Breaking Up is Hard To Do

When to Tell Your Affiliate Partner to Hit the Road

Focus, People!

Three Ways to Manage Distracted Employees

Thinking Ahead

Four Steps to Reinvent, Rebrand and Revive Your Business

The Real Impact of Leadership

How to Leave a Lasting Impression

Q and A:

Martin Ross, Ross Limousine



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Florida Poll Shows Consumer Opposition to Uber Business Model

In January, Mears Transportation Group, Central Florida's largest taxi and luxury car operator, commissioned a statewide poll surveying over 3,000 Florida consumers. This data collection initiative was supported by the Florida Taxicab Association, and conducted by Frederick Polls in order to determine public opinion on the vehicle-for-hire industry, laws regulating the industry and Uber's business model in particular.


The poll determined that, of the 3,024 Florida residents surveyed...
  • 83% think Uber should be required to license their drivers the same as the taxi industry;
  • 92% want Uber to carry traditional liability insurance like taxis and other transportation providers;
  • 83% think Uber should serve ALL customers without discrimination;
  • 69% believe Uber's fares (what they charge passengers) should be regulated to always be the same instead of the controversial "price surging" that the company employs, charging higher rates during inclement weather or a sporting events;
  • 89% think Uber drivers should have to go through the same background checks that local taxi drivers must complete; and
  • 78% of Floridians believe Uber should adhere to the same regulations that taxis must go through on the local level.
 You can view detailed information about the poll at the Florida Taxicab Association website. These findings are especially revealing in light of the fact that Uber lobbyists have pressured the Florida Senate Transportation Committee to take legislative actions that would prevent the enforcement of regulations designed to protect consumers.

Monday, February 24, 2014

New Reservationist Hired at ETS International

ETS International, a premier ground transportation firm with facilities in Randolph, MA and Warwick, RI, has recently announced the newest addition to their team.

Cathy Coyne has been named as the company's new reservationist, the responsibilities of which include providing customer service to clients, affiliates and prospects. 

John M. Greene, ETS’ president, said of his new team member, “Cathy’s extensive background in the travel industry will be a huge plus in further servicing our customers.  We are happy to have her as part of the ETS team.” Her professional background includes serving as senior client management consultant for Sentient Jet in Weymouth, MA, and as a corporate travel consultant for Fresh Pond Travel in Cambridge, MA.  
ETS International operates a fleet of luxury sedans, SUVs, limousines and executive vans in the Boston and Providence area, as well as a global network that services cities around the world. ETS International has been awarded Limo Digest’s Most Charitable Company and Limousine Operator of the Year (Large Category). For more information, call (888) 366-3388 or visit www.etsintl.net




Caz Limo Closes After 13 Years


Caz Limo, a popular ground transportation provider operating in Central New York, abruptly closed its doors last week, citing financial challenges. Little, if any, commentary has been made by the former owners or employees of the now defunct company, with the single exclusion of a letter from the company's president, Patricia Dugal, which was posted on the front door of its Syracuse office:

"Due to the financial situation at Caz Limo Inc. we regret to inform you that Caz Limo has closed its doors after 13 years. It is devastating news to everyone that has worked so hard to the make the company thrive and prosper for so long. Thank you for your understanding in this matter."

Caz Limo was a family-owned business that provided chartered limousine and bus services for proms, weddings and group tours since its inception in 2000.

A nearby operator, Birnie Bus Tours, headquartered in Rome, NY, has taken the initiative to honor service contracts made by local customers of Caz Limo. To learn more about Birnie Bus Tours visit www.BirnieBus.com.

James River Transportation Makes News this Month


Richmond, Virginia's James River Transportation is making headlines this month, as one of Metro Magazine's Top 50 Motorcoach Fleets, and as the recipient of the International Motorcoach Group (IMG) Safety Award.

The top transportation companies in North America are recognized by Metro annually in this prestigious list, determined by survey and designed to "provide an annual snapshot of the industry." This is James River Transportation's 14th consecutive year being recognized as part of the Top 50. For more information about Metro Magazine's Top 50 Motorcoach Fleets list, visit www.metro-magazine.com.

On top of that, earlier this month the company announced that it has been awarded the annual IMG Safety Award. The IMG is an invitation-only group of the best North American operators who are committed to providing exceptional travel experiences by elevating industry performance standards. Additional information about the IMG can be found at www.imgcoach.com.

President of James River Transportation, Stephen Story, said, "Our success is due to dedicated employees who are devoted to providing safe, reliable service to our clients." This recognition of the company's safety is well deserved, as it regularly receives the highest ratings from the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Transportation Safety Exchange. James River Transportation was also the only ground transportation company invited to Washington, D.C., to participate in the National Transportation Safety Board's Safety Forum.

James River Transportation is a full service transportation provider and event planning organization serving the Richmond, Williamsburg and Norfolk areas. For more information visit www.JamesRiverTrans.com.

LTI Worldwide Promotes New Meetings & Events Manager


LTI Worldwide Limousine has recently announced the promotion of Walace Nogueira as the company's new Meetings & Events Manager.

Nogueira says he is excited about his new role at LTI, and since he joined the company back in 2009, the experience he has gained in the reservation and dispatch departments helped to prepare him for his current position. "I hope to utilize this experience in my new role," he said.

Furthermore, Nogueira looks forward to developing and strengthening his company's professional relationships throughout the industry by ensuring success of group travel arrangements. As the "main point of contact from start to finish," he emphasizes in his introductory correspondence that "the trust [clients] bestow in me will not be taken lightly."

We warmly congratulate Nogueira on his promotion! For more information about LTI Worldwide Limousine visit www.ltilimo.com.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

2013 Large Operator of the Year Award: Rose Chauffeured Transportation


H.A. Thompson started Rose Chauffeured Transportation in 1985 with his two sons and one antique Rolls Royce. Today, it is the leading ground transportation provider in the Carolinas, one of the region’s most recognizable local brands, and one of the largest chauffeured transportation companies in the country. With a dynamic management team playing active roles in a number of industry groups, and a nationwide network of more than 400 affiliates, we are proud to acknowledge the hard work of the team at Rose Chauffeured Transportation, and all they do to raise the standards of the ground transportation industry.

2013 Midsize Operator of the Year Award: FTL Limo

FTL Limo Midsize Operator of the Year


FTL Limo is one of the largest party bus and SUV / Hummer limousine providers in the United States, servicing central, west and southeast Florida, including the Florida Keys. FTL Limo boasts their dedication to customer satisfaction is one of the highest in the industry, and their super-functional website paired with a reputation built on countless glowing testimonials backs up this claim. With one of their home state’s largest collections of executive limousines, SUV limousines and party buses, coupled with over 20 years experience in luxury ground transportation, FTL Limo is a standout company in the Fort Lauderdale marketplace.

