LCT contributing writer Bill Atkins raises some important questions about how the limousine industry’s longstanding practice of prioritizing value over price can be reconciled with the use of transportation apps. His comments below:Posted: November 28, 2012
I strongly believe that apps are an important part of a successful company. More and more people are using smart phones as their main source of communicating and also finding businesses. The big problem is not the app. Apps are great and are another extra convenience for our customers.
However, apps that feature cheap price or price as the differentiated are a big problem. We are in the limousine business. This is a service business and even the word limousine causes someone to imagine top level, quality service. Too many limousine services are dumbing down their service to compete with taxi cabs and “transportation” companies.
I believe there is a big difference between a limousine and a transportation business. Why do operators come out with state of the art apps, only to feature cheap prices listed? I don’t see the Four Seasons, private country clubs and Mercedes-Benz marketing themselves as low price leaders.
Why do so many limousine services feature “guaranteed cheapest price” or list the service with a big cheap price number next to the service?
Instead, why not market your service in terms that will best suit your customer and the difference and benefit of being driven in a chauffeured limousine will provide? Why not let the taxis compete on lowest price and let them make no profit?
I say we in the limousine business sector need to start marketing the service level of using a limousine.
If the app on the cover of LCT Magazine showed a picture of the car, without a price next to it, it would be great, But once you feature cheap price, you can never expect and get full price.
Maybe operators aren’t confident in knowing what the differences are among a limousine as compared to an economy car service, and as a result, make the mistake of selling on cheapest price.
Ten years ago our nation suffered a great tragedy on 9/11.
Our country was attacked and we lost many innocent people who were just going to work, like every other day.
I lost some people I knew as well as many others I didn’t know, but still felt the loss.
As the owner of a limousine service, Red bank Limo, who drives a lot of people to and from Newark Airport, we lost 65% of our normal business that September.
Many of my colleagues and others in the limousine business went out of business. Some cut back on staff or downsized their fleets.
Instead of doing any of the above, I knew I had to think differently. Instead of cutting back, I added. Meaning that I drove less myself, so my drivers would have more work. I didn’t lay off any employees. I made sure we detailed all our cars more frequently than normal. We added free chilled bottled water with every ride. We arrived to every pick up even earlier than normal. We were friendlier and more attentive than ever before. We had team meetings to go over better ways to serve our customers. My goal was to do the best with what I had control of.
Now ten years later, my business is thriving. We have had consistent growth, have won The National Operator of the Year award as well as numerous Safety Excellence Awards.
The similarity to today’ economic views are similar.
I would like to challenge you to do what you have control of – better. What can you do better for your customers? What added value can you give to your customers? What things can you do for your staff so they can do their job better? How can you motivate your staff and yourself to look at things differently (better)?
Start your day a little earlier. Begin each day with an action plan:
1.) Write down an action plan of what you are going to get accomplished for that day.
2.) Call two customers a day and see how they are doing.
3.) Start giving to local charities and organizations that you have an affinity to.
Take control of what you really have control of and stop the “Stinking Thinking”.
When you are out and about, don’t get sucked into the negative complaining about things you can’t control.
Always bring a notepad with you & write down your ideas you get throughout the day. Add then to your action plan.
Your business can do better. You can make it happen.
Red Bank Limo
Now is the best time for Small Business.
It used to be that people chose who they did based on the size of the company.
Bigger was better. Not anymore.
With small businesses communicating better with their customers, small businesses are able to change and adapt quickly to what their customer wants.
Social media lets businesses know immediately what their customers are talking about and looking for.
People want great products and great service.
Ever call a big company and wait on hold or be treated indifferently by the person who answers the phone? When you call, has the owner him/herself actually answered?
I think of The Motor Vehicle Department, KMart and quite frankly many very large limo companies who advertise about having “the largest fleet!”
I know these companies are big, really big, but do you ever hear anyone sharing great customer service experiences about them? Probably not.
If you had an anniversary coming up, do you think your spouse would rather go to the largest restaurant company in the world (McDonald’s) or the local restaurant that has great reviews and the owner actually works at the restaurant and is there to see that everything goes just right?
Also, there is a big push on supporting Local Businesses. Local businesses reinvest the money they receive into supporting other local small businesses which encourages more local employment and supporting the small businesses that are right near where the customer lives.
The rules have changed and the big businesses haven’t figured it out yet. They just keep bragging about how big they are, while small businesses are growing, outsmarting them and serving the customer better.
