What they did before starting the company: United Worldwide co-founder Terry Murtaugh spent 10 years in the limousine industry working for a major Boston operator, where he eventually became the general manager. Co-founder Jason Dornhoffer has a background in sales and financial services. They founded United Worldwide in Allston, Mass., in 2006.
Friends and colleagues Jason Dornhoffer and Terry Murtaugh combined their knowledge of the limousine and financial services industries to found United Worldwide Inc. in Boston.
Why they got into the business: During his time as a general manager in the Boston area, Murtaugh noticed that some national limo companies were unable to maintain a high level of customer service as they grew. “There was an opportunity to move into the market and really sell customer service,” he says. “We wanted to provide worldwide service. We had the industry know-how and an affiliate network I was familiar with.”
Start-up costs and methods: Murtaugh and Dornhoffer got an office space in Allston, with two computers, two desks, a fax machine and one car. United started affiliate work immediately, and Dornhoffer built up house accounts through cold calls. Murtaugh leveraged his relationships with operators and started getting farm-in work from different markets.
Best marketing strategy: United Worldwide advertises in LCT Magazine and built a well-designed, easy-to-use website that has been optimized for search engines to generate traffic. But word-of-mouth is the company’s largest source of finding new clients, and Murtaugh believes that exceptional service sells itself.
Keys to success: By not growing too quickly, United Worldwide has maintained solid relationships with clients and consistently delivers high-level service. The company offers the same VIP treatment to affiliates, giving them and their passengers as much priority and attention as in-house clients. “We are always proud to represent our affiliates,” Murtaugh says. “We have unbranded vehicles, we go out of our way to use their signs and do the right things for them. When we need a company in an area we don’t have affiliates in, we’ll turn to our other affiliates for a referral. We feel like the little brother to some of these larger companies.”
Unique approaches to customer service: United Worldwide’s motto is: Big company know-how, small company values. Clients get the same chauffeur for their first several trips so that they see a familiar face when they’re picked up. Office staff takes their time on the phone with clients so that clients don’t feel rushed. “It doesn’t hurt to say, ‘How was your weekend?’ and ask little questions like that,” Murtaugh says. “Getting to know clients, and them getting to know the reservationists, goes a long way. And some of our reservationists have developed a fan base. They’re doing exactly what we want — develop relationships.”
Advice to operators: “Take your time. Do everything properly and grow at a pace in which you can make educated decisions. Don’t rush into anything and get too far ahead of yourself, or put yourself in a situation where you’re stuck with large overhead. Have all of your ducks in a row, so when clients do come, you can accommodate them as you said you would.”
Plans for the future: “Our dream for the company is to continue to grow at a comfortable pace, a pace in which we will be able to develop and redevelop our infrastructure as needed, so that we’re able to continuously offer the same level of service we’re offering,” Murtaugh says. “We’re looking to move into new sectors because we don’t like to have all of our eggs in one basket.”
Fast Facts about United Worldwide Inc.
Main service region: Boston metro; New England
Types of vehicles: Town Car L sedans and Chevrolet Suburban SUVs
Fleet size: 9
Annual revenues: N/A
Owners: Terry Murtaugh and Jason Dornhoffer
Information: (617) 782-0055