Was the reaction too harsh? Or an important part of what is supposed to set luxury transportation providers apart from TNC drivers?
As industry 20 groups gain popularity, more operators than ever are looking for ways to up their game through education. Strategy Leaders, a business consulting firm, wants to help entrepreneurs in the luxury transportation industry reach their goals to better their companies.
Andi Gray, president and founder, started working with two clients in the industry, and was introduced to the variety of tradeshows available. She met operators through the networking activities, and was asked to put together a benchmarking group. After developing it over three years ago, she now has some of the best industry players and leaders taking part in it.
The flagship group has 15 members and was born from one of industry educator Tom Mazza's 20 Groups before he died in 2012. A second group with 10 members so far, created in 2016, is led by Shawn Glasgow from Peak Limousine and Clayton Dennard at Going Coastal Transportation (to see a full list of the companies in these groups, see the box at the end of the article).
Robyn Goldenberg, director of operations and marketing, says something she’s learned about operators is many come from very little and have worked hard to get where they are now. “They have an immense capability to take on anything thrown at them and shift focus immediately from business building back to solving emergencies and putting out fires,” she says.
Unfortunately, this means they also tend to get stuck putting out said fires, and have less time to invest in building their business from a strategic standpoint. “They often don’t know who to go to for help, and that’s where we come in. We pull them out from daily duties and help them put teams in place and get sales on track so they can build long term business that’s stable, predictable, and profitable.”
Eddie Monroy, director of consulting, says clients in this industry are growth focused and like to learn. They are curious, never settle, and are consistently trying to acquire new knowledge outside of just the luxury ground transportation industry.
“I like to look at myself as a professor, and our clients as artists who are really good at what they do. They got where they are today because they are good; there are just one or two components they haven’t realized can make their business even better,” he says.
The team wants readers to know if they see a member of Strategy Leaders at shows, you should feel free to approach them and ask questions.
Strategy Leaders is about 20 years old, and was founded as a result of research Gray had done as an executive MBA student at Columbia University. She worked with American business historian Stuart Bruche in answering the question, “How do you build a 21st Century economy?”
“If you focus on privately held, owner operated businesses that make up 93% to 95% of all companies in this country, it was our belief that if you could make them a little more profitable, get them to last a little longer, and get them to exit more profitably when they were ready, you could raise overall economic output enough to create a platform for the 21st Century,” she explains. Gray comes from a family of entrepreneurs, and has seen businesses go through many different phases.
When she decided to start a consulting company, she began by doing almost two years of research on why consulting engagements don’t work. This resulted in the creation of a model it follows closely, with great success. “In general, three out of four businesses fail in every 10-year cycle; for us, it’s more like seven out of eight survive every 10-year cycle.”
“Effort is not an issue; our clients are highly committed to their business, and have a general sense of where they want to be. We teach them how to run a successful business, which for many means growing to two to three times the size of where they are and putting in place systems so they don’t blow it up when they get there,” she says.
A typical program lasts about three years and the average completion rate is 85%. They carefully choose clients, and provide a free diagnostic before they decide to take on new ones.
“We put up to 10 hours into consulting for a prospective account to help them and us figure out if we are what they need and if there’s a fit between that and what we do. We talk to about 1,000 companies a year and end up working with a couple handfuls; the rest get advice on where they need to look and what they need to work on.” This has enabled Strategy Leaders to develop a client portfolio of raving fans, many of whom are in the chauffeured transportation industry.
In 2004, Gray had to dismantle most of the company due to an accident when she shattered her hip. She brought Strategy Leaders back in 2008, just in time for the recession.
The most satisfying part of the job for her is knowing Strategy Leaders makes a big difference in the lives of their clients and the families of the people who work for them. “This work is too important for us to not be doing it.”
Goldenberg, who recently attended LCT-NLA Show East, says she’s motivated by the fact that everything the company does is for the growth of its clients.
“We become integrated with their lives and businesses, so it’s really great getting to watch not just the business development but the personal aspect as well.” That’s why she feels comfortable doing some “butt kicking” if needed to call them out and steer them in the right direction if they stray from the path to success.
Monroy agrees clients become an extension of his family. “There’s a human element that often gets lost in the world of consulting, and I’m glad we break that cycle.”
To read up on a wealth of business knowledge, go to askandi.com, a weekly advice column written by Gray.
Here are some notable companies who take part in Strategy Leaders benchmarking groups.
Enterprise Strategy Group:
Park Avenue Limousine
Black Tie / Blue Diamond
Best Transportation St. Louis
Strategy Partners Group:
Going Coastal Transportation
Mint Life Limousine
United Private Car
American Executive Sedan
The National Transportation Safety Board says all aspects of the accident still remain under investigation.
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