Saturday, June 29, 2013

4 Ways to Land Corporate Clients (and Keep Them)

Corporate clients can be the catalyst you need to take your small or mid-size livery company to the next level. Because business travelers are likely to be repeat customers, and (depending on their rank within their company) likely to book your high-end vehicles for service, they have the potential to provide you with substantial and consistent revenue. However, given the rising costs across all transportation sectors—as well as sweeping cuts to corporate travel budgets across many industries—it is up to you to make sure your company turns this potential into a reality.

Here are four things to focus on if you want to land corporate clients, and keep them:

1. Offer competitive pricing

The costs of corporate travel have sharply increased in recent years due to higher fuel prices, taxes, and airport fees, among other factors. Although the economy is recovering, travel programs are continuing to be funded more prudently by travel managers, who are primarily concerned with ensuring they are getting the best possible value for their companies. According to a recent survey of global travel executives conducted by Travelport, more than 84 percent of executives say “rising airfares and hotel rates have negatively affected their travel programs in the last three years.”

The Global Business Travel Association’s latest projections for domestic business travel both confirm and clarify the survey’s findings, as spending is up 5.1 percent from last year, while the actual number of business trips taken is down by about 1.1 percent. Here’s what these numbers mean to you: fewer trips booked means the market for corporate clients is more competitive, and higher spending means that offering competitive pricing is one of the best ways your company can differentiate itself. Executives still need to travel, but their companies’ newfound resolve to be efficient and cost-effective in their travel budgets requires ground transportation firms to have good judgment in their approach to cost reduction.

2. Dispatch the right vehicle to the right client, and buy fleet vehicles with higher corporate demand 

Fleet composition has changed remarkably from the more traditional days of stretches and Town Cars.
One of the most recent innovations has been the addition of hybrid, flex-fuel, and other “green” vehicles, which is a great way to reduce fuel costs and the environmental impact of running a ground transportation company. Many clients may not mind a “green” vehicle—in fact, there are plenty who prefer them—but the high-ranking corporate executive is not likely to be one of them. Strategically reserving the luxury editions in your fleet, and dispatching them to accommodate the expectations of your VIP executive clients, is a common sense practice that can wow new customers, and make a new account a repeat one. Likewise, it is important to remember that one of the most profitable forms of corporate travel work comes in the form of group trips, and therefore, investing in buses and coaches can be a boon to any firm with a desire to increase their flexibility in being able to service corporate clients.

3. Demonstrate security and safety

Security and safety are major concerns of corporate travelers, especially in light of the number of recent tragedies that have been in the news. Having the ability to reassure clients of your chauffeurs’ and vehicles’ safety certifications is an underestimated way to bolster your reputation and the confidence that potential clients will have in you. Although clients desire the peace of mind that they will be in good hands on the road, it is also important to explain to corporate prospects that digital security is one of your company’s top priorities. Going out of your way to establish that their entire transaction will be conducted with effective security precautions is also very important in terms of establishing a trustworthy reputation.

4. Maintain a good image, and consistently great customer service 

According to the results of last year’s Limo Digest Industry Guide survey, 63 percent of respondents enforced a dress code requiring their chauffeurs to wear a black suit with a tie. As maintaining a professional image can be important to many corporate executives, even in terms of their travel accommodations, a consistent and prestigious appearance of your chauffeur staff will elevate the experience of traveling in one of your company’s vehicles, and differentiate your company from your competition. Maintaining a prestigious, polished appearance in all aspects of your business is equally important, from the smallest details like keeping your vehicles impeccably clean, to making sure your website is regularly updated. Furthermore, it is quickly becoming a marketing necessity to establish not only a social media presence, but an active and appropriate one. Inactivity on social media is a missed opportunity to create a stronger, more personal relationship with the clients who follow you on Facebook or Twitter, but on the other hand, one distasteful status update or tweet can tarnish your existing relationships. Interact, but remember the difference between your business page and your personal profile.

Forging relationships with corporate clients can be the growth opportunity you need to take your livery company to that next tier of revenue. Corporate accounts can bring your company high-end, repeat customers, and if you put in not just hard work, but smart work, your company can become a contender in the competitive marketplace for this class of clientele. // LD

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