How To Make Your Name As An Affiliate Manager

Jim Luff
Posted on February 17, 2017

Hundreds of operations worldwide aspire to work with the large chauffeured networks, such as BostonCoach, Music Express, and Flyte Tyme Worldwide, who control a wide slice of daily luxury ground transportation. Their affiliate managers carefully vet the best operators in each city and work with other affiliate managers who understand their needs and expectations for each job.

Affiliate Manager Role
The role of a successful affiliate manager is twofold. He must have someone in his back pocket in almost every city worldwide, depending on the scope of their operations. Managers need these people to fulfill their orders within their respective cities. Equally important is accepting orders from their affiliates for service in other cities outside of a local market.

Lisa Ortega, affiliate manager for BostonCoach, calls this “feeding work into the pipeline.” There has to be a mutual trust between affiliate managers as they trade business back and forth. The affiliate managers must be masters at networking to build a vast set of affiliates. They have to be out and about at industry events breaking bread with other affiliate managers and carefully interviewing potential affiliates. In this job, you have to be very outgoing, always wear a smile, and be ready to walk up to someone you want to meet, extend your hand, and introduce yourself. It’s not a job everyone can do. You must be more of an extrovert and willing to take a call 24/7 from other affiliate managers since the role and interactions are highly personal.

Affiliate manager Jami Crouch (4th from L) bonds with fellow affiliate managers in a peer group to learn about mutual best practices when farming rides in and out. (LCT photo)

Affiliate manager Jami Crouch (4th from L) bonds with fellow affiliate managers in a peer group to learn about mutual best practices when farming rides in and out. (LCT photo)

Creating A Name For Your Company
Getting name recognition as a serious player in your local market is the key to gaining farm-in work. Among industry movers who’ve done this the fastest is Jami Crouch, affiliate and client relations manager for AAdvanced Limousines in Indianapolis.

While the company launched in 2004, Crouch firmly put the company on the map of major-player limousine operations in less than three years. She kind of lucked into the job. Crouch hit the ground running after accepting the job of customer service representative. She had previously worked with Ken Carter, owner of AAdvanced Limousines, who along with his sister, Kristie Carter, started the business. Crouch turned that CSR job into a management position, becoming the first office manager. Aadvanced Limousine was about to explode in popularity with Crouch spreading the word.

Creating A Name For Yourself
It isn’t just about getting your company name out there, but creating name recognition for yourself. “We like to know the people we do business with,” said Perry Barin, West Coast affiliate manager for Music Express. “If I don’t have someone in a particular state, I have to rely on one of our affiliates in that state to refer me to someone.” Having a personal relationship with an affiliate manager who provides a recommendation can create peace of mind.

Crouch knew nothing about the industry when she joined in 2014. She was smart enough to know she needed to listen to industry vets and absorb their teachings. She embraced those who were willing to take her under their wings and provide advice.

Crouch and Barin stress the importance of working with people you like and trust. Crouch identified people in the industry she needed to develop personal relationships with and then became friends, instead of just exchanging work as two entities. And it had to be a “real” friendship to succeed.

Crouch balances her job as an affiliate manager with a home life that includes her husband, Adam, and being the mother of three active girls who participate in dance classes and cheerleading. 

As an affiliate manager for chauffeured giant Music Express, Burbank, Calif.-based Perry Barin oversees hundreds of farm-in and farm-out rides daily. (LCT photo)

As an affiliate manager for chauffeured giant Music Express, Burbank, Calif.-based Perry Barin oversees hundreds of farm-in and farm-out rides daily. (LCT photo)

Hanging With The Best
They say birds of a feather flock together. You don’t see pigeons flying with eagles. Crouch identified industry luminaries such as George Jacobs (Windy City Limousine, Chicago), Tami Saccoccio (Commonwealth Worldwide, Boston), Billy Placier (Music Express, New York) and Eric Devlin (Premier Transportation, Dallas) as people she needed to connect with.

All farm-out hundreds of jobs each day, and Crouch wanted AAdvanced to get a share of their pies. She not only landed accounts with those mentioned, but also Flyte Tyme, BostonCoach, Global Partners, Empire CLS, and TBR Global. These companies are all major players in the industry, and Crouch successfully earned her way into their inner circles of friends by being outgoing and friendly.

Crouch recommends if you spend time with successful people, you should always be willing to learn from them and ask lots of questions when you can. Saccoccio says she is always on the lookout for new affiliates, and the personal relationships with people are as important as the companies themselves.

“There is an extreme level of trust in farming out jobs to companies,” Saccoccio says. “We are trusting them with our clients and anything that goes wrong directly reflects upon us.”

Developing Local Work

It isn’t only a national network Crouch connects with. Much of her time is spent developing relationships with companies in her backyard and becoming the go-to company when local companies are booked to capacity or need a particular vehicle not in their fleet. Crouch has developed relationships with local companies to handle their overflow work. When the Indy 500 is running in Indianapolis, many smaller companies need to ask for help, and Crouch has made sure they know who to call. She says due to the nature of their affiliate work, they rarely farm work out in their local markets because everyone knows it is a sin to farm a farm job.

Networking & Associations
If you want to get noticed by the cool kids, you have to belong to the same associations as they do. This can include the NLA, state associations, and regional associations. It’s not about simply joining an association and showing up for meetings. It’s about rolling up your sleeves and serving on the board or taking on a specific job. Crouch serves as the director of communications for the International Live Events Association as well as belonging to the Indiana Limousine Association and NLA.

“Networking is what you make of it,” Crouch says. “Your success will be measured by the experience you create at a show. Networking is something I enjoy and make one of my number one priorities.” Crouch offers her best advice for networking at industry shows: “Don’t go to bed too early, don’t drink too much. Be willing to balance professionalism and fun while understanding your industry and the people you work with.”

Measuring Success
The pay-off for making a name for yourself and your company is measured in growth. In the past year, Crouch has enjoyed a 30% increase in sales from her efforts. The additional work has led to the purchase of 10 new vehicles, the hiring of five new CSRs, the doubling of the chauffeur pool, and tripling of management staff. When you do this in a three-year period, you know you are successful and the level of success is gauged by exponential growth in the organization.

Related Topics: affiliate networks, customer service, farm-in farm-out, How To, Indiana operators, networking

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