So next time you are making a buying decision you should consider two thoughts. Is supporting a Local small business good for my community and will the small business serve me better than the too big business?
Red Bank Limo has been serving the Local Monmouth County area since 1987. We employ local people who are our drivers and staff. We buy our gas locally. We use the services of other local small businesses all which helps our community which has helped us to now be seeking additional staff to support our growth.
So next time you’re deciding who to do business with… Shop Local…Shop Small Business.
Bill Atkins, owner
Red Bank Limo
47 Reckless Place
Red Bank, NJ 07701
Red Bank Limo was Awarded The National Operator of the Year as well as The Asbury Park Press Readers Choice Award as well as numerous Safety Excellence Awards and is active in many Local Community Organizations.
You travel a lot.
It’s not always easy… it’s mostly hard work.
Long hours away from your home, away from your family.
You deserve more.
I know. I run a limousine service.
You work hard. You deserve the most generous rewards program offered.
Because you are our best customer you deserve Free Travel.
When you travel, you choose who provides the best for you. You like to be treated well and be recognized for being a loyal customer.
When you make a buying decision, you first look to the place where you have relationships.
So thinking about that and owning Red Bank Limo, which specializes in corporate repeat travelers, there was an “a-ha” moment.
You don’t like confusing “Point System” or when it’s nearly impossible to ever redeem your reward.
So here’s the scoop:
Red Bank Limo Rewards Program- Take Ten Trips get the Eleventh Free.
How much will your Free Trip cost you to redeem? Nothing. A Free Trip shouldn’t cost you anything.
How about making it easy?
How about Free Enrollment?
How about a web based system to easily track your progress, like at at Continental, Marriott & Hertz?
So here it is: redbanklimo.com rewards
But to make it even more generous , why not something more?
As the airlines do away with offering meals & snacks and other “Cost Cutting” slashing, why not get more?
Less isn’t more, It’s Less.
OK, sign up for the Red Bank Limo Rewards Program for Free and get One trip Credit toward the 10 trips needed to get your Free Trip?
You deserve to be treated well.
So what are your thoughts?
Do you belong to any Rewards programs? Which ones?
Which ones do you like best and why?
So again the simple Red Bank Limo Rewards Program is take Ten trips, get one free, Plus a One trip bonus toward your Ten, just for signing up.
Red Bank Limo Rewards 10:1
Bill Atkins, owner
With fuel prices dragging on an already mediocre recovery, one New Jersey operator bucks economic trends and provides a model for small operator success.
RED BANK, N.J. — Operator Bill Atkins of Red Bank Limo stands out in the chauffeured transportation industry for many reasons: He operates only six vehicles; works in the most competitive chauffeured market in the world (New York/New Jersey metro); doesn’t cut his rates; and reports consistent revenue growth despite the recession and its aftermath.
The 2010 LCT Operator Of The Year also provides an invaluable glimpse of the industry success, given that he is never shy about sharing his numbers or promoting his company. RED BANK LIMO operates Lincoln Town Car sedans and seven-passenger Chevrolet Suburbans.
Atkins most recently told LCT that his number of trips for Jan. 1 to April 11, 2011 is up 17% compared to the exact same period last year; for the same periods, revenues are up 20%. He estimates his business is 85% corporate/business travel-related and 15% leisure/retail.
This follows consistent revenue growth throughout the economically tough calendar years of 2008-2010. As a result, Atkins is now hiring and adding a reservationist, two day shift chauffeurs, and two night shift chauffeurs.
“By adding additional staff, this will allow more capacity for sales and more availability for drivers to do the extra work,” Atkins told LCT.
In a separate press release distributed by PRLog.com, Atkins further explained: “Our clients tend to be Monmouth County-based executives who take up to 50 business trips per year. People who work that hard also enjoy having a local premium service to meet their needs. With our additional staff, we can continue to serve our loyal business travelers.”
With a strong emphasis on meeting the needs of business travelers, Atkins has positioned his company to capitalize on the resurgent growth in business travel as detailed by a recent report from the Global Business Travel Association.
Atkins has been a strong proponent of not lowering rates during a recession, since such a strategy can cripple a chauffeured transportation company during a comeback. Instead, he opts for rewards programs, earned rides, and gift giveaways to repeat clients.
“I keep hearing people blaming the economy for being cheap and cutting prices and not making any profit,” Atkins told LCT this week. “You have to charge a fair price. It’s important for any company to be profitable. Discounts send the wrong message.”
