People

Two-Car Operator Succeeds Far Beyond Uber

Lexi Tucker
Posted on October 2, 2019
(L to R) Tanya and Mike Gianotti have worked tirelessly to ensure their clients receive the best service possible.

(L to R) Tanya and Mike Gianotti have worked tirelessly to ensure their clients receive the best service possible.

Who

Mike Gianotti, owner of G4 Lux, Sacramento, Calif.

Moving On

In 2016, Gianotti was bored working in high tech supply chain planning and procurement. He was tired of being stuck in a cubicle looking at spreadsheets and working for managers who had no ability to connect with their people. He decided to moonlight as an Uber driver to make extra money and bought a used minivan. He had always worked well with people and loved to drive, so he enjoyed this work more.

Client Gains

Soon he had people asking him to be their private Uber driver. He did airport runs before and after putting in his time in the cubicle. “I called into virtual staff meetings from the minivan while sitting in the cell lot waiting on the customer’s flight to land. The extra money was good, and I loved providing the service to my clients. It felt like being free.”

Doing It Right

One day someone asked him, “Do you have the proper insurance to be operating a passenger service? You wouldn’t want to lose your assets if something were to happen.” He discovered he needed to comply with the CA PUC. In 2017, he was proud to slap his TCP number onto his minivan and obtained the appropriate airport permits.


Old-Style Marketing

He and his wife started marketing airport service to the two large “Sun City” retirement communities in the area the old-fashioned way — newspapers. “I knew most seniors still read the paper and don’t do app-based rides and still made phone calls. Soon the phone was ringing off the hook and we were in business.”
In 2018 they bought a Suburban and Gianotti parted ways with his day job. He hired a family friend to help and worked tirelessly from September to Christmas Day. “We didn’t cover the costs most months, and it was tough to be working so hard and just paying the bills. But I learned a lot. My wife/business partner has a good career and filled in the gaps each month. I am very fortunate in this regard,” he says.

Looking Forward

This year they’ve made strides and started using Limo Anywhere. He hired a retired CHP officer, attended the 2019 International LCT Show, made lots of friends, and built relationships with other Northern California operators. They just bought a second Suburban and are onboarding a second retired CHP officer. “They inherently understand duty of care, safety, navigation, and are confident in their abilities to adapt to any situation with a client. It’s easy to sell our service with these quality chauffeurs.” Gianotti has been able to step back from behind the wheel and focus on selling value, responding to quotes, dispatching, and following up with clients after a ride.

Lessons Learned

Don’t be in a race to win every job based on low price. Gianotti says in 2017 his focus was just scoring jobs, and he didn’t take advantage of opportunities to sell his value. He has since learned clients will pay more for service that deserves a higher price.

Building Connections

Clients like to feel connected to their service provider. Customer touch is key. “When asked, be ready to inquire about things important to them, like birthdates, their children’s names, favorite types of music, and in-car amenities. Small things like memorizing their gate code goes a long way in showing you are paying attention to details,” he says.

Advice For New Operators

Know your market and clients. “While Sacramento is close to San Francisco, it’s a very different market.” Not every person will be a good client. Don’t take it personally; it’s just business. “Nothing is free. Work hard. Be fair. Give more than you take. Build a quality brand one day at a time. People will notice.” He urges other operators to be involved. Attend trade shows, join local associations, and surround yourself with quality industry people who will help you grow as an operator. 

Successes

He has landed clients who use his service three or four times per week. It always makes him feel good when outside affiliates call and start the conversation with “Hi Mike, (xyz) limo company referred you to us as someone who will do a good job for us.” He’s also generated four times the revenue growth in 2017-2018.


The Future

Gianotti aims to become the best boutique operation in Northern California. “I want to remain small enough to ensure quality service, but big enough to ensure confidence when our clients call.” He plans to stay within the three- to five-car range. He runs two Suburbans and plans on adding a sedan. He wants to refine his marketing and better understand SEO techniques.

Just For Fun

He loves listening to music and is a foodie. “I grew up in New Hampshire, so I love all things Boston sports. Haters can bring it…I can take it!”

Fast Facts

Location: Sacramento, Calif.

Owners: Tanya and Mike Gianotti

Founded: 2017

Vehicle type: Chevrolet Suburban LT

Fleet size: Two

Employees: Two part-time

Website: www.G4LUX.com

Phone: (916) 354-5800

Related Topics: California operators, customer service, hiring, hiring chauffeurs, small business, small-fleet operators, TNCs, Uber

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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