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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

6 Tips to Maximize Your Bottom Line When Selling Your Business

Buyers and sellers of limousine businesses often find themselves on different pages, or even in different worlds, when discussing a particular limousine business for sale. When sellers do not understand how buyers think about and approach transactions, this can contribute to the disconnect. Here, then, are six tips that will help future sellers begin to get on a path to a more rewarding limousine business sale.

1. The fact that your business is breaking even or losing money may not be a deterrent for the right buyer. If your limousine business is struggling financially, do not make assumptions about its ability to attract motivated buyers. To the right buyer, your bottom line may mean very little. A strategic buyer will likely absorb your accounts and eliminate duplicate overhead, thereby making your current financial performance secondary to what the combined operations can do together.

2. A buyer will often pay more if you can give him or her the ability to justify it. It is very common for buyers and sellers of limousine businesses to be miles apart when assessing the value of a particular limousine business. This gap often exists because the buyer doesn’t understand the complete financial impact associated with acquiring the limousine business. Of course, there is also a possibility that the seller does not completely understand fair market value for limousine businesses. Being able to effectively demonstrate the new monthly cash flow created from the deal, the increased value of the buyer’s existing transportation
business, and the time required for the buyer to pay for the entire transaction can greatly expand
the buyer’s appetite for getting the deal done.

3. A buyer has both long-term and short-term goals that will need to be addressed through the transaction. This can benefit the seller. A buyer wants to acquire your limousine business for the least amount of money possible. However, sellers need to understand that strategic buyers have short-term financial goals that can take precedence over the sale price of the transaction. When a deal is structured in a way that allows the buyer of your limousine business to address immediate cash flow needs, it is easier for buyers to accommodate and assist the seller in achieving his or her overall transaction goals.

For example, The Tenney Group was recently involved in a transaction with a chauffeured transportation business in the Southeast. The buyer of the business owned an existing chauffeured transportation business in a 30-mile radius that was experiencing severe cash flow issues. The buying company was considering closing their doors if they did not get an influx of at least $600,000 in new sales within a short period of time.

Because my client's business location and monthly revenue had the unique ability to address the buyer’s very specific problem, he was able to secure a much higher sale price than he likely would have under different circumstances. The buyer could justify the premium purchase price because it would stop their bleeding immediately, and it was much cheaper than the next best alternative—closing the doors and accepting a complete loss on what had they had already invested in the satellite operation.

4. Many buyers misunderstand or underestimate what the acquisition of your limousine business can do for them. Don’t assume another limousine or transportation-related business owner understands and can identify the value associated with acquiring your limousine business. If another limousine business owner has experience with strategic acquisitions, his experience may not apply, specifically, to acquiring your
limousine business. So relying solely on the buyer is a mistake. And do not assume that you are equipped
to effectively communicate the financial benefits of acquiring your limousine business.

This is not a knock on anybody. It is just a fact. Buyers are not likely to accept or trust a seller's estimation of his own company's value—no matter how compelling his case. Business value in the transportation industry is widely misunderstood. Without a credible third party intermediary providing financial
evidence and historical industry transaction data to support an acquisition, sellers limit what they can accomplish at the closing table.

5. A buyer for your limousine business may come from anywhere. In all of The Tenney Group’s completed deals over the past 36 months, the average distance between buyer and seller was 400 miles. This is the reality of the buying market. Sellers need to understand this so they can be properly positioned to attract the maximum exposure for their limousine businesses. Any transportation related business in America, for whatever reason, could have a strategic interest in buying your limousine business. Do not limit your options.

6. A buyer may not know he or she is a buyer yet.The best buyer for your limousine business could be an existing transportation business that may currently have no interest in buying your business, or any other limousine business for that matter. They may be scared to death of acquiring another business. However, with time, persistence, education, and coaching, they can be converted into confident buyers who can justify paying you the highest sale price. Make sure your sale effort proactively addresses buyers who do not currently identify themselves as buyers.

