Is It Okay To Be Late?

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In an industry where on time means different things to different people, often the question comes up…Is there ever a time when it’s okay to be late? The answer is (of course) no, but again…we run into various interpretations.
One of the limousine industry catch phrases for years has been “If you’re not 10 minutes early for a pickup, then you’re late”. This is a nice concept, and one that would seemingly make sense when practicable, but does that mean that being 5 minutes early to a pickup is a bad thing?
In the Chicago limo market, most of the largest companies go through each day with one hand holding their collective hat, because it can be fast and furious when it comes to the pace of business. When running what amounts to an ASAP day, a dispatcher will be hard pressed to find vehicles to cover trips in general, but with traffic concerns, weather, and sheer volume, the ability to get vehicles in place with enough time to spot at their locations 10 to 15 minutes early can be a feat of magic. But…that’s not saying it’s okay to be late. However, there are strategies to employ when being on time becomes questionable.
1) Communication: The reality behind being early is more to do with a client’s state of mind. If they look outside 15 minutes before their car is scheduled to arrive and see it in the driveway, they will be at ease. If they look outside at 1 minute before their pickup and don’t see a vehicle, their stress level will likely rise. Communication regarding late cars goes a long way to put a client at ease.
Be Honest: Shaving minutes is like shaving points; nothing good can come from it. If a chauffeur is running 15 minutes late, a client should be told as soon as possible. Saying the chauffeur is running a few minutes behind schedule will probably lead to a follow up call afterward from a less-than-happy customer.
Make The Connection: The ultimate goal is to get client and chauffeur together, not to berate a chauffeur or avoid a client. While those options are easier, taking the mature path will most probably save the client. the chauffeur and everyone at the limousine company a lot of stress.
Resolution: Make sure your client knows how important they are. Anything that you can do to help facilitate a timely pickup is critical, and anything you can do to appease your client in the event of a problem is vitally important. No client should ever go away mad, because they might just go away altogether.
In short, it’s never okay to be late in the limousine business. But we are a business run by people…humans…and as humans we are prone to imperfection. A chauffeur may get lost, a dispatcher may give the wrong information, or a order taker may enter information incorrectly. It happens. So while it’s never okay to be late, it can and will happen. How you handle it is the most important thing.

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