Using the NLA Directory for Farm Outs

Jim Luff
Posted on November 2, 2011
If you don’t want people to call you, don’t put your name in the book!
I have spent the past three days trying to find an operator in the Sacramento area to take a job for me. Granted, it is not the best job I have ever farmed out, but it is a job. The two travel dates include Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. I never dreamed I could have so many problems farming out such a little job.
 
One thing that I find very odd is that many operators listed in the NLA directory include a contact name that is completely and totally inaccessible. I am so frustrated at the results of calling every operator listed in the NLA directory serving the Sacramento market.
 
One reason I rely solely upon the NLA directory to find and secure services for my clients is the fact that I have always believed those operators that join the NLA have a commitment to the industry to uphold higher standards and be a little more professional in their operations. What a dismal let down this experience has been.
 
The first operator I called was Chris Quinn at CTS. In hindsight, I should have stopped after that first call. However, the rate seemed a little pricey to me at that moment even if Quinn, a 2009 LCT Operator of the Year Award winner, does deliver outstanding service. The next operator I called told me she was on her roof cleaning solar panels. Really? She then went on to tell me that she is not about to work on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day. I suspect she really just didn’t want to come down off the roof. Maybe she was cleaning those solar panels in anticipation of Santa Claus coming down her chimney soon.
 
Next operator said, “Christmas Day? Oh, that is going to cost you big time!” The rate quoted was indeed an outrageous quote. I called another company and an automated system answered and said, “The person you are trying to call is busy on another line. Goodbye.” Oh, that’s professional! The ride I was trying to farm out is a 20-minute airport transfer. My client wanted a stretch. The rates quoted ranged from $138 to $201 and fell everywhere in the middle.
 
Some were charging extra for the holidays. Some charge the same rate every day. Some didn’t speak fluent English. One answered the phone and placed me on hold for six minutes. Another had an elaborate recording that answered. I selected the number that was designated to press if I wished to place a new reservation. When the person answered and I asked for a rate, I was told to hold on while someone was located that could assist me with that. Hello? Why did I press “0” if that isn’t really the correct number?
 
The whole experience has made me think about protocol in my office for people that identify themselves as NLA members calling out of the directory. I want those calls to come directly to me from now on so we don’t end up looking like a complete idiot and have someone blog about it.
 
-- Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor

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