With regards to rising fuel prices, Atkins said he has restored his 7% fuel surcharge since Jan. 1. Regular unleaded fuel in Atkins north New Jersey region costs about $3.60 per gallon. Atkins said he removed his fuel surcharge for most of 2010 when average local prices were $3 per gallon or less.
“I thought it would be ethical to take it off the surcharge when fuel prices came down,” Atkins said. “Many operators kept it. You should charge it only if gas prices go up.”
— Martin Romjue, LCT editor
For additional information about Red Bank Limo
Many times when we are shopping the one question we ask is “What’s you Rate?”. Bill Atkins, owner of red Bank Limo thinks that should be one of, but not “the most important” question.
Recently, there were two tragic bus accidents in the local New York & New Jersey area where 18 people were killed in the two separate crashes
In both cases, the drivers had numerous violations on their licenses and in fact one of the drivers had a manslaughter conviction.
There is speculation that perhaps driving at too fast a speed or even fatigue may have led to these fatal crashes.
There are a few other similarities too.
Both Bus companies had numerous safety violations and obviously didn’t screen their drivers safety records well enough to exclude these drivers from driving their passengers.
Both bus companies were known to offer the cheapest rates compared to the market of other bus companies.
Surely, the passengers didn’t consider what the safety records were and the risks that are involved when choosing a company only on “cheapest rate”.
“At Red Bank Limo, Red Bank, NJ, we take a lot of pride in who our drivers are.
First, after interviewing the applicant, all drivers are pre screened and have motor vehicle, criminal background and sexual predator background checks.
If this initial screening shows a perfect record, the drivers are individually trained by the owner, says Bill Atkins”
Additionally, the owner does random “drive alongs” with each driver to ensure the highest safety and customer service standards are being maintained.
This extra training has had it’s rewards.
Red Bank Limo has been awarded The National Safety Excellence Award, by Lancer Insurance five times in the last six years.
This award recognizes Red Bank Limo as the top five Nationwide and the top rated company in Safety in New Jersey.
This ensures that the customers who travel with Red Bank Limo are going to have a safe ride.
Red Bank Limo. The most trusted and safest Limo Company in New Jersey.
So perhaps the first question should be “What is your safety Record?”
Find out more about Red Bank Limo at www.redbanklimo.com
2010 National Operator of the Year. Red Bank Limo. ”The Most Trusted Way to Get You to Where You Want to Go.”
Please join us for ‘The Art of Networking Breakfast Seminar’ this Wednesday at the Doubletree Hotel (Tinton Falls, NJ) from 8am-11am.
Follow the below link to a Blog post by our friend Barb at The Comfort Inn Middletown for more information!
We’re looking forward to seeing you there!
Yearly, Lunch Break of Red Bank provides more than 40,000 meals to those in need. Right now, need is higher then ever.
This Thanksgiving will be no exception.
This year, we’re partnering with Lunch Break so that everyone can have a great holiday meal – no exceptions! On Thanksgiving, we’ll have our Town Cars transporting folks to and from Lunch Break for their holiday dinner.
Each one of our drivers donated their time so that those in need can get to their holiday meal easily, quickly and safely. We couldn’t think of a better way to spend our Thanksgiving holiday!
This will be our second year contributing to this worthwhile cause and partnering with our friends at Lunch Break.
This Thanksgiving, we’re thankful for the continued support of our incredible clients. It is after all, their support that allows us to help out and donate to wonderful local organizations, like Lunch Break, year round.
Thank you and have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!
** Please think of Lunch Break in you Holiday giving this year. **
The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties works to eliminate hunger in our community daily, which is extremely important work for hungry families in our area! It is an upstanding organization that we at Red Bank Limo strive to support year-round through donations and offering our services as prizes for various FoodBank events. You, our clients, have shown us great support and we want to pass that support along to our community!
Now, you can help too! The Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties has teamed up with the rest of NJ FoodBanks to ‘Check-Out Hunger’ and they need all of our help! When you see a ‘Check-Out Hunger’ display at your local food store this winter, be sure to do just that. One donation per person can really add up. In fact, for every dollar donated, the FoodBanks can provide a family with 9 pounds of groceries!
Yearly, the New Jersey Federation of Food Banks work to provide food for about 850,000 people across NJ; let’s help the FoodBanks increase that number this year NJ!
Visit http://www.checkouthungernj.org/ to learn more or to make an online donation.