2013 Small Operator of the Year Award: Bella Luxury Limousine


Bella Luxury Limousine was founded in 2010 to provide luxury ground transportation services to discerning passengers in the Lehigh Valley. Since its inception just three years ago, the company has experienced rapid growth, expanding from one vehicle to seven, and succeeding in its mission to build long-term relationships with repeat customers and affiliates across the country. President Collins Ogada has led the company through its three years of remarkable growth, increasing sales by more than 50% each year. As Bella thrives, it continues to draw much deserved attention from the industry.

2013 Association of the Year Award: Minority Limousine Operators of America


Formed by a group of minority operators to inform, educate, promote and unite the minority-owned livery industry across the United States, the Minority Limousine Operators of America is a proactive national organization whose work throughout 2013 deserves recognition. Since the MLOA hit the industry’s national scene, the organization has experienced tremendous growth in memberships and vendor support. With the mission of advancing the interests of the livery industry and its members on the local, state and national level, the MLOA continues to represent the finest minority-owned limousine operators in the United States who are dedicated to promoting quality service, and adhere to the highest standards in the ground transportation industry.

2013 Most Dedicated Association Leader Award: Maurice Brewster of the MLOA


An association is only as strong as its leader, and this year Maurice Brewster has led the MLOA into unprecedented visibility and involvement in the industry, from the local to the national level. With more than 33 years of experience, including his position as President and founder of Mosaic Global Transportation, Brewster has been committed to utilizing the expertise he has gained throughout his career while serving as President of the MLOA. He also serves as a Board Member of the Northern California Minority Supplier Development Council and Chairman of the Minority Business Enterprise Input Committee. Brewster’s remarkable amount of association involvement is commendable, and we are proud to recognize his efforts.

2013 Image Award: Reliance Worldwide


Since their inception in 2003, Reliance Worldwide has frequently been recognized by the industry for promoting their services across the globe. Because their high quality marketing initiatives are committed to promoting not only their own services, but the industry as a whole, we have selected Reliance Worldwide as the recipient of this year’s Image Award, for their continued excellence in marketing and branding.

2013 Community Service Award: Weldon Worldwide


Jerry Robbins of Weldon Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation supports numerous charitable organizations, and his contributions throughout the years have made lasting impressions on countless individuals and their communities. Perhaps most notably, Weldon has provided transportation to patients of the Boston-based Ellie Fund for over five years, an organization that provides critical support services for breast cancer patients. This year, the company was the exclusive transportation partner for the Ellie Fund’s largest fundraising event, and participated in several other fundraisers benefiting the organization as well. In addition, Robbins also contributes time, transportation and donations to the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation, the Newton-Wellesley Hospital Charitable Foundation, the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and to victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy, among others. We are proud to recognize Robbins’ tremendous support of charitable organizations this year and beyond.

2013 Dean Schuler Friend of the Industry Award: Tom Holden


This year, we are proud to celebrate the hard work and industry contributions of Tom Holden, Director of Operations & Affiliate Relations at Rose Chauffeured Transportation. As a regular contributing writer and long-standing member of Limo Digest’s editorial advisory board, President of the Charlotte Regional Limousine Association, and board member of both the Greater Charlotte Hospitality & Tourism and Charlotte Area Hotel Associations, Holden is a prolific contributor and true friend of the industry.

The 3rd annual Dean Schuler Friend of the Industry Award is named after the late Dean Schuler, owner of New Orleans’ Signature Livery, and industry icon and mentor. The recipient embodies the professionalism and attention to detail for which Dean is famous. The award celebrates the silent heroes of the industry.

2013 Chauffeur of the Year Award: Michael Coughlin of ETS International


Michael “M.C.” Coughlin became ETS International’s senior driver just a few years after joining the company. We applaud his fast-track advancement within the company, which his colleagues attribute to his professionalism and warm personality. Setting an example for other chauffeurs in ETS and beyond, Coughlin’s hard work and dedication to delivering consistently high quality customer service deserves this recognition, because it contributes to the pride and value of every chauffeur in the business.

2013 Best Website Award: LSW Chauffeured Transportation



When it comes to a great website, many factors come into consideration. Among the variables considered is ease-of-use, customer service, well-written and to-the-point verbiage and functionality. By analyzing the above factors, LSW Transportation’s website was the clear choice. Not only is it user-friendly, but the visual appeal of the site is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, stays true to the brand and delivers exactly what a website should.

2013 Sustainability Award: Knight's Airport Service


This year’s Sustainability Award goes to Knight’s Airport Limousine for the environmental work they’ve done in 2013. Working closely with Roush Clean Tech, the Propane Education and Research Council, New England Propane Association, and Massachusetts Senator Michael O. Moore, the company was instrumental in fighting for state regulations allowing propane to pass through the Massachusetts tunnels. Knight’s also added an 18,000 gallon Propane fueling station to their property, and converted 8 of their fleet vehicles to propane auto gas, and plans to convert each new van they add in the future. In addition, Knight’s equips their vehicles with GPS to calculate the most fuel efficient routes, and offers shared van services in order to reduce their environmental impact, and promote a more environmentally aware culture.

2013 Best Social Media Award: ETS International


Anyone who has ever met  John M. Greene would know that he is the definition of “social.” So it comes as no surprise that his company, ETS International, would excel at social media. ETS International has benefited tremendously from the social aspect of the internet, utilizing everything from Facebook, downloadable whitepapers on their optimized website, stories on LinkedIn and tweeting regularly. ETS International has even integrated HubSpot into their online presence. That, combined with new and original content weekly, makes ETS International’s all-out online presence second to none.

2013 Year in Review



2013 was certainly an interesting year for the staff at Limo Digest, and also for the ground transportation industry. Let’s recap some of the top stories of the past year.

1. Fire and Safety
Safety has been at the forefront of the industry’s collective consciousness this year. In May, a tragic limousine fire on the San Mateo Bridge that took the lives of five people made national news, and for months after America followed the investigation. Operators throughout the luxury ground transportation industry became committed to finding out what caused the fire, and how to prevent it from happening again in the future.

As a result of the tragic limousine fire, the California legislature worked with the Greater California Limousine Association between May and September to create new requirements on stretched limousines with the goal of improving passenger safety. With the passage of Senate Bills 109 and 338, the legislature successfully improved limo safety by requiring routine inspections, fire extinguishers and push-out windows on appropriate vehicles as determined by discourse between the GCLA and California Senators—specifically, stretched limousines with a seating capacity of 9 or fewer passengers.

