Operations

New Jersey Operator Runs Small But Mighty Service

Lexi Tucker
Posted on February 20, 2019

Megan Sheehy, owner of Exclusive Car Service

Megan Sheehy, owner of Exclusive Car Service

WARREN, N.J. — Many an operator can recall the challenges of starting out with a small fleet in the wider world of luxury ground transportation.

With the dawn of the Internet and social media, it’s become easier than ever to read up on how other business owners handle their ups and downs. Megan Sheehy, owner of Exclusive Car Service, just started a company with her husband Eric on May 2, 2018, and is thankful for the online communities of operators who have helped so many. She now returns the favor by dishing some tips of her own.

Beginner Tips

The first thing you need to understand is there will always be someone who has done it longer, better, and differently than you. “The key to growth is to be open-minded when entering a new industry,” she says. She credits her less-than-rocky start to becoming fast friends with Matt McHugh of Acre Bridge Transportation, Bill Faeth of Limo University, Edward Santiago of First Choice Limousine and Car Service, and Adam Tregaskis from Limo Anywhere.

Finding trustworthy affiliates with the same ethics is vital. One of the first lessons she learned was wolves in sheep’s clothing exist in every industry. “When you get burned, you need to draw a line immediately. You have to say you won’t identify with those without morals because everyone you associate with as an affiliate is in turn an extension of your company."

“You need to find your niche of people you feel comfortable bouncing ideas off of, while still making sure you’re operating in your own unique way,” she explains. Joining reputable peer groups like Limo University’s LAB and absorbing all the info you can is another way to help your business grow. “You take what works for you, and lay what doesn’t by the wayside.”

Don’t overlook devising a proper business plan, even for a small operation. “I’m so excited for people in the industry who are creating their business plans this year because it’s a road map for their company that will make things run so much smoother. The more time and energy you spend working on your business plan, the more you’ll thrive.”

Every month, she and her husband focus on one thing they’d like to make strides in. The first month they got incorporated. Second, they got their Facebook page and website up to snuff. Third, they joined LANJ. Fourth, they started talks with the NLA to learn more about what they do for the industry, and they were encouraged to attend LCT East which they did and got a lot out of. “You need to be goal oriented and do a lot more listening than talking.”

Don’t bite off more than you can chew, and don’t invest in a ton of vehicles right from the start. You need to see what the demand is to grow properly.

Birth Of Something Big

The company got its start because her husband had an interest in working in the limo industry. One summer while he took off to spend time with their children, Sheehy did research and they decided to make it their third business. They also own Mini Socialites Pediatric Therapy, which serves children from birth to age 18, as well as Mini Socialites Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that helps children with special needs and their families.

Mercedes CLS 500

Mercedes CLS 500

The pride of their fleet is a Mercedes CLS 500. They wanted to start with very low overhead and already owned the vehicle. The biggest start-up cost for them was commercial insurance and licensing. However, social media is free, so they didn’t need a marketing budget. They got the word out through Facebook posts on the company’s page, and started their website. Sheehy says the Warren police department was instrumental in helping them make sure they had all of their paperwork in order to be in compliance with state and town guidelines to operate legally.

They are now growing gradually, and just implemented an online reservation system on their website. Although they haven’t publicized it, they are already receiving requests.

“Convenience, trustworthiness, and reliability are what win clients over,” Sheehy says. “You can grow something successful and it doesn’t have to be an overnight boom as long as you’re gradually growing and keeping mistakes and overhead costs minimal.”

Looking At What’s Next

(l to r) Myles Bailey of Joy Rides, Sheehy, and Casey McNab of Community Transport Group at the 2018 LCT East Show.

(l to r) Myles Bailey of Joy Rides, Sheehy, and Casey McNab of Community Transport Group at the 2018 LCT East Show.

Sheehy notes their business plan has been working out and they’ve been making progress. “We are constantly evaluating every month and setting clear goals. Everything we do is with a driven purpose, methodical, and well-planned. Staying disciplined has gotten us this far.”

The couple is plans to buy their second vehicle, which will either be an Audi Q7 or Chevrolet Suburban. They serve many large families in their area, so they believe a large vehicle will help them stay comfortable. They also plan on starting to hire additional independent operator chauffeurs and creating experience packages.

“We don’t just want to do airport runs and date nights. We’re in talks with our local personal contacts to form things like Sweet 16 packages and winery tours. The easier you can make it for the client, the easier it is for them to say yes.”

Operator Fun Fact

Sheehy was a Division I WVU scholar athlete who graduated Summa Cum Laude and played soccer all over the world in addition to also being voted the best player in New Jersey, Parade All American, and Umbro All American. She says soccer was a big influence in making her who she is today and how she approaches her businesses.

“The work ethic I developed and the determination I had through coming back after multiple ACL surgeries made me realize nothing could stand in my way. Anything is possible when you put your mind to it.”

Related Topics: business management, customer service, new jersey, New Jersey operators, New Operator, small business, small-fleet operators

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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