Operations

Idaho Operator Provides Next-Level Hospitality

Lexi Tucker
Posted on January 3, 2019
The Garza family (L to R): Grandsons Titus (little boy wearing a black shirt) and Isaiah (checkered shirt), son Anthony, daughter Marissa, J.R., Maria, and eldest daughter, Corinne.

The Garza family (L to R): Grandsons Titus (little boy wearing a black shirt) and Isaiah (checkered shirt), son Anthony, daughter Marissa, J.R., Maria, and eldest daughter, Corinne.

Who: J.R. Garza, co-owner, Diamond Limousine and Sedan, Boise, Idaho

Service Strategies: Make every interaction personal. “When people call us, they say ‘you make me feel welcome and comfortable,’” Garza says. Phone etiquette is becoming a lost art in the industry, and it’s supposed to set you apart. “When people don’t book with us at that first call, I tell them I know they’re in the process of shopping around, but also mention our concierge service in case there’s anything else we may be able to do for them.”

The company keeps every vehicle stocked with water and includes cookies around the holidays. Garza feels magazines and newspapers create clutter, making the car look unclean. Mobile chargers are included in cars and enable clients to power up their devices with ease while still being able to use them. “Identify clients’ needs and focus on what they say; when that phone rings or email comes through, they are telling you how they want to spend money with you.”

Marketing Strategies: On the corporate side, the Garzas work with FBOs/CSRs and give them 10% of the base on rides booked. “We get to know them on a personal level and build relationships,” he says. He and Maria are known for the “miracle brownie strategy” — if you take a photo with them at a Show, you’ll often find a copy of it waiting for you with a couple of delicious brownies as a follow-up.

Fast Facts

Location: Boise, Idaho

Owner: J.R. and Maria Garza

Founded: 2004

Vehicle Type: Stretch limos, limo bus, sedans, SUVs, vans

Fleet Size: 9

Employees: 14

Award: 2018 LCT Operator of the Year (1-10 vehicle category)

Website: www.diamondlimoboise.com

Phone: (208) 861-1120

Getting Started: Garza had no idea he’d be in the luxury transportation business. When his father passed away in October 2004, he had hired a funeral company that had a limo package. He decided to go with it so the family wouldn’t have to drive that day. Unfortunately, when they exited the church, the limos waiting outside were royal blue and rusted out — not exactly a picture of elegance. “For one second I thought, ‘That’s it? Those are the cars?’ It didn’t overwhelm me, but as we sat in the limo on the way to the cemetery, I knew I could provide better service,” he explains. He scheduled an appointment with the new owner of the funeral home that was being sold, pitched him the idea of using newer limos, and the owner loved it. Garza brought him a contract and that’s how Diamond started.

Costs and Business Building: The company launched with $17,000 of the Garzas’ personal savings, which ended up purchasing two 2001 Lincoln Town Car stretches and insurance coverage. They started by capitalizing on the funeral service for a while, but knew they wanted to expand and make more money. They branched into more corporate and retail business after building a website and running Facebook ads.

Learning Lessons: Garza had a chauffeur who was so by the book that when it came to a client wanting to deviate from the original booking, he gave them a hard time about doing so. The client ended up being one of their VIPs, so Garza resolved the issue when the client called to tell him about it. He sat down with the chauffeur and explained that when in doubt, he should feel free to call management to figure out a solution that works best for all. Rules are important, but your employees should always do right by the customer.

Newcomers Advice: Never underestimate the importance of having a business and marketing plan. Finding the right software for your business is something you’ll regret if you don’t do it early on. Attending trade shows is an absolute must and is likely where you’ll find a great mentor.

Biggest Success: Staying in business after the crucial first year is a top achievement for Garza. “Even though we have a small fleet, when a large company looks to you and tells people ‘Don’t judge them by how small they are; they deliver,’ that’s when you know you’re doing something right.”

Future Plans: He wants to build a shop with office space and a garage he can eventually lease out after he retires. He’d also like to expand into the minibus business for corporate clients.

Just For Fun: Garza enjoys coaching and attending his kids’ sports games, and doesn’t travel during their seasons to ensure he will be there to cheer them on. They dirt bike as a family and also like to snowboard, ski, and longboard (Garza built his own!). Watching movies at home, dining out, and attending tradeshows are also ways he winds down.

Related Topics: customer service, Idaho operators, Operator of the Year, small business, small-fleet operators

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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