A JIM LUFF Vacation -- Part 2

LCT Magazine
Posted on May 26, 2009
FIRST A WEEKEND, THEN A HOLIDAY, THEN A VACATION: There is nothing like a holiday weekend to kick off vacation. I survived the weekend and as promised made observations about business. As 5 p.m. approached, chaos at the office seemed to erupt at that moment. I could hear radio traffic about a run that just came up for Friday night and calls to chauffeurs already out to stay over and do this run. No one seemed to want to take it. 
Meanwhile, one of the girls in the office asked another to assist her with an order. She was having a problem entering it in FastTrak. I am not really sure what the problem was. I was torn between staying to make sure we found a chauffeur for the upcoming run and jumping in to help with the entry problem. I could hear my wife speaking in my head saying, "You must let them handle it." I have struggled with this problem for years. She has constantly echoed this same thought over and over. I used to sleep with the good ol' Motorola MX-800 brick radio by my head. She finally convinced me; no radios in the bedroom. We still have a base radio in an office at home in case I get the itch, and also have a back up office if something were to happen to make our office unusable. 
So, out the door I headed, deciding they would indeed to resolve the issues, and I had to let go of the reins and begin my vacation. After all, I was meeting friends and clients for our weekend kick-off dinner. Here is where my observations begin for the vacation. 
I told you we would start at RJ's Bar and Grill featured in my recent February article. The owner, Russ Carter, is my friend and one of my most frequent clients between personal usage and restaurant client usage. I watched during the evening as he sat with my party and dined with us. He was literally calling the shots from our table. By that I mean he was sending shots to people in his restaurant. Comps! He was sending them to all his regular clients. 
In my opinion, this endears them even more to the restaurant which explains why although we had reservations and were with the owner, we had to wait 30 minutes for a table. Everyone likes to feel special and appreciated, and certainly having a server show up with a round of drinks at your table, compliments of the owner, makes you feel special. To this end, I am thinking, what can I throw in for my clients? A nice bottle of wine? A free hour? I must throw something out like he does to endear these people to me even more.
Next up, Saturday parties with my wife's co-workers. She works for the fire department, and like most spouses at the company party of a spouse, I was kind of the odd man out as they discuss work issues, funny stories etc. while I try to fit in. Before you know it, I find myself pitching group outings such as wine tours. I figure, if they like get-togethers like this, why not go somewhere fun? I started quoting rates, doing the math per person, and telling them how fun it could be.  My thought process here is, no matter where you go, there is an audience to give a 30-second commercial about your company. Every group of people that you can speak in front of is an opportunity to drum up new business if you just seize the moment.
Sunday was a day filled with swimming, drinking, and barbequed food at our insurance agent's house. I can't think of anyone better to party with than one of your top three expensive vendors. You clearly want to have your insurance agent in your back pocket. It is the agent who "sells" your company to the underwriter of your insurance carrier. You want that picture to be one of safety, organization, training, and monitoring, and you must share the important aspects of your company with your agent so that he or she represents you well for the best rates. This friendship to me is valuable for the people they are and in terms of what they can do for us. She knows our business well and as been given many referrals by me for other limo companies, and has served them well too. It is really a two-way friendship.
Obviously after all that, Monday was spent recuperating or should I say, re-hydrating. Today''s plan is relaxation, watching television, and doing nothing.  Sometimes it is good to do nothing!
 -- Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor

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