The automaker's Kentucky truck plant is preparing for an influx of 550 new employees to build more of the big vehicles.
“After examining the operations of several highly successful limousine operators across the country, and listening to their owners, I have come to the conclusion that the lion’s share of future profits will belong to the livery operator who aggressively services the market,” says Kenneth J. Geljack, President of Zimmer Motor Coach Corporation in Boca Raton, FL.
“The operator who wants to earn the greatest share of the market must recognize that this is a client-oriented industry. The operator who provides the same level of service and type of vehicle as every other operator will reap mediocre results. However, the operator who keenly understands the nature of this business and out-services his competitors will be rewarded with increased profits,” Gel-jack continues.
Geljack, who earned an MBA degree in marketing and finance from the University of Illinois, sees trends in the way successful limousine businesses will be conducted in the years ahead. The trend towards the “total service” limousine operation is precisely the reason Zimmer Corporation invested in the design, production, and marketing of a new concept limousine — the Zimmer Executive Cruiser.
This is where Zimmer Coach’s success lies. A luxury vehicle designed for limousine operations, the Zimmer provides an unequaled level of serviceability for operators because it is more versatile than other vehicles, thus expanding opportunities to accommodate a more diverse clientele.
The Executive Cruiser, a 29-foot long, nine-passenger limousine, has taken three years and millions of dollars to develop “From the first blank sheet of drafting paper, the Zimmer was specifically designed to provide limousine operators with a vehicle that would allow them to obtain jobs in previously untapped markets, and to increase their level of client service, thus increasing their profit potential,” Geljack maintains.
“It’s our business philosophy to capture more business by providing higher levels of service, that is, better entertainment services; greater seating capacity; increased client comfort and amenities such as rest-rooms, luxurious seating, luggage compartments, 6-foot two-inch interior headroom, food service facilities, and additional business features such as conference tables and audio-visual facilities. This is what the Zimmer new-concept limousines are all about,” says Geljack.
Additional new profit-producing possibilities include the expanding and lucrative corporate transportation market that is much more than just shuttle service, but is actually transportation that facilitates productive use of time. There are also the developing services of mobile boardrooms and offices; executive training and client presentation facilities; hospitality suites, and fabulous reception lounges for special corporate functions.
Charlie Hinkle, President of Scottsdale Limousine in Scottsdale, AZ. feels strongly that operators need to be more concerned about the total usage of expensive fleet vehicles. Livery vehicles are to be used day, night, and on weekends...therefore, vehicles have to be as versatile as the operators themselves.
“Often, operators seem to forget that the number one reason they’re in business is to provide service,” comments Hinkle. “Operators need to provide more and varied services. They have to be able to provide the end user with what they need…and then aggressively go after them.
“Sophisticated clients arrive in Scottsdale in their Lear Jets and Gulf-stream IIs to take advantage of our exclusive resorts. They don’t like to be pressed into a small vehicle. We also find they want to be picked up as a group, but not in a van,” explains Hinkle. “The Zimmer is a perfect transition from the luxury of their jet.”
Hinkle is a true believer in the concept of keeping vehicles busy. The livery operator is also, as he puts it, “an undertaker.”
In the past, the limousine operator was limited by the equipment available to him. With the Zimmer, this limitation is no longer a problem because the Zimmer is a completely new vehicle designed around the needs of the livery industry and its new potential right from step one.
What Zimmer Motor Coach has produced at its modern, air-conditioned factory is a 29-foot long, 92-inch wide, nine passenger, aerodynamic limousine that provides livery operators with a vehicle that offers 75 inches of headroom. Zimmer provides the versatility operators need to be super-successful in the years ahead.
For example, Execucoach in Rochelle Park, NJ, contracted with NBC News for the use of a Zimmer as the official “Green Room” during the network’s live coverage of the Statue of Liberty anniversary ceremonies. VIP guests relaxed in the air-conditioned vehicle, enjoyed refreshments, viewed NBC’s coverage on the unit’s built-in 20-inch television, and were able to stretch their legs in the privacy of the vehicle prior to taking part in the live program. “The Zimmer attracts business like no other livery vehicle,” says Frank Karlsson of Execucoach.
“Park the Zimmer at a location with first-class traffic, or in front of an exclusive hotel or large corporate building, for example. You have to get out of the way because the Zimmer really attracts a crowd,” Karlsson adds. “I’ve heard of several instances where livery jobs of four figures were signed up right on the spot.”