Amendments to the legislation are expected to continue this year, and the GCLA is expected to continue negotiating with California legislative officials in order to improve passenger safety in ways that take into consideration costs and implementation for operators.

2. Health Care
This was the year that the Affordable Care Act began its highly publicized (and rocky) roll out.  Between a large number of new and unfamiliar rules and regulations, and postponement after postponement of deadlines for employer requirements, we thought it might be useful to summarize what’s expected of employers, and when.

At the beginning of the year, proposed regulations on the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions of the Affordable Care Act were issued, but by mid-year the deadline of January 2014 was postponed to January 2015.

Those regulations include a fee of $2,000 per full-time employee, excluding the first 30 employees, on employers with more than 50 employees that do not offer coverage and have at least one full-time employee who receives a premium tax credit. Employers with more than 50 employees that offer coverage but have at least one full-time employee receiving a premium tax credit, will pay the lesser of $3,000 for each employee receiving a premium credit or $2,000 for each full-time employee, excluding the first 30 employees. Confusing, right? Check out the infographic below to help clarify employer responsibilities:

Obama Care Medical Coverage



3. Rogue Apps
Competition from mobile apps—rogue apps, as they have come to be known in our industry—like Uber, Lyft and SideCar continued to increase in 2013. Accordingly, regulatory battles waged on, literally all over the world, with the support of luxury ground transportation associations and their members. At the beginning of 2013, ride-sharing start-ups like Lyft and SideCar were mostly contained in San Francisco, but have since expanded aggressively in order to compete with the rapid growth of Uber, the most notorious and wide-reaching of the rogue apps. We’ve put together a timeline summarizing the year’s biggest developments in the rogue app industry.

Uber 2013 Year in Review

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Atlanta Cadillac Dealer a True Class Act

Classic Cadillac has firm roots in its home city of Atlanta, which have nourished the family-owned dealership’s steady growth over its 20 year history. Led by Owner and General Manager Michael Domenicone—who for years prior worked alongside his father and the company’s previous owner, Pat Domenicone—Classic Cadillac has grown to become the number one volume Cadillac dealer in Georgia, while still maintaining its decidedly non-corporate, neighborly presence as an active member of the Atlanta community.

Classic Cadillac in Atlanta


“One of the nice things is that we are not a corporate-owned store,” says General Sales Manager Brian Long. “We are a family-owned dealership, and a lot of our employees have been here double digit years—several of them 20 plus years—so it is a very friendly environment, and we have the freedom and the flexibility to do what it takes to take care of customers.”

Long himself began working for the dealership about three and a half years ago, and crediting his ability to provide excellent customer service to the company’s culture of freedom and flexibility, he plans to be part of the Classic Cadillac team until his retirement. “I want to be here to take care of all our customers,” he says, “but we’ve especially got a soft spot for the livery industry.”

Having been the number one volume dealer in the state of Georgia for four years straight, Long says that the team at Classic resolved to put that personal level of customer service first when expanding into the livery industry.

“When we decided we wanted to participate in the professional vehicle program,” he says, “we knew that it was going to require giving top notch customer service to livery operators, from reaching out to them, to supporting their causes, and making sure they get priority treatment when they are in for service. When their vehicles are down, it’s income out of their pocket, so we make every effort to ensure their vehicles get pushed to the front and get taken care of ahead of others.”

In addition to providing priority service to their livery clientele, Long says Classic is committed to a strategy of aggressive discounting for this market. As there is a uniquely strong livery market in Atlanta associated with having one of the busiest airports in the world, as well as having a large commuter class, Classic recognizes the potential business to be had, and as a result, is committed to providing the best prices possible to the area’s livery operators.



Many high end hotels make up a large segment of Classic’s livery sales, says Long, and of the many vehicles sold to them, the Cadillac XTS has been the most popular model for quite some time. “The XTS,” he says, “has definitely been the most popular that we have seen make up the majority of fleets in general. There is a lot of age in the area’s fleets due to some conditions in our industry from 2008-2010.” Because there have been extensions on many specific requirements on the vehicles that regional owner-operators and contract-operators can operate, Long reports that Classic has seen a recent influx of them looking to replace their fleet vehicles before the new deadlines.

Based on his observations, Long predicts that the XTS will continue to be the most popular model in the livery industry throughout the coming year. “We are noticing that a lot of people replace their fleets or purchase new vehicles in the beginning to middle of the summer,” he says, “and now that the 2014s are out, they’ve got the incentives on them that they didn’t have until they were able to clear out the 2013 inventory. The overall trend in Atlanta with the economy coming back, and having one of the largest airports with a population that lives so far away from one another,  is an increasing need for livery operators.” As such, prediction is hopeful that while the popularity of the XTS is likely to be maintained in the new year, the conditions are right for even a surge in XTS sales.

Classic Cadillac implements a unique and principled vision of marketing in order to connect with livery operators, and with all their customers for that matter. Along with maintaining an active social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, attending trade shows, and sending email newsletters to a subscriber list of basically every commercial operator in the state, Classic’s main strategy for marketing is giving back to the community by sponsoring charity events.

“As a dealership we do very little—if any—print, radio or TV advertising,” says Long. “What we do is support a lot of charitable organizations, and that is really our way of connecting with the community, and growing our customers’ awareness of where we are at, and what we are about.” According to Long, there is always some kind of charity luncheon being hosted at the dealership, or a cause the team is actively promoting awareness of around town.

Classic Cadillac currently supports over 20 different charitable organizations, the biggest of which is the CURE Childhood Cancer Fund. In addition to sponsoring CURE luncheons and golf outings, for several years the dealership has dedicated the entire month of August to raising funds and awareness for the charity. Dubbed CURE Month, Classic Cadillac in partnership with CURE provides its customers with the opportunity to donate directly to the charity, and have their donations matched dollar-for-dollar by the company. CURE Month has been routinely successful, and Long says it is something that the dealership will continue to do every year.

Another cause that was near and dear to the heart of Classic’s original owner, Pat Domenicone, was the Special Olympics of Georgia. As such, the team at Classic has always made an effort to carry on the company’s contributions to that cause in particular. “We have been a silver sponsor,” says Long, “for as long as anybody can remember around here.” Additionally, current Owner Michael Domenicone, is himself heavily involved with the American Cancer Society, and routinely invests time and contributions to the organization’s charity auctions and fundraising events.

Classic Cadillac’s continual growth and success clearly stems from its firmly established Atlanta roots. Whether it’s from the current owner’s years of working alongside his father in preparation for a future in the business, or the family culture of the company, or the dealership’s 20-year history of giving back to the community, Classic has become a true built-from-the-ground-up success story. With a foundation so sturdy and a mission so principled, it is no wonder that the company remains the recipient of the prestigious Cadillac Master Dealer Award for its sixth consecutive year.

