Tag Archives: business limo

How Safe is Uber…Really?

CAR-SHARING INDUSTRY

New products and technology often captivate the public eye, but there is always a flipside to anything new to the market that is yet to be discovered.

In the  car service industry, there is no exception which includes the well-known car sharing app Uber.  There is no doubt that they have created a unique product, however their service and social responsibility attached with providing a “real world” service experience  have lagged far behind. From operating illegally in many cities, to recent news worthy incidents of both passenger and driver assault or rape, many clients have continually asked me…”How safe is Uber..really?”

This is one well -publicized news story of the incident with the Taco Bell Executive riding in an Uber car. See the story below:

http://www.cnbc.com/2015/11/02/taco-bell-executive-out-after-alleged-assault-in-uber-car.html

UBER STRATEGY AND GAME PLAN

Uber’s strategy is very simple: Bull -headed market entry and disruption supported by infinite financial resources that use marketing, lobbying and fanatical customer base social media support  .

In many instances, Uber has steamrolled into many cities and operated outside of any legal oversight, and in some cases in spite of city issued cease and desist orders.

When things get really ugly for them, they rely on their status as a third party technology company to buy them immunity from any liability. For a car service to default to technology company during questioning  is quite disconcerting. Along with a very talented public relations team and corporate smooth talk that would make Donald Trump blush, they evade a full court press.  Any question of liability safety precautions and responsibility, are ultimately made null by this nonchalant strategy, and Uber continues to do what they do best—generate revenue.  Up until recently, this has worked for them. But the tide is changing and recent incidents have forced many to ask what is really going on behind the scenes  to ensure my ride is safe?

DUE DILIGENCE

This is where a lot of potential Uber users balk at tapping that button.  Is Uber really doing their due diligence? Do they know who is driving me? Most established, legitimate car service companies must have drivers undergo a thorough in person hard copy “live scan fingerprint” background check of their drivers. This ensures that the person applying for background check is indeed the one being scanned. It’s kind of a no brainer you would think, but Uber’s policies are very flawed to say the least. In addition, all drivers must undergo a pre- employment drug urinalysis test as well as ongoing random drug tests throughout their time of employment. By law, all companies registered as Livery service providers with the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) must screen drivers based upon the most recent copy of their CA DMV H-6. This informs the employer of any infractions on the prospective employees driving record within the past 6-7 years.  On top of that, they must sign up with CA DMV Driver Pull notice program. This sends an automated notice to the employer if their driver has been involved or convicted of any moving violations in their own personal vehicle or while off duty. Most legitimate limo companies will also use FBI modeled psychological/ personality profile test as well as situational interview techniques to further select from a potential pool of applicants before hiring a new trainee.

I can tell you that as a second generation small car service owner, my standards for potential candidates are very high.  Based upon city, local and common sense guideline,  I will not hire anyone convicted of certain crimes. I will also not hire any applicants, with more than two points on their H6 DMV record, a DUI or a major vehicular accident that resulted in significant injury or death. I will also issue them a multiple choice personality test and sit down and talk with them, asking a series of pointed and purposeful answers.  I will also speak with their previous employers before moving on to the next phase of employment selection and new hire training.

While this may be seen as excessive,  our passengers demand the best in service. And we differentiate ourselves as bringing the best in class to every ride, and to ensure safety of the customers.

VOLUME AND THE FUTURE

Here’s the kicker: our service does not do anywhere close to the volume of rides that Uber does.  For a  company that provides the mind-boggling numbers of customer contacts that Uber does, you would expect  the bare minimum of safety and security  to be equal to if not greater to established standards. Clearly something’s missing in Uber’s due diligence, and absolute refusal to abide by industry best practices in employee selection and customer safety . When the honor system and real world situations are left to play out with little to no regulation or oversight, who is ultimately held accountable and who can you really trust?

 

 

What’s It Really Like in the Los Angeles Limo Industry?

An Interview with Adir Katzin, Owner of A&E Worldwide Limo.

Q: How did you get started in this business?

