If you’ve ever had a vehicle breakdown hours from home, you know the helpless feeling of uncertainty. Fears that race through your brain can quickly shoot down to your stomach, causing a massive knot. You need to figure out what to do with passengers, how to get the car off the road, who will make repairs — and you wonder how you will find someone to fix the car in the middle of the night. Next comes how to pay for it.
Mapping it Out
WITH A LITTLE PLANNING you can prepare for emergencies. Determine your average radius of operations. Using MapQuest, Yahoo Maps, or other online sources, zoom to the radius you serve. You should plan for emergencies to occur anywhere in this radius. With all the things you need to do, the map can be your first guide to help. Mark your map with larger cities and towns around you with a goal of identifying help a maximum of one hour travel time away. Use the map to mark towing services, mechanical services, and affiliates. When a breakdown occurs, you can quickly look at the map to spot the closest help.
You may want to consider a separate map for affiliates, towing services, and mechanical services. In large cities such as Los Angeles, New York, or San Francisco, you may have multiple contacts in various parts of the city as a backup for excessive response times.
CONTACTING OTHER LIVERY companies that may help you in their area is invaluable. Often, fellow operators will go above and beyond rescuing the passengers, and rescue your chauffeur as well. They may help you in finding a local mechanic. They may direct you to a towing service capable of towing your massive SUV limo. By establishing contact and opening an account, or placing a credit card on file “just in case,” you can shorten the time needed to rescue your passengers and continue on with them. A side benefit to these contacts is you establish your own affiliate network at the same time.
FINDING AND TRUSTING a mechanic when you are hundreds of miles away can be a daunting task. They know you are stuck between a rock and a hard spot, and the exact nature of the problem and cost to repair the problem could suddenly become super inflated because of the distance. Call upon your affiliates you have set up in your network and ask who does their mechanical work. Call and ask about setting up an account. Ask for their labor rates to place in your binder along with instructions on who to call after hours.
If you must obtain repairs out of town, the payment arrangement can be tricky if your chauffeur does not have plenty of cash or a credit card. Plan for this by making a photocopy of a credit card you would use for payment. Copy the front and back on a single sheet of paper. Type a letter in advance with blank lines for the vendor name and specific amount of repairs to be charged. Have a photocopy of your license as well. This information will be readily available to fax immediately. While the information is sensitive, you are asking someone to put trust in you. Because of the sensitive information in the binder, keep the binder secure.