Tuesday, September 26, 2023

TOPIC: Do you provide cellphones or tablets to your chauffeurs? What are the rules/policies surrounding them?

Eric Alimena We require our chauffeurs to provide their own cellphones and tablets. We tried issuing the tablets, but 75 percent of them were destroyed in the first month. As long as they have an up-to-date phone and a tablet with a 10-inch undamaged screen that runs our required apps, it is up to them to choose the phone and tablet that best meet their needs and maintain them.

Eric Alimena, CEO & Founder
Alimena Limousine & Worldwide Transportation in Atlanta, Ga.

Jim Barnes Years ago, I bought all my chauffeurs Nextel phones with the push-to-talk feature, which worked like a two-way radio. However, since cellphones have become such a personal item, we now have our chauffeurs use their own phone but with a twist: We provide windshield brackets. We also give them tablets with access to the internet and that are set up for WiFi hot spots. Our chauffeurs and clients can use my data plan when they travel in any of our vehicles.

However, using a cellphone for navigation is not permitted without a bracket so the phone remains in plain view, ensuring that the chauffeur won’t take his eyes off the road.

Jim Barnes, President
Jimmy’s Limousine in Cincinnati, Ohio

Sue Jarvis We provide company-owned tablets in our vehicles for our chauffeurs to use. Prior to being assigned a tablet, all chauffeurs must go through a short training on its operation and troubleshooting, and must sign an equipment agreement. Chauffeurs are responsible for damages resulting from neglect or abuse up to the replacement cost of the tablet. All data is limited and overages will not occur.

The company installs the applications they will need to use and our IT department limits what websites can be accessed, including GPS and Flight Tracker information as well as the GRiDD app that integrates with our FASTTRAK Cloud reservation software.

Our tablets are stored in our office on charging stations when not in use and are all are encased in covers to limit damage if dropped.

Sue Jarvis, President
Aristocat Chauffeured Transportation in Warren, Mich.

Wendy Kleefisch I issue tablets for every job, but it’s the chauffeur’s responsibility to pick one up from the office and log in, which also “clocks” them in. The technology available today should be used to your company’s fullest potential to maximize customer experience. Our chauffeurs use their own cellphones as they are familiar and comfortable with their operation. However, I do pay their monthly bill because I feel it’s the right thing to do for them; for part-time chauffeurs, Brevard pays half of their phone bill. A chauffeur is your first and last impression of your company, and after 18-plus years, a happy chauffeur is the best chauffeur!

Wendy Kleefisch, Owner
Brevard Executive Limousine in Indialantic, Fla.

Ilpo Mäkinen We do provide our chauffeurs with both cellphones and tablets, as the use of both has considerably improved the communication between our dispatch teams and the chauffeurs. The devices not only provide a paperless environment, but also speed up the entire service process by providing real-time information to all relevant departments. Our back office determines what apps are installed and used in the devices to ensure that they function properly and without excess loss of battery power. Safety is, of course, the primary concern in all our operations, so the use of the devices is limited to times when the vehicle is stationary and without passengers.

Ilpo Mäkinen, Sales & Operations Director
Limousine Service in Helsinki, Finland

Steve Qua Smart phones with our app are distributed to chauffeurs as the communication method for dispatch. This is a topic that I am very concerned about. Many operators are having their chauffeurs use their own phones for communication while working, a practice that is rife with risk. We prefer that customers not be able to reach chauffeurs on any line that we don’t have control of. This to avoid a customer having conversations with a chauffeur that we can’t track, and because I am also concerned about how much private data about a person can be mined with a phone number: phone owner, billing address, background, etc. A great deal of data can be uncovered just from a cellphone number. As such, I am concerned about being liable if something happened either to a chauffeur or his/her identity and we were the ones that inadvertently gave a bad guy our chauffeur’s (or client’s) phone number.

Therefore, cellphones are the property of the company, locked so that only approved apps can be used, checked out with the vehicle at the beginning of the shift, and returned with the vehicle at the end of the shift.

