2015 Ford Transit:

An American Brand Gone Global Comes Home

Watch Your Step(s)

10 Steps to Control Workers’ Compensation Costs

Mind Your Manners

Social Media Etiquette: 4 Things You Need To Know

Grassroots:

The Basics of Lobbying for Better Regulations

Myth Busted:

GPS Tracking Software is Not Too Expensive



Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ten of the Best Websites in the Luxury Ground Transportation Industry


I have a confession. This morning I had a hard time getting motivated. So I thought I would try an interesting game based on a theory.

My theory is that, with all things being equal (and, clearly, they never will be), an entrepreneurial  web designer could jump into the luxury ground transportation and make a killing. The problem, as always, is money and time. With that being said, I can assure you that the luxury ground transportation industry has some of the most neglected and outdated websites of any type of business. This is not hyperbole... there is evidence to back it up. It looks like a neighborhood that flourished 15 years ago that has since been left vacated with a few blinking lights and the sound of static as the soundtrack.

Websites are not necessarily a profit maker but more a credibility measuring stick. As I once read somewhere, a business without a website is just a hobby. But what about a business with a neglected website? Not a great idea.

The good news is that there are some really great luxury ground transportation industry business websites out there if you look hard enough. Here are just a few I have found that I think are some of the best in the business, in order*:

* Disclaimer: There is absolutely no bias in this list. It has nothing to do with friendships or advertisers... in fact, I'm not sure I have any friends in the industry. Nonetheless, I digress.

1) Limousine Service of Westchester (www.lswlimo.com)

Limousine Service of WestchesterLSW won the 2013 Best Website Award and is still the standard in the industry, in my opinion. It's clean and easy-to-navigate, with hard-to-miss icons to get you where you want to go. The touch of green (I cannot deny my bias towards both green and orange) is a perfect compliment to the overall feel. Although I have stayed in Eastchester, NY, I have never been to Westchester. But the design and look of the website makes me think that if my travels were to take me there, I could count on LSW to deliver a smooth, clean ride. Mission accomplished.



2) Reston Limousine (www.restonlimo.com)

Reston LimousineHere is a great example of a company that did its homework on branding. This website is beautiful and although it it chock full of content, nothing gets in the way and whatever you want is a click away. It sells the company so efficiently and gives the impression that they are a viable, trustworthy service. I love how they focus on Washington, DC and don't clunk up the branding with "worldwide" services, etc. Simply put, Reston Limousine appears as a juggernaut of top-of-the-line vehicles and a company that pays attention to detail. Nothing is overlooked in the design and it sells the company well.



3) Celebrity Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation (www.celebritylimo.com)

Celebrity Worldwide Chauffeured TransportationThis one, to me, is super unique and corporate but not the corporate you expect. The choice of colors was a brilliant touch. The choice of colors do not seem to work well in theory, but the execution proves the contrary. The site is really easy to navigate and the design is clean and sleek, making a subtle yet direct correlation to what the end users want in their ride. I love the functionality and ease of navigation. Everything I need is a click away, and it really gives off an elegant, first-class impression.



4) Grand Avenue Worldwide (www.grandavenueworldwide.com)

Grand Avenue WorldwideAgain, my bias is showing. Grand Avenue Worldwide was one of my favorite logos a few
blog posts back, and the logo was the genesis for some of the best marketing in the luxury ground transportation industry. By creating a near perfect brand and building it all the way out, Grand Avenue took a huge risk by not playing it safe, and it pays off. The website is no exception. You can tell there was some real thought put into the choice of colors and imagery. The best way I can describe the functionality of the site is "inviting", especially with the custom icons that effective communicate options for the viewer without cluttering the website. A winner, all around.

5) TriStar Worldwide  (www.tristarworldwide.com)

TriStar Worldwide's website proves that a clean look with some bold color choices can really stand out as well. I love the palette of colors and clashing pastels that are sprinkled in just enough to give the site the look of sophistication without forcing it on the reader. From the logo on down (another of my favorites), the site is neatly packaged and cordially invites you to find out more without being too obtrusive. The scrolling news feed on the bottom is a nice touch as well.



6) Leader Worldwide Chauffeured Services (www.leaderlimo.com)

I really wanted to put this one up higher because it's just an awesome site. Leader Worldwide Chauffeured Services went for a different approach and nailed it perfectly. The testimonials that jump out at you when you visit the site are an excellent touch. The rest of the site fits nicely around some powerful recommendations. I'm not normally a fan of having the president of the company being the "face" of the company, but the way it is presented on the home page works for me. It balances out the "we are too big for you" message some people might think when they see a Kansas City Royals coach's testimonial. .


7) Boulevard Limousine (www.boulevardlimokc.com)

The great part about Boulevard Limousine's website is that everything you need is in the small window that you are greeted with upon visiting the homepage. I really love the logo and the design that they chose to build the website around. Their slogan, "travel confidently", is effectively on display with the choice of solid black and corporate red. With three main buttons upon arrival ("Our Vehicles", "Why Choose Us?", "Place a Reservation") and "Current Specials" and "Join Our Mailing List" all easily identified with an appealing touch of design, there is no confusion as to where you need to go. Like many sites, however, the blog needs some updating (but I will save that topic for a later date). Boulevard is not alone with dormant blog pages, trust me. But overall, this site is one of my favorites.


8) Gem Limousine (www.gemlimo.com)

Gem LimousineI have been in the industry a long time, and I have always know of a few companies that really worked hard at marketing their company effectively. Gem Limousine is one of them. Their website is just another example of some really powerful design and verbiage that drives home (no pun intended) the fact that Gem Limousine is BIG. They market themselves as a worldwide force and they do it perfectly. This site is just too good to ignore. It has app features, excellent social media connectivity and the corresponding pages, especially the About page, make for an easy read. A world-class site, indeed.


9) Carey Worldwide (www.carey.com)

Carey WorldwideCarey is so good that they don't even have to brand themselves with anything but their name. When you can grab a url like www.carey.com, you are on the ball. Not only that, but Carey is marketed under the guise that you should know them already. They remind me of Rolex. And their site is no exception. Carey's website functions as a phenomenal salesperson, demonstrating visually and with just the right amount of perfectly chosen words why you should go with Carey. The photography is second-to-none, the verbiage near perfect and the blog is full of valuable content. Top-notch, for sure.


10) Limousine Livery (www.limolivery.com)

Another great example of great photography making a homepage jump out at you, Limousine Livery's homepage is so striking, it cannot be ignored. The choice of black with a a thin Helvetica font, along with a touch of green as a complimentary color, is executed perfectly. Their brand is built around a "green" sustainable solution to luxury ground transportation, and they reinforce that message throughout the secondary pages,like the "Event Logistics" and "Green Rides" pages. The consistency of their branding throughout the site is remarkable, considering how many services they offer.

Honorable Mentions:

Here are a few more worth mentioning as well:

LimoCarOrlando (www.limocarorlando.com)

LimoCarOrlandoSimple, yet effective. Maybe it's just because I love the logo and colors.


Santos VIP Limousine (santoslimousine.com)

Santos VIP LimousineThis is one of the only sites that focuses more on leisure than corporate business, yet still manages to pull off a great look and feel. I stumbled on this site and something about it sticks out as a great example of a website for proms, casinos and the nightlife that still communicates top-of-the-line service.






