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Florida Limo Operator Drives Double-Digit Growth In Tough Times

Michael Campos
Posted on August 2, 2011
Fonseca believes having a good team and delegating responsibilities are crucial to running a successful operation.

Fonseca believes having a good team and delegating responsibilities are crucial to running a successful operation.

In 2010, Ambassador Limousine saw 63% growth and had gross sales reaching $1.06 million. CEO Myron Fonseca projects $1.2 million to $1.3 million in 2011. What’s going on here?

Fonseca entered the industry in 2001, buying a 1995 six-passenger limousine in February which he intended to resell. He ended up using it for the summer and made money driving high school kids. By the time September came around, he bought a brand new limousine and started Ambassador Limousine. Then 9/11 happened, causing “the most significant economic setback in travel industry history,” according to the Travel Industry Association of America. Domestic travel expenditures plummeted $27 billion that year. Yet, against all odds, Fonseca’s business actually grew.

Adjusting to client needs with a personal approach helped Ambassador Limousine grow during tough economic times.
Adjusting to client needs with a personal approach helped Ambassador Limousine grow during tough economic times.

“I’d originally owned a staffing company, because my mom had been in the business, and 2000 was a great year. But after 9/11, staffing took a dive, so I marketed my limo service to my staffing clients,” Fonseca recalls. “I gained business from some clients who needed a stretch limo, and I just went from there.” He used a guerilla-marketing approach, relying heavily on visiting offices door-to-door and personal interaction. One of the first accounts he landed was a Miami law firm that has remained his client for the last 10 years. “It was all about that connection made when I walked into their office,” he says.

This personal approach drove his company’s growth for the next three years. “I eventually had four to five stretches, one SUV, and two motorcoaches. I had issues with the coaches, so I got out of that game, but a lot of people were spending money on limos. Partying in Miami was good, and that’s how I grew.”

In 2005, things started to level out as Ambassador “hovered around the $600,000-$700,000 [revenue] range, keeping around seven or eight vehicles,” Fonseca says. It was around this time that he started to focus on the corporate side with his Ford Expedition SUV.

When the market crashed, Fonseca saw many companies go under, mostly those “who didn’t do business the right way or were making shady deals.” When things get tough, he says, you have to shift your focus on what clients will need because that’s what will make money.

Fonseca believes having a good team and delegating responsibilities are crucial to running a successful operation.
Fonseca believes having a good team and delegating responsibilities are crucial to running a successful operation.

“It’s also important to have a good team. I learned to delegate and not do everything in the company,” Fonseca says. “My employees care enough to take pride in what they do, and that helped a lot.” He hired a dispatch crew and tries his best to stay away and let them do their jobs, which he says they do exceptionally well. But when it’s busy, he drops everything and goes to dispatch to make sure he can efficiently provide the transportation solutions that meet his clients’ needs. “Good fleet management equals good scheduling,” he says.

 

 

Owner Myron Fonseca is focusing on building solid relationships and growing his affiliate network.
Owner Myron Fonseca is focusing on building solid relationships and growing his affiliate network.

In 2009, Fonseca hired a salesperson to push the corporate side of his business. He began to reorganize and restructure his operation, focusing heavily on increasing his affiliate network. “At least 80% of my focus right now is on building relationships,” he says. “If I can make money and gain business, great. Networking opens new doors.”

He is building a tour segment of his business which chauffeurs pitch to clients by handing out detailed programs about Miami. “If they want to take the tour, the price is on the back [of the program], and they are unbranded so it doesn’t affect affiliate clients,” he says. “I also want to give my chauffeurs the right tools to be tour guides. I’m looking for specific niche markets to get into.”

Fonseca advises operators to think carefully before growing fleets too quickly. “Don’t put all your money into buying a nice basket when you can just hold your eggs in your hand. Get out there and build relationships,” he says.

 


Fast Facts about Ambassador Limousine

Location: North Miami, Fla.
Founded: 2001
Owner: Myron Fonseca
Main service region: Miami
Types of vehicles: Mercedes S550, sedans, stretch limousines, SUVs, 22-pax Escalade stretch, 18-pax Hummer stretch
Fleet size: 13
Employees: 6 office staffers, 7 full-time chauffeurs; 5 part-time chauffeurs
Annual revenues: $1.06 million (2010)
Website: www.myambassadorlimo.com
Information: (800) 506-5466; (305) 256-0000

Related Topics: affiliate networks, Ambassador Limousine, business growth, business management, corporate business, management, networking

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