As a former software architect and IT consultant who traveled weekly, Jorge Sanchez spent much time riding in chauffeured vehicles. When the economy tanked, he started working part-time for a single-car operator to earn extra money. His boss wanted to sell the company and offered it to Sanchez, but the asking price was too high and the deal didn’t pan out.
Operator Jorge Sanchez of Denver's Hermes Worldwide runs a mixed luxury fleet of 15 vehicles and has added Lincoln MKZ hybrid L sedans due to increased fuel economy.
That got the gears grinding on the rumor mill. Word spread that Sanchez was looking to buy a company, although he hadn’t really committed to the idea. Eventually, another single-car operator approached Sanchez, this time with a reasonable deal. Sanchez bought Hermes Private Car in Denver and rebranded it as Hermes Worldwide.
“I knew right away that I wanted to expand beyond Denver,” Sanchez says. The decision to go global has proven critical to the company’s success; its growing presence in group travel owes a lot to its ability to handle requests in international markets. “The group [travel] business is an area we’ve been focusing on for a few years,” he says. “A lot of it comes from global markets. Our group business outside of Denver is a much bigger piece of our pie than the group business we get in Denver.”
Service over price
Promising and delivering reliable, quality service creates lasting relationships and recurring revenue, Sanchez says. It also generates buzz, attracting prospects who have been referred by clients. “Maybe some of those people have been burned by companies in the past, so when they come in, the conversation becomes less about price and focuses more on the level of service we deliver.”
Sanchez’s career as a tech consultant exposed him to many industries and markets. The breadth of his experience and depth of his expertise explain his innovative and pragmatic approach to business. He is open to all sorts of strategies, and says that he’s tried “just about everything that’s out there” when it comes to marketing.
So which method gave him the most bang for his buck? Meeting people in person. “All of our efforts are geared toward corporate work,” Sanchez says. “Visiting their offices and meeting face-to-face helps create a solid foundation for the relationship and it’s the most successful method we’ve used.” Hermes Worldwide’s retail business comes from loyal corporate clients who prefer the consistent service and attention to detail.
Minute details important
“One thing I’ve learned about this industry is that the most minute detail you miss can cause a problem from a customer standpoint,” Sanchez says. “We have a laser-like focus on the details, which has resulted in a service incident percentage of below 2%. We use every instance as a chance to improve. When we have a service incident, we fully research it, analyze what happened, figure out how we can avoid it in the future and make adjustments, whether that means more employee training or a new process.”
The Hermes staff alerts Sanchez whenever there is a potential or realized service incident. He contacts the client immediately, an approach that shows concern for clients and earns their long-term confidence.
Sanchez predicts an increase in real-time, on-demand service, especially as technology improves and allows clients to demand instant service more easily.
“We see it with Uber, and Limos.com is going to enter that space with a feature for on-demand service. We’re already seeing more requests for on-demand work globally. We have clients in Europe calling to ask for a car they need in two hours. There will still be scheduled bookings for future dates, but I think on-demand service requests will continue to increase.”
For clients who still schedule trips in advance, Hermes offers 24-hour trip reminders in case of last-minute adjustments. “At the end of the day, you’re [the client’s] partner,” Sanchez says.
The Next Lincoln
Sanchez has ordered two Lincoln MKZ Hybrid L sedans from Royale Limousine Manufacturers as possible replacements for his Town Cars. The MKZ offers excellent fuel economy and is stretched several inches for added rear seat legroom. “I spoke to some of our top clients, high-end CEOs, and showed them the different vehicle options that are out there. . . a lot of them don’t really care which car they get,” he says. “They want a clean, late-model sedan with a professional, reliable driver. But for the most part, the actual Town Car isn’t that important to them.”
Fast Facts about Hermes Worldwide
Location: Denver, Colo. I Owner: Jorge Sanchez I Year Founded: 2007 (rebranded as Hermes Worldwide) I Main service region: Colorado, global markets I Types of Vehicles: Town Cars, MKZ Hybrid L, SUVs, Escalade, Mercedes S-550, executive vans, Sprinter, minibus I Fleet size: 15 I Employees: 14 chauffeurs, 7 office staff I Annual revenues: est. $2 million in 2012 I Website: www.hermesworldwide.com I Information: (877) 777-9890; (303) 577-7600