Reprinted from March 2013

Charles Tenney is Senior Managing Partner of  The Tenney Group, a firm that has specialized in
business sales and acquisitions 
exclusively in the
transportation industry for 40 years. 
Charles is also a former National Limousine Association President.
can contact The Tenney Group at 877.642.8033 

Florida Bill Could Allow State to Thwart Local Anti-Uber Ordinances

A bill has been proposed to the Florida Legislature that would transfer the authority to regulate chauffeured limousine services from local governments to the Florida state government. Sponsored by state Senator Jeff Brandes and state Representative Jamie Grant, the regulatory shifts proposed by SB 1618 would apply to traditional limousine companies, but would also include shifting the authority to regulate vehicles associated with digital dispatch companies like Uber, Sidecar and Lyft, which have thus far been prevented from operating in Florida’s biggest transportation markets, with the single exception of Jacksonville.

That could all change if this bill passes, with Uber’s sights on Miami, Tampa, Orlando and other markets, and with state regulators being potentially more sympathetic to the interests of digital transportation companies than Florida’s local governments have been in recent history. U.S. Senator from Florida Marco Rubio, for instance, plans to visit Uber’s Washington, D.C. office next week, while local regulators have been committed to thwarting Uber’s every effort to enter Florida markets over the past few years.

In January the Miami-Dade County Commission blocked an attempt to undo several restrictions against Uber and other digital transportation services, namely the county’s cap on the number of limousine licenses it is able to issue, as well as its $70 minimum fare and mandatory one-hour wait time between reservation and ride. Other major counties in Florida have enacted similar measures to prevent rogue app companies from entering the market.

Hearings will be held next week at the Florida State Capitol. Click for more information on Senate Bill 1618.

3 Ways To Boost Your Wedding Business

As transportation professionals, we know there are many opportunities to grow our businesses. Based on the size of the fleet and focus of a company, customers can come from a variety of demographics. There is the corporate side, with a focus on airport transfers, group transportation, conference attendees, destination management companies, etc. Special events like concerts, sporting events, Proms, private parties, or even funerals can also bring in transportation customers.

And then there are weddings. With spring just around the corner, now is a great time to boost your wedding business. Wedding arrangements can range from a simple getaway car for the bride and groom, to a multi-vehicle production bringing in thousands of dollars in revenue from buses, limousines, and more.

Every wedding is different, but every wedding client requires the same thing: meticulous attention to detail.
A wedding is intended as a once in a lifetime event, and a glitch in the transportation can ruin an otherwise perfect wedding day. But if you’ve got the resources to handle these clients, you will find a significant source of revenue that is fairly consistent throughout the year.

So, how do we locate and bring in wedding business? Three proven methods are targeted marketing, strategic alliances, and social media.

1. Targeted Marketing
The wedding business is a growing, multi-billion dollar industry, and one of the best indicators of this upward trend is the proliferation of bridal shows. Beginning in January and running for multiple weekends throughout the year, you’ll find a bridal show at your local convention hall, hotel ballroom, banquet hall, and many similar locations.

Bridal shows are a great place to capture leads for your wedding business. For a few hundred dollars, you can exhibit at a show and talk to hundreds of potential clients in a single day. One good way to increase traffic and capture leads at your booth is to display one of your vehicles. Another useful technique is to raffle off a limousine ride. To enter the raffle, show attendees complete an entry form with their contact information, which you can then use to follow up with them via email, phone call or regular mailing. It’s also important to capture the wedding date from these leads, so you can contact them at a time that is closer to their event.

Bridal shows also give you the chance to speak to other professionals in the wedding business, like wedding planners, wedding venue staff, bridal shop staff, and many others. These people can provide valuable referrals to their clients who may come to them with questions about transportation options. Because transportation is typically one of the last things to be ordered for a wedding—since the client doesn’t know how many people will be attending and needing transportation until just a few weeks prior—potential wedding clients have already spoken to people at the hotel, the reception site, shop from which they purchase the wedding dress, etc. And if you have networked and formed a relationship with those other wedding professionals, they will give your name to their clients.

But the most important thing about a bridal show is the follow up. Show attendees may not keep your literature, or they may not remember you several months down the road, when they are actually ready to set up transportation. Once you have gathered the leads from the show—and a good show will net you literally hundreds of qualified leads—the next step is to contact your potential clients. Depending on how you prefer to make these follow-up contacts, you can gather street addresses, email addresses or phone numbers during the show and then contact your leads accordingly.

