People

As Good As It Gets - Bayview's Robert Hansen

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

Although Robert Hansen has a reputation among his employees for being quite the comedian, there’s nothing comical about the way his company, Bayview Limousine Service, is run.

“Rob sets very high standards” and has made the firm “as good as it gets” when it comes to luxury chauffeured transportation, says accounting manager Laurie Lovely.

These high standards mandate that all vehicles be cleaned, vacuumed and detailed by in-house detailers, as well as chauffeurs, between each run. They also require that chauffeurs pay as much attention to their own presence as they do to the vehicles. As one of his chauffeurs explains, Hansen is Strict on “attire and promptness.”

“You have to make sure you’re well presentable and on time,” says Michael Bracken. We always wear [at black suit, white shirt, black tie, black shoes land] black socks. And if we’re not 10 minutes early, we’re late.

“You also need to know where the entrance [of the building you are dropping off/picking up all is and position your ear so that the customers are on the right side of the road [when they exit/enter the vehicle].”

Yet, these exacting standards has made the ones interviewed by LCT say they are proud to know that they make the grade and are part of a company whose outstanding reputation in the area is yet to be met by others.

“Most of us have been around for quite some time because [the reputation] is gratifying in itself,” says six-year employee Lovely. Most chauffeurs and 100% of the office staff have been with Bayview for more than five years.

“I believe in providing positive reinforcement for a job well done,” Hansen notes. “In most companies, the only feedback the [employees] get is when a mistake is made. Although I have very little tolerance for poor attitudes and preventable errors, I try to always be fair and understanding if an honest mistake is made.”

“He’s willing to listen and he works with you if you have problems,” says chauffeur James Allen, and also leads by example.

“About once or twice a month he pulls these allnighters [to] get some excess work done,” Lovely says.

Added Bracken, “The hours that he puts in make us want to work even harder. When he can work 18-hour days seven days a week, we shouldn’t really complain. We know that if he could be out there driving, he would work harder than us; he would be better than us. So if we don’t give it 100%, we feel we let him down.”

Hansen cannot drive his vehicles because he was left a quadriplegic after a motocross accident broke his neck in 1987, when he was a 19 years old.

“After spending nine months in the hospital, I moved in with a friend who was working as a chauffeur,” Hansen offered. “I was paralyzed from the neck clown with no college education and my job prospects looked grim,

“But after seeing firsthand the chauffeur side of the business from my roommate, I borrowed $5,000 to purchase my first limousine and started the business in 1990, dispatched from my one-bedroom apartment.”

Hansen has since grown his firm into the state’s largest of its kind, with 32 vehicles and 54 employees. He won the LCT Operator of the Year award (medium category) in 1999.

The toughest times were in the beginning, Hansen says, due to a lack of capital and having to hire employees when other start-up operators most likely would have driven, detailed and maintained the vehicles themselves.

“I was unable to do any of these duties, which made my operating costs much higher.” he says. Today, how­ ever he sometimes chauffeurs clients in his wheelchair- accessible minivan.

That willingness to always see the glass as hall-full, and to do whatever it takes with whatever one has made Hansen a very successful businessman and his stall some very content individuals.

“He keeps us laughing and helps us get the job done,” Lovely says. “In this business, that’s the key thing that will bring you success.”    

 

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