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Written by
Associate Editor & Digital Media Manager
adam@limodigest.com

5 Reasons Peer Groups are Great for Business



What do all CEOs, from the largest Fortune 100 company to the smallest new start-up, have in common? There is an old saying that “it takes a community to raise a child.” I believe the same is true of a business.

At the 2013 Inc. Magazine Women Entrepreneur Summit this past September, many CEOs took to the stage to share their stories. Each CEO had a different background; there were men and women, large and small business owners, and each of them shared their uphill battles, their plateaus and their setbacks. They told their stories with passion, sorrow and enthusiasm all in the same presentation, stories that many of them had never shared with co-workers, friends or family. But the one thing that they all had in common was that they each depended on a peer group, an advisory board, or a board of directors.

Joy Chen, CEO of Yes To (an all-natural beauty brand) took the stage and told her story about how she went from being an account manager selling Clorox, to taking her present position. Chen was named Most Admired CEO in 2012 and given the Most Influential Women Award in 2013 by the San Francisco Business Times. She talked about the difficult decisions she had to make in order to get the Yes To brand from operating in the red to being a globally recognized product. She recounted her sleepless nights and endless phone calls to mentors and ex-coworkers, stating that they were helpful, but that no one really understood what she was going through. Looking for a solution, Chen joined a peer group of other CEOs who were having similar experiences to her. According to Chen, her peer group is what pulled her through, and helped her to have some eye-opening moments during their discussions.

A peer group is an excellent vehicle to get like-minded people together to exchange ideas, grow relationships and learn to work as a team. Of course, not all groups are the same, and not every group is right for everyone. What makes a group work is the right combination of people who all have the same goals. This does not necessarily mean that a successful peer group must consist only of professionals from companies of the same size or revenue stream; it is more important that these individuals are visionaries with open minds and a desire to both teach and learn.

Furthermore, a successful peer group must be a no-judgment zone, with a level of trust built amongst those in the group so that they feel free to have open discussions. Although these are some key components that should be included in every group, each group will take on a life and personality of its own.

LEARNING
Peer group members should have open minds to explore topics that are directly or indirectly relevant to their businesses. Stepping outside the box and keeping ahead of the curve is the key to success for any business. Once an owner becomes stale, the rest of the company is sure to follow.

ACCOUNTABILITY
As members set goals with each other during their meetings, they should consider their group mates as accountability partners. These goals are not necessarily financial goals, but any goal that will directly affect the success of the business. It could even be a personal goal of the business owner to spend more time at the gym, enhancing her health so she can think more clearly at work.

TEAM BUILDING
I look at team building in two ways: First, it is a way for the group members to have a little fun while learning to work together, even with a little competition. Activities, games and even physically challenging excursions will encourage trust levels amongst the group as they work/play together for a common goal. Second, it is a way to take people outside of their comfort zones. Getting peer group members to face their fears and just go for the gusto is amazing to watch. After all, one of the biggest attributes of every successful entrepreneur is being a risk taker, but all too often the fear just rises to the surface and we lose that special quality that got us started in the first place. Putting peer group members in a position to take a perceived risk should bring those hidden attributes to the surface and remind them that fear is the killer of dreams.

EXCHANGE
Open dialogue “round table discussions” are very beneficial to every group. This gives them an opportunity to discuss challenges, both in their professional and personal lives, and get feedback from their fellow group members. It is not uncommon for these discussions to bring an “Aha!” moment to a member, along with a long awaited solution to a problem.

RESPECT
As peers must work together as a team, there should be a mutual respect for each other. As leaders and role models for our employees and staff members, it is important that we remember to be respectful. This helps to build the “no-judgment zone” I mentioned before, but additionally, respect is a leadership skill that we want to exhibit for our employees. After all, how can we encourage these behaviors if we don’t exhibit them ourselves?

Providing a healthy team environment is the key to success for peer groups. Leaving egos at the door and creating an intimate environment can result in a “reawakening” few days with your peers, a time to invest in yourself and others, and a place where you can let your hair down, share your successes and your failures, and trust that you may find the answers that you have been looking for and the comfort that you are not alone.

Some of what we have lost in our world is the concept that “no man is an island.” Putting ourselves in a group environment that encourages and teaches us can reveal just why being part of a community is essential to being successful in business.

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Lenore D'Anzieri facilitates educational and motivational meetings for small and large audiences through Driving Results, and she has a proven track record of helping companies, leaders, and sales organizations achieve their goals by identifying opportunities to increase profit margins and revenues. Before serving as executive vice president of Luxury Worldwide and overseeing a rebranding effort, she worked as a corporate travel executive for 23 years. She also served as a business analyst and a travel manager for a Fortune 500 company. 


Vehicle Review: BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo



Every big city fleet needs its top-end luxury vehicles for those ever-important executive, celebrity and jet-setting clients. But $90,000 full-size BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, and Audis are, of course, expensive. The midsize offerings from these German luxury powerhouses—like the BMW 5 Series sedan, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the Audi A6—are popular alternatives, but they force limo companies and their clients to compromise on leg room, trunk space and, often, luxury amenities.

Enter the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo (5GT). With rear-seat legroom akin to that of a 740i (39.9 inches) and the headroom of an X5 (38.8 inches), yet carrying a fleet price of just $49,940, the 535i GT may well be the perfect luxury vehicle for this market. In fact, at that price, it might even have operators second guessing their Cadillacs and Lincolns. We can almost hear the choruses of, “For a few thousand more, I can add a BMW to my fleet that feels like a 7 Series on the inside? Sign me up!” The 5GT is such a good livery vehicle, it won its category in TheChauffeur.com’s Chauffeur Car of the Year Awards 2013, “thanks to its massive amounts of rear cabin space and an attractive chauffeur [program] on offer.”

For two weeks, we drove a 535i xDrive (all wheel drive) GT—with a fleet price of $54,035—which was loaded with features like heated front and rear seats, navigation system, head-up display, ash grain wood trim, soft-close automatic doors and trunk, tire pressure monitor, and a 3.0-liter, DOHC, 300-hp TwinPower Turbo inline six-cylinder engine. The standard amenities are impressive as well. To list just a relative few: Memory seats, Bluetooth hands-free calling, online information services, like GPS-localized weather and traffic updates; Dynamic Stability Control; Brake Energy Regeneration system; an eight-speed STEPTRONIC automatic transmission; automatic climate control; power-folding, auto-dimming, heated side-view mirrors; rain-sensing wipers; auto-leveling Xenon Adaptive Headlights; iDrive system with onboard computer; and Dakota Leather all around. As stated, these are just a “few” of the included standard features, when considering the whole list. That list goes on and on.

