Operations

Operators Explain How To Run Better Fleets

Martin Romjue
Posted on August 8, 2011

The LCT 100 Fleets Black Book gets a lot of attention for sizing up companies based on fleet counts, but at the end of the day the word “black” counts the most for operations of any fleet size.

The true mark of success in the chauffeured transportation industry: Do you run a quality fleet of black vehicles that put you in the black financially?

Operators nationwide responded to an LCT request for best practices and helpful tips on running fleets for the long haul. Those who responded are featured below. Some of the ideas were offered by more than one operator, so LCT culled the tips to avoid identical information.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Below is a sample of advice and comments from operators around the nation who are featured in the August 2011 issue of LCT Magazine].

 

Janet Cherrier
Premier Transportation & Limousine Service
Minneapolis, Minn.

  • To save on fuel, Premier uses GPS technology. It monitors idle times and vehicle speeds, and restricts them accordingly. Chauffeurs cannot let their vehicles idle unnecessarily or use them for personal reasons.
  • Buying larger vehicles means more people can be driven at one time for less fuel.
  • Premier uses premium supplies such as synthetic oil and conducts above the standard maintenance requirements for tune ups and air filter changes which result in better gas mileage.
  • All clients are extended a complimentary 30 minutes of service time which includes a 15-minute early spot time and 15-minute wait time.
  • Premier tracks clients’ flights and does not charge for delays and flight cancellations.
  • It offers baggage greeter services for all airport runs (either assigned chauffeur or a separate greeter) or Premier’s chauffeur will be standing next to the vehicle with a custom-made sign.
  • Large groups get a reserved airport booth and greeting from a client service representative. Stanchions direct the group to the airport booth for check-in.         
  • Clients get complimentary water, mints and tissues.
  • Networking and word-of-mouth add accounts through referrals. Company managers attend events and meetings to build relationships with local and global businesses.
  • Premier pays fixed chauffeur wages and primarily offers pay increases through price increases. Staff is scheduled with limited hours; overtime is prohibited.
  • Focusing on retention through cross-training, talent sourcing, and inside promotions enables the company to save money on wages and turnover.
  • Premier markets during slow and stagnant business cycles.

 

Sami Elotmani
Destination MCO Worldwide Chauffeured Services
Orlando, Fla.

  • Evaluate all fleet systems, i.e. maintenance, purchasing, usage, etc., to spot “efficiency leaks.”
  • Evaluate how vehicles perform statistically. The most important tool is the ability to track statistics on efficiency and profits per vehicle and per vehicle type. Solid statistics lead to excellent decisions.
  • Also track stats to help inform your rate structure.
  • Destination MCO has seen fuel efficiency increase since all chauffeurs received iPads. Chauffeurs do not need to stop by the office as often.
  • Train dispatch staff to manage work flow with as little deadhead mileage as possible.
  • Smooth out business cycles by identifying seasonal client bases, and then pursue potential clients suited to that season, i.e. corporate clients in winter, tourists in summer.
  • Spin your company’s image to match the needs of each client. For example, a cruise travel agent is less interested in knowing about the dispatchers’ efficiency and more interested in an operator’s commission structure.
  • Know your target market and don’t try to be everything to everyone. Figure out if you want to be more of a people mover or a luxury provider. It’s hard to be both, so pick one, stick to it, price it right, and sell it.
  • Pricing rule 1: There is nothing more permanent than a temporary discount. Recovering margins is difficult once clients get used to discounts.
  • Incentivize employees: Make sure that chauffeurs, reservations staff and fleet managers are stakeholders in the profitability of the company. Provide them with financial incentives to boost profits, such as income-sharing bonuses.

 

Robert Alexander
RMA Worldwide
Chauffeured Transportation
Rockville, Md.
2011 LCT Operator Of The Year

  • For long distance trips, RMA provides clients with a comfort bag that includes a dry cleaned blanket, pillow, and pillow case. It is unexpected and much appreciated.
  • Ask current clients for referrals; use a select group of chauffeurs to distribute brochures and speak to restaurateurs and hotel/inn owners. This sells the service on the spot as clients see what they get.
  • Cross-train staff to take reservations and help clients to minimize call center staffing. Study incoming and outgoing call reports to adjust staffing levels.

 

 

Related Topics: business management, customer service, fleet management, fleet managers, How To, management, Top 100 Largest Fleets

Martin Romjue Editor
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