Operations

Award Winners Create Practices That Could Work For You

Martin Romjue
Posted on April 24, 2019

The LCT Operator of the Year Award Winners Class of 2019. (LCT photo)

The LCT Operator of the Year Award Winners Class of 2019. (LCT photo)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — While LCT’s annual awards produce a small set of winners, the industry overall does not have to lose out on ways to improve operations.
One benefit from reviewing the applications of the finalists who produce the winners is finding a trove of worthy advice on best practices and ideas for running luxury ground transportation operations.

Since LCT started this series in 2017, we’ve posted scores of useful tips for operators of all fleet-sizes. Finalists for these awards were judged and scored in the areas of customer service, use of technology, chauffeur and staff training, media and marketing, safety records, and community and industry involvement.

2019 OOY AWARD WINNERS HERE

Here is a random sample of points, with names removed. Any association with a particular company relates to the uniqueness of the idea or practice:

Robert Gaskill accepts the LCT-NLA Association Award of Excellence on behalf of the Greater California Livery Association during the annual LCT Awards Celebration, Tuesday, March 26, 2019 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. This is the third time the GCLA has won this award in 10 years. (LCT photo)

Robert Gaskill accepts the LCT-NLA Association Award of Excellence on behalf of the Greater California Livery Association during the annual LCT Awards Celebration, Tuesday, March 26, 2019 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. This is the third time the GCLA has won this award in 10 years. (LCT photo)

Customer Service

• A director of customer experience follows up with clients for improvements and once a month holds a conference call with top clients to maintain relationships and improve services and requests if needed.

• Role play scenarios to try to get employees to say “no.” Not every request is realistic, but employees are taught to emphasize what can be done instead of what can’t.

• Keep a library of books in staff break rooms on high-touch, high-end customer service strategies, such as from The Four Seasons Hotel Group and Disney.

• Email and text trip status updates to passengers informing them of their chauffeur and trip details.

• Hold a service failure/success story internal meeting weekly to ensure your company stays on top of its game. Include the head dispatcher and top executives, such as the COO and CEO.

• Set up a quality assurance program that involves regular observations of chauffeurs and clients interacting at points of pick up. Owners should occasionally drive clients and talk about the level of service the company provides and how it can be improved. Take those ideas and adopt them in the company. Listen closely to clients.

• Reservationists keep profiles and make note about clients’ lives. For example, if one has a death in the family, they can use a ready stack of cards to send a personal note of condolence. The same concept applies to clients’ milestone events, such as graduations, birthdays, and accomplishments.

• Work to make every client request happen. Train everyone in the company to be a customer service representative. Aim for bespoke customer service.

• Enroll members of your work team in local tourism training provided by Convention & Visitors Bureaus and Chambers of Commerce to gain insider knowledge and firsthand experience on all local attractions. Deploy in everyday interactions with clients to answer their questions and exceed customer service expectations.

• Assign concierge trained representatives to specific clients. This allows strong relationships to be forged. Clients like the VIP treatment and know their business is truly appreciated.

• Offer a food blog in response to calls asking for new suggestions on where to eat. Make reservations for clients to show them you want their business.

• Track on-time performance and customer comments for every ride, and ask customers to rate their experience based on five stars. Any surveys receiving a three (average) or fewer out of five stars are immediately forwarded to customer satisfaction managers who call customers to ask how their next trips can be worthy of five stars.

Technology

• Modify website to accommodate more voice-activated searches and requests. Steps include improving loading speed and producing content suitable for voice snippets (20% of all voice searches are triggered by a set of 25 keywords). Add a FAQ page to the site as most voice searches are in the form of questions. Maintain top ratings on sites such as Trip Advisor across all transportation categories so you can use words such as “top” and “best” in the voice snippets that draw voice searches.

• Tech menu: Use Zipwhip for texting with clients; use AddonsLA to track your fleet and send passengers a link 20 minutes before their trip times so they may track their vehicle; use Limo Anywhere to close out trips and send affiliates a report of all their trip times; link with GNet to help in status updates with affiliates who are not Limo Anywere users; link with Groundspan so clients can book their trips through Concur.

• Hire a local company to handle social media platforms. Put up targeted posts regularly. Send email blasts to clients of specials and events in the area.

• Use GNet to accept and exchange reservations with other companies and/or affiliates in real time.

• All new customers receive a text with a video of the local airport attached. It includes a tour of the airport from the gates to the baggage claim area, and helps clients find their chauffeurs.

• Equip sedans with Blackvue dashcams. The front camera’s ultra-wide 162-degree angle takes full advantage of the 4K UHD resolution. The rear camera records in full HD at a 139-degree angle with outstanding low-light sensitivity that makes clear video, although windows are tinted. The BlackVue dashcam captures critical details while the vehicle is moving or in parking mode. Because the daschcams record upon impact, it can prove the liability of the party in collisions. That helps the bottom line.

