Operations

High Turnout Hits Chauffeur Hiring Event

Lexi Tucker
Posted on October 30, 2019

TNC drivers came in droves to hear the benefits of working for a luxury transportation company.

TNC drivers came in droves to hear the benefits of working for a luxury transportation company.

CHICAGO, Ill. — There’s an obvious difference between people who choose to work for Uber or Lyft as drivers and those who can be classified as true chauffeurs. That doesn’t mean transportation network company (TNC) drivers can’t be molded into customer service centric ambassadors for your company.

The Illinois Limousine & Bus Association took a chance on Oct. 10 by holding a recruitment event in the TNC lot at the O'Hare International Airport and were overwhelmed at the interested candidates who greeted them.

Making It Happen

Paula DeBiasi, executive director of the Illinois Limousine & Bus Association (ILLBA) and owner-operator of Chicago CoachWorks

Paula DeBiasi, executive director of the Illinois Limousine & Bus Association (ILLBA) and owner-operator of Chicago CoachWorks

Paula DeBiasi, executive director of the Illinois Limousine & Bus Association (ILLBA) and owner-operator of Chicago CoachWorks, said the idea came about because the members of the association had, like many operators across the country, been grappling with the issue of recruiting and retaining chauffeurs.

Recently, the members of the board dove deeper into the topic on one of their calls. “We brainstormed and talked about the number of TNC drivers who have started looking to earn their chauffeur license,” she says. The leaders of the association grappled with whether it was a good or bad group to go after. They concluded it was such a large group, there’s no way they could all be bad.

The group contacted their local airport authority, and since they have fostered such a good relationship with them, were easily granted access to set up a small tent in the TNC lot.

They might need a bigger tent next time they run an event like this!

They might need a bigger tent next time they run an event like this!

“Because we weren’t setting up anything permanent, they were very receptive. We have been working hard to have a good relationship with the airport authority by going to their meetings and participating in discussions related to ground transportation. We reached out to the director, and there was no problem. It’s become a mutually beneficial relationship,” DeBiasi says.

In Demand, Not On Demand

Art Rento Sr., President of Pontarelli Companies

Art Rento Sr., President of Pontarelli Companies

Representatives from major Chicago-area companies decided they would test the inaugural activity. Art Rento Sr., President of Pontarelli Companies, and Douglas Price, chauffeur manager for Windy City Limousine and Bus, were both astounded by the turn out.

Within the first hour or so, both companies started to run out of business cards and fliers and had to send people back to their offices to bring back more materials. While coffee and donuts were enticing, it seemed the promise of a better career was even more so. The group set up in the lot around 9 am and didn’t head out until around 4 pm.

“The drivers were very receptive. At any point in time, we had eight to 10 talking to us. A lot of them said they weren’t making enough money and were unhappy. So far, we’ve had 18 come in for interviews, and there’s still a bunch we haven’t gotten to yet,” Rento says.

The most frequent inquiries he received were on hours and pay structure, Price says. Candidates interested in working as independent operators also wanted to know about vehicle types and insurance requirements.

Douglas Price, chauffeur manager for Windy City Limousine and Bus

Douglas Price, chauffeur manager for Windy City Limousine and Bus

“We were overwhelmed all day long, so we definitely plan on doing it again,” Rento says. “These are people looking for a career to help support their families. They are sick of dealing with drunks in the evening who mess with their car and are looking for more respectable clientele. They like driving, just not the customers they get through the TNCs. This event was beyond our wildest dreams with the positive reception. Why spend money on running ads when we are seeing more response from this?

“We are high-end companies that seek and strive for the best chauffeurs in the industry,” Price says. “Uber and Lyft have some diamonds in the rough, and we can mold them through our extensive training program. It’s encouraging to see new blood, and I would say we had a productive day.”

Developing Diamonds

(L to R) Price with Anuj Patel, director of strategic development at Pontarelli Companies

(L to R) Price with Anuj Patel, director of strategic development at Pontarelli Companies

For other associations across the country looking to put on a similar event, there are some points to remember. DeBiasi suggests operators cast aside all negative connotations you have of Uber and Lyft as companies. “Take a look at the drivers’ customer service scores and if they have a 4.9 or higher, they may be good for your company. Give everyone a chance. These people are not the enemy; they are just trying to make a living.”

Rento says next time he’d add a sign that says, “Become a professional chauffeur.” “I was under the impression we’d walk up to them, and the opposite happened. Many asked us why we were there, so it’s important to be clear as to what you are there for.”

Price recommends coming prepared with fliers and info applicants can take home. “It also helps to have pens and little reminders with company logos. Something they can take with them so they can be reminded and review later.”

Related Topics: airports, hiring, hiring chauffeurs, Illinois Limousine Association, Illinois operators, Lyft, recruiting chauffeurs, TNCs, Uber

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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