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Whether an operator runs four vehicles or 400, knowing how to get the most out of a fleet determines its profitability.
In the following snapshot profiles, some operators discuss the most important things they have learned about managing and operating their fleets since the recession started. Others share general insights about successful fleet management and operational tactics that work for them.
Q: What are the most important things you have learned about managing and operating your fleet since the recession started?
First Class Executive Limo LLC
Operator: Mary Beall
Fleet vehicles: 6
Web site: www.fcelimo.com
"We believe that customer service is paramount. At times when finances are tight, we go the extra mile by offering our corporate clients different options for their travel.
"We've seen a lot of the big businesses here cease traveling or limit their traveling. We've tried to do more transfers to help them economically instead of having a car sit and wait on them. We feel that it benefits our clients and helps them through these times, so when times get better, they'll definitely be there for us still."
Operator: Erich Reindl
Fleet vehicles: 34
Web site: www.avantilimos.com
"Controlling costs without sacrificing the most important things, which are safety and service. We've controlled costs by keeping some cars longer in our fleet than previously, and sooner or later you get to a point where the cars are being paid off. You get a little bit more life out of a car, so maybe I can get four or five months with no payment.
"We ask our suppliers, especially mechanics, to give us an extra discount on their labor rate. We try as best as possible to negotiate [bulk] part rates on our own versus doing it through a mechanic or a dealership. Also, we now do preventative maintenance in-house, such as oil changes and air filter changes."
L&S Classic Limousine LLC
Operator: Sue Trams
Location: Appleton, Wis.
Fleet vehicles: 6
Web site: www.lsclassiclimo.com
"I think the big thing is making sure your customers are well taken care of, and that you really have top-notch customer service. Although things may be tight, you have to keep your name out in front of people.
"We continue to do wedding shows. We work with local hotels as far as checking in with them and making sure they know what services we provide. We also do some promotions with the local radio station during the football season. [We go to] networking opportunities with other wedding professionals. We take advantage of any opportunities that might present itself. We even work with a local performing arts center here. We do all their transportation, and we go to the show and see people there and introduce ourselves."
Best Way Limo Inc.
Operator: Shawn Sahani
Location: San Francisco
Fleet vehicles: 17
Web site: www.bestwaylimos.com
"Just working hard. Paying the bills first. Cutting down expenses. A lot of smaller operators are hurting, and since [clients] still want the service, they want to negotiate the price. Some corporate accounts, they change [to another] service. They come back again because the biggest reason you can say is: You can beat the price, or you can beat the quality. So maybe [the other companies] are not able to beat the quality."
Sole Limousine Services Inc.
Operator: Amedeo Marrocco
Location: Southern Ontario, Canada
Fleet vehicles: 6
Web site: www.solelimousine.com
"Even with the recession going, we've done quite well. We've got all new vehicles. We've just got to keep them clean and tidy and be courteous to all our people, to all our clients. We kept our prices where [they] were at [before] the recession. We tried to market as well as we could and got our name out there. We put out a lot of signs, sent out a lot of emails to repeat clients. We've got our web site up and it's up-to-date.
"We have an all new fleet because we've only been in business for a year and a half. I guess people knew that and [the new fleet] is why they come to us. A lot of companies [around here] use older vehicles that they've been using for 10 or 12 years."
GO Airport Shuttle & Executive Car Service
Operator: Lorraine Celestino Wilde
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Fleet vehicles: 150
Web site: www.go-airportshuttle.com
"Hard work pays off, and consistently high levels of customer service will be rewarded by customer consistency.
"We also benefited by being part of The GO Group international network. We found that our advertising campaign needed to be refreshed and additional advertising was needed to reach select markets. All our office expenses were analyzed and overtime hours were cut back. I think our industry will come out of this recession much stronger and wiser."