Cardel Global and Edward Limousines combine resources to boost their complementary service offerings.
Pearl Palko, CEO of Paramount Limousine Services, started chauffeuring limousines to supplement her income from her school bus driving day job and instantly fell in love with the atmosphere, service levels, and clients.
After discovering she was earning much more as a chauffeur, the part-time stay-at-home mother with two small kids decided to fully transition away from school buses. It turned out chauffeuring provided a great way for her to get out of house, make good money, and be with other adults. She drove mostly retail, so it was definitely the fun side of clientele.
Unfortunately, she was let go from her original company because of an incident where the dispatcher didn’t tell her she was to collect a group going to a nightclub. Her former boss told her she would have it deducted off her next check. When she protested this illegal practice, he told her she was fired.
“I was devastated because I one of their best drivers, having driven larger equipment than most,” she says. “A lot of the time I drove stretch SUVs, which was downsizing from a 72 passenger school bus.”
After losing her only source of income, she met with a close affiliate selling an eight- passenger Lincoln Town Car and started racking up her own clients. The more people she drove, the more they spread the word about her passion and exuberance for the industry. “Good affiliates kept giving me more work, and I built everything from the ground up through word of mouth. I also taught myself how to make the most of Google AdWords.”
Palko is a firm proponent of keeping your staff accountable for their responsibilities in a way that doesn’t feel like micromanagement. She calls her chauffeurs to check up on them, but tries to make it sound like a conversation rather than a command. She believes she gets the most out of her people when they see her driving and washing cars just like they do. “I don’t just take the easy stuff; I do early morning and late night runs, too.”
When you become closer to an affiliate, be sure to reach out to them for new strategies. “The only dumb question is the one you didn’t ask,” she says. “Develop and trust your gut instinct and you’ll know what advice is the right one to take.”
The company’s fleet consists of six vehicles, including a Cadillac DTS sedan, a GMC Yukon XL SUV, a Lincoln Town Car stretch, a Ford Expedition SUV stretch, and a Ford Transit. She first started with mainly stretches as most of her work was retail, but in 2012 she acquired one large corporate account with Global Alliance Worldwide Chauffeured Services in Toronto which discovered her at the International LCT Show.
Both companies attended the Music Express gathering of affiliates where a mic was passed around, and the rest is history. Paramount is mostly corporate based now.
Palko’s biggest success has been helping Global with 110 trips in two days in 2016 for the Juno Awards, the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys. She also attended four different Limo University Boot Camps in Nashville in 2017. Her company has driven Chris Christie (former Governor of New Jersey) and she personally chauffeured David Thomson, CEO and president of The Woodbridge Company (a major shareholder of The Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper).
“I’ve met a ton of affiliates and learned how to network over the years. You have to call people and contact them on social media. Find out who’s going to be at different industry events and schedule a time to meet up with them. When people meet you in person, they realize you’re genuine. It’s different when you talk on the phone because you can hide things.”
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