Zimmer consulted with a marketing-oriented limousine service for more than three years during the development of the new-concept limousine. Zimmer, the livery service, engineers, and designers worked together to develop a vehicle that would deliver what a progressive livery service needed in the way of headroom, walking space, passenger capacity, amenities, and necessities if they were to provide vehicles that would be able to increase service to clients over conventional limousines.
“The reception has been very nice,” says Scottsdale’s. Hinkle, “We’ve run bridal parties with the bride, groom, and guests...they really liked sipping champagne in the Zimmer. We’ve also had a great reception with the black-tie crowd, and teens love the Zimmer for prom nights.”
According to George Henzel, the aggressive, marketing-oriented President of A.E.S. Limousine Service in Winchester, VA, “Within the first week-and-a-half that we had our Zimmer, we produced enough runs to pay its monthly cost.”
Services provided by A.E.S. have included runs with the Zimmer where company executives have hosted clients on manufacturing facility tours. One corporation, Henzel relates, has its headquarters in Washington, D.C., while its plants are located approximately 80 miles away. A.E S provides the company with transportation from their headquarters to the two plants, then dinner, and back to Washington. “We’ve also taken the corporation’s board of directors on the same tour,” the A.E.S. President notes.
The President of an East Coast supermarket chain noted, “We use the Zimmer anywhere from 20 to 25 hours a week. We have six auditors who, in the past, visited our nine stores in at least two vehicles. And they didn’t get much of anything accomplished during the time they traveled between the stores. Now with the Zimmer, they can do a wrap-up of the last store’s audit as they transfer to the next store.
“Since most of the supermarkets are not equipped with offices conducive to auditing work, when the auditors arrive, they can use the Zimmer as a mobile office,” the supermarket president continues. “The Zimmer is quiet, away from the distractions of the stores, and it’s equipped to handle our needs.”
Being well-equipped was a key design criteria that Zimmer Motor Coach considered during the development stages of the Executive Cruiser. The vehicle’s versatility is limited only by the imagination of its operator, not by any lack of equipment or possible add-on.
The Executive Cruiser offers 110 volt electrical power outlets on-board, with the capacity of self-contained power while cruising, and optional generator power while parked at remote sites (with land power through its shore line power cord). The result is a comfortable environment in which to utilize a wide variety of equipment including office machines, scientific test apparatus, medical treatment equipment, data recovery or monitoring devices, or other types of technical equipment.
For the businessman, the Zimmer offers optional individual chair tables or a boardroom-style conference table. Other options include a kitchen with refrigerator and microwave oven.
The vehicle is large enough to comfortably accommodate nine passengers on a run from an airport to a resort hotel or corporate headquarters, yet is versatile enough to supply a VIP guest speaker with a lavatory for freshening up, and a place to change clothes. The passenger area is large and private enough to relax in while riding to the speaking engagement and, once there, the Zimmer can serve as a private retreat, dressing room, or reception area.
Each Executive Cruiser is equipped with a first-class entertainment center that includes a 20-inch color television, a VHS video tape recorder, AM/FM stereo cassette, compact disc, powerful auxiliary amplifier, and four speakers. Individual stereo headphones are an option.
The Zimmer provides a quiet, comfortable ride that easily rivals any conventional limousine. The exclusive Zimmer Air Ride Suspension smoothes the road and, due to aerospace-type construction, provides ride quality that any livery service would be proud to claim. In addition, the Executive Cruiser’s passengers are seated up to 25 feet from the vehicle’s motor, which contributes to the quiet ambiance available only in a Zimmer.
Since the vehicle can do the work of two stretch limousines, it can save an operator money when it comes to insurance costs, not to mention the money saved by not having to maintain two engines and coaches, as Charlie Hinkle of Scottsdale Limousine points out.
“Every time I send the Zimmer out, I can figure on it being about a $700 job,” he says. “That would take three limousines to duplicate.”
Summarizes Geljack, “The basic concept behind the design of the Zimmer was to help limousine operators capitalize on all the potential business that’s out there and to help them make more profits.” Geljack adds, “The future belongs to the aggressive, marketing-oriented livery operator, and Zimmer’s going to be there to show the way.”
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