A: This is a second generation family business. I worked in the business for 8 years learning the ropes, pursued a career in emergency medicine and eventually fell back into the luxury chauffeured transportation service, which was my original passion.

 

Q:  What do you enjoy about it?

A: I enjoy working with and speaking to my clients and the satisfaction of seeing a job well done.  I love 99.9% of all my clients. You have to have the “heart of a servant” and love customer service in order to do this work day in and day out. I care deeply about their satisfaction and safety and there’s a certain gratification in seeing a happy customer. Of course I do enjoy most everything else that comes with the daily grind…the nonstop challenge of dealing with logistics, traffic, airport delays and flight changes. It’s all a nonstop 24/7 challenge that constantly keeps me on my toes so there’s never a dull moment.  I really enjoy the hustle of it.  I also enjoy flipping the vehicles every few seasons and choosing new models based upon vehicle performance and client demand. There’s really a chance to “geek out” on the newest tech trends and development.  But, at the end of the day every choice I make is geared towards client satisfaction.

 

Q: How do you compare to your competitors in your area?

A: At the end of the day, it comes down to consistent performance. I can proudly say that we have one of the highest client retention rates in the industry.  That boils down to margin of error. Our margin of error on trip to trip is VERY small, and it’s due in large part to the team of people I surround myself with highly qualified staff and the equipment and technology we use. Needles to say most people also appreciate a “customer first” attitude, clean,  well-maintained vehicles, superior back-end office support and professional and punctual drivers who have great people skills.

 

Q. What makes your limo service different?

A: We are considered a “personal boutique service.” What this means is that we strive to treat each and every client as if they’re our only one.  That’s how it started for us and that’s the way we’ve continued to behave. The problem with some larger brand names in this industry is that they’ve forgotten about their customers. I try and make sure that EVERY detail on every ride is flawless. Even with perfect execution, with occasional goof ups do occur. What makes us different is that we care. If there’s ever an incident or complaint, I do everything in my power to make it right.

 

Q:  Do you only serve LA/Sherman Oaks area?

A: We also provide the same level of service in over 350 cities worldwide. It’s taken us 38 years to develop our worldwide affiliate network, but it’s a well oiled machine that we’re very proud of. We consider our service a one stop shop for all your transportation needs

 

Q. You must be some interesting characters and cool people. Can you share a few?

A: The clients that are most memorable to me are the movers and shakers; individual giants that drive the modern industry. Also it’s really neat to meet people whose work I have always had a personal interest in.  From the CEO of Twitter to the CEO of Discovery Communications, I have had the chance to meet and work with some of the most influential people in the western world. We also do alot of small family accounts and major corporate travel for companies such as Chevron and Amgen.  I am also a huge horror film buff and once had the chance to drive the Director of  the horror movie “Hostel.” That was a huge nerdy moment for me and I had to try my hardest not to geek out when meeting him

 

Q: What keeps you going everyday?

A: Limo.

I can liken it to the excitement of show business.  The action stress and spotlight are part of the excitement.  When we’ve completed group transportation for a large event or award show for example and all the working pieces have come together perfectly there’s a certain satisfaction to it.  That’s ultimately what keeps me going. I would also like to build this business into an asset that I can eventually pass on to my kids and see where they take it.

 

Q: What’s new and coming in your industry?

A: The discontinuation of the former industry standard. The Executive Lincoln Town Car has a left a vacuum in vehicle choice.  Right now we’re excited about new changes and have our eyes on the New 2016 Lincoln Continental, as well as the 2016 Cadillac CT6 with extended wheel base.  We are always in attendance at the trade shows and will be keeping our eyes peeled.  While we are certainly acutely aware of the pull and attraction of On Demand Apps for transportation.  We are holding out to make sure that we make the wisest investment in reservation and booking apps, so that we can find one that both integrates seamlessly into our back-end admin system and that also works for our clients

 

Q: What’s your vehicle selection like?

A: We have  recently made some significant investments in three new Cadillac Escalade platinum edition SUVs…a very nice option for small groups with luggage  We are also starting to carve out a niche in the Mercedes Benz Sprinter Market and have purchased 3 new vans that can accommodate anywhere from 11 to 18 passengers. Each model of Sprinter really has it’s own personality and can really be tricked out. We of course stock the standard Lincoln, Cadillac and Mercedes sedans as well as high end mini coaches for large group work.

