Operations

Ohio Operator Never Lets Success Hinder Service

Lexi Tucker
Posted on August 28, 2018
(l to r) Kirk Bagger recently had the honor of chauffeuring former Vice President Joe Biden.

(l to r) Kirk Bagger recently had the honor of chauffeuring former Vice President Joe Biden.

Who: Kirk Bagger, owner, Captain’s Car Service, Cleveland, Ohio

Wise Words: Always have a plan, be sure to have a few clients you can rely on for steady work, and develop a strong network. You must find a niche and do that better than anyone in your area. He specializes in out-of-area travel because of his central location. “I can get clients places quicker than if they were to fly, and in more comfort. My vehicles are fitted with USB ports and Wi-Fi, so it’s like a workspace on wheels.” Remember, you never know who’s watching. Represent yourself as a professional 24/7. Kirk remembers this anytime he is driving, whether running errands or picking up family members. He still wears a suit even when people tell him it’s acceptable to dress casual.

Success Story: One of his biggest successes was chauffeuring representatives from the Japanese news station NHK two years ago during the Republican National Convention. “We were able to handle anything they’d throw at us. We were doing on- or near- demand runs at that time for many clients, 16 hours a day for seven days.” It got to a point where he almost had to turn away work, but says you should try to price yourself out of it so you never have to say “no.”

Lessons Learned: Avoid working with friends. “I had a friend who bought a limo himself and we worked together. Unfortunately, he wanted the glory of owning a limo company without putting in the hard work of building one up by doing the early morning pickups and other tedious parts of the business that aren’t flashy.”

Fast Facts

Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Owner: Kirk Bagger

Founded: 2008

Vehicle Type: Sedans, SUVs, stretch limos, and Sprinter

Fleet Size: 8

Employees: 7

Website: www.captainscarservice.com

Phone: (440) 782-1227 (1CCS)

Satisfying Customers: While working as a general manager at a previous limousine company, Kirk partnered with a popular radio talk show to exchange transportation services for free advertising. “I never realized how much exposure they had and we got spring boarded. I didn’t have enough equipment to keep up with demand, so our customer service suffered.” From that point on, he’s vowed to never put just anybody behind the wheel to keep up.

He always tries to get to know as much upfront as possible about clients to anticipate their future needs. “The trick is to do so without them realizing that’s what you are doing,” he says. This way they think, “Wow, this company took the time to get to know me.” It’s what Kirk calls his +1 — do the job your client is expecting, in addition to something out of the ordinary.

For quality control, he often calls to follow up with new customers and sends a survey after every trip via text message and email at a minimum to ensure customer satisfaction. Kirk is also a military veteran, and offers discounts and special airport transportation for vets returning home.

Getting Started: Kirk was the general manager of a retail limo company on the west side of Cleveland for eight years when he took on a corporate level client and started taking him on long trips for the company. He thought it was a one shot deal, but ended up doing it for two weeks. Seeing great potential in this kind of work, he confronted the owner and said they should look into pursuing more corporate business. The owner didn’t see the same opportunity, and Kirk left shortly after.

After breaking away from his former company, he contacted the corporate client he had been driving and told him he wasn’t with the company anymore. Two days later, the client called and said he didn’t care about the company; he cared about him. Kirk sold his wife’s minivan for a late-model, green Lincoln Town Car. Word-of-mouth traveled faster than the speed of sound.

Building The Business: At the start, he had next to nothing in the bank — less than $1,000. He kept working and never said no so he could keep the car rolling and making money. Networking and reaching out to people he had driven before helped propel him to success.

Two Steps Ahead: Kirk plans to grow steadily, but not become so big the company loses its personal touch. He has a friend with a well-established family owned limousine business looking to retire someday soon that he’d like to acquire. He also hopes to get to a point where he can get out from behind the wheel to fully focus on maintaining consistent service.

Downtime: In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his three grandchildren. He also has remodeled the backyard pool into a manmade oasis, which allows him to relax after a hard day’s work with his wife Darice and youngest son Gabe.

Related Topics: business management, customer service, Ohio operators, small business, small-fleet operators

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
Comments ( 1 )
  • Pearl Palko

     | about 2 years ago

    Kirk is an honorable man and limo operator. I met Kirk at a few of the Limo U Bootcamps.

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