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PARIS, France — French operator Karim Maachi faces challenges that should be familiar to U.S. operators: Handling those clients who just look at price as well as those who don’t but demand a high quality of service.
Maachi, general manager of Cardel Global in Paris, clearly sees only one option: Maintain a high quality of service for everyone amid the daily demands. At times, a client has to be educated on the cost and the value of the service, Maachi says. The company has seen triple-digit growth in recent years, especially in corporate road shows — one of its transportation specialties.
What is unique about chauffeured services in your nation compared to the U.S.?
Our industry is very different in France. The limo service is still considered a luxury service. The industry is divided into two categories, the chauffeur service and the cab service, nothing between. We do not have black cars compared to London or New York. Most of the fleets are equipped with Mercedes E Class and S Class sedans. Also, pricing is quite high compared to the U.S. or England because of very high taxes and charges in France, which automatically [affect] the price of the service.
What are key challenges of your service area/region?
The key in our industry, as in many others, is to stay attentive to the daily service provided to clients. That look of perpetual service quality must be attributed to only one person, the one who has contact with priority customers. In any case, for compliments or negative feedback, it is important to show the customer that someone is listening and supports his claim by making every effort to respond as quickly as possible. If the customer gets the impression that he is well treated, 50% of the work is made. The rest resides in the small daily details — the touches that make the difference with the competition.
What qualities do you look for in a U.S. affiliate?
We’re always looking for reliable affiliates in the U.S. Of course quality service is the priority, but the relationship is also a key. We only work with companies where we have one main contact available for our staff and providing affordable rates.
What specific rules or procedures do U.S. operators need to be aware of when affiliating with operators in your nation?
Two specific things: They must know that most of the companies provide mainly as sedan a Mercedes E Class, which equals the Lincoln Town Car but is much more expensive. The equivalent of the SUV is an MPV (Mercedes Viano). Also, due to strong regulations, the pricing process is totally different, in terms of night surcharges, driver meals, airport transfers. . . this is something they have to check before sending a job.
What are your primary business challenges?
Maintain the high quality service we provide everywhere in Europe and always innovate.
What are your top-rented chauffeured vehicles?
What types of clients do you typically serve?
Corporate, investment banks, private clients, hotels, transportation companies worldwide who need a reliable company with affordable rates in Paris.
How much has your company grown in revenue and fleet size since 2006?
Our income has increased by 200% and we have quadrupled our fleet. Huge investments were made between 2007 and 2010
What does your driver/chauffeur training program involve?
Our reservation team is controlled by our head of reservations and every dispatcher is trained by a dedicated dispatch during one month. As for drivers, one-week training is organized by the company. At the end of this week, a written and practical test takes place. If the driver succeeds and gets an average of at least 15/20, he’s awarded and gets a contract. Every six months, an interview takes place at the office with the head of reservations and the general manager. We [give] a bonus at the end of the year to all employees based on performance and investment throughout the year.
What are the future plans for your company?
Diversify our customer base and increase the volume we send to the U.S.
FAST FACTS: Name: Cardel Global I Location: Paris, France I Founded: 1999 I Owner: Karim Maachi I Main service regions: Europe I Types of vehicles: Mercedes S Class 350, 500, 600, E Class Mercedes, Mercedes Viano, Range Rover, Peugeot 607, Volkswagen Caravelle and Multivan. I Fleet size: 35 vehicles I Employees: 17 I Annual revenues: $3.3 million I Revenue share from luxury vehicle clients: 20% I Website: www.cardel-global.com I Contact info: Karim Maachi, [email protected]
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