Operations

How One Operation Embraces Big Changes

Martin Romjue
Posted on November 11, 2017
Greene Worldwide owner Jeff Greene started with one stretch limousine almost 30 years ago and has adapted to an evolving industry market by knowing how to drive a motorcoach. His company runs two 2016 Van Hools. (LCT photos by Martin Romjue)
Greene Worldwide owner Jeff Greene started with one stretch limousine almost 30 years ago and has adapted to an evolving industry market by knowing how to drive a motorcoach. His company runs two 2016 Van Hools. (LCT photos by Martin Romjue)

ATLANTA — The walls of Greene Worldwide Transportation’s headquarters could easily create an industry time travel machine, ready to head back to the classical era of stretch limousines.

There’s the long wall with four rows of celebrity and VIP photos, when many of them looked so much younger at the peaks of fame and stardom. Owner and CEO Jeff Greene’s office shelves are lined with models of limos, buses, and chauffeured vehicles spanning three decades. And two wall clocks in the dispatch center each bear an image of a white sedan stretch limousine embossed behind hour and minute hands — accurate only two times a day.

Greene Worldwide runs two 57-passenger Van Hool motorcoaches.
Greene Worldwide runs two 57-passenger Van Hool motorcoaches.
Callers & Texters
It’s an operation with deep roots that appreciates its legacy, but it’s far from being stuck in time. As Greene Worldwide approaches its 30th anniversary next year, the company serves a clientele ranging from the “phoners” to the “texters,” the traditionalists and the hipsters, as technology now helps determine quality in chauffeured customer service.

“Our whole reason for being here is to serve our customers and make them happy,” says Greene, also the president of the Greater Atlanta Limousine Association, past National Limousine Association President, and current NLA board director. “If customers aren’t happy, you’re not going to be successful.”

From clocks to digital screens: The details and décor of Greene’s office and headquarters leaves no doubt about its deep legacy of luxury service.
From clocks to digital screens: The details and décor of Greene’s office and headquarters leaves no doubt about its deep legacy of luxury service.
In today’s tech-driven ground transportation market, that means not only knowing client preferences, but how those clients communicate with you. Real-time and rapid response comprise a key benchmark for luxury service.

“The more technology I can fit in for the convenience of the customer, the better we’re able to serve them,” Greene says. “But you have to listen to your customer. Not all customers are the same, and not all embrace the technology that exists. I’ve got ones who want to call every time. They want to know the details.

“Even as technology has grown and continues to be an integral part of what we do, some of these customers just want to hear a voice,” Greene says. “They want that human interaction.”

Millennial generation clients, adults age 36 and under, are quite different, he says. “They want it now. They don’t want to wait. And to them, the way to get that is through technology. So you’ve got to be able to adjust and accommodate them as well.”

Real-Time Fine

Greene Worldwide Transportation uses an array of technology to interact with customers more efficiently, such as Livery Coach software and app that includes an “auto close” feature for automatic billing, receipts, and e-records. The company also uses Zipwhip for clients who prefer texting to calling when getting rates, making reservations, checking status of vehicles and pick-ups, and communicating with chauffeurs. The system sends an auto-text or email of the chauffeur’s name and photo 30 minutes before a pick-up.

The company still gets most of its reservations in advance, but it’s able to respond faster to “ASAPs,” or requests for rides within an hour.

“A lot of hotels will call and say, ‘Can you get a car in 15 minutes?’ So our strategy is for us to become available. We strategically place cars in the areas where we know we get a lot of the ASAPs. In many cases, we’re able to respond very quickly.”