 

Q: How do you compete with the car-sharing companies like Uber?

A: One word…Service.

Most Uber users are not using them because they want to. It’s a question of price and convenience. But, ultimately I always know who is driving my car and my clients. And I am able to trust them with my own family.  Without spending too much time mulling over the whole Uber debate, I can tell you that I invest a lot of my money and time in personnel, and that there is a distinct difference between a driver and a chauffeur.  We deliver a flawless service to our clients, that’s our promise. Ultimately, Uber has upped the ante with response time and new Whiz bang technology. While we certainly cannot and will not compete with them on pricing, we have crunched our lead times to 1 hour, almost anywhere in LA and are currently looking into a streamlined consumer end app that does everything Uber does, but even better.

Other things to consider is that Uber cannot take advance reservations of weeks or days beforehand where this is a standard option for A&E Worldwide Limo clients. Uber also does not have a phone number and we always have our phone lines and emails open to our clients. This is where caliber service starts.

adir-emmy's-lotcropped

 

Ride Sharing Services Attempt to Get the ‘Lyft’!

A and E Adir Katzin demonstrating ride sharing in a limoAbout a year ago, we posted an article about the dilemma facing both the Southern California limousine and taxi services in regards to the introduction of ride sharing services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar.

For those unfamiliar with the situation, these various ride sharing systems operate as a series of Smartphone apps for iOS, Android and other cell phone operating systems. The idea is that by using these apps, customers can ‘hail a cab’ online and a driver, usually unregistered with the State of California would pick up the customer and drive him or her to their destination.

Since that time, the controversy has escalated. Back in June of 2014, the Los Angeles City Council threatened half the operations of all Southern California based ride-sharing services. Even with the “ban”, these companies continued to operate their smartphone apps and provided rides all over the Los Angeles region. From LAX to nightclubs, the pink mustached vehicles of Lyft and similar ridesharing services were utilized everywhere.

As of September 18, 2014, a landmark decision has been reached rendering California the first state in the nation to legally regulate these ride-sharing apps and services. According to a press release from the California Public Utilities Commission, the regulations establish a new category of business called a Transportation Network Company, requiring those companies to obtain a license from CPUC, conduct criminal background checks, establish a driver training program, and hold a commercial insurance policy with a minimum of $1 million per-incident coverage.

While this decision is being hailed by the independent companies as an enormous victory, opening their relatively new foothold in the door even wider, taxi and limousine companies need not despair just yet.

Reading both the nuts and bolts of the argument and the comments, what stands out again & again is the issue of customer service.

These upstart companies (Lyft, and the rest) are succeeding because they are new and fresh. They are actually listening to what the public wants and needs and delivering it. Cars are clean, drivers are friendly, rates are affordable.

The taxi industry as a whole has had a bad rep for years but consumers have had no other choices. Due to their monopoly on the market, taxi drivers have become increasingly slovenly, surly, rude, etc. Overcharging is rampant. Drivers have been able to rest on their laurels because they know passengers are stuck with them and had no other options.

Limo companies are kind of lost in the shuffle between the two, but taking a limo or a Town Car has always signified class and a level of upscale service which has remained consistent throughout this “battle”. Limos are also surprisingly affordable, but that never crosses anyone’s mind.

If either company wants to succeed, customer service must be put at the forefront. Taxi drivers have the experience but not the attitude. Lyft has the friendliness, the cleanliness and the care, but not the professionalism or the finesse of premier limo service. That’s where the biggest edge of limo service comes in.

Consider both sides when making your decision.

Limo service offers these 3 things that ride-sharing services do not:Premier, personalized/vetted chauffeurs with

1. Premier, personalized/vetted chauffeurs with CONSISTENT price.

2.  High-touch customer service and support.High-quality vehicle selection and variety.

3. High-quality vehicle selection and variety.

Consider a limo or a town car first before going for a trendy ride -sharing app.