Connecticut operator Ronald Montross has chartered the choppy economic currents to keep his 28-year-old operation growing and relevant. He recently bought Chrysler 300 Limited sedans as possible fleet replacements for the Lincoln Town Car.
Ronald Montross bought his first stretch limousine for personal use. It was the 1980s and he and his business partner operated a successful messenger service founded in 1978. They wanted a stretch to party in and figured they could write off the costs of using it by doing trips on the side.
Despite running a fleet of 60 delivery trucks, Montross and his partner decided they needed a backup plan, especially with the advent of fax machines that diminished the messenger business. In 1984, they bought three Lincoln Town Car sedans and founded Elite Limousine Inc. in Norwalk, Conn.
Most of the company’s messenger accounts used chauffeured car service anyway, so Montross converted them into Elite’s clients. The first 10 years were a learning curve for Montross. He had no prior industry experience and had to learn from his mistakes. “My instincts were way off,” he says. One thing he learned right away was to implement a check-in procedure for chauffeurs to monitor their activity and ensure that they’re on time for their runs.
Always say yes
Connecticut is known as The Land Of Steady Habits, and Montross rode this ethic on the journey to success. As the years went on, he learned more about the business and found out what worked and what did not. He stuck to his business philosophy and perfected his operation by consistently providing a standard of service that clients respect and expect.
Montross keeps in touch with clients by emailing them to ask if they’re happy and satisfied with the service. He offers discounts to clients during vacation times, upgrades when they have family trips, and comps rides for volume users. He never takes a client for granted because “loyalty is a thing of the past,” and it’s easy for clients to move to another chauffeured service. “Never say no to a customer,” Montross says. “Get them a car ASAP if that’s what they want. If we don’t have a car, we find one. Always say yes and then perform.”
Things have changed
Being consistent doesn’t mean sticking to old, ineffective ways. Montross stays on top of trends by reading industry magazines and builds his brand through digital marketing strategies. He invests in the search engine optimization (SEO) of Elite Limousine’s website and gets exposure through pay-per-click advertising. “Things have changed and everything is Internet-based now. Most new clients come from Internet searches, as well as word-of-mouth. [But I love] learning something new constantly; [there’s] never a dull moment [in this industry.]”
After Three Decades With Town Cars?
Ronald Montross thinks his clients will not care too much about the retirement of the longtime Lincoln Town Car sedan.
“Most of them don’t know what type of car they are getting in [and] I think that if the car is high-end and has all the creature comforts, the clients will be fine,” he says. He has been adding the new Chrysler 300 Limited sedans to his fleet, with four at the time this article was written with another on its way.
Like all businessmen, Montross says he’s always looking for new revenue streams. He’s looking at taking on more bus work and growing his global affiliate network. “There are so many facets of the business. You can never say all of your work is done. I still check every job that comes in. I carry an iPad and iPhone and monitor from everywhere.”
Fast Facts about Elite Limousine Service Inc.
I Location: Norwalk, Conn. I Founded: 1984 I Main service region: Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey tri-state area I Vehicle types: sedans, SUVs, stretch limousines, buses and vans I Fleet size: 28 I Employees: 30 I Annual revenues: $3.5 million I Owners: Ronald Montross, President; Dan Gardella, Vice President I Website: www.elitelimoct.com I Information: (203) 853-9666
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