Gathering and pursuing leads from bridal shows can really boost your wedding business over time.

2. Strategic Alliances
Building effective relationships with other wedding professionals is another crucial tool for building your wedding business. As mentioned earlier, bridal shows are one place to meet and network with these people. However, that is not the only way to make those contacts.

In most cities, you will find professional organizations for meeting planners, wedding planners, hotel workers, restaurant workers—in short, for virtually any type of professional, there is an organization catering to members of that profession. While membership in these organizations may be limited to only that specific industry, many of these organizations do accept members from other types of companies. You can join the organization, attend the meetings, and form alliances with dozens of people who can then refer potential clients to you.

You will also find that, once you have established a rapport with other wedding professionals, the word will spread. The wedding coordinator at one hotel will give your name to the staff at a sister hotel, and you will then have the chance to generate business from both those venues.

Wedding planners are the most fruitful alliances, as most wedding clients depend on their planners to recommend or choose the various wedding vendors. Once you have established a good relationship with a wedding planner, that planner will contact you for all his or her clients’ transportation needs. In some cases, several wedding planners may work together in a single business, and as a group, they can become an even better source of wedding business.

Of course, you must be prepared to provide excellent service when you hear from these wedding professionals. But your effort will pay off in an ever expanding network that provides consistent business growth.

3. Social Media
We really are in a new millennium, and social media is exploding. Today, it’s extremely important for your company to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest—at the very least. Weddings are predominantly organized and noticed by young people, and they are all using social media every single day. Your presence in the cyberworld will get you noticed by potential wedding clients that you may not reach in any other way.

If you don’t have a social media whiz on staff, consider outsourcing to a company that specializes in these electronic communications. To be effective, you need daily Facebook posts, multiple Twitter feeds per day, and regular postings to other media outlets.

The most demanding thing about social media is coming up with content for all those daily posts. That’s where hiring a third party can be helpful, as they will be hustling to come up with content to earn and keep your business. These experts also know how to set up posts that automatically migrate content between Facebook, Twitter, and other social media applications.

To summarize, the way to grow a successful wedding business is really the same as growing any successful business: market your services effectively, nurture the best professional relationships, leverage available technologies and, first and foremost, always provide exceptional service to your customers. It’s a tall order, but it can be done!

Reprinted from March 2013

Laurie Johnson is Premier Transportation’s Wedding Coordinator. She has been a marketing and business writer for over 20 years, with a background in software, telecommunications, and transportation. She has written numerous articles for trade magazines. For the past three years, in addition to managing the overall marketing activities for Premier, she has been the main coordinator for the wedding side of the business, too. Premier Transportation of Dallas, TX, has been named Best Wedding Transportation by the Knot and Wedding Wire, and for the last three years, has received the Best Transportation Award from the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners.

New Regulations Coming for Las Vegas Party Buses

The Nevada Transportation Authority intends to create a new category of luxury transportation services in light of a growing industry trend. Relatively unique to the Las Vegas market, this trend of high-capacity livery vehicles specially altered with luxurious add-ons like stripper poles, strobe lights and fog machines, requires new definitions and subsequent rules according to the state regulatory group.

As a result, these vehicles would be officially categorized as “livery limousines,” and would be regulated separately from other private transportation services throughout the state of Nevada. The precise definition of “livery limousines” would include any vehicle with a nine to 16 passenger capacity, or those with the additional luxury features mentioned above that one may traditionally associate with nightclubs and lounges.

After the NTA decides on the details of the new categories and their associated rules, any coach operating as a bus would be required to not have features like stripper poles, lights and fog machines. Stripper poles in vehicles have been a particular issue of contention on the Vegas Strip, frequently cited for several years as potentially distracting to drivers.

The city’s limousine drivers and the associations to which they belong have made statements in support of the NTA’s move to regulate these types of vehicles under different rules. Such a policy would protect them from competition from charter buses, who call themselves limousine services despite not having the proper license to do so.

