Toll free1-888-731-8880
Direct 1-973-937-8880

Blogs

5 Ways to cut the cost (but not service) for your limo business

Posted on: January 23rd, 2017 by Neil Sorathia

It’s no secret that a fleet of limousines are expensive to buy, maintain, insure, and keep up with so, of course, the costs of running a limousine business can start to add up. Savvy business owners are always looking for ways to cut costs while maintaining the same high levels of service to their clients as before. Here are four tips to keep your customers satisfied while increasing the profit margin. It’s a win/win for everyone.

1) Reduce Your Fleet Size

Do you need every limo in your fleet? If every limo is not regularly used, it might be possible to cut a few vehicles which could save you up to $5,000 a year and you’ll recoup additional costs in the sale price of the vehicle. While that does mean increased wear and tear on your new smaller fleet, just think of all the costs you can cut from just selling one vehicle – maintenance costs, repair costs, permits, and insurance, just to name a few.

2) Aim For Fuel Efficiency

While gas prices aren’t sky high like they used to be, it is still a significant cost for limo businesses. In the limos you do decide to keep, take a few steps to encourage fuel efficiency. These steps can include: changing the air flow sensors, checking the spark plugs, changing the air filters, regular oil changes, keeping the tire pressure maintained at optimum levels, and requiring your drivers to drive no faster than the speed limit.

3) Keep Your Fleet Maintained

Regular maintenance services can seem like a real drag on the checkbook, so it might be tempting to cut corners here and there, but keeping your fleet of limos up to snuff will decrease the likelihood of expensive breakdowns. Regular oil changes are especially important to make sure that your limo engines are running smoothly and fuel costs stay low.

4) Invest in Limo Software

This might seem counterproductive at first, but investing in limo booking software can decrease office costs. Cut down on the cost of administrative assistants by investing in limo software so your clients can book reservations online all the time. Consider the Booking Tool, a low-cost monthly software option that works for limo companies of all sizes. Booking software like the Booking Tool can offer instant quotes, online reservations, payment processing, automated email updates, and more to your clients to keep them in the loop and keep your office staff free to do other tasks.

PCI DSS Compliance and You: What It is, Why It Matters, and How You Can Protect Your Business

Posted on: September 18th, 2016 by Neil

PCI DSS Compliance and You: What It is, Why It Matters, and How You Can Protect Your Business

There is nothing that affects the entire buying cycle quite like the theft or a potential breach of credit cardholder data. It leaves businesses faltering in the wake of lost customer trust and, likely, business, as well as subjecting the business in question to potential financial liabilities and losses.

This is where PCI DSS compliance comes in to protect consumers and businesses.

The potential threat of this spans every industry, including the limousine and car rental businesses that might accept payment for limo or car rental reservations online through a third-party application.

What is PCI DSS?

PCI DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. The PCI Security Standards Council set the standards that merchants are required to follow to be compliant regarding data security.

The most important thing to know is that PCI DSS compliance is always changing and can be very complex depending on the type of business you have. If you’re a large brick-and-mortar retailer that keeps its clients’ credit card information on file, you’ll have more requirements to meet than a smaller e-tailer that uses a third-party payment site.

What Needs to Be Secure?

Items that fall under the umbrella of PCI DSS compliance regulations include anywhere cardholder data is captured from the point of sale through the payment system. This can include, but is not limited to: card readers, point of sale systems, store networks and wireless access routers, payment card data storage and transmission, payment card data stored in paper-based records, and online payment applications and shopping carts.

Potential Consequences of PCI DSS Non-Compliance

  • Losing client’s trust
  • Loss of sales and revenue
  • Fraudulent losses
  • Higher costs to become compliant
  • Legal fees, settlement payouts, and judgment costs
  • Fines and penalties
  • Restriction from ability to accept credit card payments
  • Terminations of responsible employees
  • Bankruptcy and going out of business

Small Vendors and PCI DSS Compliance

Fortunately, if you’re a relatively small vendor that does not store clients’ credit card information, then the requirements for you to be PCI DSS compliant are much easier to meet. For vendors that accept payments online through a third-party application, the process is handled by that application. For anyone in the limousine or car rental industry, an all-in-one booking and payment tool that is PCI DSS compliant is The Booking Tool.

For more information about PCI DSS compliance, refer to the Quick Reference Guide and for more information about the PCI DSS complaint The Booking Tool, visit our website.

