The Greater Orlando Limousine Association held a festive meeting to close out the year.
Jeff Rose was pursuing the dream of being an actor in 1984. Like most aspiring actors, he needed a real job. His parents were not fond of his job driving cabs so Rose decided chauffeuring limousines might be safer and ease his parents’ concerns.
His brother had a connection at Dav-El Chauffeured Transportation Network, and Rose was in the business. David Klein would become his first mentor and someone Rose views as “the Steve Jobs of the limo industry.” Klein’s methods helped build the foundation and principles that would lead Attitude NEW YORK to being named Operator of the Year by LCT Magazine in 2006.
In April 1986, Rose launched the company from his kitchen table with a single Lincoln Town Car sedan. This is a familiar starting point for so many operators now, but an uncommon way to start back then. Rose knew his attitude was about helping people deal with New York, so the name was born. Eventually he moved to a rented loft space on lower Fifth Avenue. “It was literally a corridor to someone else’s office,” Rose says. It was in that loft where he met his wife, Rosina Rubin. Rose was smitten with Rubin, but he says she didn’t feel quite the same at first. Good thing he didn’t give up. It was Rubin who one day quipped, “The limo service you can swear by….not at.” That would become a mantra for the company. The attitude began taking shape.
By 1989, Attitude NEW YORK had a real office in the meatpacking district and rented garage space from another limousine company. Rose committed to growing the company very slowly, buying no more than two cars at a time. He still believes that “growing too fast is riskier than growing slowly.” Financing vehicles instead of leasing and selectively taking on new clients through referrals and targeted marketing are still the preferred methods. His guiding principle is: “If we are the best in our market and watch our pennies carefully, it will all work out in the end.” Instead of focusing on profitability, Rose says he concentrates on doing the best job he can. By 1997, the company had a garage to call its own on 50th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues. The building eventually was bought by Kenneth Cole, who subsequently became a client.
ALL GROWN UP
With a fleet of 40 vehicles and a staff of 65, this formula for success seems to be paying off. The company has become a high-class “concierge with cars,” as Rose likes to call it. Whatever a client needs — from a good bagel to a good doctor — Attitude NEW YORK will help them find it, even at 2 a.m. Rose reports sales have not returned to the level he enjoyed in 2007 but are strongly and steadily improving. Rose embraces the potential of technology and hopes to someday install GPS systems, but has put that off until the economy improves. The company created its own software system for use in-house, but will never be the “order online” kind of service many big companies tout. Rose prefers one-on-one client service with a highly personal touch, something which appeals to its numerous high-profile clients.
A world of its own
When asked about performing affiliate work, Rose was not bashful about saying that most affiliates would never pay his rates, even if he discounted them. He is not a member of any affiliate group. He says he farms work out to select markets and only hand-selected companies with little regard to profit but only an assurance of impeccable service and attention to detail that Attitude is known for. You won’t find them on Google or Yahoo lists either as they don’t want to be found that way.
Rose has little interest in inquiries from “bridezillas, bachelor partiers and prom queens” who focus on price, sponge up time, and rarely turn into sales. In fact, its website is so edgy; it simply allows you a one-click option that leads you to a form to email the company for contact. Rose says he is considering adding some information to his website that clients and future clients might find useful, but even if implemented, you would not be able to see it without a password. A website isn’t really a marketing tool for a company that enjoys 80% of its business coming from referrals. However, Rose and Rubin both value attending the annual International LCT Show in Las Vegas and enjoy breaking bread and suffering from sleep deprivation with their industry peers.
“Don’t over-leverage” and “stay on firm fiscal footing” are two pieces of advice Rose dispenses when talking about financing. When asked about his bank relationship, Rose candidly expressed his dissatisfaction with the lack of power of personal bankers today.
“My relationship with my banker is much better than that with my bank,” Rose says. He prefers financing to leasing because of the equity built by purchasing as compared to the pre-payment penalty if you desire to return a lease car early. He also prefers to obtain financing directly from the manufacturers because of better interest rates and the speed of in-house financing. Rose has been unable to find a bank to write a line of credit on vehicles, which he cites as an industry frustration. Rose advises to never cut corners on insurance. “It is a moral imperative, not just a business decision,” he says.
Rose also advises to be “very careful when working with family or friends if you want them to remain such.”
Rose knows that efficiency is required to avoid unnecessary expenses. Scheduling to avoid overtime, managing office supplies, and buying in bulk or tandem all can save money. Using no-loss or low-loss insurance claim records can help negotiate better premium rates and always should be discussed at renewal time.
Memories and Rose-colored glasses
Many memories are created over the course of 25 years. Some of the best involve the ability to stay open 24/7 through blizzards, blackouts, hurricanes, and of course 9/11. September 11, 2001 always will be the worst day for Rose in the past 25 years. “This is so much more of a personal tragedy than anything that has to do with the business itself,” Rose says. After that tragedy, Rose realized that his mission was more than providing excellent service for well-heeled folks; it’s about the jobs created for the people who serve his clients. Rose is proud that he has never laid anyone off despite tough economic times. “After all, I could not do this without them. I am very grateful for their efforts.”
While Rose sometimes sold a car to help make payroll, it usually was not long before the vehicle was replaced. He relishes the 65 jobs he provides, allowing families to thrive. He is disappointed that he has had to trim employee benefits and temporarily suspend bonus programs. Despite these cutbacks, his staff of seasoned professionals is working as a team to grow the business back to previous levels and beyond. At the same time, he says, “While I am confident about our prospects, I never take our future for granted.”
Fast Facts About Attitude NEW YORK
Location: New York City
Owner: Jeff Rose
Main service region: Metro New York
Fleet size: 40 vehicles
Vehicle-types: Lincoln Town Car sedans, Lincoln Town Car stretches (by Royale), Cadillac Escalade ESVs, Mercedes R-Class crossovers and S-Class sedans, Ford Fusion Hybrid sedan, Lexus Hybrid sedan, Lexus SUV
Phone: (212) 397-0004
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