Windy City Limousine (www.windycitylimos.com)

Another great example of focusing on your hometown, Windy City Limousine focuses their branding on servicing the corporate clientele in the Chicago area, specifically on their expertise of the city and its outskirts. Simple yet powerful, this site is certainly worth honoring.






Well, there you have it—my favorite websites in the luxury ground transportation industry. As mentioned in the beginning of this post, there are more really poor websites in the luxury ground transportation industry than there are great, so there is work to be done. The above companies already have a leg up on their competition.

Like any list, it is up for discussion and debate. It was not an exact science—there may be some websites out there that I missed. What do you think of my choices? Do you think I missed any worth noting? I welcome your opinions!

*********************************************************************************

Written by 
Creative Director
john@limodigest.com


Friday, June 13, 2014

Ford CEO to Retire

Ford Motors



After eight years of leadership, CEO Alan Mulally of Ford Motors has announced his retirement effective July 1.

This news punctuates an historic career during which, most recently, Mulally has been credited with transforming the auto juggernaut during the economic downturn that doomed other Detroit automakers.
COO Mark Fields will succeed Mulally, and Ford has publicly lauded the pragmatic, profit-proven career history he brings with him, having worked for the company since 1989, and leading a “turnaround” in the Americas, Asia, and Europe.

"Under Alan’s leadership, Ford not only survived the global economic crisis, it emerged as one of the world’s strongest auto companies," said Executive Chairman Bill Ford. "We always will be grateful to Alan for his leadership, compelling vision, and for fostering a culture of working together that will serve our company for decades to come."

Fields is "ready to lead our company into the future," Ford added.

Veolia Transportation Wins ADA Contract

Veolia Transportation


The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Southern Nevada has awarded its American with Disabilities Act (ADA) Paratransit Service contract to Veolia Transportation. RTC members voted unanimously on April 10 to move forward with the decision.

The contract is one of the largest paratransit service contracts in the nation, worth a projected $409 million over the next ten years and estimated at one million passenger trips each year.

“Coming back to Las Vegas is exciting and gratifying for us”, said Veolia’s Transit Division President, Ken Westbrook. “We plan to introduce state-of-the-art technology, advanced safety and training, and a stronger culture of customer service. Our overall goal is to make paratransit service safer and more efficient while maximizing reliability and comfort for our passengers.”

The new contract is scheduled to begin this August. For more information about Veolia Transportation, visit
www.veoliatransportation.com.

Cheap Limo Announces New Road Manager

New York City-based Cheap Limo recently announced the appointment of Cesar Alzamora as the company’s new road manager. Alzamora brings 20 years of industry experience to Cheap Limo,
coming most recently from his tenure at Accuracy Limousine.

In his new role at Cheap Limo he will oversee the company’s team of owner/operator chauffeurs, while
also acting as a concierge to clients in order to ensure that their needs and special requests are fulfilled.
Cheap Limo specializes in birthdays, bachelorette parties, casino packages and all types of special occasions. The self-dubbed “Original Cheap Limo” has been in business for 17 years. Their mission is to make luxury stretch limousines affordable for those who may not typically be able to afford them, and to
do it really cheap for those who can.

For more information about Cheap Limo, visit www.cheaplimo.com.

Sterling Rose Transportation Celebrates its Ninth Anniversary

Sterling Rose Transportation


Last month one-time Limo Digest Operator of the Year, Sterling Rose Transportation of Southern California, marked its ninth year of successful operations in the luxury ground transportation industry. Originally founded as Sterling Rose Limousines, the company has since expanded through firm acquisition, market innovation and fleet diversification, into one of Southern California’s premier full-service luxury chauffeur companies.

A focus on the meetings and events industry is credited by the company’s executive leaders as key to Sterling’s success, and accordingly, company President Steve Levin pursued and received his Certified Meeting Professional designation in an effort to “walk the talk.” Levin has also been an active member of the San Diego chapter of Meeting Professionals International, and though currently serving as the
organization’s vice president of membership, Levin is slated to become the president-elect this July.

On its last single-digit birthday, Sterling continues to innovate and explore new technologies, particularly in regard to fleet diversity. Boasting one of the newest fleets in San Diego, Sterling  recently added a 2014 Grech Motors Freightliner 37-passenger mini coach, a 2013 13-passenger executive mini coach and a 2014 Chevrolet Suburban, ensuring a stylish ride for the most discerning of passengers.

For more information about Sterling Rose Transportation, visit www.sterlingrosetrans.com, or wish them a happy ninth anniversary on Twitter @sterlingrosetr.

Quality Magnetic Impressions Launches New Solution to Hand-Written Signs

ChauffeurSign.com


Los Angeles-based Quality Magnetic Impressions has revealed a  new product that helps establish a professional and VIP impression to each and every client served by the luxury chauffeured transportation industry. In developing this innovative solution to the traditional hand-written sign that chauffeurs hold to alert their clients, Quality Magnetic Impressions decidedly kept in mind that the product needed to be compact, changeable, and have a high-quality look.

Of the many types of “ingenious” ways the industry has used to capture the attention of an intended client—from hand-written signs to complex, expensive electronic devices—Quality Magnetic Impressions’ solution is high-quality, low tech and elegant.

This customizable, compact sign allows a chauffeur to easily store the device in their pocket, and change graphics, logos, and other specialty needs required to support the “branding” needs of any livery
service or associated company.

Durability, ease of use and customization make the product a unique, stand-out way to impress even your most VIP clients. For more information, visit www.chauffeursign.com.

Fleet Car Washing Choices: What's Best For You?

Limo Washing


What is the most important element of washing vehicles in your fleet: company image, driver satisfaction, extended life of equipment or  environmental impact?

All can be achieved with great returns, yet consistent washing is still generally ignored by most companies, giving it little investment or thought.

In light of today’s level of concern about the environmental impacts of business, the ground transportation industry has given serious thought to its own impact on the environment and has found ways to be efficient in the areas of tires, engines, fuel consumption, aero-dynamics, among others. With that in mind, isn’t it time to do an analysis of how you wash your vehicles?

There is now technology available to meet the needs of your washing requirements, from the financial to the environmental. Generally, the most popular mechanical options to wash vehicles are automated drive through, rollover and walkaround units. These systems make it possible for a limousine to be washed and rinsed in two to five minutes. Also available are water reclamation and recycling systems to offset environmental impacts and help you to save on water costs.

However, there are many operators still using the manual pressure washer and hand brush scrub system, which can take up to 30 minutes or more to wash and rinse. Reliable labor, time costs and wash consistencies are the major frustrations associated with a manual system.

Washing inside your building usually requires you to be tapped into your municipal water sewage system, thus the grey water is being sent to the local treatment facility. This does help the environment but there still may be big costs to pay:

  1. The cost incurred by the municipality to clean this water
  2. The cost to your company or building to pay for water (possibly on a meter). Check your water bill and understand it.
  3. The cost of sewage discharge: Some areas meter wash in and out, often charging twice the amount for water discharge.