But possibly the greatest feature of the 5GT, for our industry, is the fact that this car is based on the 7 Series chassis. Not only does it have interior width and length dimensions almost identical to those of a 740i, but when gazing upon this vehicle from the outside, the first thing the eye translates to the brain is “7 Series.” It just looks much more like a 7 than it does a 5. Of course, the sloping fastback rear end makes it look like something else entirely—which it is. BMW did a nice job of integrating this hatched backside into what is an impressive and stately vehicle overall, which ends up looking more refined than it does awkward—an otherwise common curse of any vehicle with a hatch.

Step inside, and you’ll find a cavernous cabin that goes well beyond the usual standards of “roomy” and “spacious,” with incredible amounts of headroom and legroom. That hatchback also allows for a massive 10.4 cubic feet of luggage space, and there are storage compartments under the trunk floor—perfect for your drivers’ personal effects, or items you may want them to have on hand for your clients, such as umbrellas. And one of the most innovative features of the hatch is that it can open fully, like a regular fifth door, or via a smaller trunk-like lid that accesses the trunk only—in which case the trunk remains separated from the main cabin by a removable partition, keeping the weather off your clients when their driver is loading and unloading suitcases.

The luxury amenities your clients will experience are equally impressive. Leather seats and wood trim are standard (the black-on-black choices are Black Dakota Leather and ash grain wood trim), as are rear zone climate control and heated seats in the front, which warm up almost instantaneously. Another standard feature on the 5GT is a massive, panoramic, power two-way glass moonroof, which extends over the heads of both front and rear occupants. Unlike the panoramic glass roof of the Tesla Model S we reviewed in October, the 5GT’s glass roof doesn’t block much of the sun’s heat, so you’ll most likely keep the power shade drawn over it during the day. At night, however, your clients will be dazzled by views of tall buildings when riding through cities—and unlike the Tesla’s fixed roof, the 5GT’s glass roof slides open.

As you’d expect, the technology and features continue to be rich in the driver’s space. Standard navigation negates the need for finicky Garmins and TomToms and their expensive updates. An extremely impressive optional head-up display allows your driver to see his speed, as well as perfectly executed turn-by-turn directions from the navigation, without looking down from the windshield. The Park Distance Control system beeps a warning when the front or rear comes close to objects when parking, and tire pressure monitoring informs the driver when there’s a problem with the tires. In the drivetrain, possibly the most impressive features are the start-stop system—which shuts down the engine at stoplights, and instantly restarts it when the brake is released—and the eight-speed transmission. Both of these features do wonders for the 5GT’s fuel economy numbers, which are EPA rated at 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway (the 535i GT without xDrive achieves 19/28)—impressive numbers for a 300-hp vehicle of this size.

We did find a few flaws when occupying the driver’s seat. The design of the 5GT has the unfortunate side effect of poor visibility out the rear and rear-side windows, leading to disconcerting blind spots. Drinks in the cup holders block some of the climate system’s controls. And BMW’s signature frameless doors could be slightly dangerous for shorter drivers, who could whack themselves in the face with the corner of the unframed and hard-to-see driver’s door window (this never happened to us, but we wonder if it could be an issue).

In the back seat, the ride felt smooth and comfortable, if a tad on the tight and bumpy side. This is obviously no Town Car when it comes to cushy suspension, but we would all do well to remember that one of the primary reasons the Town Car/Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis platform has been discontinued after all these decades is that a springy, spongy, super-soft ride is necessarily joined by wretched handling and extreme control and safety concerns. Modern vehicles handle well, and good handling means tighter suspension. And the 5GT corners and handles with what you expect from any BMW: serious aplomb.

For an additional $5,399 with any 5GT, operators can add BMW’s Extended Service Contract to their vehicle. This comprehensive program covers a broad spectrum of the vehicle’s systems for three years or 150,000 miles, including issues derived from normal wear and tear. For the engine, all components are covered, and not just those within the engine itself—connecting rods, timing chains/belts, intake and exhaust manifolds, the catalytic converter, engine mounts, and the oil pan are part of the deal, too. Every part within and relating to the automatic transmission, fuel system and final drive assembly is warrantied, as is the cooling system. The electrical coverage includes assemblies pertaining to the vehicle’s drive operations—such as the alternator, generator, voltage regulator, starter solenoid, and engine and transmission control modules—as well as switches, the heated backglass, control modules, the instrument cluster, the keyless entry system, mirrors, the push-button start, and power door locks, seats and windows, among other components. Air conditioning, brakes and suspension are also insured, and on xDrive vehicles, the transfer case is covered as well. And all new BMWs—with or without the Extended Service Contract—get free maintenance for the first four years or 50,000 miles, including engine oil services, inspection services, wiper blade inserts, brake pads and discs, engine drive belts, and brake fluid service.

The verdict is that the 5GT delivers an uncommon blend of luxury sedan elegance and dynamics with the practicality and versatility of an SUV. A long list of standard high-end features and technology appointments, coupled with the look and feel of much more expensive full-size sedans, complete the package. Add to all of this a price tag starting at less than $50,000, plus a nearly all-inclusive service agreement, and the outcome is what may well be the perfect luxury ground transportation vehicle—one that is already replacing both standard fleet sedans and top-of-the-line VIP-exclusive chariots due to its success in every category: quality, price, appearance, amenities, luxury, performance and prestige.

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Written by Evan McCauley
West Coast Editor
evan@limodigest.com

5 Ways to Raise Your Association's Participation



When I meet potential new customers, one of the first things I ask them is if they belong to their local association, or even the National Limousine Association (NLA). As a marketing professional, I know businesses should promote their membership in any industry organization, because it adds credibility to what they do. But more often than not, the response I hear to this question is: “Why should I be? What have they done for me lately?”

If I asked any successful operator in the industry if being an association member helped them grow their business, the answer would be a resounding “Yes.” The operators that smaller company owners are trying to emulate have probably served in a leadership role of their local or regional association, and many have served on the NLA board of directors. Associations are a place where all egos are put aside and the real issues affecting our industry get addressed and solved. Yet again and again, it’s the same people showing up month after month to take up the fight.

As with most things, there’s power in numbers, and associations bring people together for a common goal. That could be anything from publicizing prom limo safety to filing a lawsuit against an airport. Yet it’s only when there’s an issue directly affecting their business—like Uber, for example—that operators who never attend meetings actually want to show up and participate in the association’s activities, while for months and years prior, the association leaders had already been monitoring Uber’s every move in order to prepare.

