DC Operator Reflects On Many Years In The Limo Game

Lexi Tucker
Posted on December 12, 2018

Bruce Boillotat, VP of sales and marketing for U.S. Sedan Service Worldwide

Bruce Boillotat, VP of sales and marketing for U.S. Sedan Service Worldwide

WASHINGTON, D.C — Bruce Boillotat, VP of sales and marketing for U.S. Sedan Service Worldwide, has seen massive changes during the 34 years he’s been in the luxury transportation industry. While it’s difficult to stay on top of all the disruption, he still can’t think of anything else he’d rather do.

Discovering A Passion

Originally, Boillotat wanted to be a part of the world of advertising and publicity. When he returned to New York after college, he had dreams of working for big advertising companies like Doyle Dane Bernbach, J. Walter Thompson, or Saatchi & Saatchi; however, everywhere he applied had a “no experience, no job” policy. In a strange twist of fate, he was eventually able to win the limo business of many of the advertising firms that wouldn’t hire him as a student straight out of university.

Boillotat back in the day.

Boillotat back in the day.

An old friend from high school owned a limo business and was in search of a colleague he could trust. The two began working together on Long Island, starting with Ocean Limousine, which turned into La Limousine, and eventually became Zip Limousine Service of Long Island. He also did a short stint in corporate travel with Carlson-Wagonlit, and the rental car industry for three years each, but always missed the limo game. “It got under my skin, and I never looked back,” he said.

During the time he’s been in the industry, Boillotat believes he’s never seen a marketplace like Washington D.C, where he now operates. “Everything swirls around politics. In August when Congress is out, it’s tumbleweeds. We fill in the gaps with tours and conventions.”

Ambitious Business Building

U.S. Sedan Service started as an idea from in front of the Watergate hotel, where owner Ahmed Atris worked as the head of food and beverage. He had a college education in the states, as well as Marriott management training. At the Watergate, he received many phone calls from overseas friends asking who they could call for car service. He thought starting a car service sounded like a great idea, and the company will now be celebrating its 25th anniversary in November 2019.

Atris started with a car and a dream, and now has upwards of 90 vehicles. With multiple locations (Sterling, Va.; a ground transportation desk at Dulles International Airport; Miami, Fla.; and a ground transportation desk at Signature Flight Support at the Miami International Airport), private aviation became one of the company’s initial specialties.

U.S. Sedan Service makes use of a wide variety of vehicles to serve all types of clients.

U.S. Sedan Service makes use of a wide variety of vehicles to serve all types of clients.

This eventually grew into four-and-five-star hotel relationships. The company manages ground desks at two Ritz-Carltons, the Mandarin Oriental, the Faena hotel, and The Trump International Hotel DC. “Ahmed always focuses on five-star platinum service. Uber and Lyft may have damaged a lot of companies that took their focus off the high-end client, but the high-end client will always need the specific type of service we provide,” Boillotat said.

Having another operation in Miami means seasonal ebb and flow. The company is able to send cars up and down the East Coast to help meet demand at either one of their main locations. “Ahmed likes to be able to control his product, so he prefers owning cars and having employees rather than independent contractors,” Boillotat said. The business runs Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Cadillac CT6, and Lincoln Continental sedans, Cadillac Escalade and Chevrolet Suburban SUVs, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans in multiple formats, and Grech buses.

Goal Or Wish?

Over the years, Boillotat has learned many lessons. The first is to always treat your team like family. “That goes for today more than ever. As we rolled through the 80’s and 90’s, we collected money hand over fist…it was just a transaction. As we faced situations like 9/11, travel freezes, and recessions, we learned quickly we had to look inside the business at the teams we assembled and work to keep up morale.”

U.S. Sedan Service is ready to move no matter what vehicle is requested.

U.S. Sedan Service is ready to move no matter what vehicle is requested.

U.S. Sedan has done just that. They’ve increased their reservation team’s pocketbook by creating a Rez-incentive program for new sales, educating and mentoring Rez team members to stop quoting and start serving. “If we all started doing this as an industry, the TNCs wouldn’t eat our lunch every day of the week. If we can convince all clients over the phone we are there for them, Uber might not have created such a dent.”

Finally, Boillotat believes in the power of putting goals down on paper. “There’s a saying a goal that is not in writing is merely a wish and a fantasy. Writing everything down helps you focus on your dreams.”

Go For The Goal

Boillotat feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to work at many successful, large companies and with some impressive people. He’s worked with Carey International, Royal Coachman, and EmpireCLS, and consulted with family run chauffeured businesses as well. He’s always looking for ways to make U.S. Sedan grow and help other companies do the same. “Regardless of your success today, you could face failure tomorrow. Your client is always someone else’s prospect.”

Overall, U.S. Sedan has seven main segments it focuses on: Corporate, hotels, private aviation, affiliates, meetings and events, travel agencies, and diplomats. Boillotat is looking forward to increasing sales once again in 2019, and is forecasting 12% growth.

“We’ve done a phenomenal job in private aviation, hotels, and affiliate relations. The company sits at $11 million in revenue for 2018. In 2019, our focus will be on growing our corporate, diplomat relations, and meetings and events.” 

Related Topics: customer service, Florida operators, Sales & Marketing, Washington DC, Washington DC operators

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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