGEST SUCCESS: Reaching $1 million in revenue.
UNIQUE APPROACHES TO CUSTOMER SERVICE: DPV Transportation offers clean cars with professional chauffeurs who go above and beyond clients’ expectations. Perez says his company’s “technology infrastructure” helps a lot because clients enjoy the iPads and Internet connectivity that he offers in several vehicles.
ADVICE TO OPERATORS: “You have to work really hard and put a lot of faith, energy, and passion into this business,” Perez says. “You have to be aggressive, eager, responsible, and persuasive.” He also suggests joining local small business associations because many offer free consulting for marketing strategies, finance, accounting, and getting the right help for running a business. Some of the associations Perez participates in include Meeting Planners International, International Special Events Society, Global Business Travel Association, and the Boston Chamber of Commerce.
FUTURE PLANS: To grow to 20 vehicles and triple the company’s sales through an aggressive marketing campaign.
Affiliates Only: When asked for his thoughts on the retirement of the Town Car, Perez says that the adoption of a new “standard” vehicle only matters for affiliate work because vehicle consistency is important. But for a company’s own clients, he believes any clean, luxury vehicle with a service-oriented chauffeur will suffice. As far as new vehicles go, Perez likes the new Cadillac XTS and looks forward to seeing the new livery version at the 2012 International LCT Show.
Fast Facts about DPV Transportation
Owner: Daniel Perez
Main service region: New England
Vehicle types: sedans, SUVs, minibuses, vans
Fleet size: 7
Annual revenues: $1 million
Information: (877) 378-4445