“Our goal is to provide relevant subject matter and speakers for our members, so they can become more informed of the events in the industry and take home new ideas that can immediately be put to use in their businesses,” says Steven Levin, president of Sterling Rose Transportation in Escondido, CA, and board member of the Greater California Livery Association (GCLA). The GCLA has one of the highest meeting attendance rates among the country’s associations. But it’s an uphill battle.

“We continue to face challenges from the political and technological arenas, and need to make it clear to our membership that we need to work together so our voices are heard,” he continues. “This is how we can protect the businesses and livelihoods we’ve worked so hard to build.”

Attending local association meetings regularly is essential, and attendance is encouraging to the leaders of the association. Not everyone is built to be a board member or officer, but those who are volunteering their time to lead should know who they are leading. The lack of interest on the part of operators is hurting these valuable industry organizations.

But how can associations get operators to see the value of attending, even if there are no big issues going on? If you need a place to start, here are some tips that have worked for some of the industry’s biggest associations.

1. You Can't Beat Free
In a tough economy, members might not want to shell out $30 for a lunch meeting, or $50 for a dinner meeting, especially if they are newcomers. See if the association budget can allow for you to cover the cost of the meal for members, which gives them one less excuse for not showing up. If that’s not feasible, you could offer a first-meeting-free deal to new members, or cover half the cost of the meal for all members. Additionally, many associations work out deals to have companies like local dealerships sponsor the meeting and pay for the meals. If you can arrange this, it is a win-win for everyone involved.

2. Invite Guest Speakers With Relevance
One of the best ways to add value to any meeting is to offer something they can’t get anywhere else, such as an opportunity to hear from politicians, regulatory agencies or other seasoned business professionals. It’s a recipe that has worked for the Limousine Association of New Jersey (LANJ). “The reality is that we have to work very hard to keep members attending by offering them the types of guest speakers that mean something to their businesses,” says LANJ Executive Director Barry Lefkowitz. “With the upcoming Super Bowl in our state, we featured a representative from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to give us key insight into how plans are developing for this large-scale event.”
Nowhere else will operators be able to have this valuable face time with decision makers than at an association meeting. Extend invitations to your local legislators or regulatory bodies and promote the meeting as a can’t-miss event.

3. Switch Up the Location
Meetings are typically held in conference centers, hotels or restaurants due to their convenience and ability to accommodate groups. Sometimes, though, associations can get attached to a location, and end up holding every meeting there. Sure, the food and service are good, but maybe it takes half of your members an hour to get there and the other half only 20 minutes. Try moving meetings around your state or region throughout the year. If distance has been holding people back from attending, take the meeting to them.

Another popular trend in associations is hosting the event at one of the member’s facilities. This can be an operator or vendor, and provides a unique opportunity for members to tour the facilities. Maybe they can tour a dealership, getting sneak peeks at the newest vehicles and taking test drives, or they can walk around another operator’s office to see how they set up their dispatch department or chauffeur lounge. Whatever it is, it’s going to add value to how they do business. 

4. Build Their Businesses
Even in the midst of fighting airports or unregulated transportation apps, operators still have a business to run every day. One way they can ensure their businesses continue to grow is to network and potentially grow their affiliate base. If you’re in a large state like California or Texas, there’s a chance that your clients might travel to other parts of the state for business. Fellow association members in those cities would be ideal affiliates. Associations should consider hosting regular referral networking meetings where members exchange information, discuss what vehicles they have, or find out who might have vehicles they need. Their revenues will grow, and you will have created a meaningful event for the members. It’s a win-win.

5. Utilize Your Vendor Members
Builders, technology providers, marketing firms, insurance agencies ... the list goes on. All of these businesses have something that your members need to run a successful company. Vendor members are already invested in the well-being of the association—probably donating to PAC funds, sitting on the board of directors, or sponsoring meetings. They want to see it thrive. Pay them back with some much deserved floor time at meetings throughout the year, and in turn, ask them to provide some special incentive for the members. Whether it’s a discount on their next order or a raffle to win a free product, it will draw members in and increase the vendor’s exposure to the association.

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Arthur Messina is the founder and president of Create-A-Card, Inc., the leading chauffeured transportation marketing firm, which he began in 1986. Messina has served on the board of the National Limousine Association, is a current board member
of the Minority Limousine Operators of America, has been a featured speaker at industry trade shows, and is a frequent sponsor at local association meetings and events. He also is
co-founder and managing director of Driving Results, a consulting firm for the ground transportation industry that began in 2011. He can be reached at (631) 584-2273 or via email at arthur@createacardinc.com



4 Strategies For A Holistic Online Marketing Plan



Holistic is a word that is often used to describe a business’s marketing efforts. What does this actually mean? A holistic approach to marketing involves strategies that work together to benefit your business as a whole. A more holistic online marketing strategy is now more critical than ever. You can’t just build a website and hope to be successful on the internet; you need a comprehensive strategy that propels you past your competition and improves your visibility in the ground transportation services sector.

Components of an effective holistic online marketing approach include:

Responsive Web Design 
Today, the majority of websites receive 30 to 50 percent of traffic from mobile visitors. This number will continue to increase, making it even more imperative that you innovate with a responsive website design that adapts easily to different browser window sizes – from desktop computers to mobile smartphones and tablets. With a responsive website design, instead of seeing only part of your web page when viewed on a non-traditional browser, the web browser automatically detects the type of device accessing the website and adapts the page to fit the viewer’s screen, leaving the navigation, text and forms large enough to easily read and access without adjusting the browser.

It can be a frustrating experience trying to get information on a website that doesn’t adapt to your browser window dimensions. If a customer can’t easily scan a page and find what they are looking for, then they will most likely go back to their trusty friend, Google, and visit a mobile-friendly competitor’s site.

Quality Web Content
The look and feel of your website should, first of all, quickly communicate your brand identity, and your company’s brand should be consistent across all communication platforms. From social media to your website to newsletters, your brand identity should be clear, consistent and memorable.

Additionally, when customers visit your website, they should quickly and easily find the information they are looking for thanks to simple navigation approaches that allow the user to seamlessly move between multiple pages on your site. Thanks to mobile technology, customers want to do things quick and easy, making an online reservation system imperative for customers to book their trips.

Your website also needs to evolve over time. Consider building your website on a platform that is expandable and easy to keep current as business grows and applications and technology advance.
Visual appeal is also important. Photography should be professional and personalized to your business. A professional showcase of your available transportation options is a must on your website.  As video content has exploded on the internet, it is also an effective way to communicate your value and demonstrate your transportation offerings and services. Video content is easily shared, and in addition to your website, it can be posted on sites such as YouTube.

