Here are some sights and scenes from one wicked cool tradeshow.
Who’s the best affiliate in so-and-so region? Do you charge your client extra if a flight got delayed? What do you do if you know about an operator who doesn’t pay affiliates on time?
Chauffeured transportation-specific Facebook groups are the solution to all of these queries and more. Within minutes of asking a question, you’ll receive replies from small, medium, and large operators, and sometimes even vendors. Looking for a group that focuses on a particular topic? The industry has you covered (see sidebar).
Here, three group administrators discuss the benefits of these groups, as well as what operators can do to take full advantage of them.
There are many reasons to join Facebook groups for the chauffeured transportation industry, says Pat Charla, owner of limousine marketing firm DriveProfit and admin of the Limo Marketing and Limousine Technology groups. By participating in one or many, it increases your visibility in the industry.
“There are operators out there who are very good in their local markets, but don’t have the prominence of some of the bigger players,” she says. “This enables them to speak up when someone is looking for an affiliate in an area they serve.”
These groups are also a great place to learn and question decisions you’re about to make on equipment, processes, and vendors. “You’re not just asking one person; you get many opinions to help you make a more informed decision,” Charla says.
Not only that, it helps operators keep up on what’s happening in the industry daily. “Things are going to change very quickly from this point on, and Facebook groups are an easy way to stay in the know.”
Perry Barin, West Coast affiliate manager for Music Express and admin of the popular LIMO group, says when operators post something to his group, they are reaching out to a curated collection of people. He gets about 10 to 15 member requests every day, and to be accepted they must answer a question about how
“The good thing about these groups is even if you’re not the one asking the questions, you can read answers and absorb the information to help you handle issues in the future.”
The benefits operators receive depend on the types of groups they decide to join, says Bill Faeth, founder of Limo University and Inbound Marketing Agents and admin of the Limo Growth and Limo University groups. “They are all a little different, but the immediate advantage is being able to ask one question to thousands of operators. We didn’t have that ability just a few short years ago.
“I think that sense of community is something extremely beneficial. When I look at the number of people in these groups, it surprises me more don’t take advantage of them.”
Here’s what members of the Fast 40 Facebook group had to say about the benefits of being a part of one:
Jevonne Pollard: The benefit I have enjoyed is immediate feedback and the information that has been shared in real-time.
Dan Klob: Industry Facebook groups are a great way to ask quick informal questions to a large audience, and hear unfiltered advice, answers, and feedback.
Jami Crouch: In our line of work, time is money. By posting on Facebook, you are notified when someone answers your question and you’re able to keep trucking along.
Those already aware of and participating in these groups know about the growing number of them. The three admins believe it’s important to have a reason and purpose behind the group before creating one.
For example, Barin started his a few years ago at a tradeshow when the concept of specific groups for the chauffeured transportation industry didn’t exist. He created the group as a way to stay in touch with his new connections. It has since grown to be one of the most well-known groups in the industry.
Faeth believes in owning your experience, which can be difficult when so many groups might not meet your criteria. “I received some negative comments and messages about other Facebook groups, a lot of which were [about] continuous spamming. I started my own because I wanted to create one that provided value to those who were a part of it,” he says.
Because of cross pollination between groups, Charla wanted to create a pair with a specific focus on marketing and technology. “There are a lot of posts that go on in the various groups, so it’s tough to keep up with what you are most interested in,” she says.
Be A Part Of The Solution
For these groups to remain productive, operators must remember Facebook is not a playground. “If you want to vent political, do it on your personal page,” Charla says. “What you say on social media gets seen by thousands and reflects directly on your company, not just the person writing it.” While constructive criticism is certainly appropriate, and at times necessary, bashing other companies outright is unprofessional. “You always have to keep in mind your client may be watching.”
Barin advises operators to read group descriptions before posting. “In some of these groups, you get bombarded with a lot of information, and if it’s irrelevant or doesn’t appeal to a great deal of people, it’s annoying. I don’t want the traffic coming into our group to be pointless.”
Posting valuable content other operators can learn from or relate to is the best way for people to keep Facebook groups useful, Faeth says. “Think about how what you’re saying will represent your brand. Is something you ask going to benefit the group? Understand these are never really ‘private.’ Anyone can screenshot something and send it to someone not in the group,” he explains.
“I think some people might be apprehensive about posting questions because they think it will put a perception out there that if they don’t know an answer, it’ll [hurt] them. If that’s the case, I’d advise them to private message the owner/moderator of that group and ask them if they can post their question anonymously.”
If you notice operators you do business with don’t belong to one these groups, do them a favor and send them an invitation. Many people circulate in multiple groups, but fewer than 3,000 globally participate, Faeth says. “I would love to see more getting involved.”
Charla believes operators overall are a nice group of people who want to see each other succeed. “There are so many small business operators, who if they band together, share information, and make each other better, we’ll be better as an industry overall,” she says.
Barin wants members to be active and get involved with associations at the local and national levels. “Be aware of what’s happening and own it — not just online, but in person as well. There really is strength in numbers.”
Here’s a — by no means complete — list of industry related Facebook groups available to operators. Some may require you to have your job listed in the “Intro” section of your personal Facebook profile to join.
Note: The number of members was recorded July 27, 2017
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