View a draft of the NTA's proposed legislation.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hudson Ground Transportation System Prioritizes Data Security

The Hudson Financial and Technology Group, an application service provider for the ground transportation industry, has announced its achievement of Payment Application-Data Security Standard acceptance (PA-DSS) for its Hudson Ground Transportation System application suite for the second consecutive year. This acceptance was awarded by the PCI Security Standards Council, which governs credit card processing and data security standards. As a result, The Hudson Group and its HGTS application is "the first ground transportation software system in the industry to be evaluated and accepted to the PA-DSS security standard (v 2.0) when deployed on Microsoft’s Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Operating Systems."

Acceptance by the PCI Security Standards council means that an application has been evaluated for the way it processes and submits credit card transactions online, and the way in which associated data and clients' personal information is managed and stored. The process of obtaining the PA-DSS Acceptance is neither easy nor quick, which is perhaps why Hudson remains the only technology provider to have accomplished this over the last couple years.

Taking the initiative to becoming PCI Compliant is critical for software providers, in order to provide systems that are as secure as possible and protect operators and clients. Security breaches that result in the exposure of credit card data or of other personal information could cause financial ruin for any transportation company.

Tesla Motors "Under Attack" in New Jersey

Tesla Motors reached out to its newsletter subscribers this morning to inform them that "Tesla is under attack in New Jersey!"

In an apparent reversal of its word, Governor Christie's administration failed to delay a proposed anti-Tesla regulation so the issue could be dealt with in the state legislature. Tesla alleges that the decision to expedite Rule Proposal PRN 2013-138 is a failure on the Administration's part to stand up for New Jersey consumers. Instead, in collusion with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, Tesla says the administration is "thwarting the legislature at the behest of a special interest group looking to protect its monopoly at the expense of New Jersey Consumers."

Rule Proposal PRN 2013-138 would impose restrictions on Tesla’s sales operations, jeopardizing their existing retail licenses in the state. In a worst case scenario as a result of the proposal, Tesla could be forced to cease all operations in New Jersey as early as this afternoon.

The company implores its New Jersey advocates to show support by contacting the Governor or local State Legislator to let them know that they want Tesla to stay and grow in New Jersey. The company also asks that advocates attend the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission’s meeting to help defeat this regulation on Tuesday, March 11th at 2pm, at New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission 225 East State Street Trenton, NJ 08608.

For more information about Tesla Motors visit

NYC Mayor de Blasio Nominates New TLC Chairwoman

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced that his nominee for new chairperson of the Taxi and Limousine Commission will be its former deputy commissioner for legal affairs and general counsel, Meera Joshi.

In her prior position working for the TLC, Joshi oversaw 160,000+ licensees and spearheaded a program allowing livery vehicles to accept street hails. She also was instrumental in an effort to make half of the city's taxis wheelchair-accessible by 2020, and crash-tested by federal standards by year's end.

A source of controversy has been the fact that de Blasio is promoting a deputy and firing her boss. The mayor plans to oust Joshi's former boss, David Yassky, with whom he disagreed about a program he implemented, authorizing thousands of green "boro taxis." The yellow cab industry also opposed the green taxi plan, citing unfair competition.

The mayor has said that Joshi has, "the experience and energy to move our Taxi and Limousine Commission in a progressive direction, ensuring we prioritize New Yorkers' safety."

"I am committed to the de Blasio administration's agenda of providing equitable taxi and for-hire transportation services and safe streets for all New Yorkers," Joshi said in a news release.

The nomination still requires the confirmation of the City Council. For more information about the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission visit

Accubuilt Sales Manager Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Accubuilt, "the leading manufacturer of specialty vehicles since 1876," was in the news last week in recognition of one of its most loyal employees' career milestone. Sales Administration Manager, Joe Bunn, celebrated 50 years with the company last Wednesday.

Bunn has worked for Accubuilt for his entire career, starting the day after he graduated from Northwest School of Commerce. Although Bunn has seen many changes in the industry throughout his 50 year career with Accubuilt, he said the one unchanging constant has been his enthusiasm for the business.

At 70 years old, Bunn has no immediate plan to retire, and credits his continuing success "to his love of working with people and always being honest."

