Operations

Why Optimism Drives Business For The Long Haul

Martin Romjue
Posted on August 29, 2018
Yes, world troubles, nasty politics, and mean people always siphon the most attention. But that’s never an accurate picture and not one that should inform judgments. (Flickr.com Creative Commons photo by Mark Bonica)
Yes, world troubles, nasty politics, and mean people always siphon the most attention. But that’s never an accurate picture and not one that should inform judgments. (Flickr.com Creative Commons photo by Mark Bonica)

There’s nothing like getting out of the cubicle and into the trenches of luxury transportation visiting companies and industry events. I always come away re-energized about the state of the industry and how to handle challenges, whether in business or life, after talking with operators.

This summer, travels took me to Charlotte, N.C., and to the Boston region for multiple company visits and an annual fundraiser for the New England Livery Association (NELA). Such destinations may sound routine to all of our Eastern colleagues, but for a West Coaster it’s an excursion to make the most of. Altogether, such journeys can fill up my carry along bags with new insights. So here are my 3-ounces or less bottled collectibles of reasons to stay positive in disrupted times:

Looking For Good Signs Around You

First, separating your outlook from the constant media bombardment leads to a healthier state of mind and purpose. The media universe marinates in negativity, in case you haven’t noticed. I won’t even venture into all the sources of  distraction that drive despair. Yes, world troubles, nasty politics, and mean people always siphon the most attention. But that’s never an accurate picture and not one that should inform judgments. Success is non-partisan and happens mostly from individual ingenuity and effort. All media spectacles aside, the economy is doing the best in more than 10 years with unemployment below 4% in many states and a national rate that could fall to 3.8% in 2019. That means more business activity, travel, and corporate demand. We want our airports, hotels, restaurants, and downtowns to be crowded. When people are spending, they’re more amenable to luxury services and experiences. And while operators everywhere report struggling to find qualified chauffeurs and employees, isn’t that a preferable challenge to the recessionary doldrums of not finding enough business?

Getting Past That Four Letter Word

The primary source of industry angst has been the infamous U-word that does not need elaboration. If you look past all the media enthusiasm, you’ll notice some facts about Uber: It’s not making a profit; its bad driver behavior never ends; its labor troubles mount; and skepticism grows about its safety and reliability. This cannot last. You fight them where you can, but then move on to do better what they can’t.

Not Going Away Soon

I spoke with the operators of one New England limousine service with 17 sedans, SUVs, and stretches. At times, they’ve been so busy this summer they’ve had to turn away business. We hear a lot about the presumed demise of luxury black vehicle service. The fact is, many clients, VIPs, and sensible travelers will never stand in an airport line waiting to ride in a surge priced compact car. And some frustrated transportation network company (TNC) riders are likely to graduate to near-demand luxury service. If an operator is devoted to running such black vehicles and does it well, why surrender to the doom and gloom?

More Motorcoach Market Potential

While traditional limousine services will thrive in a variety of specific markets and circumstances, more operators are broadening into more profitable minibus and motorcoach service. I’ve seen some of the most successful operations make that transition, or at least add a handful of coaches. My visit to DATTCO in Massachusetts proved the point; the company runs Megabus.com and fixed-route commuter services popular with students, young professionals, and inter-city travelers. We’re seeing a very bus-friendly generation emerging into the transportation market.

Data Means Money

We’ve all heard the saying information is power. But now it’s all about profit, too. I visited one company featured on the cover of this issue that collects, splices, and sifts data across all aspects of operations, breaking down layers of costs for every fleet vehicle. The more data about your business you can analyze and apply in real time, the more money you’ll make. That means companies with advanced software, telematics, text communications, and professional accounting, whether in-house or outsourced, are most likely to thrive in this emerging dynamic smartphone-driven economy.

What Matters Most In The Long Run

The fundraiser mentioned above seems to bring out the industry’s best: Operators and vendors enjoying a day to support their industry and charitable causes. This golf tournament on Aug. 8 raised money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. One of the golfers that day, Alex Scriccio, who represented the foundation, spoke during the awards ceremony about how contributions go a long way to fund research and advances for medicines and treatments of the genetic condition.

Thanks to such progress, his 7-year-old son now takes a new FDA-approved medication instead of visiting the hospital four times a year for treatments. “Dylan is the healthiest he’s ever been,” Scriccio told the New England operators. “Ever since the medication, he hasn’t had to get I.V. treatments for 12 hours to clean out his system. I really appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.”

Optimism leads to new opportunities for success, more profits, and the ability to give back in ways more rewarding and successful than any business pursuit. That’s enough reason to figure out how to keep running stronger operations. 

Related Topics: business trends, economic outlook, industry trends, LCT editor, Martin Romjue, operation growth, revenue growth, staying competitive

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