How Do You Measure Up To Your Competition?

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Business is business, and everyone has a competitor. From banana farmers to NASA, there is always someone trying to cut in on the action.
In the Chicago limousine market, there are almost as many “limo companies” as there stars in the sky. Anyone with a car that runs (actually…running is optional) is a potential competitor. However, the term “limo company” is widely misused by many of these businesses, unless limo company is the loose translation for “some guy with a car and possibly a valid license”. If we eliminate these competitors, we are left with a more manageable number of actual companies that we consider our competition.
Keeping this in mind, when we compare ourselves to the valid limousine companies in Chicago, we try to make do so in an “apples to apples” sort of way. This can be difficult, since differing business models can sometimes skew comparisons. For instance, we currently run a fleet of 75 cars, 4 buses and 2 vans. These vehicles are (contractually) available to us 24/7/365. We always know how many vehicles will be available for dispatch, but we are not the owners of most of these vehicles. Instead, we use a group of independent operators (I/O’s) that choose to supply their vehicles to OML exclusively. This differs from most I/O models, where operators may work for several different companies. There is sort of an inside joke concerning some I/O companies that advertise their fleets being in the hundreds of cars: So a company that advertises that they have 200 cars calls another (smaller) I/O company to cover a trip for them because one of their “independents” says he can’t do it for them. THAT I/O company finds someone to do it, and the “independent” that picks up the client is the same one that couldn’t make the pickup for the first I/O. Hilarious…but it DOES happen…more than it should. From the clients’ perspective, none of this may matter. However, the fact is that reliability can suffer if an I/O doesn’t have an emotional commitment to the company he works with. But let’s return to the point…if we were to compare ourselves to I/O limousine services with more than 50 cars, we have eliminated a large majority of limo companies in the Chicago area. Of the few left, there are some similarities, and some differences.
Chauffeurs are one of the similarities. Many like to plant roots and call one company their home, but many more tend to move from company to company looking for the best short term situation. Since chauffeurs are usually the only face-to-face contact people have with their limo service, it is important to screen, train, and keep the best ones available.
Vehicles are becoming an area of increasing differences between limousine services in Chicago. Since the Lincoln Town Car was removed from production, there has been a rush to find a replacement vehicle that could live up to its reputation. That will not likely happen, but several different vehicles have arrived in our market as limousines. The Cadillac XTS, any number of Mercedes sedans, and the Lincoln MKT are the most prominent, with some companies opting for less expensive (but much more profitable) sedans like the Chrysler 300 and Toyota Camry. Only one thing is certain when it comes to vehicles; luxury minded companies will buy luxury and profit driven companies will go cheap.
When we compare ourselves to our competition, we tend to look at the entire picture. We offer an honest, no nonsense operation to our clientele, and encourage anyone to visit at any time. If something goes wrong, we investigate and examine the details. The key is that we admit if we have made a mistake. There is nothing to be gained by looking for a scapegoat. Our customer care and retention is second to none. We don’t promise what we can’t deliver.
Competition is good for any business. Separating yourself from your competition is good for YOUR business.

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