Today’s technology allows for water treatment systems to be right at your wash bay. There are many systems available that capture your water, clean it and re-use it for washing. This allows a zero discharge, thus saving money and the environment.

The use of water can have major hidden costs, not only for your company, but for the environment. Do the analysis and find major savings, especially when you look at your cost per gallon of water.

For most of us, the municipality supplies the water through pipes to our facility. Examine the water bill and determine a cost per gallon of water. This is not easy, but necessary to determine your cost per vehicle washed. After determining the cost of water, capture the costs of labor, chemicals and supplies.

Overall, limousine washing has more of an impact than most operators take time to consider. There is a major effect on company image, driver satisfaction, the environment and the bottom line of every company, city and municipality.

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Jack Jackson is the President of Awash Systems Corp. that provides large vehicle washing systems. Jack has 30 years of experience in sales and marketing, with a passion for providing solutions to clients.  Entrepreneurial-relationship builder focused on delivering exceptional customer service with “best of class” products. “We at Awash, believe that we can help everyone in the industry understand the most efficient way to wash their vehicles.”


Pink Cadillac Escalade Limousine Built to Promote Breast Cancer Awareness

Today's Limousine - Pink Cadillac Escalade Limousine

In a recently distributed press release, president of Today’s Limousine, Michael Rosenthal, announced the addition of a brand new “Pink” 20-passenger Cadillac Escalade Limousine to his New York company’s fleet. 


Today Limousine’s “newest flagship,” said Rosenthal, “should have a purpose, to give back to something that manages to affect all of us.” In honor of breast cancer survivors everywhere, including some from the families’ of his staff members, “a very inspirational former employee,” and his own mother who has been cancer-free for over 15 years, the company has committed to donating 10% of gross sales earned from reservations already booked for this special limousine, to its clients’ choice of two breast cancer charities: the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and the Floyd Warriors. This, Rosenthal said, is Today Limousine’s “way of giving back, to support families and our community who have supported Today’s Limousine for over 22 years.”

Today's LimousineTo learn more about
Today’s Limousine
visit www.todayslimo.com.


Q&A: Martin Ross of Ross Limousine


Martin Ross, Ross Limousine

Martin Ross founded Ross Limousine in Neptune, New Jersey, with a single white stretch limo back in 1992. This Mother’s Day, Ross Limo will celebrate its 22nd year of setting the industry standard for efficiency, professionalism and customer service throughout the tri-state area. In this illuminating Q&A, Ross explores the challenges associated with operating a small chauffeured transportation business, as well as the priceless benefits that come from staying true to his vision of sustainable growth and maintaining personal relationships with his clients.


I suppose I should begin by saying congratulations on Ross Limo’s upcoming 22nd anniversary!

Yes, I started in 1992 with basically one car and myself. Mother’s Day in ‘92 was when I brought the first car home, and I was one of the first guys with a 120” stretch. That was the year they first made them; the model year was ‘93. Then my fleet grew to a couple of cars, and eventually my mother started to help me, so it turned into kind of a family business. I have an eclectic mix of vehicles, so I’m not really a big corporate guy, or a big wedding guy; I do a little bit of everything—vans, sedans, white limos, black limos—so I’m a small, mom-and-pop, middle of the road, 10-12 car company.

Tell me about your “eclectic” fleet.

It’s changed up a bit in recent years. I have Lincoln sedans, Escalades, a Suburban, a shuttle van, three white limos, three black limos and a stretch Navigator.

What would you say the majority of your workload is? On what markets do you focus primarily?

With three white stretches and a white Nav, I do my fair share of weddings. I started doing a little
affiliate work here and there with a couple of my sedans, but the majority of my work is weekend business. We’re still your wedding/night on the town/bachelor and bachelorette party kind of business.

______________________________________________

The passengers in my cars are my #1 sales people.
If we can do a great job for them, they’re going
to go out and tell someone that we did a great job.
 

___________________________________________


What are the challenges of developing an affiliate network for a smaller operation like yours?

The hardest part of breaking into that affiliate network—especially being a small mom-and-pop kind of business—is all these bigger companies aren’t picking up Mr. Ross or Mr. Jones anymore. Basically, they’re picking up a number. You’re picking up traveler #823 when you’re doing affiliate work for the big guys. The hard part for me is that I want to bring that personal touch to the Ross Limo experience. Everything is more personal in regards to what I do: I answer the phone 24/7, you don’t go through dispatch, you don’t go through a reservation, you always talk to someone live at Ross because we’re a small company.

I’d like to deal with a couple smaller companies and keep it more personal than your super corporate travel firm. That’s the way I’m breaking into it: I want an affiliate company to feel like they know me, and know my guys who are picking up their client.

Can you talk about your company’s mission to set the industry standard for efficiency, professionalism and customer service, and how you strive to achieve the goals of that mission in your everyday operations?

We try to do the same thing every day: whether you’re a super VIP, or someone who just found my number in the phone book, we treat everyone the same with the highest level of professionalism
by being on time, and making sure our chauffeurs are dressed properly and the cars are clean. A lot of our business comes from word of mouth referrals. If you pick someone up and the car is clean, the chauffeur is nicely dressed, and the service is very personal, that is worth a thousand times more than any marketing or advertising you can do, because when that guy gets out of the car, whoever he’s going to meet, he’s going to say, “Wow, these guys are great!” That’s the ultimate goal of my business’ mission. The passengers in my cars are my #1 sales people. If we can do a great job for them, they’re going to go out and tell someone that we did a great job.

Your full tuxedo dress code for your chauffeurs is a unique policy for a company your size. Tell me about your rationale for this policy, and its strengths.

I just think it sets you apart. When you show up in a $75,000 vehicle, you can’t have the driver wearing a $7.50 suit. Some clients go out and spend $60, $100, even $1,000 a night, and if you’re spending that kind of money, you want the best service, the best food, chauffeurs in tuxedos, white clad service—you would expect the best, and that’s what I expect when we send a chauffeur. When that chauffeur pulls up in that tuxedo and that car is shining bright, we want people to see that and feel that we are treating their trip like a special occasion.

It’s clear that putting high-quality chauffeurs behind the wheel in your vehicles is important to you. Can you speak about what hiring practices you use to make sure you’re hiring the right people?

My hiring process is kind of unique. I have a great staff of people that have worked for me for a long time, and I only employ about 10-12 chauffeurs at most, so if I do hire a new person, it’s only based on a high recommendation from one of my chauffeurs or office staff. Of course, their driving record has to be super clean. The way they act is very important; if I sit down and have dinner with this person, I consider if they would be the person I’d want interacting with clients. Are they respectful? Do they know their manners? Can you have a normal, five minute conversation with them? You just have to hire the right person to represent your business. I don’t really have a hiring process, I think it’s just being a people person and knowing the way you want to be treated when you talk to someone. I can tell in five minutes whether that person’s going to work out or not.

How has the regulatory climate in New Jersey affected your business?

