Operations

How To Match Service To Your Location

Anne Daniells
Posted on April 21, 2017

Owner and founder Suzy Paris thrives on building customer relationships and using social media to relate to them.
Owner and founder Suzy Paris thrives on building customer relationships and using social media to relate to them.
Paris is a place of glowing lights and glitz, reflections, culture, and beauty. One regional operator in Oklahoma City is inspired to live out this description, offering in her business the attributes of the city of light. Where some operators grow dull and uninspired, the namesake owners of Paris Limousine Of Oklahoma try to dazzle with a dramatic flair, a lot of dedication, and refined, quality service.

Know The Territory

For most operators, corporate and contract work is king. The rates are set and the rides are known. Groups and hotel events bring in the desirable and more lucrative runs. But a select few focus on a little bit of everything to find the right balance. This is certainly the case with Paris Limousine in Oklahoma City. What started as a small operation has grown in size and service over 30 years by creating a mix of business sources that makes sense for the local area.

Fast Facts

Location: Oklahoma City, OK

Founded: 1987

Owners: Jim and Suzy Paris

Fleet vehicles: 69

Vehicle makes/models: Lincoln MKT Town Car, Cadillac Escalade, Ford Excursion and Expedition, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Annual revenues: N/A

Client sample: Air Comfort Solutions, University of Oklahoma, Hitachi, Hal Smith Restaurant Group, Schlumberger

Corporate/retail mix: 40% / 60%

Website: www.parislimos.com

The Midwest has different demands than the travel centers of New York and Chicago. Knowing what works in the flyover states has made the difference in this company’s expansion. For owner and founder Suzy Paris and her family, the formula for success in a broad region depends on recognizing local needs, creating and growing local personal relationships, and then asking for referrals no matter the type of work.

Finding clients at first can be a challenge for any operator. Paris, like many, has found over the years “word of mouth is better than advertisement.”

“We have built up more clientele just by asking our clients to tell a friend if they had an enjoyable experience,” Suzy Paris says. The website helps too with weekly updates to keep things fresh. Clients may book online, “but we still confirm the reservation and have an actual conversation with our clients.”

Business Bonds

Contracts have a place, but in a location with fewer large corporations than bigger cities offer. Paris Limousine wisely connected with local medical facilities and funeral homes. These two business sectors make up more than 55% of Paris Limousine’s daytime work, a staggering percentage. Spread among various locations, this strategic alliance has Paris transporting surgical teams for organ transplants, rush surgeries, and medically related work.

Funerals remain a reliable mainstay, many with white stretches becoming more common in this area. Unlike California where limitations have made stretches difficult to sustain, stretches are “still a thing” among Midwest customers. Paris Limousine has even seen recent growth in this area, so whether it’s a funeral or a happier event, the new Expedition stretches have been a good investment. These rolling assets fuel growth because this operator understands her territory. Combined with smaller corporate accounts, the weekdays keep a large percentage of the cars running regularly that would make any operator envious.

Proms, weddings, funerals, parties, and special events form a core of Paris Limousine’s Midwestern client base, who enjoy limousines for life’s special occasions.
Proms, weddings, funerals, parties, and special events form a core of Paris Limousine’s Midwestern client base, who enjoy limousines for life’s special occasions.
Where Retail Rules

It’s the weekends that really glow. While most of the industry has shied away from the fickle retail consumer, Paris Limousine has embraced it with gusto, grace, and glamour. Special events, weddings, funerals, proms, and parties fill weekends and evenings in Paris Limousines vehicles — 69 garaged vehicles, that is. This is a substantial operation that keeps growing, not through advertising, but through its reputation for innovation and quality.

Paris Limousine competes with seven other companies and hundreds of TNC operators. “But we never advertise,” Suzy Paris says. “We don’t go cheap, either. We invest in our website to keep it fresh and drive traffic, and we have great vendor relationships. Our clients love our quality, our communication on various social media, and we deliver,” she says. “Word of mouth keeps us alive and relevant.”

Paris Limousine garages its fleet of about 70 vehicles in between runs, ensuring minimal downtime wear and tear.
Paris Limousine garages its fleet of about 70 vehicles in between runs, ensuring minimal downtime wear and tear.

Weddings and prom season is a calculated boon, too. Working with local wedding venues brings in a lot of business. When a new venue opens or new wedding and event coordinators initiate a business, Paris Limousines reaches out to establish a connection early.

For proms, such sales determination brings in business. “Our office team reaches out to each school district every year to get the date of the prom. Then we will reach out to past clients from those districts. If they have graduated, then we let them know they can offer their return client discount to someone, as long as they have not used our service in the past. This has been extremely successful.”

This hands-on approach reaps rewards through expanded exposure and a larger client base.


Vertical Horizons

Wise expansion has been part of Paris Limousines’ trademark growth and profitability. Husband Jimmy Paris entered the automotive world by joining a vehicle dealership he now owns. With this supplier/buyer relationship, economically wise purchases can be made for livery vehicles. Cars and depreciation do cost every fleet operation, and this secondary business is a financial complement for Paris Limousine’s vehicle needs. This natural match keeps the fleet fresh while being economically smart.

The company captures and succeeds with the old-school glamour of conventional and exotic limousines catering to a client base that has never abandoned the classic stretch.
The company captures and succeeds with the old-school glamour of conventional and exotic limousines catering to a client base that has never abandoned the classic stretch.
Paris Limousine recently expanded into the gas station and convenience store market. Some operators who can store fuel and buy futures have also tried this tactic hoping that the purchase of gasoline futures would control costs. As another maverick move, Paris Limousine decided to do it on the retail side, too. Keeping fuel prices in check is helpful, especially while other retail users help pay for it at the going street rate. If those customers buy a carwash, snack, or soda, the margins are considerable, and this horizontal retail expansion helps fuel the livery operations, too.   

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Family Approach Brings Success

LCT asked Suzy Paris how her company distinguishes itself as one of the largest limousine operations in three states. In her singular, warm, and straightforward style, Suzy shared her thoughts:

I cannot really say what we do differently from the competition. We try to focus on what we are doing only to make sure our clients are happy. As long as we continue to offer top customer service, listen to our clients concerns and address them in a timely manner, offer the best chauffeurs in the industry, and the most beautiful cars, then we have no doubt it will be seen by all clients: past, current and future, and will pay off in the end.

We believe in hands on — our team is myself, Jimmy, and our daughter, Jennifer. We have a right-hand guy named Noah who has been with us for 10 years. He handles all aspects of the company. We are a team. Jennifer and Noah communicate like brother and sister. This is critical to us and our success. We have been doing this for 30 years, and a good family and marriage equals success.

Would I start this all over again today? No. But will we hang on and grow a company for 30+ more years? Absolutely!

Related Topics: business expansion, customer service, family businesses, Oklahoma operators, retail markets, stretch limousine

Anne Daniells contributing writer
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