Uber vs Lyft vs Limousines

Posted on: June 19th, 2016 by Neil

There are a few new disruptive businesses in the transportation industry these days, but just because they’re new doesn’t mean they’re better. Here’s an in-depth look at Uber, Lyft, and a traditional limousine service so you can decide for yourself.

 

UBER & LYFT PROS

  • Now passengers can hail a car from the comfort of their home, an office, or somewhere else and have a car to them in minutes.
  • Third-party intermediary. Both Uber and Lyft remove the need for money to exchange hands and give both the passenger and driver peace of mind.
  • With a much quicker vetting process and an influx of new drivers, more people on the outskirts of major metropolitan areas and suburbs have greater access.

 

UBER & LYFT CONS

  • Surge pricing. Roundly criticized, “surge pricing” or “primetime” pricing is the practice of increasing the fair during high-volume periods with prices sometimes doubling or even tripling and making them effectively unaffordable.
  • Trip cancellations. This can lead to a schedule disruption for passengers, which can lead to missed flights, etc.
  • There are have some news articles that have called into question the safety of these services, like the shootings in Michigan by an Uber driver that killed six people.
  • While service might have expanded outside of large metro areas, if you’re in a rural area, you still might not have access to Uber or Lyft.
  • Questionable business tactics. Both Uber and Lyft have been in the news a lot for their disruption of the taxi industry, but have also come under fire for some aggressive hiring practices, driver lawsuits, and more.

 

LIMOUSINE SERVICE PROS

  • Experienced drivers. Limousine drivers are highly trained, experienced service industry professionals that can assure a safe, enjoyable night out.
  • Riding in a limousine can help set a mood and make an experience unforgettable.
  • Scheduled pickups. A limo can be booked beforehand to have a driver waiting for you.
  • Depending upon the number of passengers, a limo ride can actually be more cost-effective than Uber or Lyft.
  • Limousine services require their drivers to be registered and licensed. The drivers will clean their car after each passenger and can ensure a consistent experience each ride.

 

LIMOUSINE SERVICE CONS

  • If you’d prefer to get from Point A to Point B without any interest, a limo might be too conspicuous and draw too much attention. Stretch limousines with tinted windows especially draw attention from onlookers.
  • Plan ahead. Getting a limousine on demand can be hard, which means you’ll likely need to book ahead, but the other side of the coin is that they’re extremely reliable. If you have a limousine scheduled, you do not need to worry that your ride will be cancelled.

 

Let us know in the comments which option you prefer!

6 Marketing Techniques to Grow Your Business

Posted on: February 16th, 2016 by Neil

6 Marketing Techniques to Grow Your Business

When you have a small business, sometimes the marketing budget that goes with it is also small. That doesn’t mean you should give up on the idea of implementing an effective marketing campaign. No way! Sometimes the best marketing ideas are simplest and inexpensive solutions. Marketing doesn’t always have to be an expensive undertaking when you throw in a little creativity. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  1. Utilize Social Media

Pros of social media: it’s easy and free. Doesn’t get much better than that. Marketing is no longer a one-way street. Social media is a great way to start a conversation with your clients and keep them up to date in new developments in your company and become a brand they trust. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, and even Instagram can help drive traffic to your website if used correctly.

  1. That Includes LinkedIn!

A seriously underused marketing avenue is LinkedIn. Don’t limit LinkedIn to just creating a profile and linking with professional associates. LinkedIn launched long-form posts, which function like blog posts. Oftentimes, because of the platform, the long-form posts might see more traffic than the same content posted to your own blog. LinkedIn can be a great place to share content, promote your company, and make friends and potential clients.

  1. Launch a “Word of Mouth” Campaign

Offer existing clients a perk to refer their friends to your company. This tactic doesn’t have to cost you any upfront money. You could offer a free perk, service, or product for referring new customers.

  1. Find an Industry Partnership

You don’t want to look to join with a direct competitor, but find a company in a related industry to join forces with for a joint project. Whether your project is offline and local, or designed to be a viral online campaign, by choosing a company in a related industry, you’ll be increasing your marketing field and introducing your company to a new niche audience.

  1. Revamp Your Business Cards

Consider redesigning your business cards to be engaging, impactful, and memorable, and then commit to always having a few with you. You never know when you might bump into someone that might need your service.

  1. In-Kind Sponsorship of a Non-Profit

Another good way to get your company’s name out there is to sponsor a non-profit organization. While a sponsorship usually equates to money, an in-kind sponsorship is the donation of time or services. It can help expand your company’s reach and connect with more potential customers.

