Groups Underscore Best Practices, Boost Operator Interests

Tom Halligan
Posted on November 7, 2014
Limousine trade associations hold fall events that provide helpful tips to operators while turning up the political heat on TNCs.

Limousine trade associations hold fall events that provide helpful tips to operators while turning up the political heat on TNCs.

Limousine trade associations hold fall events that provide helpful tips to operators while turning up the political heat on TNCs.

Limousine trade associations hold fall events that provide helpful tips to operators while turning up the political heat on TNCs.

Associations nationwide have pursued active agendas throughout the fall, holding big events that help operators run better businesses and take on the Transportation Network Companies, now that legislatures are back in session.

The New England Limousine Association (NELA) held its annual quarterly meeting and educational seminar event on Sept. 9, featuring guest speakers, dinner and vendor presentations.

One of the bedrocks of the limousine industry is its focus on providing great customer service. That message was reinforced by Rick Cavalieri, general manager of BostonCoach, and a member of the NELA board of directors, during his seminar presentation, “Understanding and Meeting Client Expectations.”  

Cavalieri emphasized that “little things matter,” such as chauffeurs checking the rear seat for left-behinds, to working hand-in-glove with dispatch to ensure glitch-free runs. He also told operators that by making sure chauffeurs communicate with dispatch to verify their precise locations, dispatchers can provide up-to-date information to relieve client anxiety.

“If your chauffeur is forced to circle the airport terminal and takes 10 minutes, dispatch needs to know if the client is outside and the driver is not there,” Cavalieri said. He also stressed that chauffeurs learn to read the body language of a client so they can adjust their routines. “If a client doesn’t want to talk, then don’t initiate a conversation, or if you see a client looking tired after a long flight, chauffeurs should  do what they can to make him/her feel more at ease,” he added.

Cavalieri also reinforced the basics reminding operators that chauffeurs always should be prepared before a pickup by confirming passenger details, the route, or any other potential problem that could occur before the client steps into the car. “Never compromise” on safety, he warned. “Nothing should jeopardize safety, and that needs to be reinforced to chauffeurs.”

The Kentucky Limousine Association (KLA) held its annual membership retreat on Sept. 9-10 in Sevierville, Tenn., in the picturesque Smoky Mountains. The meeting featured a recap of the successful KLA booth at the Kentucky State Fair, which resulted in hundreds of Facebook likes for the association, in addition to limousine service giveaway winners.

The event was a great marketing and networking opportunity to promote the association and statewide limousine companies, considering more than 500,000 people attended the fair. Other business included a discussion on the Louisville International Airport (SDF) which sent a letter to KLA stating all TNC vehicles and drivers are not permitted on the property to pick up or drop off. In addition, the KLA was invited to a meeting with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Department of Vehicle Regulation in September to hear from Commissioner Rodney Kuhl on how Kentucky’s emergency regulations for all TNCs are being crafted, and the timeline on when those regulations will become law and signed by Gov. Steve Beshear.

The Limousine Associations of New Jersey (LANJ) is making strides in its legislative fight to ensure that TNCs play by the same rules as other ground transportation providers.

During a member meeting and luncheon Sept. 17, Jeff Shanker, (A-1 Limousine, Princeton), chairman of the LANJ legislative committee, told members a proposed bill (3401) that would “level the playing field” is being reviewed by the Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee, chaired by the bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Charles Mainor, D-31st District.

The bill would subject TNCs to the same regulations that govern limousine companies. A hearing was set for October. “The bill would require TNCs to have the proper commercial insurance and criminal background checks by state police, and comply with interstate commerce laws assembly,” Shanker said. To pressure legislators, donations are being solicited to the LANJ PAC and to hire a public relations firm that could advance the case against TNCs to the public, media and politicians statewide, he added.

Barry Lefkowitz, LANJ’s statewide political lobbyist, said the bill is backed by the state’s Department of Labor and Treasury Department and Motor Vehicles Commission, transportation groups, and other industry stakeholders and agencies.

In addition, Shanker said the committee is raising PAC funds to support politicians behind the bill, lobbying initiatives, and a public relations campaign to spread the group’s message and get the bill passed and signed into law by the governor. So far the committee has raised about $1,000 and aims to raise $20,000.

The Greater Orlando Limousine Association launched an innovative anti-TNC billboard campaign in late September that garnered media and political attention, and another unexpected benefit.

The association rented 28 electronic billboards throughout the Orlando area that flashed “Say NO to Uber and Lyft,” listing their lack of safety inspections, driver background checks or commercial vehicle insurance.

“Every 7.5 seconds our message was seen on 28 billboards which adds up to about 15,000 impressions a day,” said GOLA President Cliff Wright (Royal Transportation, Orlando). The billboards have attracted media coverage on the issue, while local politicians noticed the messaging which helped GOLA schedule another meeting with the city on illegal TNCs, he said. “Another unexpected benefit of the billboards came in new membership from operators who saw the billboards and joined GOLA.”

Related Topics: Barry Lefkowitz, Cliff Wright, Greater Orlando Limousine Association, Jeff Shanker, Kentucky Limousine Association, LANJ, legislation, limo associations, Limousine Association of New Jersey, New England Livery Association, TNCs

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