Success Under the Sun

Posted on December 1, 2003 by Rebecca Christiansen, LCT staff editor

Someone going to one of the major resorts or hotels in South Florida might very likely end up being chauffeured there in one of Neil Goodman’s vehicles. That’s because his company. Miami-based Aventura Limousine & Transportation Service, holds exclusive service contracts with most of the area’s top-notch, upscale hotel operatives.

Neil Goodman credits wife Toni with a big part of Aventura's success, as she helps with the day-to-day activities and major company decisions.
Neil Goodman credits wife Toni with a big part of Aventura's success, as she helps with the day-to-day activities and major company decisions.

“We have contracts with the Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton at Key Biscayne and Ritz Carlton at Coconut drove, the Mandarin Oriental, the Fontainebleau Hilton, the Delano Hotel and many others,” Goodman says.

It comes as no surprise, really, that Goodman has such strong ties to the hotel industry when, in fact, servicing the hotel industry was the reason why his business was stalled a decade ago.

“I was working for somebody else at the time, and Turnberry Isle & Resort in Aventura, Fla., asked me if I could start a new company and be a service partner with them,” says Goodman, who started operating 12 vehicles in 1992. The business has since expanded to about 80 vehicles and ranked No.49 on LCT’s 2005 Top 75 list.

“The hotels probably represent 50% of our business, then there’s probably another 25% from corporate [business] and another 15% in the area of destination management companies work.” said CFO Ron Sorci. “The affiliate business and out-of-town business from other sources] is 10%.”

Aventura also counts four major sports teams-the Florida Marlins, Florida Panthers, Miami Dolphins and Miami Heat-and entertainment-industry giants like 20th Century Fox, Sony Productions and NBC among its clients.

So how does someone who says he does no marketing and has no Yellow Pages ad become so successful?

“I have always believed in joining all the local chambers, marketing councils and convention bureaus. And getting your picture taken by the photographer at the different events.” Goodman advises. “We do marketing with Ocean Drive Magazine, which keeps us in touch with our South Beach hotel contacts but other than that, all our business is basically repeal and referral business.”

Adds Sorci. “We still treat every client as being the most important land our only client.” which explains the company motto of “were only as good as our last trip.”       

To make every trip as good as possible. Goodman “spends money to get the best people”

“We are successful because we have an all-star team on every level and an extended training program and a quality control person who only does quality control and training,” explains Goodman, who first entered the industry at Miami’s Jockey Club as a chauffeur in 1975.

“And we try to make the fairly large company into a big family,” he added. “We do picnics each summer and have an incentive program for both office staff and chauffeurs in the form of monthly awards.”

Goodman credits much of his success to the late industry legend Harold Berkman, founder of Los Angeles-based Music Express.

“He was probably my biggest mentor; I learned more from him than anyone else,” the New Jersey native offered. “I learned the value of customer relations, which I think is the most important thing in this business, the personal touch with your clients and the chauffeurs.” He and Berkman “started doing business together and became very good friends.”

It is friends like that, Goodman added, that have carried Aventura Limousine & Transportation Service to the level of success it is at today.

“I have been doing this almost 30 years and I’ve been able to form relationships with everybody in this business in South Florida. Sooner or later, many of the people that I have met either come to work for me or uses my services.”           


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