Operations

Italian Operator Creates Legacy Company

Lexi Tucker
Posted on November 30, 2018
Alberto Gentile at the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monza.
Alberto Gentile at the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monza.

Who: Alberto Gentile, owner, 7StarDrivers, Milan, Italy

In His Blood: In 2001, Gentile got his first taste of chauffeuring at his father’s company. He describes it as one of the best times of his life. “I remember I enjoyed the work because it gave me the chance to earn enough money for traveling,” he says. His family has more than 50 years of experience in the industry (his parents’ company was founded in 1964). His father founded the first Italian school for professional chauffeurs in 1984, and his mother became the first female chauffeur in Italy in 1970.

After Gentile graduated with a degree in management engineering, he worked in business consulting for 15 years. After almost four years in Dubai, he started to get bored and was looking for something that would allow him to stretch his entrepreneurial muscles. He founded 7StarDrivers in 2016 to get back to his roots. He believes he brings a structured management approach based on processes, procedures, and systems, while also leveraging a large professional network, strong commercial grip, and an innovative international approach.

Fast Facts

Location: Milan, Italy

Owner: Alberto Gentile

Founded: 2016

Vehicle Type: Sedan, minivan, minibus

Fleet Size: 4

Employees: 5

Website: www.7stardrivers.com

Phone: +39 391 102 72 54

Building The Business: He started the business with 180,000 EUR ($208,800 US) which he used to buy two vehicles, a sedan, and minivan, and an authorization for each. In two years, he doubled the fleet and plans to buy more vehicles by the end of the year. His business development strategy consisted of three phases: First, he focused on creating a standard that put his company on the same level as the best in class of the industry. He used his network and family reputation, and started operating exclusively as an affiliate for the five best companies in Italy. Second, he started growing his own customer base by offering them the best service at a fair price. Third, he’s focusing on global clients and affiliates. He started in March 2018 by attending the International LCT Show for the first time.

Lessons Learned: As a consultant, he used to select young and talented people to work with him. “I love their energy, enthusiasm, and flexibility, despite lack of experience. I enjoy investing my time to teach them the fundamentals because they are able to learn fast and achieve great results in a short time. Unfortunately, I also learned young people can lose their motivation just as quickly. The lack of attention leads them to make tremendous mistakes, and in this industry, there’s no room for error,” he explains.

He now selects people in the 40-50 age range. They must speak English well and have a professional driver’s license issued by the government. “At the professional driver’s school managed by my father, we organize an English class, safe driving course, and teach them fundamental knowledge of the region (geography/history/art).”

Client Care: The staff only has to focus on providing the best service and be ready to act when the client asks-what he calls “the Italian touch”. In case of a specific or complex request, the chauffeur can contact a remote concierge, a dedicated professional sitting in the office ready to satisfy any kind of request or solve any issue. Wi-Fi, charging cables, San Pellegrino sparkling water, and newspapers can be found in all vehicles.

Advice For Americans: For companies looking to increase their business in Europe, he recommends investment in digital marketing. “Digital proximity marketing allows you to address messages to European people traveling to a specific region of the U.S. We recently started experimenting with it, and it can be very effective and does not require a huge budget. It’s all based on a ‘test and learn’ approach.”

Success Story: He managed his first big event with more than 20 vehicles involved. He also chauffeured a Hollywood star and managed an event of soccer stars. At the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monza, the organization asked him to open the parade with a historical car. “I was really excited while driving inside the track in front of the public with all the F1 drivers following me.”

Downtime: His girlfriend Marianna and their dog Giotto recently moved to Paris, but they still try to spend as much time together as possible. He enjoys being an uncle to his two nephews, Carlotta, 6, and Davide, 12, with a niece, Bianca Dolores, on the way. His biggest passion is sailing and kitesurfing. He’s a certified offshore vessel captain and has sailed both the Mediterranean Sea and the ocean (Italy/Greece/Spain/ Croatia/Seychelles/Bahamas). In the winter, he enjoys mountain and free-ride skiing. 

Related Topics: customer service, Europe, European operators, family businesses, Italian operators, small business, small-fleet operators

Lexi Tucker Associate Editor
Comments ( 0 )
More Stories