Read the Full Story at

For more information about Accubuilt visit

Accent New Mexico Announces New Safety and Compliance Supervisor

Accent Chauffeured Transportation, based in Sante Fe, New Mexico, has recently announced the creation of a new Safety and Compliance Supervisor position within the company. With a growing bus fleet, an expanding chauffeur and driver staff, and new service divisions, President of Accent Chauffeured Transportation Paul Thompson recognized the need to create this position, and chose Billy Merrifield to fill it.

Merrifield brings years of expertise to his new position at Accent, including 13 years of law enforcement experience, degrees in Business Administration and Police Science, and most recently, five years of employment with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission as a Detective/Criminal investigator, during which he was responsible for conducting statewide safety inspections and investigations on motor carriers. In addition, Merrifield acted as a criminal special agent investigating insurance fraud throughout the state of New Mexico.

The Accent team is thrilled to welcome Merrifield to the company as it continues to grow and provide exceptional service to the northern New Mexico region. For more information about Accent Chauffeured Transportation visit

Thursday, March 6, 2014

You Can't Afford to Be Anti-Social (Media)

Social Media Tree

You can score major points for your business by being active in social media.
But first you have to learn how to play the game.

Remember the good old days when social media was primarily useful for contacting your old high school buddies and stalking your ex-girlfriends? An innocent yet entertaining tool, social media was a platform for anyone who owned a computer to instantly connect with old acquaintances, friends, neighbors, teachers, etc. With the advent of Friendster in 2002, the avenues of social media have evolved from the Wild West of MySpace to the more secure, confined neighborhood community of Facebook. Considering how quickly the popularity of Facebook came of age, it's now hard to imagine a world without social media.

Since social media is now such a fundamental part of everyone's daily activity, it no longer matters if you like it or if you believe it is a sign of the end times--your business has to incorporate an online social media presence. Before you do, however, you need to figure out why you are doing it, and what you want to accomplish. Also, you need to know how social media has changed recently, and how to adapt your strategy to those changes.

Just in case anyone who's been living under a rock is reading this (that includes you, Mom), social media is, in layman's terms, the interaction among virtual communities in which the participants exchange views, ideas and personal property such as photos, videos and links.

A Brave New World
After Facebook's trailblazing success came countless others, like Instagram, Linkedin, SnapChat and Google+ to expand the playing field. Twitter currently ranks as Facebook's most formidable opponent, where everyone from celebrities to brands can reach their audience immediately and without restriction (except for the 140 character limit, of course). Believe it or not, Facebook at one point was by invitation-only and advertisement-free. But soon you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who is NOT on social media, so advertisers and marketers were chomping at the bit to figure out a way to capitalize on a voluntary audience of millions every day.

Facebook struggled at first to figure out a way to advertise without compromising the integrity of the experience. After all, there was a reason "pop-up" ads were popular at one time--they were effective.
Now most, if not all, computers come equipped with "pop-up" blockers.

Eventually, Facebook offered companies and individuals two ways to advertise: one by paying, and one by being slightly clever. Facebook offered a "pay-per-click" campaign where you set a daily budget (let's say, for example, $100) and when you hit that amount, it stopped featuring your ads in the right side panel. Facebook used an expensive algorithm that curated targeted ads specifically designed for you.

The second and more creative way to advertise on Facebook was (and still is, with a few notable changes I will touch on later) is to share engaging content geared towards generating interaction between your brand and your audience. By perusing the various news outlets and industry-related travel and ground transportation blogs, your company should act as its own news feed and offer interesting articles to your viewers. To sprinkle in your own articles from the blog section of your website would be ideal as well, so you're still driving your own traffic while building brand value and a quality social media presence at the same time. The various social media platforms offer the ability to simultaneously post the same article, hitting other streams such as Twitter and Google+ at the same time.

By offering the second option, the majority of smaller companies were able to skirt allocating funds for their Facebook advertising. By showing up in their followers' news feeds, companies could hit an untapped population and reinforce their brand. It was an advertising no-brainer. But don't get too excited. With the climax of Facebook's popularity, some changes were made in the news feed algorithm just a few months back. This change has had a huge impact on the amount of people that see your posts.