It is critical to focus on what your prospects and clients want, and not just what you want to tell them on your website. Clear navigation, easy access to vehicle images and descriptions, and calls to action should lead the visitor to book a trip.

Online Marketing Strategies
The ground transportation services sector can be a very competitive field. A good copywriter with search engine optimization (SEO) experience can make a big difference in helping your business stand out and rank high on the search engines.

Every website requires at least basic SEO practices to ensure visibility across the various search engines. Organic SEO positioning of your website for major keyword searches is free and raises your website visibility and authority over your competition.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the paid placement of ads (Pay Per Click or PPC).  These are the “sponsored links” on search engines and other online advertising channels for specific keywords or phrases. Managing these campaigns can be difficult and costly. An experienced online marketing firm can significantly increase your effectiveness and ROI.

Take advantage of online business directories, such as YellowPages.com, Yelp, Citysearch or Google. The listings should be accurate and updated when any changes to the business occur. There are now power listing tools to control your company information and promotions across multiple directories from one control panel.

Social media is the fastest growing segment of the internet and includes content distribution, interactive discussions, audio and video. The community aspects of social media and the ability to communicate to an audience make social media an invaluable component to a holistic online marketing campaign.

Content distribution opportunities also spread your message on the internet and give you quality inbound links, which drive traffic to your website.  Blogs, articles, press releases and YouTube videos are all effective forms of content distribution.

Don’t overlook the value of email marketing. This can be a cost effective tool to continue to communicate with your audience and stay top-of-mind when they need your services. It’s important to ensure that your emails provide value—useful information or advice—rather than just promoting your transportation service.

Online Reviews
Did you know that over 70 percent of online purchases are decided by online reviews? That’s a significantly high percentage, which means that you need a proactive approach to soliciting and distributing positive reviews on your website and the many web directories where individuals talk about your company.

Many business owners fear review sites, such as Google, Yelp, Yahoo, CitySearch, and Yellow Pages, for fear that someone will post a negative review that will impact their business. This is understandable; however, sitting back and not being proactive about welcoming reviews will more than likely make your fears a reality. Those motivated to write a review on their own tend to be unhappy customers. But, if you encourage your customers to share their positive experience on these review platforms, you will find yourself seeing a whole lot of love, and also gain a lot of useful feedback that will help you improve your business.

Consider sending an email to customers after you’ve done business with them with a direct link to one or more review sites. By encouraging them to share their experience, you demonstrate that you value the customer experience and quality of service.

You can also offer customers a post card with a QR code that will send them directly to a review site to share their experience. Making it easy for customers to rate your business will allow those good reviews to help showcase your company—reviews that more than likely would not have happened without you making it top-of-mind and easy to do.

Another benefit of using online reviews is that they help build your search engine ranking. The more reviews you have, the higher your search engine ranking and the more easily you can be found when customers search for your company.

In Summary
Online marketing is not just about getting a website like it used to be. The online marketing opportunities available today are tremendous, and using them effectively requires a concerted holistic approach. Know your audience and how they are doing business online, and make sure that your marketing strategies coincide with those behaviors.

The adage, “build it and they will come,” may apply to baseball fields, but it certainly does not apply to online marketing. Effective content and visual appeal is critical. A well laid out website with professional photos and concise, professionally written copy lends to a positive image of your company. Customer reviews are important to your business and can’t be ignored. Be proactive with your customers and make it easy for them to post reviews of your company; it not only helps boost your online presence, but it shows the value you put on customer service.

As your business and online profile grows, it’s important to update your marketing and communication to ensure it continues to deliver your message effectively, and maximize the return on your marketing dollars. A good holistic online marketing plan evolves, just like today’s ever-changing technological landscape.

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Lou Amico is founder and president of LA Management Company, a strategic marketing firm specializing in online marketing, video production, multimedia production, website development and optimization and social marketing. He can be reached at (704) 560-6274 or visit LAManagementCo.com for more information.  



Women's Peer Group Takes on the Status Quo

It is no mystery that the luxury ground transportation business is, like countless others, a male-dominated industry.  However, the business world is changing exponentially, and the opportunities for women and minority owners and operators are increasing every day. Although the workplace has become progressively more fair and diverse over the years, there are still challenges to overcome, and glass ceilings to break through.

What’s the best way to break through a glass ceiling? Being a superhero, of course. And that’s essentially the mission of Driving Results’ peer group called Women on the Move: to create a supportive community where elite women can join forces, triumph over the status quo, and emerge united as industry superheroes.



No matter what gender you are, the two most important criteria for achieving success in business are being a visionary, and being fearless. That’s what Lenore D’Anzieri believes, and as leader and co-founder of Women on the Move, she creates the agenda for each of the group’s quarterly meetings with these criteria in mind.

“Business owners,” she says, “myself included, can often fall into a silo, and what I mean by that is it can be difficult to look at things from a peripheral point of view. If all you can see is up, then you can’t see anything going on around you…and people tend to become fearful at that point.”

One of the primary goals of Women on the Move, says D’Anzieri, is to help its members dig themselves out of silo thinking, and empower them to get back the confidence that got them started in the business to begin with. The method? Fostering a strong support network by providing a forum in which these female executives can regularly learn, share and bond with one another, and perhaps most importantly, have some fun along the way.

Women on the Move all started one day, says D’Anzieri, when Arthur Messina of Create-A-Card reached out to encourage her to participate in putting this group together, and ultimately lead it. “It’s a great opportunity for women in the industry,” she recalls Messina saying to her, “who want to get together to talk about their plans, their struggles, and their successes, and there’s a definite need out there for it.”

The group meets once per quarter in a variety of locations across the country, and membership consists of up to 20 women who either own or represent a ground transportation company. More importantly, the group strives to remain exclusive to women who are true leaders, risk takers, forward thinkers, mentors and learners. Scheduled at each meeting are a variety of activities, including topical round table discussions, training sessions, and educational seminars, often conducted by expert guest speakers. The group is also committed to participating in a number of charity events, and always balances out the education with a fun, team-building exercise, as well as plenty of time to communicate with each other in a relaxed and unstructured forum. The group’s members agree, the benefits of Women on the Move regarding the enrichment of both themselves and their businesses, have been remarkable.

“Who stands out to me as our first success story,” D’Anzieri recalls, “is Melissa Thornton of LSW Chauffeured Transportation,” who has been a member since Women on the Move’s inaugural meeting two years ago. “Melissa was the perfect candidate to join the group. She self-admittedly didn’t like to be in the limelight, kept a low profile and grew her business organically through her expertise, her knowledge and her skill sets alone. Since joining the group, she’s been really coming to the forefront and is now recognized by so many more people as a leader in the industry.”

