Operations

South Carolina Operators Master The Art Of Marketing

Lexi Tucker
Posted on January 2, 2019

(l to r) Tommy and Matt Miller

(l to r) Tommy and Matt Miller

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Like many operators in the industry, Matt Miller, owner of Coastal Limousine of Charleston, worked in the family business. However, he started out in a different industry. His family originally owned a bowling center where he helped with food and beverage and eventually ended up bartending. This gave him a small taste of the world of hospitality.

From Bowling To Limos

When his father Tommy Miller decided to get out of the bowling business in a bad economy, they started a taxi company in 2011. They made a name for themselves doing non-emergency medical transportation for people on Medicaid to and from doctor appointments. With only five vehicles, taking 50 to 60 patients daily on trips started to get rough. “The cost of insurance is high, and there are a lot of miles traveled and hours spent,” Matt Miller said.

Eventually he saw the writing on the wall when Uber and Lyft started gaining popularity.

(l to r) Matt and Marina Miller

(l to r) Matt and Marina Miller

“I knew we had to make a change,” he said. He ended up registering the business as a limo company in 2013, and changed its name from Coastal Limo and Taxi to Coastal Limousine of Charleston. They started with a Lincoln Town Car and put up a website. Along with his wife and company co-owner Marina, and of course, company mascot Sydney “The Limo Dog,” they are now making a name for themselves in the industry.

Getting Creative

Sydney "The Limo Dog" Miller absolutely slays on social media.

Sydney "The Limo Dog" Miller absolutely slays on social media.

Because most of Coastal’s clients are tourists, marketing to that demographic is key. “Charleston is huge vacation city. We also regularly provide airport transfers, but our primary focus falls on large corporate events and meetings. In addition, Charleston is the number two wedding destination in the country,” he said.

The business does about 120 weddings a year, which averages to three or four a weekend during wedding season. “Charleston has that ‘vintage charm’ a lot of couples are looking for. A typical wedding here includes 150 people, so we often provide shuttles for wedding guests while the wedding parties take limo buses. Then at the end of the night the bride and groom need a getaway car.”

Another great shot used for #MascotMondays

Another great shot used for #MascotMondays

To attract couples and give people an idea of what they can expect from Coastal for vehicles, the company’s Instagram paints a creative picture. Sydney, the couple’s Australian labradoodle, has become the official mascot of the business. Matt’s wife Marina, a skilled photographer, takes beautiful, artful shots of “The Limo Dog” that are sure to draw the eyes of many scrolling through their feeds on #MascotMondays.

In addition to helping Matt, Marina also oversees compliance and client relations. Her photography skills are put to use helping to market their fleet of 15 vehicles. This includes Volvo S90s, Lincoln Navigators, a Ford Expedition and four Transits, a Chrysler 300 stretch limo, and five buses of various styles. These skills also come in handy for the handwritten thank you cards she produces for clients.

Growing Strong

One of the company's prestine vehicles.

One of the company's prestine vehicles.

During the time he’s been in the industry, Matt has learned a few lessons, the biggest of which is don’t purchase cheap vehicles. “It winds up being a headache and not worth the money you save. That’s why we purchase everything new with full warranty.”

He also strongly believes in taking good care of your employees. “We pay a fair, competitive wage. That way, we know they are going to show up and we can sleep easy at night. Just like we in the industry often tell clients, you get what you pay for.”

Choosing your battles with clients and employees will also save you time and stress. “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

Not being afraid to step out on a ledge and make a strategic purchase can take you far. “When we got into the bus business, we didn’t know our market had a need until we bought one and the flood gates opened.” In 2019, the couple hopes to expand into another similar market and continue their success.

Related Topics: customer service, LCTFast40, Millennials, social media, social media marketing, South Carolina operators, weddings

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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