Operations

One-SUV Operation Makes Strong First Impression

Lexi Tucker
Posted on September 11, 2019

Michael Youakim has a heart for serving others and loves the role of chauffeur. Making people's experiences top notch makes him happy.

Michael Youakim has a heart for serving others and loves the role of chauffeur. Making people's experiences top notch makes him happy.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Brothers Francois and Michael Youakim, owners of RideLIT RDU, work together like the yin to each other’s yang. Francois runs the daily operations, while Mike is behind the wheel serving clients.

Birth Of A Service

The pair were born and raised in Los Angeles to a large family. Twelve years ago, Mike and Francois moved out to Raleigh, where older brother Francois helped raise Mike. The two went through various challenges growing up, but Michael found his calling when Francois bought him a Lexus hybrid. Mike started driving for Uber and developed great relationships with his passengers.

His stint with the TNC inspired Mike to turn it into a party vehicle. He loved how the loud music and flashing lights built his passengers’ excitement. One thing led to another, and a local news channel covered him. It was at that point Francois, a pastor and entrepreneur with multiple businesses, saw an opportunity to up the service levels even further and combined forces with his brother to start RideLIT RDU.

Pursuing Professional

They sold the Lexus and switched to a black Chevrolet Tahoe; it was an SUV that could evolve from party to corporate at the flick of a switch. It’s entirely customized with lights that can be changed from white to a myriad of other colors. An iPad allows them to pick their own music and can help business travelers in a pinch.

“When Mike does an airport pickup, he often gets people who have just got off the plane and haven’t had time to charge up their phone. The iPad allows them to continue working without missing a beat,” Francois says. Passengers also can see the route Mike takes through a GPS feature on the iPad, eliminating the need to look over the chauffeur’s shoulder to see how long it will take to reach their destination.  

Michael is always ready to greet his passengers and make them feel special.

Michael is always ready to greet his passengers and make them feel special.

In intense rainy or sunny weather, Mike ensures his passengers are covered by holding an umbrella for them. When female clients are dressed in a skirt, he uses it to ensure they have privacy when exiting the vehicle. “He even wears leather gloves to add to his professional look,” Francois says.

Selling Themselves

As younger operators, they have fully embraced the marketing potential of social media and use Instagram and Facebook to spread the word about their company. They are also working with company Marketing 360 to refine their processes.

Networking and cross-promoting with other local businesses has helped them tremendously. When they drop off clients at a club, the vehicle brings a lot of attention due to the lighting and sound system. They’ve gotten requests to park outside of venues, pose for photos, and then these companies share their photos on their own social media pages which help them achieve local notoriety.

Whether it's for a party or business meeting, the brothers' vehicle is versatile. 

Whether it's for a party or business meeting, the brothers' vehicle is versatile.

 

They’ve since learned a lot goes into marketing to the types of clients you want to attract. “When we started, we were using an Uber-like vehicle, which is cool when you’re catering to the college crowd. But when we upgraded to the Tahoe, we learned we had to shift our marketing to those who could afford the level of service we planned to provide,” Francois says.

They make everything as convenient as possible, including communicating through text messaging and enabling mobile payments. They also plan on staying small and not growing too big too fast. “When businesses get too big, it gets harder for them to maintain consistent customer service.”  

Rocking Their Niche

Francois says it was important for them to start slow. “This helps make things easier when you do make a mistake so you’re not moving so fast you don’t have time to course correct. Working fast puts too much pressure on you, and sometimes makes you have to compromise. You have to be able to stick to your core values.”

He says the biggest success he and his brother have had is making sure their clients have fun. “We enjoy what we are doing. Sometimes we’ll just drive the car because we want to. I’m also a pastor, so I drive it to church on Sunday,” he says.

When he goes on business trips, Mike will pick him up from the airport and turn heads. 

The brothers have their eyes on a Rolls-Royce next and hope to pursue the unique luxury vehicle market. “We want to stand apart from everyone else.”

 — [email protected]

FAST FACTS

Location: Raleigh, N.C.

Owner: Francois and Mike Youakim

Founded: 2019

Vehicle Type: Chevrolet Tahoe

Fleet Size: 1

Employees: 2

Website: https://www.ridelitrdu.com/

Related Topics: Chevrolet, Chevrolet Tahoe, customer service, LCTFast40, marketing/promotions, Millennials, North Carolina operators, retail markets, Sales & Marketing, small business, small-fleet operators, social media marketing, SUVs, Uber

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
Comments ( 2 )
  • Michael Rebresh

     | about 6 days ago

    It’s about time the trade magazines recognized one car operators. While these guys are new, there are thousands of us one car operators who have been doing it for 20 years or more. We are the Proof that you can make it on your own. We are the originators of niche marketability, we are the small business men and women who deserve more say In what happens within our industry.

  • See all comments
More Stories