Operations

Metris Makes Mommies Choose Luxury Service

Lexi Tucker
Posted on January 27, 2017

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — In recent years, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has come to be known as one of the most popular choices for new additions to operators’ fleets. But its lesser known counterpart, the Metris, has yet to turn heads…until now. Ivan Colon, business development director for Legends Limousine, said his company will be rolling out a new type of service in early February that makes use of the lesser known van.

A Family Affair

The company has become increasingly known around New York City for providing family transportation services. Since the area they are located in has transitioned from old Brooklyn into “new Manhattan” (many Manhattanites have moved into the neighborhood), the business has evolved to cater to a new kind of professional.

This includes stay-at-home moms or dads who are graphic designers, architects, or have small businesses they run from home, and household managers (similar to an administrative assistant who oversees the general operation of a household).

Therefore, these are clients who need transportation back and forth for their kids to private school and other extracurricular activities. “In New York City, there’s no reliable school bus system, and sometimes mothers who have kids at specialty schools will get together, call us, and contract with us for the year,” Colon says. “We monitor and schedule everything so they can rest assured their kids get where they need to be, safely.”

The company first tried marketing its Sprinter to these families, but after tracking website traffic to that page of their site, the vehicle just didn’t seem to be resonating with clients. Strangely enough, it saw much better metrics for the Toyota Sienna. It appeared this clientele leaned more toward minivans.

Therefore, the business asked for passenger feedback to try and help them figure out what the next best move would be. “The price point is different regardless of if they have the money to spend or not. It’s not about that as much as it doesn’t match what they want,” Colon said. Families desired a vehicle that could fit their entire family and would be easy to get in and out of. In this sense, Sprinters are relatively cumbersome.

Enter the Metris. The van has two sliding doors on each side, fits up to seven passengers, and has a lot of cargo space. The leather interior is easy to clean in case of spills (we are talking about children, here), and the company has even included in-vehicle Wi-Fi so Netflix can keep kids occupied and quiet the whole trip.

Making Calculated Moves

As Legends has moved into the luxury ground transportation sector over the years with sedans, SUVs, and stretches, it didn’t want to let go of its economy roots. “When corporate America does go to sleep, everything keeps going,” Colon said.

“Family transportation keeps our phones ringing. Our chauffeurs don’t complain because it ensures there’s always something to do.” A lot of the company’s chauffeurs have gotten to know the families and nannies they work with and have become an extension of their family.

The business saw this was a steadily growing segment and wanted to make sure the price point for a new type of vehicle would be attractive, landing somewhere in between the pricing for a sedan and SUV.  After sending the Metris as a sample just to see what the feedback would be, they saw nothing but positive results.

“We put little survey cards into the vehicle after every trip we did and the overall response was great,” he said. “The goal is to always collect comments from both your clients and employees who use your services and use that to improve.”

Now the company knows the demand is there for the Metris because it already gets requests for them, although Legends doesn’t officially have them on the road until Jan. 30. “Even our corporate clients are saying, ‘we’re ready, let’s do this.’ We have a lot of bookings and it’s spiked for the next month for road shows, which is unusual because usually February isn’t an active month for corporate travel,” he says.

The company has given its agents the ability to adjust the rate themselves based on the feedback received during the test period.  What they eventually hope to do is, after running this Metris program for the next quarter or two, land on a solid pricing point based on booking volume.

“As we continue to grow as an industry, pricing is very competitive, especially in New York,” Colon said. “Many businesses aren’t diversifying. They are shrinking their fleets and focusing on sedans and SUVs. We are taking a different approach.”

Turning Parents Against Uber

Colon said he can’t even count the number of times someone has called up and asked, “Why shouldn’t I just have my kid take an Uber?” His response? TNCs can’t promise they’ll have a clean car seat that’s the appropriate size. Legends carries infant, booster, and toddler seats.

“We clean ours every day. We take the covers off and handwash them with ecofriendly detergent,” he said. He also asks clients if they know an Uber or Lyft driver who is trained to install different varieties of car seats. “Our chauffeurs are required to take an hour training course on how to install each type of seat. If a driver is messing around for 15 minutes and starts to get frustrated, that’s not a good customer experience.”

Legends also takes an extra safety measure and rotates older car seats out about every nine months and donates them to local charities. “There’s a lot of wear and tear because they are used so frequently,” he said. They also choose to do this because car seat regulations change regularly. “There are recalls and we pay attention to that. We don’t want to be putting your child at risk.”

Since Legends is known for family transportation and advertises very heavily on it, sometimes they get on-demand requests so they keep car seats in the trunk. “Even though this sacrifices trunk space, it’s well worth it to keep that reputation.”

Sound Advice

For anyone interested in testing the waters of family transportation, Colon highly suggests you listen to your customer base. “It takes time to discover if there is a need for that kind of service in your area. Someone should always be paying attention to feedback. Look at your bookings and make a move. If you don’t have a customer base demanding something, don’t do it.”

Related Topics: child safety, client demographics, client feedback, client markets, family businesses, Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-Benz Metris, new vehicles, New York City, New York operators, shuttle vans, wealthy clients, WebXclusive

Lexi Tucker Associate Editor
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