Facebook Pulls A "Bait and Switch"
Last December, Facebook once again tweaked its algorithms, claiming that they wanted to get rid of trendy memes and offer the viewer more "high-quality" content in the news feed. It was spun that the change was made to improve the Facebook experience by eliminating "low-quality" content from your news feed. The formula behind whether content is determined to be either high or low quality is the real source of controversy surrounding these changes.

But, it was also about reducing the visibility of free ads on Facebook. Now, if a brand wants more exposure on Facebook, it's going to have to pay for it. Facebook has coined them "Sponsored Posts," but make no mistake: they are paid advertisements. Essentially, now you have to pay for what you used to get for free--a classic "bait and switch." Competition is fierce in the realm of social media, and now you must pay to play. Only loyal fans will take the extra time and frequent your Facebook business page. Most of your posts will end up in the "Pages Feed"—a button on the left hiding in plain sight and only checked by loyalists.

Is A Sponsored Post A Good Option?
It may be in your company's best interest to consider using Facebook's Sponsored Post. As it stands today, only roughly 15% of your audience will see any given Facebook post. According to an article from Lauren Drell's Mashable blog, a Facebook fan or follower is worth $174. However, there are a few things to consider before you make this type of financial commitment. Only businesses with over 400 "likes" qualify for a Sponsored Post. If your audience is smaller than that, you will  have to wait until your audience grows. To grow your audience on Facebook, start by offering additional savings and promotions by "liking" your company on Facebook. Put it on your business cards or promotional ads or postcards, as examples. Give people an incentive to make the effort to find and "like" your company. Keep in mind that you will have to offer other promotions down the road to keep your audience engaged.

Other Options
Many small limo companies have turned their attention to Twitter, Linkedin and Google+ to promote their businesses. The advantages of these aforementioned platforms are obvious but worth stating. Linkedin and Google+ are more streamlined and professional. Twitter is immediate. And all of them are free (for now). Linkedin recently changed its appearance by making the news feed comparable to Facebook. The benefit of using Google+ (Google's answer to Facebook) is that by posting valuable content in your news feed, it helps with your search ranking on Google, the biggest search engine in the world. Obviously, there are still other search engines like Yahoo or Bing where all are treated equally, but Google is the heavyweight when it comes to traffic and related searches.

A great by-product of any type of social media campaign is boosting your ranking in search results no matter what search engine is used. So your hard work is not for nothing; any presence is valuable when it comes to being in the social media game. If you think that what you are promoting will bring a good ROI by purchasing a Sponsored Post, allocate a small budget per day and test the results. There really is no simple formula. It involves checking your results daily and making alterations to your budget to make the campaign cost-effective.

Because we are only in the first generation of social media in terms of marketing, there simply isn't enough data to know for sure what works and what doesn't work across the board. A good analogy would be the birth of television in the 1950s, and how commercials evolved over the decades to appeal to the emotions of audiences. Brands like Coca-Cola or Lay's Potato Chips are, inherently, an interactive brand. They can post questions to their consumers via Facebook and get immediate feedback because the end user has an investment in that particular product.

Ground transportation companies? Not so much. It's even more challenging for a limousine operator to get great results because there is not that immediate emotional connection built in to the feedback. The posts have to resonate within your brand, so asking, "Hey, what's everyone doing for the weekend?" as a limo operator just won't normally yield great results.

The Strategy
Make your posts count and be on point to your brand. What is your company known for? Is it great service or is it affordability? Are you branded as a local company that knows its particular city or are you an expansive, worldwide transportation service? Whatever it is, stick to your message. Post relevant content related to your specific brand.

Lastly, do not use your company account to post your own personal opinions. There is nothing wrong with making the brand about the established, connected founder of the company. But don't use your company profile to post irrelevant or controversial content. Even if 15 people agree with you and "like" your post, there may be hundreds you just alienated from future business.

As you can see, navigating through social media is not an easy exercise. With the right approach, however, a social media presence can not only generate business, but make your brand recognizable to the unfamiliar and garner great leads on down the road. But be patient... it takes practice.

Written by
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