TOPIC: Other than price, what factors influence your new vehicle purchases?
When deciding upon a new fleet vehicle, reliability is a key component. It is always appealing if the manufacturer stands behind the vehicle with a livery warranty. Furthermore, the comfort of the guest is of utmost importance, too. It seems that manufacturers that are new to the livery side of the auto business believe that more buttons and more electronics make the ride better or more enjoyable; however, most of our customers appreciate simple, easy-to-use controls. Remember, clients are only in the vehicle for an average of 20-30 minutes and don’t want to have to learn how to operate a vehicle while being transported to their destination. Keep the car simple and dress up the service!
Jay Bowers, General Manager
AJL International in Dallas, Texas
There are two factors that we consider the most important when making vehicle purchases. Client demand is one of them. In certain cases, our clients dictate year, make, and model of the vehicles they deem acceptable for use. The other is image. While it may not be in your financial best interest to always have the “newest and best” fleet, working with some clientele may require you to have at least one of the latest body styles.
Alan Candeub, President
Park Avenue Limousine in Trevose, Pa.
We look for vehicles that adapt better to the needs of our customers—especially in regard to comfort, security, and new technologies. While we try to make a client feel more comfortable with a car that offers amenities (both mechanical and company-supplied), the safety of our customers comes first. We purchase vehicles with high safety ratings.
Gerard Dalmau, Account Manager
Abaser Limousine Service in Barcelona, Spain
Other than price, the two biggest things that I look at when buying a vehicle are service support and the vendor’s commitment to our industry. Regardless of where I purchase the vehicle, I need to know that warranty items and other service issues will be handled quickly, locally, and efficiently. Also, I like to deal with those vendors who financially support both the NLA and their local associations—in my case, the Limousine Association of New Jersey.
Jon Epstein, President
Royal Coachman Worldwide in Denville, N.J.
I’m always looking for the most reliable equipment I can find. My market is a resort area, so my needs are often different from those in a metropolitan area. When equipment is reliable and looks great, the poor service provided by TNCs doesn’t even compare. Price over quality can get you in trouble. After all, we don’t get paid sitting around in repair shops.
Tyrone Gale Jr., President
Atlantic Transportation in Millsboro, Del.
There are two main factors that we consider when adding vehicles to our fleet: utilization and repair costs. We evaluate the effectiveness of our fleet to determine if we are running each unit at full capacity and if we need to add more to keep with the demands of growth. The second factor in adding to or turning over the current fleet is a combination of age, mileage, and maintenance/repair costs. Successfully managing a fleet is a balancing act of the timing, market demand, and the ability to keep pace with growth.
Shawn Glasgow, President/CEO
Peak Worldwide Chauffeured Services in Charlotte, N.C.
A huge factor we look at is the warranties on the vehicle—both bumper-to-bumper and extended fleet warranty. It can often be quite a puzzle to figure out what exactly is covered depending on what manufacturer you buy from. Also, the vehicle downtime associated with repairs is something else to think about. If a mechanical issue arises, we want to be sure it will be repaired quickly.
Mark Kini, Founder & CEO
Boston Chauffeur in Beverly, Mass.
Customer request is the major component when we purchase vehicles. Our clients have become very manufacturer specific over the past five years, especially in regard to sedan and van reservations.
Next, we consider maximizing the service opportunity of the vehicle. Because we do a lot of tourism and meetings and events, seating capacity, luggage space, and interior comforts are very important for all of our vehicles. Also, every vehicle must be suitable to do airport and charter work.
Gregory Palie Sr., Director of Corporate Sales and Affiliate Management
GNS Transportation Group in Orlando, Fla.
Although price is always a factor, we think quality customer experience is the better target. When selecting a vehicle to purchase, we are looking for backseat comfort, ease of entrance and egress, and reliability. Regardless of how fancy, how much bling, or how many options there are at a passenger’s disposal, if they can’t get in or out of the car, if the backseat is too hard or too short, if the door opening is too small, or the car is out of service for repairs, it doesn’t matter how much it costs to acquire.
Steve Qua, President
Company Car and Limousine in Cleveland, Ohio
Price is always a consideration, but it’s never THE factor. We have relationships with numerous companies all over the country, and purchasing a trustworthy vehicle for a little more money is a much wiser investment than purchasing an inexpensive vehicle that leaves your clients stranded because it breaks down. In the long run, it’s about the value of the money spent, coupled with the relationship we have with whom we buy from. There are times when a completely custom build is in order, and we hand-select who is going to build the vehicle for us, regardless of price. Other times, we need to be more cost-conscious, like when we buy batches of sedans. We have target numbers in mind, and we let our partners know where we’d like to be. Usually, we’re able to get there, or at least reasonably close. In the long run, it all balances out.
Another big influence is what our clientele wants and is requesting. Back in the mid-2000s, the big thing was the stretch Hummer. We ended up buying two, and our retail clients loved them. Earlier this year, we had a Sprinter custom-built into a JetVan, and our corporate clients are going nuts over it: It’s a premium vehicle with a premium price, but they’re happy to pay it. In the end, we all have to make our clients happy, whether we’re selling cars or selling ground transportation services.
Tracy Salinger, General Manager
Unique Limousine in Harrisburg, Pa.
First and foremost, we look at what our clients want and need. It makes no sense for us to buy a vehicle that we cannot send out. Second, we consider the price of operation per mile as well as any applicable tax. In the Netherlands (where we are located), certain vehicles carry a very large tax incentive, which unfortunately means that the cheapest car might turn out to be the most expensive. Our third consideration is resale value, since we change our cars every three years.
Cederic Schonbaum, Owner
C.S. Limousine Services in Amsterdam, Holland
We’ve loved hearing your answers to our benchmarking questions since debuting this interactive section—but we always welcome suggestions for future topics, too!
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