People

What Are Your Top Industry Concerns? (Part 2)

Lexi Tucker
Posted on June 16, 2017

Mike & Marlo Denning

“What we believe is the biggest problem in the industry is too many companies are worried about what others are doing or not doing. For example: We do not care if the operator down the street has a two-hour minimum and is the cheapest in town, or that Uber has put a dent in our airport transportation. What we care about most is what WE are doing to stand out above the rest. We offer our clients the consistency they expect from a professional service. It is easy to get tunnel vision by worrying about what your competition is doing, when in reality you should be focusing on what YOU are doing!”

— Mike and Marlo Denning, owners, Elegant Limousines & Wedding Services, Daytona Beach, Fla.

Moe Ahmed

“I believe a major issue in our industry is many operators have “follow-me” eyes. A few years ago, the bus market was seemingly dominated by large companies that had the means to purchase and run these vehicles. But once the smaller operators such as myself saw the massive potential in group services, we began buying one, then two, and you know how it goes from there.

The issue is now, at least in our large market of the Bay Area, we have already in a few short years seen undercutting, underpricing, and under delivering on quality becoming just as prevalent as it was with smaller vehicles. Except these are not small vehicles — they are much more expensive to purchase, insure, staff, and maintain, yet we are seeing the same issue of competition stifling our ability to maintain a profit margin that makes sense to continue operating these vehicles. I believe we need to continue to maintain our standards of service, as well as pricing, where we are able to make a profit so as to flourish in this business for years to come.

— Moe Ahmed, president and CEO, MA Limousine & Transportation Worldwide, San Jose, Calif.

Sami Elotmani

“One less obvious challenge is how reactionary our industry has been over the years. We always seem to be surprised by change. Whether it’s a changing regulatory framework, competitive forces, or consumer tastes, our collective reaction has been shock in one form or another. The root causes behind this challenge are many, but the fragmented nature of the industry plays a big role as it often makes it hard for us to come to a consensus until it is too late. One way we can change that is already in play — many of us are thinking more strategically about the future of our industry and what segments are most likely to thrive long-term; hence why you see so many operators embracing the bus business. As for how this will affect our industry, I think with even more drastic changes in our future, only those operators who are able to pivot in an effective and timely manner will survive and even thrive in the long-term.”

— Sami Elotmani, VP of operations, director of global affiliate partnerships, Destination MCO, Orlando, Fla.

Hillary Louarti

“Because chauffeurs are the face of our company, they are our most important asset. Consistent, quality service is delivered by chauffeurs who have been through the same training program and are team players with positive attitudes. We’ve all experienced the difficulty of hiring professional chauffeurs, but keeping good team members is just as hard. Employee engagement in the form of team-building, training, and company events has helped build our team into a ‘family’ with better retention.”

— Hillary Louarti, corporate/group services manager, Diamond Transportation, Tucson, Ariz.

Ebonee Brown

“There are many trials and tribulations operators face throughout the industry. Some may say it’s finding qualified and professional chauffeurs, the surge of transportation services such as Uber and Lyft, and/or declined prices to accommodate customers’ expectations due to economic climate. These are all great concerns, but as someone from a younger generation, I see a bigger issue: The lack of old fashioned customer service, forgetting the value of our services, and the limitations/stipulations placed on customers. For example, I’ve heard companies explain they don’t do transfers or airport arrival/departure, and minimum hours must be booked because otherwise the money they make is not worth it. Companies need to go back to Customer Service 101, remembering every customer connection is important, and accommodating the customers’ needs completely without limitations/stipulations.”

— Ebonee Brown, office manager, Alamo City Limousine Service, San Antonio, Texas

Jay Erlich

“The biggest industry concern I see is the lowering of rate structure. Due to the low costs the TNCs charge, the customer now identifies these costs with all operators. The consumer does not see the actual cost of running vehicles/staff and overhead. It’s best to educate the consumer, but at the same time we still have to find a way to be competitive in the market as, unfortunately, TNCs are a big part of it.”

— Jay Erlich, CEO, Europe Limousine Service, Paramus, N.J.

Harry Atamian

“Ridesharing providers are growing in popularity and they’re changing customer expectations. Thus, last minute reservation changes and new reservations are growing by the day, which not only raises our operating cost on one end but we’re losing customers on the other. Moreover, apps are brainwashing younger businessmen and women to the point where they might never experience the difference between a quality black car service and a TNC. The industry needs to and should come together to overcome these obstacles before it’s too late. We started and shaped this industry; we can surely overcome this obstacle by continuing to provide an exceptional service while being as high-tech as possible.

— Harry Atamian, owner, LVMGT Groupe, Montreal, Canada

Related Topics: employee retention, industry regulations, LCT Fact Book, LCTFast40, Lyft, Millennials, service pricing, TNCs, Uber

Lexi Tucker Associate Editor
Comments ( 4 )
  • See all comments
  • @whomever if there is even anyone

     | about 2 years ago

    But seriously, why does LCTMag even exist, really? Who even gives a flying %#$^#?

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