• Use Paychex Stratus Time so chauffeurs are able to clock in and out from anywhere. The platform allows for geo tracking and makes it possible for the payroll department to capture time efficiently and ensure drivers receive all meal breaks and 10-minute breaks quickly and in compliance with state laws.

• Use video daily to tell the story of who you are, what you stand for, where you came from, what clients can expect from you, and what their experiences will be like.

• Use MailChimp for emergency messaging to clients and travelers, such as when the phone reservation system goes down, weather alerts, airport closings, and sports and political events that can cause road closures.

Chauffeur/Staff Training

• Create loyalty and good will by paying for the dry cleaning and alterations for chauffeurs. Employ a shoe shining service and make it available at no cost. Give every chauffeur a suit and tie at hire.

• Require chauffeurs to still know routes and streets like the back of their hands in case the GPS system does not work or goes down.

• Require all chauffeurs and garage personnel whose roles involve lifting to complete a manual handling course as part of their training. This course shows them how to correctly lift heavy items and limits the company’s liability in the event of back injuries. Offer the course online to reduce use of paper and allow flexible viewing times.

• Work with Bus Advisors (www.busadvisors.org) consultants to provide a bus training manual for the different types of minibuses and coaches in your fleet.

• Develop an extensive onboarding program that offers training, tracking of performance goals, and mentoring.

• Regardless of state and local laws, always use FBI fingerprint checks, criminal background checks, and DMV checks on all hires. Also do a full DOT check and drug screening at hiring point and then randomly. Perform a drug screening in the event of an accident.

• In addition to training on how to take reservations, answer the phones, and provide great service, teach all employees what to do and say in the event of an accident. Teach how to handle or refer media calls. Use mock phone calls before getting a real one. Use dual headsets and listen alongside employees for training purposes. Review calls for ways to improve responses and interactions.

• Create an active role-playing program to train with different types of clients, in the vehicles, and on the phone.

• Start the training program with the customers and then work backwards: What are the needs, wants, and desires of customers? Who do we have to be as a company to attend to them? What flexibility do our people need to fulfill them?

• Designate a director of quality and safety certified by the National Safety Council training center administration as an instructor of defensive driving, DCC-6-8.

Media/Marketing

• Sponsor events for luxury product and service companies, such as watches, purses, or hotels.

• Business owners who are former members of the military can promote their veteran-owned small business status to city, state, and federal governments for contracts.

• Hire a contractor or media professional to monitor and manage all of your social media platforms and SEO optimization to minimize distractions.

• Hire a telemarketing firm and script them to make appointments for you to visit potential clients.

• Work with local writers, influencers, and advertisers to help increase your brand awareness.

• Pursue strategic partnerships with public television stations, premier theaters, politicians, and community-friendly events and festivals.

• Encourage chauffeurs and employees to positive content about your company on social media accounts.

Safety/Insurance

• Carry out all pre-shift vehicle safety inspections on an app called iAuditor. This can help your company become more efficient by enabling chauffeurs to use company iPads to carry out the inspections. The data is stored in the cloud.

• Install hands-free calling on all fleet vehicles as standard, enabling dispatch to safety stay in contact with chauffeurs at all times.

• Partner with a compliance company to ensure you meet all federal and state regulations.

• Watch GPS diagnostics to see which chauffeurs consistently go over the speed limit and need counseling. Monitor braking and rough riding.

• Have your insurance company send a trainer each quarter to review the latest developments on safety practices.

• Adopt a strict chauffeur policy: Only touch a phone if the vehicle is in park.

• Encourage and incentivize chauffeurs to get security guard and emergency medical certifications and/or training.

• Train chauffeurs for driving and handling high-end celebrity clients in paparazzi environments and situations.

• Require staff technicians to monitor robust pre- and post-trip reporting and maintenance logs.

• Install a constant camera recording system that has the ability to use artificial intelligence to identify the chauffeur and label him or her in the car without any interaction from dispatch. The system is also attached to the OBD port in the vehicle which allows managers to read live data from the engine and computer indicating when an issue has been detected. Dispatch can contact the chauffeur and tell him to get off a highway and proceed to a safe location before a breakdown.

MORE BEST PRACTICES:

2018 Winners: 60 (More) Ideas To Apply To Your Luxury Service Now

2017 Winners: Industry High Achievers Find New Ways To Excel

Related Topics: chauffeur training, customer service, driver training, Greater California Livery Association, honors and awards, How To, ILCT 2019, industry leaders, Information Technology, marketing/promotions, media, mobile technology, operator achievements, Operator of the Year Awards, Safety & Insurance, staff training, tips for success

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