7 Pitfalls to Avoid When Starting a Limousine Service Company

Posted on: October 5th, 2015 by Neil

Starting any business can be a daunting task and the limousine business is no different. Every business needs a strong foundation to succeed otherwise you will end up broke, unhappy, and with a business that is circling the drain. Here are seven pitfalls to avoid when starting a new limousine or shuttle company.

1. Scale as You Grow.
When you’re starting out in the limo business, it’s a very good idea to start small. To begin with, a used Town Car and a 120” stretch limo are all you really need. The blinged out Hummers and party buses shouldn’t be purchased until you have a very strongly branded company and a steady revenue stream. Expensive purchases can sink a new company fast.

2. Marketing is the First Step.
Marketing should always be priority Number One when starting a new business of any kind. Simply buying a fleet of vehicles is not enough to succeed. First, you need customers that will actually rent the vehicles. Again, you should refer to my first piece of advice: start small. Ideally, you will only buy new vehicles when the demand warrants it.

3. Be Diverse.
While the prom scene might be the big profit arena for limousine companies, airport trips are the bread and butter of this business. Creating revenue streams in multiple areas will help keep a company afloat during a struggling economy. In addition to proms and weddings, successful limousine companies will also cater to funerals, airport trips, events, road shows, and as secure transportation. A fleet should be operating seven days a week.

4. It’s Not All Glamour.
If you want to start a limousine business because you have good memories of being in a limo for a party or a wedding, but operating a limousine service is a completely different experience. This is not a glamorous business. It’s taking people to the airport, consoling grieving loved ones headed to a funeral, or cleaning up puke after prom night. This is a service industry and it’s a good idea to keep that in mind when dreaming up what owning your own business will be like. Limousine companies require a great deal of precision and professionalism to run smoothly and effectively.

5. Be Ready to Train Your Employees
Unlike other industries when you can hire students after graduating, the ride service industry doesn’t have a secret university pumping out trained hires. Generally, you will need to train your own employees yourself. It’s a good idea to look to other service industry professions to find employees that are confident and have a good demeanor and positive attitude. Employees that already know how to work with the general public at 90 percent of the way to being good chauffeurs.

6. You Get What You Pay For.
The companies that can offer rock bottom prices are also usually the companies that aren’t licensed and don’t have insurance. Do not drop your prices to compete with such place. Instead, raise your standards to offer an immaculate experience to create lifelong clients that will keep coming back again and again. A lot of limousine companies don’t make it because their pricing structure isn’t enough to cover their overhead. Those companies suffer a slow death.

7. Hire a Consultant.
If all else fails, hire a consultant that knows the business. He or she can help you with mundane, everyday questions as well as larger umbrella questions. While starting a business can be an expensive venture, a good consultant can help you make money in the long run so it’s a good idea to splash out for one if you do not have very much industry experience.

Book a limo anywhere and the importance of cloud based reservation system

Posted on: August 31st, 2015 by Neil

In today’s modern world, everything is moving into a digital capacity. Most hotels already have an online booking system so that travelers can reserve rooms on the fly. Limousine companies can be behind the curve on using booking software for online reservations, but they shouldn’t be. Here are a few reasons why you need to provide your customers the convenience to book a limo from anywhere from around the world and why limousine companies need to offer online reservations.

  1. Convenience

Online software for reservations is convenient for customers. They can look at the limousines available and the price tags for the services and they can make an educated choice before booking. Creating an experience that makes it easy for the consumer to say, “Yes!” to your product can potentially boost sales as well. A lot of reservation software also allows the user to save his or her information for faster and easier checkouts in the future. Anything you can do to create a more streamlined experience for the customer will be a mark in your favor.

  1. Create a Call to Action

Along the same lines convenience, creating a call to action on your limousine website to make a reservation on online can help with conversion rates. While you can do the same by asking the potential client to call you, it is another step to use a phone, while the customer is already on your website. Your website has already done the heavy lifting, you should give the customer an easy way to make reservations right there to snap up their business.

  1. Potential Cost Savings

While software can sometimes be expensive, starting out with basic reservation software can actually save your company money in the long run. Employees will no longer be tied to the phone taking reservations, which can free them up for the important tasks you need them to do. It’s nearly impossible to multitasking while on the phone so all of that time your employees (or you!) spend on the phone taking reservations can be freed up with reservation software.

  1. Take Reservations – Anytime

Unlike taking reservations over the phone, online reservations can be made at any time 24 hours a day. That means that you have expanded the hours you can actually receive reservations from customers. Most people are busy throughout the day and will have a hard time finding a moment to step away from a busy office job to make a reservation online, but when they’re casually surfing for limousines at home, it will be easy for them to make a few clicks to reserve a limousine with your company.