It’s a major challenge with the state and the way we’re regulated in the limousine industry. We’re regulated so hard in this state with the DOT laws, and anything over 14 passengers is considered a bus, so it’s hard for an operator like me to buy one of these 22- or 24-passenger Hummers or Excursions and rent it out, because legally I really can’t. In this state it’s not considered a limo, but in New York or Pennsylvania you can book that kind of work left and right. I’m not saying it’s like the black car state, but it’s getting hard for a regular limo operator to really run anymore, because now if it’s eight passengers or more, everything’s DOT’d. Now they’re even going to make us pull over at the rest stops and weigh stations. So if you’ve got a bunch of people out for a bachelor or bachelorette party trip to Atlantic City, everyone’s drinking, having fun, enjoying their time in the limousine, and we’ve got to pull over every 30 miles to get checked. It seems very Big Brotherish. They’re already in a chauffeured vehicle with a guy who’s already passed a background check by the state police, so why do we have to stop to get checked again? I think that’s going to hurt our industry big time. People who want to take a trip in these limos and limo buses, they shouldn’t have to be harassed and hassled and pulled over and everything else. I don’t see how it’s going to last. I see it having lots of problems and getting lots of complaints.

I’m sure you’ve talked at length about these regulations with your fellow LANJ members. Can you speak about the unique benefits to be had by small businesses that are active members of industry associations?

The benefits of being in this association are that we have the ability and the means to help protect the industry, which gives you a level of confidence. If you need a question answered, if you need help understanding the legal issues in the state, whether you have one or 100 cars, they’ll be there for you. Our association leader, Barry Lefkowitz, is a rock, and to have that person in your circle, I think, is priceless. I have been a part of LANJ forever; they’ve helped me out, and I’ve helped them out. One hand washes the other. If I need something it’s just a phone call away, and with an association like LANJ, you have a way to fight for what you think is right in terms of regulations.

Do you plan on adding any “green” cars to your fleet? And in general, what are the challenges of adding a new vehicle to a small fleet?

The only green initiative I have is money. [Laughs.] Actually, we’ve been looking at several different things because, as you know, the Town Car is gone, so your standard sedan has turned into basically anything you want to run that fits your business. I think the days are over when your sedan had to be a Town Car or a Cadillac. You can have a Chrysler 300, the Toyotas are in the mix, Suburbans, trucks—you can run anything you want, and there are definitely lots of good hybrid options. As of right now I’m not running anything “green,” but I think the future definitely has a spot for those types of vehicles in the market because of the demise of the Town Car.

That’s sort of the crossroads I’m at right now, especially being a smaller business. You can add anything you want to your fleet, just as long as your customer base knows it’s a premier vehicle. Just for instance, the Hyundai Genesis is an expensive car, and today’s businessman knows that this Hyundai model is not a tiny, inexpensive Hyundai, it’s a premier vehicle. As long as the customer knows—even if you had a Lexus or a BMW truck—these people are aware that the auto industry is changing. These days, it’s not the 90 year old businessman who has to get into a black Lincoln Town Car.

Ross Martin stands in front of Ross Limousine’s diverse fleet


How do you remain technologically competitive as a small operator?

I think technology is great... to a point. Technology is great for streamlining your operations, and for promoting and marketing your business. It’s also great for your chauffeurs to have a GPS and an iPad in the car, but that chauffeur still needs to be trained, and be familiar with the area that they’re working in. My GPS tells me to make a right, but I knew I should have made a left—that happens every day. GPS is a great tool, but they still need to have maps and know where they’re going. You can’t just stick a guy in a car with a GPS.

I love the idea of having technology in the vehicles that is accessible to the passenger, like an iPad in the car where they can check their email or get online to book a flight. I know a lot of companies are already doing this, but when it’s more mainstream or less expensive, I think you’ll see them in more vehicles. My chauffeurs also have a couple different chargers with them in their bag in case someone gets off the plane and their phone is dead. We just try to give it another level of professionalism. I’ve always thought our kind of
business is like the concierge when you walk into the Ritz Carlton. That’s what I think a chauffeur should be.

Tell me about your current marketing strategy.

We just did some online marketing through Superpages and an SEO company. I kind of scaled back my Yellow Pages phone book ads and put that money into the online end of it, because the only thing people use a phone book for nowadays is a door stop. People look online now. I’m very much into online marketing now, but I still like sending out a postcard or a comp card to local neighborhoods, because unlike the phone book, people do still read their mail. And who doesn’t like a nice, glossy little postcard promoting prom season or a night out? Solid grassroots marketing will still help you because it’s right in front of people’s faces. I think you’ve got to reach prospects in different age groups, so you’ve got to have a balanced marketing approach.

Are you marketing on social media?

I have never gotten into Facebook or Twitter, either personally or business-wise. There are definite pros and cons. The pros, of course, are that it can generate revenue and business through your own network, but a major con is that I don’t know if it’s going to increase my bottom line substantially enough for the time and effort you have to put into it. On social media, you’ve got to post once a day, and if you’re writing a blog it should be once a week. I haven’t really made a final decision about what I’m going to do yet in terms
of social media marketing, but I honestly don’t think it’s going to work for me personally, simply because of the size of my business. But I’m not afraid to try it, either! It’s just something we’ve been putting off, because if you don’t update it often enough, if you’re not on top of it, then you look like you don’t care and run a
shady operation. So having to worry about updating your Twitter everyday is a lot without a staffer to do it, and I don’t want to drop the ball and upset someone who was looking forward to my tweet. [Laughs.]
I like to be on the phone with my customers rather than on Facebook anyway. The phone is more personal. I think that personal relationships for a smaller business is way more valuable than anything you can post
on a blog or Facebook.

Speaking of personal relationships, I know your family has been instrumental in your long, successful career in the industry. Can you tell us about how you got into the business, and how it became such a thriving family enterprise? 

I started the business when I was 19, and because you weren’t allowed to get a CDL license until you were 21 in New Jersey, the state had to make an exemption in the law for me. That was my first intro to the rules and regulations of the limo business.

It’s a little personal how I first got into the business. My father was sick at the time, and we had to travel to Boston for him to receive treatment. It was around ‘89 when they first started making these mega stretches with hot tubs and everything, so we rented one of these super stretches because my father had to travel lying down. I wound up talking to the operator, who was a friend of a friend, and he said to me, “If you want to make extra money, I have a sedan and I need some help driving people to the airport.” So just out of high school at this point, I started helping this guy.

One day he said I was doing really good, and told me that a lot of guys, after they work for him for a while, buy their own vehicle and try to work for themselves. It sounded like a headache, but after a while I decided to buy my own car. He said to me, “I only have one white stretch, so if you buy a white one, I’ll give you all my overflow work.” I bought my white stretch and got this guy’s overflow work, then my cousin wanted to get into the business. We got another car, but then my cousin decided it wasn’t for him, so I ended up with two cars around  ‘92-’93, and I ask myself, What do I do? Do I try to start a business be a young professional entrepreneur? So that’s what happened. Then my mother and family jumped into the mix to help me, and now here I am 22 years later, with about a dozen cars. We’ve been up and down, through good and bad. I remember the first car was $60k, the gas was a dollar, and you could make $70 per hour. Now it’s the opposite! The car’s $100k, gas is $4 and you definitely can’t get $70 bucks an hour anymore.

