A Strategic Approach

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I’m a baseball guy. You know…one of those people that watches the game and tries to out-guess the manager. I’m the guy that tries to anticipate the next pitch, or series of pitches, the placement of players, when to swing, bunt, or take. To some people, baseball is boring. But to me, it a series of well thought out maneuvers intended to secure a favorable position at the end of a contest.
The limousine industry keeps me engaged in a similar way. Trying to anticipate what might happen is the same in any business, but I really enjoy the strategy involved in the highly competitive Chicago limousine market.
Since I started with O’Hare-Midway Limousine Service as a part-time chauffeur in 1983, I’ve witnessed an explosion in terms of local limo services. In a market that used to have “dozens” of companies, and now there are now hundreds, with various levels of pricing and service available to consumers. Unfortunately, this has made it difficult for potential clients to identify a quality company from a garage based outfit backed by a fancy website. We can thank technology for that. After all, before internet shopping came into being, people relied on referrals from friends, relatives, neighbors, and co-workers to find a quality limousine company. Today, with a beat up sedan and a few hundred dollars, a person can put a limo company on the streets of Chicago, and can generate revenue by backing it with a website showing vehicles and employees that only exist in internet photo albums. A cleverly crafted website is the main lead generator for dozens (if not more) underinsured and potentially illegal limo services in Chicago. This competitor is tricky to deal with, because they often advertise incredibly low rates for their beautiful imaginary vehicles. Then, when a worn out old sedan shows up, the dooped client is either too embarrassed to complain, or figures “they got what they paid for”.
Dealing with more worthy adversaries is no less a challenge. In the Chicago limousine market, there are several quality options available. Our position has always been to offer the highest quality vehicles and chauffeurs at an affordable rate. Other companies may opt for cars that are a little older and offer a lower rate, or all new cars with very specific service level agreements at higher costs. Staying true to your business model is imperative, because trying to be “all things to all people” will eventually become a problem.
New ideas, vehicles, and technology are hitting the limousine industry on a regular basis. While this may seem “natural” in the business environment, for an industry that relied heavily on pencil and paper until the latter part of the last century, it can sometimes seem daunting. The only thing you can do is play the game and hope that when you “guess”, you guess right. Using knowledge and experience to respond to challenges will aid in the decision making process. Adapting to changes in the industry landscape will make finding solutions to complex questions easier.
Ultimately, it comes down to managing a limousine service like you would manage a ballclub; it’s a series of well thought out maneuvers intended to secure a favorable position at the end of a contest.

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Dale Schahczinski
Goal driven team leader, with industry experience spanning all aspects of operations and administration.