  1. Get a Marketing Boost

Requiring an e-mail address to reserve a limousine online will help bolster your company newsletter. Reminding past customers of the great experience they had and other opportunities for such in the future will help bring them back again and again. If you do not have a company newsletter, they is a great excuse to start. E-mail newsletters are still a powerful marketing tool in the online world and with a free account at Mail Chimp, very expensive.

The Unseen Dangers of Stretch Limousines

Posted on: July 31st, 2015 by Neil

The Unseen Dangers of Stretch Limousines

In the transportation sector, car accidents cause more deaths per year than plane crashes, but more people are afraid of flying than driving. Most people do not think twice about using a car service for special nights like prom or weddings, but limousines and party buses can be even more dangerous than a typical car. Common types of accidents involving limousines include rear-end accidents, sideswipes, and parking lot accidents. Unsurprisingly, the size of the limousine usually contributes to these accidents, but there are other dangers for riding in a limousine as well.

Lax Regulations for Limousines

Regulations in the U.S. require vehicles to have seatbelts as well as side-curtain airbags as safety features, but party buses and limos are exempt from this rule if they have fewer than eight forward-facing seats. The exemption is aimed at airport shuttles and buses that carry multiple wheelchair spaces, but limo manufacturers use the exemption to avoid the expense of extra seatbelts or airbags. When the size of stretch limos means they are more susceptible to side collisions, this is especially worrying. A limo with no safety features and unrestrained passengers is an especially dangerous combination, even in minor accidents.

Poor Construction and Mechanical Errors

Often times during the manufacturing process, stretch limos are taken apart, stretched, and bolted back together. This means that the safety of these limos is suspect during an accident. These modifications can also create blind spots for the driver, which is dangerous for the passengers as well as other vehicles on the road.

In 2013, a limo transporting a bachelorette party caught fire because of friction between the car’s drive shaft and rear floorboard. Tragically, five people died in the accident, including the bride-to-be. Then, only a month later, a party bus shifted throwing a passenger against a door which fell open throwing him onto a freeway. The doors were supposed to be locked when the bus was in motion, but the mechanical failure cost the passenger his life.

Unregistered Limousine Companies and Unlicensed Drivers

Skilled limousine drivers can be the difference between a safe arrival and disaster. Another major risk of using a limo service is companies that are either unregistered or that employ unlicensed drivers. A stretch limo is much larger and more difficult to maneuver so an unlicensed driver may not be skilled enough keep passengers safe. Additionally, when an uninsured limo is in an accident, it may be hard for the passengers to receive compensation for any medical treatment they may require. Unsurprisingly, companies that are lenient about employing unlicensed drivers or not insuring their vehicles also tend to be more lax with implementing safety measures including regular maintenance of the limo.

Limousine Safety Tips

  • Check to make sure that the company is registered, the driver is licensed, and the car is insured before you sign a contact.
  • Check the company’s status at the Better Business Bureau to see if the limo service has any complaints lodged against it.
  • Ask the car service questions about the chauffeur including his or her track record and driving experience.
  • Inspect the limousine prior to signing up. Look for inspection stickers and write down the VIN to ensure the company does not switch vehicles on you.
  • Look into the company’s cancellation policy and know your rights to terminate the contract if a red flag appears.
  • To ensure a smooth ride, get every detail of the deal in writing.

With awareness and practicality, a limo ride can be just as glamorous as it is portrayed.

Booking Tool was used to book Shuttle Reservations for the US Open – Gig Harbor

Posted on: June 23rd, 2015 by Neil

For the first time, the US Open was held in the Pacific Northwest – Chambers Bay, in the state of Washington. This golf course is ranked #1 in the state of Washington and #2 in the US. So, for a tournament like this, you would expect a nice public gathering.

Gig Harbor, Washington is a major tourist attraction and the US Open only exemplified that. So, for the US open they were expecting a more than normal crowd. With the closest parking lots to Gig Harbor being over 40 minutes away, the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Committee worked on how to keep the visitors, coming in from all over the world, in Gig Harbor. Offering a shuttle service from Gig Harbor to the Open was the answer. The Chamber wanted something affordable, reliable, & intuitive.

This is where Booking Tool comes in. The Chamber reviewed every major shuttle software that’s out on the market and have decided to use the Booking Tool for their reservation needs. As the Golf tournament wraps up this week, they have maxed out every shuttle for the week during the tournament and week prior to the tournament. One key feature of booking tool’s limousine and shuttle reservation system is the ability to keep a track of its fleet to prevent over booking. The shuttle module will keep an eye on the number of seats available so each shuttle will leave with max capacity, but will not over book. This is extremely important with today’s fuel prices.