And I’ll tell you one thing: I wouldn’t be here without my mother, Karen. My mother is a rock in my business. She owned a florist business when I was growing up, and that’s where I get all my customer service skills and all of my business savvy. My mother started the flower shop when she was in her 20s, and now she’s 70, so she’s been a business professional for over 50 years. It’s from her that I get my drive, my hard work ethic, and my core values. You can call my office right now and she’ll answer the phone. She really enjoys the customers and the clientele that we have.

What’s in store for Ross Limo in the near and distant future?

My vision right now with all the vehicle changes is very cloudy. Fleet composition is very, very important right now. There is no set stretch and there is no standard limousine anymore, so my goal for my business is to make sure that I have what my clients need. I think that’s the way things are going. And that’s my goal for the next year or two: to make sure, with all the changes and all these different vehicles, that I have what my customers need and want.

My long-term goal is just to grow little by little every year. I don’t think you can make leaps and bounds in this business. Even if I added a big tour bus and charged $250 an hour, I don’t think I’m going to make a million dollars a year.  It’s all about servicing my clients and acquiring long lasting relationships, I’m here to meet their needs.

Do you have any advice for someone in this industry with the same small-and-sustainable business vision as you?

Buckle your seatbelt—it’s a hard road. And just be professional and nice to the people that you deal with everyday, because those are the people who are going to recognize you and support you: your clientele base. My advice is the same your mother gave to you: treat people how you want to be treated, and it’ll come back to you ten-fold. I think in a small business that’s the key to success.

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

Four Steps to Reinvent, Rebrand and Revive Your Business


Four Steps to Reinvent, Rebrand and Revive Your Business


According to a Citibank survey in 2012, more than half of small-business owners say they have reinvented or rebranded their company to “stay afloat” or competitive.

Starting over is never easy, especially when you are a small to midsize operator in the luxury ground transportation industry. But occasionally you may find yourself boxed into a non-working business model, possibly driven by a market change. Reinvention and rebranding can sometimes save you from going under in a competitive market. Maybe you have had a drop in bookings, and you just can’t catch up to previous months’ revenues.

Or perhaps you have had a dramatic change in your revenue due to a new competitive landscape. In the past few years especially, more than a few operators have faced a changing market with the emergence of Lyft and Uber into their geographic market share. So rather than hold up the white flag and call it quits, how can you save yourself and your company from being yesterday’s news? The answer is surprisingly simple: reinvention.

It can be tough to assess the marketplace and make necessary changes to your business, especially if you have already invested years in getting your company off the ground, managed a successful, or even semi-successful growth phase, and achieved some level of success. You may be facing such a situation and have decided you need to do something—anything. Making the  decision to start over can be difficult, but if navigated properly, it can not only save you from going under, but bring you bigger success than ever before. As with many things in life, timing is everything; knowing when to reinvent your brand is key to a successful rebranding effort.

As Albert Einstein famously said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Change is key. But when should you decide to switch your business model, rebrand and start over? And how can you succeed with your new brand after taking a bruising on your previous brand?
Figuring out when you should change is not an easy task,  but asking yourself the following questions may help you find the answer:

1 Do you have more competitors than ever?
2. Did your market change?
3. Is your customer base eroding?
4. Are you no longer driven by your original vision?

Let’s assume you have asked yourself the above questions, and have arrived at the conclusion that you must reinvent or rebrand your business to survive. Here are some critical steps in helping you position yourself for success, rather than setting yourself up for failure.

Step One: Assess Your Competition
What makes your competition different from you? What is their specialty? What unique services do they offer that you do not? Make it your mission to find out. Once you have analyzed what differentiates your competitors, focus on your own strengths and unique offerings. Is there a specialty niche your unique offerings may be perfect to market to?

Step Two: Assess Your Customers
Has your customer base changed? How well do you really know the people you service? Now is a good time to talk to your top customers and explore new ways to satisfy their needs. A great way to do this is to send out a third party customer satisfaction survey and ask targeted questions. Use their feedback to start rethinking your customer relationships.

Meanwhile, think about your customers who perhaps represent a lower profit margin. Could you entice them to use a different or modified version of your services? For example, are you near a college campus or mass transit? How about establishing a shuttle service? Look to identify new market opportunities by considering, perhaps, the opposite of your current customers. Who isn’t using your services, and why aren’t they? You could even get creative and look for prospects who are ignored or bypassed by the industry entirely.

Step Three: Assess Your Brand
Take a look at your website, which is usually the first place prospects and customers see your brand.  Does it look dated or tired? Is the information on it current? Is it easy to navigate and book reservations? Is your contact information prominently displayed? If you answered no to any of these questions, it may be time to revise and refresh your website to appeal to the technologically savvy audience of today.

Now is a good time to talk to your top customers and explore new ways to satisfy their needs.


Likewise, take a look at your printed collateral. Are your brochures dusty and dated? Is your business card easy to read? If you revise and refresh your website branding, you should also revise and refresh your brochures and business cards to match the branded effort. There is nothing worse than a customer left confused by your marketing materials. Having a consistent brand is an easy way to build trust with your customers and prospects.

Having outdated or unbranded printed materials can be tantamount to wearing threadbare suits with holes in them to a first, very important meeting with a prospect. No matter how good you are at what you do, you are immediately judged by your appearances, both online and offline.

Step Four:  Assess Your Marketing Channels
In the past, assessing your marketing channels was easy. It mostly involved the now ancient dinosaur juggernaut of yellow page advertising and pre-purchased mailing lists. A lot has changed since paper was king. Have you kept up with how people connect with your brand today?

Taking advantage of the free branding opportunities online, with the domination of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the other social media channels, is a great way to stretch your marketing dollars and expose your brand to literally thousands of potential customers. Make sure to keep your brand consistent on all of your marketing channels, online and offline, so you do not confuse prospects and clients about who you are.
Once you have gone through your complete assessment of what your competition is doing, what you are doing, who you customers are and what they need from you, the next step is moving on to develop new services to target those customers, and cultivate your prospects and customers to become brand ambassadors for you. There are no better salespeople than raving fans.

People are never passionate about mediocre or average. When reinventing your brand, you need to focus on what sets you apart from the crowd, and demonstrate the value of that difference. This eliminates the objections to what many operators claim about pricing. If you focus on matching prices, you are destined to doom. If you focus on the advantages of better service, you will always win.

Growth and brand dominance is created by having the highest brand value, not the lowest price tag. One can always sell something by offering the lowest price, but this will not create loyalty to your brand—never did and never will. It only creates “loyalty” to that price point. As soon as your customer is offered a better price, he or she will jump ship, leaving you like a scorned lover in the middle of the night.

No matter how you look at it, starting over is never easy. Having to start over after a failure or setback— whether it was caused internally with a flawed operating model or externally by the emergence of new and overwhelming competition—is hard.  There are many cases in this industry of operators having
to start over, who then go on to be bigger and better than before. As the late great
Audrey Hepburn once said, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”

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Written by
Creative Director
john@limodigest.com

3 Ways to Manage Distracted Employees

Distracted Employees


As all managers know, workday distractions are everywhere, stealing your employees’ precious time and productivity. Between new technologies that beg for people’s attention, to the prevalence of shortened attention spans, everyone on your team has the opportunity to be more distracted today than in the past.

