Customer Service Earns Operator High Affiliate Honor

Lexi Tucker
Posted on August 4, 2016

Louis Avina with his wife Norma

Louis Avina with his wife Norma

Customer service: Everything Louis Avina, owner of Veranda Prestige Motor Car, learned about customer service came from AT&T. The main tenets he follows are: Provide world-class service; be a creative, can-do person; try never to say no at all costs; and nothing is out of the question (unless illegal). “You can’t just say it, you need to implement it,” he warns. To stand out, he offers unlimited bottled water, mints, lemon-scented sanitized and sealed terrycloth towels, no cost built-in Wi-Fi (a plus for international guests), and new magazines for male and female clients.

Biggest success: Avina counts one of his biggest successes as recognition from Blacklane, a chauffeured service app. He is one of its top affiliates in Los Angeles, and is often called to drive VIP clients. With a 100% performance rating, they call him, day or night. Consistent five-star ratings have earned him the title of “Driver of the Month” for February 2016 out of about 250,000 chauffeurs worldwide. He imparts his level of professionalism to his chauffeurs. “I want my customers to know that when they are facing one of my chauffeurs, they are basically facing the CEO,” he says.

Fast Facts

Location: Lakewood, Calif.

Owner: Louis A. Avina

Founded: February 2014

Fleet size: 4

Vehicle types: (3) 2015 Cadillac XTS , (1) 2016 Chevrolet Suburban

Employees: 3

Annual revenue: $225,000

Phone: (562) 405-5473

E-Mail address: [email protected]

Start-up costs and methods: He paid about $30,000 to start his limousine business. In January 2014, he bought a 2011 Lincoln Town Car for $22,000, and used the rest to pay for commercial insurance and licensing. He mailed contacts from working for AT&T and cold called public relations representatives for big Hollywood studios such as Warner Bros. and Universal. He would even drive to upscale hotels and pass out his cards to valet drivers, promising if they recommended his company and directed new business his way, he would take care of them in return. “It’s all about entrepreneurship. You’ve got to have a vision, a thirst, a passion. It’s not for everybody,” he says.

Marketing strategies: Surprisingly, Veranda Prestige Motor Car doesn’t have a website just yet, but Avina is ready to make it happen. He lives by the mantra: “Don’t grow too fast.” Social media, including Facebook and Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, are his tools to market his business to others. He no longer needs to cold call since most of his business comes from word of mouth. He believes keeping it small is better. “I like to provide personalized service. I don’t want to grow so big that I lose touch with my clients.”

Advice: “You need to proceed slowly and have a lot of patience,” Avina says. He also suggests closely tracking your money. If you get too excited, things will not go well. “Know that any business is going to operate in the red for the first year. Eventually you’ll get into a grey area, and you’ll start to see growth after about two years.” When this happens, you need to manage it right and have the right people with you. “I know some folks who jumped in and financed two or three cars. They get all excited, and then six months later, they are offering their cars up for sale.”

The inspiration for the company’s name comes from a combination of Avina’s two daughters, Veronica and Amanda.

The inspiration for the company’s name comes from a combination of Avina’s two daughters, Veronica and Amanda.

Origins: He became interested in the business when he took a trip with his wife to Hawaii and they rode to the airport with ExecuCar. Avina chatted with the chauffer and asked him how he liked his job. When the chauffer replied that he meets interesting people and every day feels different, Avina thought he might like this line of work. As fate would have it, they got the same chauffeur on the way back to Avina’s house from the airport. He talked further with the chauffeur about his work. Avina then took his advice and bought a vehicle in cash instead of leasing or financing it.

Clientele: A quarter of Avina’s runs come from Blacklane, where he handles foreign VIPs and tourists. He also does many airport runs, and chauffeurs families for day trips or sightseeing tours. At times, he’ll also cater to clients taking spur of the moment trips to San Francisco or Las Vegas. Many of his customers are devoted to his business. “If you do something right the first time, you find most people are very loyal,” he says. “If you provide a heck of an experience, they will come back.”

Future plans: Avina may expand later this year with another SUV and a few sedans. He’d also like to move to a position where he can run operations behind the scenes. “Even though I love to be out there and keep the pulse of the industry, I think it’s time for me to step back and just manage.”

Related Topics: California operators, operations, operator profiles, small business, small-fleet operators

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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