What they did before starting the company: Jordan Sanders and Shawn Holloway, co-founders of Hollowsands Luxury Limousines of Philadelphia, met while driving for a trucking company. Sanders had a background in the service sector, bartending at the Four Seasons, and Holloway worked in the entertainment industry. While driving trucks, they also held part-time jobs as chauffeurs for a South New Jersey limousine operation.
Operators Shawn Holloway (L) and Jordan Sanders believe that a lot can be accomplished with very little: clean vehicles, chauffeurs who share the same vision, an iPad, Wi-Fi hotspot, and decent reservation software.
Why they got into the business: Sanders and Holloway noticed a lack of quality customer service in the industry, specifically in the tri-state Philadelphia region. After hearing clients repeatedly complain that it was hard to find good service, the pair formed Hollowsands Luxury Limousines with a solid focus on customer service and good management.
Start-up costs and methods: Sanders and Holloway invested about $40,000 to $50,000 to start up their operation and pay for licensing, legal fees and the acquisition of their first vehicle, an SUV. The money came from their retirement savings as well as from “very trusting friends who knew we would pay them back,” Sanders says. “This was basically after the banks kicked us out of their doors.”
Best marketing strategy: Connections through the late Tom Mazza, whom Sanders and Holloway met at the beginning of their careers; word-of-mouth referrals; and attendance at industry trade shows, local chamber of commerce events and other networking functions.
Biggest mistake: “We should have started with one sedan instead of the initial SUV,” Sanders says. “We’ve learned from that [experience] to carefully analyze every vehicle purchase before it’s made.”
Biggest success: “It’s a tremendous success when a chauffeur completes a trip that a new affiliate company sends us, and the next day the same company sends us more trips as a result of the great feedback from our first trip,” Sanders says.
Keys to success: “Really good chauffeurs make all the difference in the world,” Sanders says. “We take that very seriously, and we look for chauffeurs who we believe want to grow with us and share the same vision as we do. Chauffeurs make or break you as a company. They are extremely important, so make sure you communicate that. Your success depends on their success, so guide them in the direction that will make them successful.”
Unique approaches to customer service: Good communication, paying attention to detail, and delivering what is promised. “A Signature Series Town Car will not show up when we promise the Executive L,” Sanders says. “A chauffeur wearing a gray suit and a hat will not show up when we promise the chauffeur will be wearing a black suit. We go the extra mile whenever possible. During a recent trip, a client told us how much she likes tulips. This was communicated to us, and when our client returned for her next trip to Philadelphia, we had tulips waiting for her in her hotel room.”
Advice to operators: “You can accomplish a lot with very little,” Sanders says. “As a small operator, you can run an entire business from your iPad. With this business you need a perfect car, iPad, Wi-Fi hotspot, and decent reservation software. Return every email in a timely manner and deliver what you promise. Never take on more trips than you can handle. Don’t be afraid to tell an affiliate that you don’t have availability, because they would much rather hear that and farm the trip to another vendor than to hear you call and say you just won’t make it in time because you’re on another trip.”
Hollowsands Luxury Limousines relies on technology to operate because it evens the competitive playing field. The company uses Limo Anywhere and provides iPads to each chauffeur equipped with Driver Anywhere. Chauffeurs can see their trips, display name signs with affiliate logos, and check real-time traffic reports. The company also can accept and assign on-demand trips without having to call the chauffeur. All Hollowsands vehicles have
Fast Facts about Hollowsands Luxury Limousines
Main service region: Philadelphia
Vehicle types: sedans, SUVs
Fleet size: 6
Annual revenues: $675,000
Owners: Shawn Holloway, Jordan Sanders
Information: (215) 863-1910