The DOT says it was only doing its job.
Who: Charles Royal, CEO and president, Royal Limousine, Mobile, Ala.
Origin: In 2006, Royal was diagnosed with stage four leukemia. He had to travel to Duke University, about a two and a half hour drive away from his home, and didn’t want his family to have to suffer because of it. So, he would drive himself there and back; it was during these trips he began to brainstorm what he could do to support himself and his family if he survived. “I didn’t want to be on disability, and I noticed driving for those long periods of time didn’t really bother me,” he explains. When he served in the Marine Corps., he used to drive colonels, majors, and other high ranking officials, so he knew how to act around those with high status. He moved to Mobile in 2009, and in 2014 started Royal Limousine —as he puts it, “a concept born in room 9100.”
Start-up costs and methods: Royal saw a nice Lincoln Town Car for sale, and was just going to look at it; he didn’t have money to burn when he first started. A friend of his who was a lawyer went with him to check out the vehicle, and after Royal stated he liked the car but couldn’t afford it, gave the seller his credit card and told him to put it in Royal’s name. Eventually, Royal got some business from other lawyers and judges who wanted him to drive them, and built relationships with other companies in town. He also did a lot of funerals and got overflow work from a local competitor.
Location: Mobile, Ala.
Owner: Charles Royal
Vehicle Type: Chevrolet Suburban, Lincoln Town Car Limo, BMW 750Li
Fleet Size: 4
Learning from mistakes: He says the hardest part of running a successful company was learning how to properly market it. “I used a lot of my resources marketing the wrong way, and it wasn’t until I got involved with Bill Faeth’s Limo U that it started to improve,” he says. He’s never had a problem with providing excellent service; it was what he didn’t know about marketing that kept him from growing faster.
Customer service strategies: Being on time, every time has helped Royal Limousine’s name spread. Royal focuses on customer retention and tries to market in a way that will earn him repeat clients. “Just reaching out once a month to say thank you and not sell means a lot to people. All you have to let them know is, ‘if you need us in the future, we are here.’”
Advice: It’s important to research and know what the demands of the market are in the area you operate in. Learning how to properly market your service will take you far. “It doesn’t matter how nice your cars are or how good your service is if no one knows who you are.”
Biggest success: Being able to grow in a smaller market is what Royal counts as his biggest success when it comes to running the company. He attributes it to being able to properly leverage relationships to gain business.
Future plans: Royal plans to gradually upgrade his vehicles now that he knows exactly what his affiliates need, as well as do more informed marketing. Eventually he hopes to provide service worldwide.
Free time: When he gets time to himself, he enjoys looking at new vehicles, spending time with his family, and fishing.
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