FASTFACTS
Greene Worldwide Transportation, formerly Greene Classic Limousines
Location: Atlanta, GA
Founded: 1988
Owner: Jeff Greene
Fleet: 45 vehicles
Leading vehicle types: Lincoln Continental sedan, Lincoln Navigator L, Grech Motors minibuses, Van Hool motorcoaches; Sprinter, Transit, Van Terra.
Employees: 65 full- and part-time chauffeurs; 25 office staff
Leading clients/events: Coca-Cola, Georgia Pacific, Emory University, Georgia Tech, Masters Cup Golf Tournament, FedEx Cup.
Facility: 55,000 square-foot downtown office building and garage
Information: www.greeneclassiclimousine.com

 

A nostalgic wall of celebrities shows a commitment to VIP service over the decades.
A nostalgic wall of celebrities shows a commitment to VIP service over the decades.

Hiring Right
Like many operators in this job market, Greene finds hiring a challenge. Before you can execute the latest technology, you need skilled, loyal, and talented managers and employees. Treat them well, and they’ll care about your business and look after your customers.

“The economy in Atlanta is very good. The job market is very tight, and it’s tough trying to find enough chauffeurs,” Greene says. “We certainly call them chauffeurs, not drivers, because drivers deliver pizzas. Chauffeurs are professionals, and they should be treated as such. And that’s what our concept is here.”

Greene’s dispatch and reservation departments more than make up for the chauffeur challenges, with key managers staying many years. “We’ve got some long-term employees who are just phenomenal. This business would not be successful without them.”

Street Smarts
Much of Greene’s success and adaptability comes from his first career, one where you quickly learn how to be street smart, a survival attribute needed to run a 24/7 ground transportation company in the nation’s ninth largest metropolitan area. He served in the Atlanta Police Department from 1979-1993, including a stint as a helicopter pilot from 1983-1993. In 1988, he started Greene Classic Limousines out of his home.

Greene, who was shot at twice during his police career, has seen his share of high-speed chases, in vehicles and on foot. From suspects kicking out windows of his patrol car, to combative DUI arrestees, to shoplifters, burglars and domestic fights, Greene has seen everything urban streets can serve up.

Jeff Greene at home in his office, as an avid limousine model and sports memorabilia collector.
Jeff Greene at home in his office, as an avid limousine model and sports memorabilia collector.
His idea for a limousine service evolved from years of working side security jobs at bars, night clubs, and restaurants. A typical workday would involve a daytime police shift from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., directing traffic from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and then security jobs from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.

“I did this for years in one of those nightclubs,” Greene recalls. “And I remember back then Pat Sajak from Wheel of Fortune was looking for his limo. He got upset because the limo was nowhere to be found. And I happened to be standing next to him and chatted. He says, ‘You know every time I come to Atlanta, I can’t get a reliable limousine company.’ And he wasn’t the first person I’d heard say this.”

Greene went into business with his brother and they got their first limousine, a Krystal stretch. One of Greene’s first clients was former Atlanta Falcons football star Deion Sanders, now an analyst for CBS Sports. “He (my brother) would take him to all the games, wait on him, bring him back, take the family to dinner and sometimes just take him home. He was our real first customer, and then the hotels started using me because I made contacts there. And it just kept growing and growing.”  

Greene soon grew to a fleet of 10 cars. “I was making way more money than I was as an officer or pilot. I figured it’s time to leave and grow this thing.”

Fleet Forward

Almost three decades later, Green Worldwide Transportation’s 45-vehicle fleet has one of the widest varieties of makes and models in the industry, a result of trying out all types of sedans and SUVs after Lincoln retired the Town Car sedan. The fleet includes Lincoln Continental, Chrysler 300, S-Class and E-Class Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac XTS, Lincoln MKT and MKS, and one Equus.

“We were trying to figure out what to do before the Lincoln-Continental,” says Greene, who will now make the model his primary sedan. “For many years, no one knew what Ford or even Cadillac was going to do. And Ford came out with this Continental which is just a phenomenal car. I think they did a good job bringing this car to our industry and that helps.”

Related Topics: Atlanta operators, customer service, Georgia operators, industry trends, Jeff Greene, motorcoaches, operator profiles

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