Operations

From Small To Midsize, Operator Shows How To Get There

Lexi Tucker
Posted on March 31, 2019
By taking care of the clients you already have, you build more referrals, according to Alina Wade, managing partner, B&W Limo, Los Angeles, Calif.

By taking care of the clients you already have, you build more referrals, according to Alina Wade, managing partner, B&W Limo, Los Angeles, Calif.

Who

Alina Wade, managing partner, B&W Limo, Los Angeles, Calif.

Customers Come First

“We don’t necessarily provide the customer with a take home product; what they come back with is a feeling,” Wade says. “We want them to be as comfortable as possible with the whole experience, starting from when we say hello.” The steps to keeping a healthy client base are to respond as fast as you possibly can, remain transparent, and remember to pamper clients. “Everyone wants new clients, but they forget how important it is to retain them as well. If we protect and give love to the ones we have, we get referrals, which lead to growth. When you take the time to ask them questions and find out what really matters, it builds trust. They know if they call us, we’ll make it happen.”

Learning From Mistakes

Don’t try to juggle more than you can handle. Pick one thing and focus on it. Wade also started managing a restaurant while running the luxury transportation company, and it quickly overwhelmed her. However, it taught her the need to surround yourself with a reliable team. “You learn so fast, and everybody is excited to start a business, but a lot of us don’t have the total knowledge needed. It’s so important to take time out to come up with a solid business plan to help you become sustainable.”

Fast Facts

Location: Los Angeles, Calif.

Owners: Alina and Chris Wade

Founded: 2007

Vehicle Types: Sedans, SUVs, vans, and minibuses

Fleet Size: 20

Employees: 30

Website: https://bwlimos.com

Phone: (818) 599-0438

Marketing Gets Personal

Instead of just calling clients, make time to actually see them face-to-face. This is getting lost in the technology age — especially with the impersonal touch TNCs have brought — but goes a long way. “We look at Uber and Lyft as something that pushed us to be better. We are very transparent about our prices, and put them at the fingertips of our clients on our website.”

Advice

Do your research, talk to everyone (don’t listen to just one person; get multiple points of view), and find a mentor. Ask as many questions as possible. Finally, take some basic courses in finance if you have to. “Success only translates to wealth if you manage your money well.”

Getting Started

Wade says the company was founded out of necessity in 2007. She was working in group sales in the hotel industry, and ended up in touch with many people who requested car service. Los Angeles doesn’t have the best nor largest public transit system, and the more she encountered people complaining about it, the more she realized the need for this type of service in her area. Her specialty was managing entertainment and international markets, and they would often ask her to refer them to someone. “Each industry is unique and has different transportation needs, and I wanted to be able to service them better.”

Building Business

The company started with one Lincoln Town Car in December 2007, just before the recession. While some may think that was unlucky, Wade says it worked out well. She owned the car outright so she didn’t have the overhead that typically comes with a startup. Instead of losing any business, they grew. She applied everything she learned in sales, and ensured she was building different layers of clients to avoid financial trouble if one of them didn’t work out. Most importantly, they didn’t build solely on farm in and out work. They began with hotels, worked with UCLA, travel agencies, and different corporate accounts to cover all kinds of client bases.

Biggest Success

Surviving the recession and growing through it. Wade says it helped her understand how to deal with it if it occurs again. “No two events are the same, but there will always be similarities.”

Future Plans

Wade plans on sustaining growth and building strong partnerships. “We believe in slow and steady; we don’t want to sacrifice our service standards. In the future, we will continue to adapt to disruption and diversify.”

Just For Fun

Wade is an action and adventure lover. She enjoys traveling, dancing…basically anything involving good people, good times, and making memories. 

Related Topics: California operators, customer service, Los Angeles, Los Angeles operators, small business, small-fleet operators, women in the industry, working with hotels

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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