How A Personal Touch Can Create Loyal Clients

Lexi Tucker
Posted on May 10, 2017

TROY, Mich. — Clients often recognize Julie Dotan, president of J&B Transportation, when she’s out running errands; not necessarily from her appearance, but by the way she speaks. It underscores the valuable relationships she’s built with her local customers.

“Many of my clients have never seen me face-to-face, but there will be times when I’m at Costco and they’ll hear my voice and recognize me,” says Dotan, who speaks with a bold, alto-voiced accent.

“I had a man come up to me and say he heard me two aisles away and wanted to introduce himself.” This is one of the reasons why she doesn’t believe in using an answering service — the better your clients feel they know you, the more loyal they’ll become.

Do It Better

Getting to know clients and treating them well are at the core of a successful limousine operation. Dotan and her husband and co-owner, Benny, set out to run a chauffeured transportation company the right way after they had a bad experience with one when they reserved a limousine for their wedding. After the driver showed up in jeans and a cowboy hat, the couple decided their area needed a quality chauffeured car service in their area.

First impressions begin with the first phone call. Dotan always has a live operator answer calls and tries to answer the phone after two rings. Their team holds themselves to a high standard, and client feedback proves it’s paying off.

“We had a customer call the other day who used to use a different car service and his neighbors used us, he saw our car pull up, and asked for our card,” Julie recalls. “He was a retail customer, but used to travel for business all the time. He said he wanted to take a moment to let us know he’s never been treated as well as we treated him in his 30 years of traveling.”

Do It Right

Not only do they treat their clients like family, they also try to find ways to help their chauffeurs stress out as little as possible. Strict followers of the 15 minute rule, they make it a point to not book rides so close that there’s a chance the chauffeur will run a bit late.

“We don’t want them to be frazzled trying to get everywhere on time with little wiggle room,” Julie says. This ensures the chauffeur is calm and ready when the client walks out, which will help prevent them from being distracted by an apparently shaken driver.

As for training, experienced lead chauffeurs spend time with new hires before Benny takes them on. Having been in the business himself for 28 years, he can foresee a problem before it happens, and passes his knowledge and techniques on to trainee chauffeurs. Everyone communicates constantly, so no chauffeur takes to the road before they are fully ready.

Do It One Of A Kind

With a new office complete with a larger garage, the Dotans house a diverse fleet of 12 vehicles, including: Lincoln Continental and MKS, Cadillac XTS, Chrysler 300, Mercedes S550, BMW 740Li, Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Suburban, Lincoln Navigator, and two Sprinters.

For 10 years, they used only GM vehicles because they had a big GM account, but had to rebrand after the market crash of 2008. They saved the business by adapting and purchasing a broad range of vehicle brands.

“Since we are in the Motor City, we have to have a vehicle for whatever company you are coming to visit, whether it’s Ford, GM, or Chrysler. If you have a meeting at GM, you don’t want to show up in a Lincoln,” Dotan explains.

(l to r) Benny and Julie Dotan, owners of J&B Transportation

(l to r) Benny and Julie Dotan, owners of J&B Transportation

Learn And Grow

The company focuses on corporate and affiliate work, and doesn’t take on many retail runs because they desire the same repeat clients. “We want to build loyalty based on the quality of service we provide,” Dotan says.

To foster such loyalty, you must remain honest and fair on prices, maintain high quality service, and treat everyone like a VIP. One of the biggest lessons Dotan has learned is to never change your base price for your local accounts when you have a big event in town.

“You can change your hourly minimums because it’s a big event, but don’t raise your base price thinking you can make more money. We lost an account because they thought we were taking advantage of them. It happened during the Super Bowl many years ago, and we’ve never done it since,” she says.

In addition, she recommends emphasizing one service area you are best at. “If you want to go for the high end work, don’t try to lower your standards to get more business even when it’s slow.”

As the company grows, the Dotans are working on a new, modern website in conjunction with Hashtag Business Solutions (owned by Harry Dhillon, owner and founder of Ecko Transportation Worldwide in San Jose, Calif.), and are planning on buying a minibus sometime late 2017.

Related Topics: customer service, eNews Exclusive, General Motors, managing chauffeurs, Michigan operators, operator profiles, service pricing, telephone etiquette

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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