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Michigan Operators Take On Any Challenge

Lexi Tucker
Posted on July 26, 2019
(L to R) Tony and Jennifer Correll work together to run an impressive operation.

(L to R) Tony and Jennifer Correll work together to run an impressive operation.

Who

Tony and Jennifer Correll, Leisure Limousine, Kalamazoo, Mich.

Words To Work By

Jennifer says the company motto is “make it happen.” No matter what comes their way, they are ready to take it on. They require drivers to be ahead of schedule, and stress communication with clients and employees. Providing excellent customer service goes without saying, but she says it has to come across in every aspect of how you run your business. “Even the way your voice sounds over the phone is important. It’s the little things that go a long way.”

Although they market on social media, money can’t buy the business that comes from word of mouth. “Building and emphasizing your reputation plays a large part in gaining business through recommendations. We are known for our vehicles being immaculate; a client once said they felt they could literally eat off the floors,” she jokes. Tony also says no company can be 100% perfect 100% of the time, and that’s why when mistakes happen, it’s vital to do what it takes to make it right with the customer.

Marketing Like A Master

Tony monitors social media daily, and says every limo company should keep up with these platforms. They do promos and giveaways, which helps raise awareness of their business page. “When even one person sees and shares one of those posts, it helps us get our brand out there.” Southwest Michigan is their equivalent of wine country, and winery and brewery tours have become a big draw for the area they service.

Advice For New Operators

Besides attending tradeshows, be sure to take it slow, Tony says. “It’ll all come, but it doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve seen people come in thinking they’ll be millionaires within a few months, but a limo business takes years to establish and get the word of mouth momentum you need. The best piece of advice I have is answer your phone. Do not let it go to voicemail, because you can miss huge opportunities.” He actually scored LeAnn Rimes as a client because he answered an early morning phone call from — unbeknownst to him — two of her friends. You should reach out to other operators for advice if you aren’t sure of something, Jennifer adds. “We are all here to help each other. It’s all a lot of hard work, and you have to be dedicated and hands-on as an owner.”

Fast Facts

Location: Kalamazoo, Mich.

Owners: Tony and Jennifer Correll

Founded: 1994

Vehicle Type: Sedans, SUVs, vans, stretch limos, mini-coaches

Fleet Size: 21

Employees: 28

Website: leisurelimos.com

Phone: (866) 925-4667

Getting Started

The company began with one stretch limousine out of Tony’s garage. He was the only chauffeur, but business grew steadily and he added a second stretch two-and-a-half years into it. The retail market helped them expand to seven stretches, but in 2006 they won a contract at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport that enabled them to move into the corporate sector. They are on their third contract with the airport where they keep a desk, making it easy for clients to get rides as soon as they disembark.

“We just keep on expanding further, but we mainly serve all of west Michigan, including Grand Rapids. However, we travel anywhere and everywhere our clients need us. We’ve had people go all the way to Florida, some fly in private jets down to the Kentucky Derby, and we also take clients to New York, Pennsylvania, and Chicago ourselves,” Jennifer says.

Building Business

Their first stretch was bought from a limo company Tony used to chauffeur for part time and cost him $25,000. From there, he purchased a URL and built a website…which gave him an upper hand in the mid-’90s. “Not many companies had one at the time, and there were only four other limo companies in town back then. We also used old school methods like knocking on doors and sending out mailers.”

Big Wins

When they started getting into the corporate market, they got an account with Stryker, a medical devices and equipment manufacturing company headquartered in Kalamazoo. The couple found the admin to the president, held a meeting, did a presentation, and brought some of their vehicles for the executives to check out. They won their favor, and business spread from there as other companies learned of their service levels. “This was really the account that allowed us to expand the fleet beyond retail,” Tony says. More recently, they’ve been doing business for Amazon, which has a large distribution center near them.

Future Plans

They hope to expand their farm-out affiliate work network and would also like to gain a larger presence in Grand Rapids.

Just For Fun

Tony and Jennifer love to travel, and have been to Maui many times. They also enjoy camping in the states in various locations.  

Related Topics: customer service, Michigan operators, social media, tradeshows

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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