Of course, being distracted at work creates numerous problems from missed opportunities to strained business relationships. Therefore, you need to effectively manage your employees so their distractions are minimized.

 First, realize that there are two categories of distraction. One is internal distraction, and the other is external distraction. Internal distractions include any physiological, emotional, attitudinal, biological or physical discomfort. Some examples include having an upset stomach or a headache, worrying about a personal or professional matter, feeling overwhelmed with tasks, sitting in an uncomfortable chair, experiencing anger toward a co-worker or grieving a loss. Any of these things can quickly take an employee off track from his or her tasks.

External distractions include other people and technology. Some examples include co-workers who stop by someone’s office to chat, social media and text alerts ringing on a smartphone, email notifications popping up on a computer screen or other employees who talk loudly in the office. These seemingly innocuous items easily divert people’s attention.

The real challenge is that most employees are not experiencing just one or two of these distractions; they are facing multiple each day. Consider this common scenario: a customer service representative is responsible for telephone, email, and chat communications. When a customer calls in, the rep has scripts to follow for each scenario. In addition to working from the memorized scripts, she is also instant messaging with customers and answering emails. In fact, her computer screen is divided into quarters: one quadrant has the details of the caller on the phone, and the other three quadrants are active chats she is engaging in simultaneously. She is also in an office space where the physical difference between her and the next customer service representative may be five to eight feet. Even though she is wearing a headset, she can still hear the other reps talking. The person to her right likes to stand while he talks, so that visually distracts her. The chair she is sitting on is old and uncomfortable, and because the company is trying to save money, they have the thermostat set to 80 degrees in the middle of summer. The distractions seem never-ending!

On top of all the internal and external distractions, organizational structures have changed over the years, packing in more duties and responsibilities to every job description. That means your employees today have to spread their attention thin just to complete their expected workload. With all of these factors, it is no wonder so many people feel distracted at work.
Fortunately, most distractions can be eliminated from the workplace, if you take the time to manage them. Here’s how:

>> Design or redesign a job from a distractibility point of view.

When a manager has a distracted employee, it is natural to blame the person and say things like, “He’s not a team player,” “She’s not motivated,” or “He doesn’t work well here.” The manager may even reprimand the individual for poor performance. But before you go that route, take a good look at the job and environment to see if it is making the employee distracted.

In other words, look at the job from a distractibility point of view. What are the job duties, both the ones explicitly stated in the job description, and the ones that person just always seems to do? What is the working environment like? What visual or auditory distraction triggers are present? How is the office set up? How are the lighting, the chair and the desk layout? What other factors impact the employee’s efficiency, effectiveness and performance?

Realize that if the work environment and the job are poorly designed, you will continue to bring in highly talented individuals who will not do well—not because of them, but because of the bad job design. Therefore, before you reprimand, analyze! What you find may surprise you.

>> Create a distraction elimination plan for your distracted employees.

Think back to your elementary school days. You likely had a few kids in the class who always bothered others, threw spit balls or just stared out the window for hours. What did the teacher do? If she was good at her job, she had a plan. If the kids were disruptive to the class, she would move them up front near her. If they were window gazers, she would orient their desk so they could no longer see the window. No matter what the disruptive behavior, she knew what to do because she had a plan in mind for it.

Good managers do the same. They sit down with the distracted employee and together create a Distraction Elimination Plan (DEP). By working together, they may decide on some physical changes in the office that can help, such as moving to a new cubicle or changing the lighting, or they may figure out some strategies the employee can use to maintain focus, such as not having an email program always open or disabling smartphone alerts.

The great thing about a plan is that it gives you something concrete to reference and use as a benchmark to gauge progress. Additionally, all organizations have risk management plans, strategic plans, operational plans, and business plans … so why not also have DEPs? Remember, distractions rarely self-resolve, so the better the plan, the better the results.

"Realize that if the work environment and the job are poorly designed, you will continue to bring in highly talented individuals who will ­not do well."


>> Offer other resources when needed.

Sometimes, even with the manager’s help and a solid DEP in place, the employee is still distracted. In these cases, the manager has to know when to offer additional resources. If your organization has an employee assistance program, you may want to consider making a recommendation to an appropriate resource or service.

If your organization does not have an employee assistance program, then present the idea of additional help in a supportive and neutral fashion. You could even suggest it as a step in the DEP, as in, “If the outlined steps in this plan don’t resolve the issue, then the employee will seek outside assistance in the form of a counselor or therapist.” The key is to help the employee find the needed resources in order to determine if their situation is more serious than simple distractions.

>> No more distractions

The next time you notice you have some employees who are underperforming, do not immediately reprimand them. Instead, take the time to determine if there is something you or the company can do to remove the distractions from the workplace. Distractions do not have to be a major part of the workday. You can help minimize them. Remember, the fewer distractions people have, the more productive they will be.

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Dr. Marty Martin, known for his state-of-the art content presented in an engaging, dynamic fashion, has been speaking and training nationally and internationally for many years. His book,
Taming Disruptive Behavior, is being published by The American College of Physician Executives (ACPE). Dr. Martin is the Director of the Health Sector Management MBA Concentration and Associate Professor in the College of Commerce at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. For more information, please visit his website: www.drmartymartin.com.

When to Tell Your Affiliate Partner to Hit the Road

Breaking Up is Hard To Do


It is easy to recognize that in today’s interconnected world of fast-paced travelers, having a solid and well-performing affiliate base is key to being able to service your customers wherever they are traveling. There is an enormous amount of trust you must put in your affiliates to maintain your duty of care and uphold your company’s standards.

­­And don’t forget the “other” side of affiliate business; you have to put your trust in them to compensate you for the work that you farm in on behalf of other ground transportation providers, as well.

As rewarding as it can be to grow both your farm-in and farm-out affiliate business, sometimes an affiliate just isn’t the right fit for your ground transportation business. For affiliate partnerships to be profitable, you need to know which affiliates you should spend your time with, and which ones you should let go. In some cases, it is best to cut an affiliate loose so you can devote that energy and time to your most lucrative partnerships.

The 80/20 Rule
Known as the Pareto principle—named after the economist who developed what is formally called the law of maldistribution—the 80/20 rule recognizes that in any group, 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the participants. In your affiliate business, that means 20 percent of your affiliates account for 80 percent of your affiliate sales, while another 20 percent account for 80 percent of your headaches.

The secret to success in affiliate revenue is for you to focus on that profitable 20 percent, while avoiding the temptation to become consumed by the demands of the costly few. To accomplish this you should certainly listen to your unhappy affiliates so you can right wrongs wherever possible. However, for every minute you spend addressing affiliate-related issues, spend four minutes nurturing your most content and profitable affiliates; if you focus on problems more than nurturing affiliates who are offering you solutions, your time and energy will be devoted to a very unbalanced, doom-and-gloom sector, which is not healthy for growing your affiliate business.

Tell-Tale Signs You Should End An Affiliate Partnership:
Sometimes, no matter what you do, you may be faced with the decision to either maintain or sever an affiliate partnership. Here are some tell-tale signs that it may be best to cut ties:

 1. When they start telling you how to run your business. This is not to say that your farm-in affiliate should not be able to articulate that they require you to uphold their level of customer service. However, if they take it a step further, and start making unreasonable demands about how you should run your business, then it is obvious that they do not believe in your essential worth as a partner. Simply put, that type is not a good fit as an affiliate. On the other hand, if your farm-out affiliates push back against your (reasonable) requirements of customer service, then maybe they are not a good fit either.