The Chamber of Economic Development Committee placed its trust in the booking tool at a time when everything must go as planned. If booking tool was the preferred software for a worldwide event like this, then shouldn’t you consider using it for your local shuttle business as well?

Give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to go over the details!

chambers bay golf

 

Calendar & Dispatch Screen

Posted on: June 22nd, 2015 by Neil

One of the primary features of a limousine software is a calendar or a dispatch screen.  Booking Tool is proud to release the next generation of a graphical calendar interface used for managing your day-to-day reservations and dispatching.  The updated calendar screen is portable on all types of devices from a smart phone, to tablets, to both laptops and computers and just about every browser that’s currently out on the market.  One of our goals when building the calendar/dispatch screen was to make it responsive to suite the vast array of devices that will be accessing it in today’s market.

 

Limo SEO – 5 Ways to Gain More Visitors to Your Website.

Posted on: June 21st, 2015 by Neil

In today’s Internet Age, you have to be very active online in order to gain more clients. It is not enough that you have an official website where you can introduce your brand and put all your products or services for everyone in the world to see. But rather, you must make it search engine optimized or SEO.  For all limo and shuttle operator’s out there, here are practical and effective ways to drive more traffic to your website or make your site limo seo friendlier to search engines.

#1) Be there in all major social media networks.

Social media is the newest and hottest trend in online marketing. Just think about the billions of social media users all over the world. If you can reach out to them fast and easy, you’ll definitely gain more visitors who are most likely your prospect clients.
And, that’s not it. A large percentage of those who are active in social media are travelers, people who are spending their holiday or vacation or on a business trip in search of a limousine or shuttle for hire or for rent. So, as an operator, you have a great chance to reach out to them using the 10 most popular social media networks – Facebook, QQ, What’s App, QZone, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, LinkedIn, Skype, Google+, and Instagram. You can also include Twitter and Tumblr on your list.

#2 Use and feature an online management software.

For the sake of convenience, travelers always prefer to deal with a limo or shuttle company that has online booking software. This is an online tool that gives them several booking options, whether an hourly trip to and from the airport or point to point transport through a limousine or a shuttle; informs them the amount to be paid so they can budget well; allows them to make a reservation or book directly; presents a variety of fast and secure ways to pay such as credit cards, PayPal, and more; and, sends them an email confirming their reservation or booking information and reminding them of their pickup schedule.
One highly recommended software is called Booking Tool. It’s complete in features, from basic to advanced, automated, and secure. Also, it has an online free demo.

#3 Advertise your offers online.

There are many different ways to market your shuttle or limousine business for hire on the Internet. You can try blogging, social media advertising, paid search, and display advertising.
Blogging is very simple yet it requires regular update to maintain the relevancy of your content. You just need to create a blog page or a separate blogging site dedicated to your transportation rental company. What you do is write as many quality and interesting articles on your blog that are directly or indirectly related to your business. Remember that many people use the Internet to search for an info so if they are directed towards your article and see your advertisement, they will most likely hire your taxi, limo, or shuttle for their trip.
Another very effective way to advertise is through your social media networks. You can market your limo or shuttle for rent business through the blog that’s linked to you social media or to the paid advertisement provided. Facebook, for instance, offers companies a paid advertisement on their pages.
By the name itself, your company will be displayed in display advertising. It’s usually done by contacting high ranking blogs or websites and asking them to display an ad about your car service rental business anywhere on their site.
When it comes to paid search, your offers will be marketed within a search engine or a partner website’s specific sponsored listings and pay them whenever someone clicks the advertisement about your company.

#4 Make your website mobile friendly.

Many companies have found that more people are making their buying decision on their mobile gadget. This includes mobile phones or Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and more. So, you have to make sure that your website is mobile responsive. It must be complete in all its features with the same appearance in whatever screen size or display.

#5 Utilize on-page search engine optimization.

Whatever you put in your website is searchable as long as they are in compliance with the standards set forth by search engines. That is why it’s very important to make them search engine optimized as much as possible, especially on-page SEO. Do not forget to put an alt text or a description of your images, include relevant internal and external links in your content, place title tags, insert shot and long tail keywords, and take advantage of meta descriptions.

If you really want to increase your website’s traffic or number of visitors and boost your sales, you have to start working on these tips now and make yourself updated of the latest in online marketing.