Steve Qua, President
Company Car & Limousine in Cleveland, Ohio

Arthur J. Rento Pontarelli does provide both cellphones and iPads to our chauffeurs and our policy starts with dispatch. Our dispatchers are trained to check the chauffeur’s GPS status to make sure he is not driving before we attempt to call him.

Our chauffeurs are issued a phone on their final day of training during their orientation, and they are instructed to use the phone to contact customers and/or call into base.

Obviously, there is a risk associated with issuing phones to chauffeurs; therefore, we give them explicit instructions on how and when to use their device. It is made perfectly clear that utilizing the phone while operating a motor vehicle is strictly prohibited. We try to be as detailed as possible in our training manual so there is no confusion in any given situation. Once the policy is reviewed with the chauffeurs, they sign off that they agree to follow our mobile device procedure.

IPads are issued to the chauffeur when assigned a vehicle. Much of the dispatcher/chauffeur communication is performed through the iPad and, as a result, it is extremely important to us to be as detailed as possible on how we want our chauffeur to utilize technology. The rules that we apply to iPads are very similar to how we approach company-issued phones: Operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile device is prohibited. All iPads are managed using our in-house Apple server, which allows us to quickly add or remove approved apps, add web links, and restrict bandwidth usage to create a master profile and push it out to all of our devices.

Arthur J. Rento, Owner
Pontarelli Chicago Limousine Service in Chicago, Ill.

Stephen Story This year, all of our chauffeurs began using smartphones. Most are their personal phones, but we contribute financially for their data usage. The power of a smartphone enables each chauffeur to utilize an assortment of applications for their particular type of service. For instance, we utilize the FASTTRAK app for dispatching and passenger functions for our airport services and the J.J. Keller Encompass system for electronic logs, vehicle inspections (MVIR), IFTA tax reporting, training management, and driver file maintenance. Also, we developed our own employee app to distribute training material, user manuals, employee newsletters, and important notifications. Furthermore, the smartphone also provides a platform for a variety of popular apps that are helpful for travel such as traffic cams, road alerts, GPS, and access to destination websites. However, our drivers are required to follow all FMCSA guidelines regarding cellphone use.

Stephen Story, President
James River Transportation in Richmond, Va.

Eric Windstein Limousine Livery provides a tablet bank in which chauffeurs are able to choose one for each shift. Each tablet is in its own locked cabinet and the keys to each cabinet are controlled within our KeyPer Management System. Tablet software is controlled through mobile device management software.

Our night dispatch performs a daily inventory of all tablets, which we are attempting to automate through our software. Further, each employee has signed a damage agreement. This process has worked extremely well and affords our clients the most updated data feeds as well as customized greet signage.

Eric Windstein, Vice President of Operations
Limousine Livery in New Orleans, La.

Amy Yan In the major cities we currently service, including Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai, we encourage our chauffeurs to use iPads to meet and greet our guests and report their driving statuses via DriverAnywhere. While it is not mandatory, more and more chauffeurs are getting used to it because of the conveniences of the iPad, along with the relevant applications that make their work more effective and time efficient. However, we don’t usually provide tablets to chauffeurs for free; instead, our dispatch team prioritizes iPad-enabled chauffeurs to receive more jobs so that they can earn more money. We give Apple phones or iPads to our chauffeurs as part of their year-end bonuses at our sole discretion.

Amy Yan, Co-Founder and Managing Partner
AmyExpress in Kowloon, Hong Kong

We’ve loved hearing your answers to our benchmarking questions since debuting this interactive section—but we always welcome suggestions for future topics, too!

Have you wondered how others in the industry have tackled a concern you’re currently facing, handled a delicate issue, implemented a certain policy, or do you simply want to propose a topic for our consideration?

Send an email to rob@chauffeurdriven.com and you just might see your query answered in a future issue. We look forward to your input!