2. When you allow your fear of lost income to compromise your integrity. If you find yourself saying “yes” to your affiliates' demands, regardless of your feelings of dread, then this is a sure sign you are agreeing to work with them solely for the money. Of course, money is important and affiliates do generate income, but if you feel that your integrity is compromised because of something they strong-armed you into doing, then it’s definitely time to part ways.

3. When you are asked to disregard your core values. When a farm-in affiliate tells you that you have to do something you know is wrong, get out immediately. Your core values are what your brand represents.  Allowing that brand to be jeopardized by diluting your core values is basically signing your business' own death warrant.

4. When they become a “time suck.” Most everyone will eventually have one of these types of affiliates—the ones that will endlessly take advantage of your time. Asking for an occasional favor is fine, but when those favors eat into billable hours and revenue, it can become problematic. A partnership is a two-way street, and if your affiliates don’t show respect for your time, then they most likely don’t respect your partnership either.

Once you’ve determined that an affiliate partnership is not in your business' best interest, what
is the best way to end things amicably?

A good rule of thumb for ending any affiliate partnership is to make it feel like a mutual decision by using language like “not a good fit,” even when it is a clear understatement. If possible, make a suggestion or recommendation for another possible replacement to your affiliation. Although abruptly cutting off this partnership may be tempting, try to remain neutral and professional; taking the high road is always a business best-practice. Likewise, taking blame for the bad affiliation may feel gracious, and an easy way out, but it will fuel the affiliate's sense of being wronged, and will likely create industry gossip or fodder that is not in your best interest.

Best Practices for Creating Healthy Affiliate Partnerships
Establish good rapport and clarify your partnership standards. You need to ensure that you have compatible duty of care requirements and standards. In this case, opposites do not attract. Making sure that you have similar core values helps to ensure that both your standards are upheld and that you can uphold their standards easily, without compromising your brand or integrity.

Make sure you have an affiliate package (both farm-in and farm-out) that clearly outlines and records vital information relating to both sides of the partnership. Such a package would outline fleet sizes, booking options, signage requirements and most importantly, payment requirements.

Monitor the quality of the partnership often, and on farm-outs, make timely payments. There is nothing that will sour good rapport more than slow—or no—payments for work that was done on your behalf. Likewise, if you are finding that payments from your farm-ins are slow or not forthcoming on a regular basis, it may be time to reevaluate the partnership.

For farm-in affiliate partners, ask for their business! As the saying goes: out of sight, out of mind. Take time to remind your affiliate partners of the benefits of farming their business to you when they need it in your area, with a nice email newsletter on a quarterly basis.

As with all partnerships, communication is key. If you suspect something is not working the way it should, pick up the phone and talk about your concerns.

In the traditional sales model, the key to achieving a successful customer relationship is broken down into five steps:

1. Identify potential prospects.
2. Attract prospects.
3. Close the sale.
4.  Upsell them to more of your services and engage them in your brand.
5. Grow and nurture the account.

The same approach can be applied to achieving a successful (and profitable) affiliate relationship:

1. Identify potential affiliate partner prospects for farm-in work.
2. Attract complementary affiliate prospects for farm-out work.
3. Agree/finalize affiliate paperwork.
4. Engage and educate them about your affiliate location and all the services you offer.
5. Grow and nurture the affiliate relationship through phone calls, email and trade show
        networking opportunities.

It is always a good practice to review your affiliate relationships once a year. It is a great reminder to reach out to your affiliate base and remind them of your availability, as well as to evaluate if the partnership is working. If you do wind up parting ways, make sure you keep track of the reasons so as not to repeat history with future affiliates.

Saying goodbye to relationships, personal or business, is never easy. But having the best tools and practices possible to guide you through developing, maintaining, growing and sometimes ending affiliate relationships is key to building a successful affiliate component to your ground transportation business.

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Written by Dawn Sheldon
Assistant Editor
dawn@limodigest.com

Porsche Enlisted to Engineer Russian Presidential Fleet

Russian Cortege


Controversial Russian President Vladimir Putin has enlisted Porsche Engineering to develop his administration's new limousine fleet, according to a press release recently distributed by the Kremlin.

The press release outlined the details of “Project Cortege,” the fleet of high-tech armored vehicles for top officials in the Putin administration, which Russian Minister of Trade, Denis Manturov, has said will be fast-tracked with the help of Porsche to be deployed a year ahead of schedule in 2017. The vehicles will be manufactured in Russia, and the fleet will include limousines, SUVs and minivans, all of which will be armor-plated and bullet-proof.

For more information about Porsche, visit www.porsche.com.

Mobility Ventures’ Accessible MV-1 Now Available in Canada

Mobility Ventures MV-1


Mobility Ventures, designer and manufacturer of the world’s first and only universally accessible vehicle, has announced an exclusive distribution agreement with MV-1 Canada.

“Purpose-built from the ground up in support of wheelchair users,” the MV-1 has been acclaimed throughout North America for its unique reputation as the first factory-built mobility vehicle that caters specifically to passengers who require accessible transportation.

Headquartered in South Bend, Indiana, Mobility Ventures is a subsidiary of AM General, and accordingly, the MV-1 is manufactured at AM General’s state-of-the-art commercial assembly plant in Mishawaka, Indiana. The vehicle is “universally designed,” enabling equal access to quality, safe transportation to all individuals, regardless of their physical abilities. The MV-1 meets Canadian Motor Vehicles Safety Standards straight off the assembly line, and according to its manufacturer, is “more durable and cost effective to own and operate than a traditional retrofitted van or bus.” Moreover, its universal accessibility makes the vehicle a great solution for both consumers and commercial fleets.

“MV-1 Canada is the ideal partner for us in Canada,” said Rick Smith, President of Mobility Ventures.
“The team at MV-1 Canada has a strong reputation for customer satisfaction, years of experience serving the mobility industry and a dedication to a culture of accessibility in Canada. As our distribution partner, MV-1 Canada is establishing a national network of independent dealers and services locations across Canada.”

Perhaps the MV-1’s most impressive claims to fame are its status as the only accessible vehicle that meets or exceeds the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the Canadian CSA D-409 safety standards. Comparable to an SUV, the vehicle has an easily deployed manual or powered ramp built directly above the frame but below the floor, which extends from the side for ease of access for wheelchair users.

“We are thrilled about our new agreement with Mobility Ventures and look forward to supporting our customers and dealers across Canada,” said Nick Grande, CEO of MV-1 Canada. “The MV-1 is a truly innovative product, has been well received and has performed in all applications. We want to thank all our customers, partners and staff for their support and incredible loyalty to this revolutionary vehicle. The MV-1 is now available in Canada for immediate delivery.”

For more info about the MV-1 and its new Canadian distributor, visit www.mv1canada.com.

Lufthansa Limousine Service Expands to London

Lufthansa Airlines


Lufthansa, Europe’s largest airline, has begun offering its free chauffeur-driven limousine service to its London passengers traveling to and from the airport.