Admittedly, Thornton was initially hesitant to join Women on the Move. “It was a tough time of the year, but I gave it a lot of thought, and said, ‘you know what, I’m just going to do it.’ I really needed to expand my circle, get out of my office and learn from others, and I think being able to learn in the comfort of women is what made the group most attractive to me.” The rewards of being part of the group, she reports, have turned out to be “absolutely amazing.”

Thornton applauds the quality education she has received from Women on the Move seminars, which have covered topics ranging from sales to finance, from reducing operating costs to refining procedures. Perhaps the most important lesson learned, Thornton says, was simply learning how important her role is at the top—how her own attitude is instrumental in creating company culture. “It’s so important how we represent ourselves at the top,” she says, “especially running a man’s business, to be quite frank. It’s very difficult to be a woman at the top when 99% of the work force is male. It’s tough, and we have to learn how to navigate through it.”

Since taking the reins of her parents’ company in 2008, Thornton cites one of her greatest challenges as simply not having all the answers about how to best solve the unforeseen obstacles all CEOs encounter. Being part of an environment where she not only has access to the advice of those more experienced than she, but feels comfortable and encouraged enough to ask for it, is what she says has been the most beneficial reward to her professional growth. “Not only have I learned a tremendous amount,” she says, “but I have also forged friendships and bonds with these ladies that I plan on maintaining for a lifetime.” She is especially grateful for her relationship with Barbara Chirico of Gem Limousine, who she regards as a valuable mentor, an “industry great” and “a second mom.”

In addition to Chirico, the group membership roster boasts a number of notable women in the industry, including Kristina Bouweiri of Reston Limousine, Carrie Peele of Blue Diamond Worldwide Transportation, and Driving Results’ own Jen Brugliera.

“When they put this group together,” says Bouweiri, “I immediately jumped on board.” One of the main reasons she joined was to get more involved in the industry, and she says the group has really helped make that happen for her. In addition, she says it has been “a fantastic learning opportunity,” because despite representing the largest company in the group, Bouweiri has “learned something from every single woman in the group.” No matter the size of the company each member hails from, she says, “there’s always something you can learn about how other people are running their businesses.”

Bouweiri also praises the learning opportunities provided by the group’s educational seminars, citing Andi Gray of Strategy Leaders Inc. as a guest speaker she particularly enjoyed, who led a group exercise called The Owners Game, which “was almost like playing Monopoly.” Group members were broken up into teams, and competed in a game simulating the trials and tribulations of owning a company. “When I played that game,” says Bouweiri, “I learned a lot, and I thought, Wow, I wish I played this game 15 years ago! I would have had a better understanding about owning a company, building equity, and putting myself in a position where maybe one day I would want to sell my company.”

One insight Bouweiri was able to draw from playing The Owners Game resulted from her reflecting on the time when she first got into the ground transportation business, back when she “never thought in a million years” Reston Limo would grow to the size that it is today. Because many things she knows today she never would have considered when the business was just starting out, Bouweiri concludes the value of peer groups to be incredible for people who are just joining the industry. “I just feel that peer groups,” she says, “whether they are inside or outside the industry, are a really important place for an entrepreneur to be.”

Likewise, Carrie Peele of Blue Diamond Worldwide Transportation fondly recalls The Owners Game as being “an eye opener” to the fact that no matter how experienced you may be, there is always something new to learn about the luxury ground transportation business. “I thought I rocked at that game,” she remembers, “but I sucked!”

“Very adaptive,” is how Peele characterizes her fellow Women on the Move members, “so when they bring knowledgeable people in to teach us in these seminars,” she says, “we are like sponges.” Being true to her claim, however, Peele and her peers are ready to shift gears after each meeting’s seminar, because what follows is always a fun, team-building exercise. One that really took Peele out of her comfort zone was a scavenger hunt. “Our team kicked their other team’s butt,” she proudly remembers. “We were done 45 minutes early with our tasks, and it was a fun test of our ability to work together.”

Peele, like many of her cohorts, has been a member of Women on the Move since its inception, and having identified the need for such a group beforehand, was thrilled to discover that something like it was being created. “I had actually asked several women at the time if they wanted to get together as a mentoring group,” she recalls. “Even though some of us had multi-million dollar businesses, it’s always good to get a fresh opinion, since nobody ever actually ‘wrote the book’—although Tom Mazza certainly tried.” The group that resulted is clearly beloved by all involved, and so is its leader. “Lenore,” says Peele, “is a genius. To take 14 or 15 women who have very strong personalities requires a woman such as her to control the group—because I’ll tell you, we’re a handful.”

D’Anzieri finds a lot of value in team building exercises, and acknowledges that although fun is certainly important, the activities she selects for the group always have a purpose. “The purpose,” she says, “is obviously a little bit of relaxation and laughs, but more importantly, we try to choose activities that take our members out of their comfort zones, to help them get rid of fear.” One characterizing example of this type of activity is when D’Anzieri rented a small plane for the group at a meeting in Canada, and while some of the members were “really petrified,” they conquered their fears, got on the plane, and ended up loving the ride. “So we try to get them back to thinking, I’m an entrepreneur! I’m going to take a risk! I’m not afraid of anything! We also try to build a little friendly competition to enhance the members’ relationships with each other, like we did with the scavenger hunt at our last meeting.”

While Women on the Move’s quarterly meetings may be structured around seminars and activities, both D’Anzieri and Jen Brugliera—also a member since the group’s inception and now a co-facilitator—emphasize that it is really the discussions that take place going to and from these activities where a lot of the real learning takes place. “In my entire careeer participating in events like this,” says D’Anzieri, “this is the first time I’ve seen so much business talk when we are outside the business realm.”

“I think the focus of this peer group,” says Brugliera, “is the learning that goes on amongst the members. A lot of our members have grown so substantially in the last two years because of what they’ve gained just from being able to network and trust each other. We facilitate these meetings, and we set the agendas, and we bring in educators, but at the same time there’s a lot that goes on between the members themselves, and in that regard, I personally have seen a lot of the members grow.” In particular, Brugliera applauds Andrea Saathoff of Charlottesville’s Albemarle Limousine, who has seen substantial growth in the last 2 years of her operation.

Because Women on the Move’s success is only measurable by the success of its members, its exclusivity is essential to what makes it work. To ensure every member gets the most out of each meeting, membership is capped at 20, but there are still some spaces available. “If we continue on the path of providing the opportunities to create this unified group of women business owners,” says D’Anzieri, “then we’ll be doing our job.”

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Written by
Associate Editor & Digital Media Manager
adam@limodigest.com

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