Big buses may not be for everyone, but for those operators willing to put in the work, coaches can lead the way to more group clients and higher profits.
It’s becoming more common to hear stories of former Uber drivers who are fed up with the way the company handles things transitioning over to the light side of luxury transportation. When Uber came to Phoenix about five years ago, McBride was working as a sales and marketing rep with Net Transcripts, a company that provided transcription services for law enforcement and criminal justice agencies. He wanted to make some extra cash on the weekends, so he decided to give the TNC a try.
“Back then, they actually paid decent money, but were still in a very grey area in regards to regulation. I decided if I was going to be giving up my weekends, I should make the most of it and do it right,” he says. He had the opportunity to purchase an Escalade and do UberBlack instead. For this subsection of Uber, he had to carry his own commercial insurance and jump through several other hoops to be in compliance. “Essentially, I became a legitimate ground transportation company.”
He ended up quitting his day job to focus 100% on Lux Rides almost three years ago, and has since grown his fleet to include five SUVs (including an all-electric Tesla Model X), a shuttle bus, and a party bus.
McBride has been in the service industry almost all his life. His parents owned a bagel and espresso bar in northern California (before there was a Starbucks on every corner), and eventually sold it and moved to a tourist town in northern Mexico called Puerto Penasco, where they opened another restaurant.
He spent many years waiting tables, and eventually became a bartender. Later, he and his wife opened another restaurant, only to see the economy crash and heavily affect tourism in their area. When they moved to Phoenix, his perseverance led him to success—a skill that comes in handy in this industry.
“I feel these experiences have helped me tremendously in this industry. When you’re dealing face-to-face with customers, those skills transfer to when you’re on the phone taking reservations. You understand the clients have needs that must be met if you hope to have them come back.”
His advice to other operators who are just getting their start is to get out and meet your competition, either through your local luxury transportation association or at large national events like the International LCT Show.
“Having a local affiliate you can trust can not only be a source of revenue and insight, but can save you when you are in a pinch or overbooked. Steven and Sandi Dial at Your Personal Driver and Myron Mosley at Xavier Limo have been a great help to me.”
McBride’s most recent success was being secret shopped by a large operator that markets exclusively to the top 1%. “Needless to say, they are extremely selective in who they allow to represent them and out of five local companies, they picked us.”
In the future, he hopes to continue to expand the electric vehicle portion of his fleet. “Clients love our Tesla Model X and I love not having to fill it with gas.” The Tesla Supercharger network has been a tremendous selling point for him, and he’s excited to see the tech improve and other manufacturers up their game in the coming years.
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