After a successful year-long trial run in Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh, Lufthansa’s parent company has moved to extend its exclusive luxury airport transportation service to passengers living within 50 miles of London Heathrow and London City Airports who purchase Luftansa or SWISS First Class tickets in the United Kingdom, starting May 1.

Lufthansa General Manager, UK & Ireland, Christian Schindler said, “We are delighted that we can now offer this additional benefit to our premium passengers in the South East. They will receive one
complimentary airport transfer in a CTS Chauffeur Services limousine for every one-way Lufthansa or SWISS First Class flight they book.”

“Lufthansa is the first and only European airline to receive a 5-star rating for its First Class in the renowned Skytrax rankings thanks to a superb product and service featuring ergonomically contoured seats which convert into fully flat, two metre long beds,” Schindler added. “Skytrax also awarded top marks to the Lufthansa inflight entertainment, with movies in up to eight languages, a variety of TV and radio channels as well as a selection of CDs and audio books. Lufthansa’s First Class cabin crew achieved a strong
on-board service quality ranking with outstanding marks for their exceptional service excellence.”

For more information about Lufthansa’s free luxury airport transfer and other luxury services, visit www.lufthansa.com.

Big Changes in Leadership at BMW

Hans Blesse


BMW Group recently announced several changes coming to its senior management teams in Canada and the United States.

Chairman and CEO of BMW Group Region Americas, Ludwig Willisch, broke news of the planned departure of Eduardo Villaverde, President and CEO of BMW Group Canada. Villaverde first joined BMW Group in 1995, ascended to serve as CEO of BMW Spain, and transferred to this leadership role at BMW’s Ontario-based Canadian subsidiary in 2011.

Hans Blesse will replace Villaverde as President and CEO of BMW Group Canada, effective by the beginning of June. Blesse has served as vice president of New Jersey-based BMW Motorrad USA since 2012, and his career with BMW spans 27 years, throughout which he has achieved success in sales, marketing, aftersales and training in subsidiary divisions across the globe.

Kris Odwarka succeeded Blesse on May 13, and assumes responsibility for motorcycle sales and marketing in the United States. Odwarka has served as regional aftersales manager, Southern Region, since February 2013, and began his career with BMW as a sales trainer for BMW of North America in 1992.

“I want to thank Eduardo for his years of service to BMW Group and we all wish him well in his new endeavors,” said Willisch. “For Hans Blesse, his new role in Canada will be a homecoming of sorts and I know he will do well in our very important Canadian market. Kris Odwarka has a great passion for motorcycles and he is excited about leading BMW Motorrad and we are expecting great results.”

For more information about BMW of North America, visit www.bmwusa.com.

How to Leave a Lasting Impression as a Leader in the Workplace

Leadership


William James, the famed American philosopher and psychologist, once said, “When two people meet there are really six people present. There is each person as they see themselves, each person as the other person sees them, and each person as they really are.” As a leader, how do you see yourself? And even more important … how do the people you lead see you?


Realize that every action you take and every interaction you have leaves a lasting impact on others. You can have the best of intentions, but if your impact isn’t aligned with the intention, then your leadership may not be as effective as it could be. Why? Because in the end, what matters is not who you think you are, but the experience that other people have with you.

Now before you say, “I don’t care what other people think of me,” realize that you don’t need to care what they think. You do, however, have to care about the impact you have on others, on your organization, and your industry. Your impact leaves a lasting mark. What mark do you want to leave in the world?

In order to make sure you have a positive impact and are viewed as a leader others actually want to follow, take the following steps:

 [ STEP ONE ] Detail the Kind of Impact You Want to Have.
Most leaders have never detailed their personal creed. But doing so can be incredibly powerful. Therefore, get clear about who you think you are. Who are you and what do you stand for? What do you value? What is your personal creed or stance in the roles that are most important to you in your life? How do you want to be known in your company and industry?

Once you have those questions answered, ask the most important question of all: “How do the things
I just detailed show up when I’m frustrated or when things aren’t going well? Who am I then?” It’s easy
to be all of those lovely things when everything is going well. But what about when things aren’t going well? How do you want to show up during the hard times? How do you want to be known when things are tough? How do you want people to experience you in the midst of adversity? Most leaders lose credibility when things are bad because they haven’t thought about who they are in those situations and the kind of impact they’ll have.

Most leaders lose credibility when things are bad because they haven’t thought about who they are in those situations and the kind of impact they’ll have.

 [ STEP TWO ] Find Out How Others View Your Impact.
There are two ways to get information about your impact: You can ask for feedback either indirectly or directly. An indirect approach is doing an online and anonymous survey of some sort using a tool like Survey Monkey. While it’s simple to do, the results are not always specific.

A direct approach is to talk with someone you trust face-to-face and ask specific questions so you can get key insights. The secret to making direct questions work is to phrase them properly. If you ask someone, “Can you give me feedback on my leadership style?” you won’t get the information you need. That’s a difficult question for most people to answer because it’s not focused enough, and no one wants to hurt another person’s feelings. Additionally, if they’re not prepared for the question, they can feel like they’re being put on the spot. Therefore, ask a more focused question, like, “During today’s meeting, I think I may have sounded defensive when I told Chris that the idea would never work. How
did it land for you? What was your experience of being in that meeting?”

Notice that you’re not asking for an evaluation. You’re pointing out a specific incident or behavior and asking the person about their personal experience during that moment—the impact you had. Of course, this doesn’t guarantee that the person is going to tell you the truth, but it does create a condition where they’re more likely to be open.

 [ STEP THREE ] Change Your Impact, Not You.
If the results of the feedback you receive don’t align with your personal perceptions about yourself, it’s time to make some changes—not to you, but to your impact. First, get curious about the mismatch, not furious about the information. A good question to ask yourself is, “Under what conditions might a person experience me this way?” This validates not that you agree with the feedback, but that it is a legitimate perception.

Because here’s the truth: You might be a motivating, empowering, and uplifting  kind of leader, but under
certain conditions, even the most esteemed person can come across as harsh, cold, and defensive. So you need to get mindful of the kinds of conditions that can hinder your success. In other words, know your blind spots so you can shed some light on them.

With this new knowledge, you can take steps to consciously alter the impact you have on others. If taking
one approach isn’t getting you the results you want, what other approach can you try? No matter what approach you try, you’re still the same person, just doing certain things in a different way to have a more positive impact. As long as the new approach you try supports your values and what you deem important, then you’re acting with integrity and in alignment with your goals.

 [ STEP FOUR ] Get Real.
There’s no avoiding it: All leaders leave a lasting impact. What’s yours? And is it the legacy you want?
When you can align who you think you are with how others perceive you, you’ll be the kind of leader people naturally gravitate toward, and your enduring mark on the world will be a positive one.

*********************************************************************************

Alesia Latson is a speaker, trainer, coach and founder
of Latson Leadership Group, a consulting firm specializing
in management and leadership development. With more
than 20 years of experience, Latson helps organizations
and leaders expand their capacity to produce results while enhancing employee engagement. For more information
on Alesia’s speaking and consulting, please contact her
at alesia@latsonleadershipgroup.com
or visit www.latsonleadershipgroup.com.



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