|Hollywood Limousine President Ricky Brar|
Competing with more than 20 other limousine companies in the Province of Manitoba’s capital city—some of which have been in business for more than 30 years— Hollywood Limo has prevailed as a regional leader just seven years after its inception in the summer of 2006. The company’s persistent track record of firsts-and-onlys within the local market has earned it the reputation of having the most distinctive and state-of-the-art fleet, as well as the most consistently high-level customer service in Winnipeg.
“The key to our success,” says President Ricky Brar, “is keeping an open mind, getting vehicles that clients are used to getting in larger cities, and keeping up-to-date with technology.” Hollywood’s diverse 35-vehicle fleet includes SUVs, stretch limos, SUV stretches, party buses and their most recent additions, six new Lincoln MKTs. Brar proudly reports that Hollywood is the city’s only company that operates MKTs, or any brand new vehicles for that matter. “All the other companies buy second-hand vehicles, so we actually were the first in 2009, when we introduced the brand new Mercedes Benz E-Class to our fleet, and ever since then we’ve had the reputation of having the most unique fleet in Winnipeg.”
Furthermore, Brar credits the purchasing of new versus used vehicles to long-term cost-efficiency associated with having a more fuel-efficient fleet that requires less maintenance and comes equipped with better technology. Many of the vehicles in Hollywood’s fleet are equipped with Live Bell TV, WiFi, tablets, POS terminals, and the latest GPS tracking and dispatching technology.
“Technology means efficiency,” says Brar, yet “nobody else in Winnipeg uses dispatch software,” which Hollywood has been using for the past three years. Not only does investing in technology make operations more efficient for the company, but more importantly, Brar points out, it improves the client’s experience. “Whatever we can do to make it convenient for the client,” he says, “we try and do it.”
The company’s commitment to delivering customer service that not only exceeds expectations, but dependably does so every time, is what the Winnipeg Airport Authority cites as their rationale behind designating Hollywood Limo as the Official Limousine Service of the Winnipeg International Airport. “Hollywood shares our vision of adding value to the traveling public through the delivery of excellent services,” said Barry Rempel, president and CEO of the WAA.
“Creating a positive first impression of our city and meeting or exceeding the needs of customers is our shared vision.” Brar happily reports that the spike in business since being awarded the airport contract has “been unbelievable,” and he is thrilled to have such a large organization validate that Hollywood Limo is a dependable company.
“The main thing Winnipeg lacks in the limousine industry,” says Brar, “is consistency,” which he believes isa key area of differentiation for his company. Beyond having the best luxury vehicles, the ability to deliver a consistent customer service experience clearly depends on the company’s staff of more than 40 chauffeurs. Accordingly, the company requires all of their drivers to go through a training program designed specifically for Hollywood Limousine, on top of the mandated chauffeur license from the Manitoba Taxi Cab Board. In addition, Brar says Hollywood is Winnipeg’s only limo company with a uniform in effect— black and white, of course. “It’s the same universal uniform wherever you go in the world, but no one else in Winnipeg enforces that. A lot of our clients are world travelers, and I think they should expect this in Winnipeg as well, because we are comparing ourselves to the larger cities—we want be compared to New York and Toronto.”
Despite Manitoba’s capital city being on the smaller side, with a population of just over 700,000, there is a certain serendipity to Hollywood Limo’s big-city attitude considering recent expansions to Winnipeg’s otherwise steady economy. With the renovation of the Winnipeg Convention Center and the construction of around ten hotels over the past few months, Brar has seen a large influx of conferences coming to the city, which has brought a substantial amount of corporate business to the company, the likes of which Brar has never seen before. Along with a “long overdue” new airport terminal and the Canadian Human Rights Museum, scheduled to open next year, Brar says these new developments have put Winnipeg on the same scale as Canada’s major cities.
While the local economic conditions have historically been good to the livery industry, the main challenge to the region’s operators has typically been the geographic location and the weather that comes along with its high latitude. “We’re also known as Winterpeg,” says Brar. “It’s just unbelievable how much snow we get, so trying to maneuver around in the snow and the cold temperatures is not easy on the vehicles or our chauffeurs.” Between that and dealing with flight delays caused by bad weather, the winters in Winnipeg can seem incredibly long to a limo operator—particularly because wintery conditions can last six or seven months. “That’s one of the reasons our company introduced the MKTs,” says Brar, “because they’re all-wheel drive, which will help us to provide a safer ride to our clients in the wintertime.”
The extreme Winterpeg conditions, however, are nothing new to Brar and his father, Paul, who is also vice president and co-founder of the company. A Winnipeg native and transportation industry veteran with 30 years of experience, the senior Brar of the family business is the go-to advisor of the operation. “He has a lot of knowledge and experience,” says Ricky. “He’s seen people in the industry come and go, and because we don’t want to make mistakes that other operators have made in the past, we always go to him for advice before we make a major—or even a small—decision.”
Though the Brars were the first to start the business in 2006, General Manager Jag Singh came on board later that same year, and Ricky describes him as “the go-to guy for pretty much everything.” Unified since their modest, onevehicle inception, this successful trio is one that always inspires Ricky’s confidence. “Between the three of us, we can do anything,” he says.
That momentum is carrying Hollywood Limousine to the end of their most successful year ever. Fortified by all the new business stemming from the airport contract awarded to the company, Brar hopes to refine their focus on corporate clients, and increase inbound affiliate business. As a member of the National Limousine Association, as well as the Winnipeg and Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, he is optimistic about the potential to build affiliate relationships by networking within these “big extended families.”
Continuing their tried-and-true strategy of differentiating themselves from their competitors, Brar’s goal for the future is to expand Hollywood Limousine to other major Canadian cities. “Hopefully by next year,” he says, “we’ll expand into another large Canadian city, if not two.” To get there, the company will continue to invest in educating the public about why Hollywood Limousine stands out from the Winnipeg crowd, through billboards, TV and radio campaigns, internet advertising, and many other avenues (they even have a YouTube video). Spreading the word, Brar says, is important, but keeping that word is imperative. It’s just unbelievable how much snow we get, so trying to maneuver around in the snow and the cold temperatures is not easy on the vehicles or our chauffeurs. Hollywood Limousine’s distinctive, state-of-the-art fleet. For more info, visit www.hollywoodlimoservice.com. //LD
Written by Adam Leitenberger
Associate Editor & Digital Media Manager