It’s a marathon…not a sprint

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The title of this blog puts timing into perspective. We’ve heard this analogy used in everything from sports to baking cookies, but I see how it can be applied to the limousine industry, which is under the microscope as we speak due to the tragic events in Northern California a few days ago.
Limousine companies come and go, sometimes with alarming frequency. However, unlike the “old days” – of which I am a proud alumnus – there are more companies in the arena now, which makes the percentage of those going belly up seem smaller. The reasons for limousine operator failure are varied, but in many cased tied to poor decision making. Examples are easy to find from within the industry; start-up companies that offer steeply discounted rates in an attempt to lure corporate and retail “bargain hunters”, fleets built on inexpensive and untested vehicle models, and unrealistic business models (of which the previous two examples also apply) are ticking time bombs. Additionally, heavy spending on advertising tends to have a pathetic ROI, meaning the money going out will probably never be replaced. There are other reasons as well, but these are the ones I hear of most frequently.
It’s NOT a sprint. No one can enter the limousine market throwing down huge sums of money and expect to be successful. Temporary success is possible, but over and over again, history shows that those with a solid business model and the fortitude to stick to that plan, even in the face of economic downturns and outside stressors (fuel prices and climbing vehicle and maintenance costs) will persevere. That’s because companies – like O’Hare-Midway Limousine Service – treat the business like a marathon. We know that giving away business will make a client happy in the short term, but solid customer service and a new and dependable fleet will do more to sustain the business.
Most people that look for ground transportation don’t realize the significance of what O’Hare-Midway has been doing for decades by rotating its fleet every 2 ½ years, especially since the Lincoln Town Car took over as the industry flagship vehicles over 20 years ago. In recent years, the Town Car has changed very little, which has allowed companies that run older vehicles to pass them off as newer. Their day is now coming however. Any Town Car on the road today is at least 2+ years old. We will have replaced all of ours by the end of the year. Many will be purchased by our competitors, along with their 250,000+ odometer readings. Meanwhile, we will have replaced those aging vehicles with an assortment of Cadillac and Mercedes sedans, crossovers, and SUV’s. Again, we can’t offer cut rate pricing, because you can’t keep a dependable fleet on the road using that model.
O’Hare-Midway Limousine Service is built to run a marathon. Beware those that sprint at the beginning of the race, because they tire quickly and fade from view. At the end of the marathon, you will only find those that have trained properly, put in the time, and understand what it takes to win.
See you at the finish line!
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Dale Schahczinski
Goal driven team leader, with industry experience spanning all aspects of operations and administration.