You asked for it and we listened. In this column, we ask operators of all sizes and from all walks of the industry a question about their business and report their answers so you can assess how your own company compares to your peers. If you would like to participate, please email Rob Smentek at email@example.com for next issue’s question.
TOPIC: Do you allow your chauffeurs to bring company-owned vehicles home? What procedures do you have to ensure they are clean and stocked? How do you monitor the vehicle’s use?
Convenience is the reason we allow vehicles to be taken home by a chauffeur. If a chauffeur lives close to areas that are heavy pickup locations or prone to be last-minute bookings, I allow this practice; however, I do require off-street parking and an immediate response to last-minute calls. Ultimately, it’s a situation where everyone wins: the chauffeur saves fuel by driving a fleet car home and I can provide quicker response time for clients’ requests. Besides, thanks to GPS tracking, we’ve basically eliminated the worry of potential abuse.
Gary Arndt, Owner
A Limousine Service in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Sometimes, a trusted, experienced chauffeur will be allowed to take a vehicle home if he lives close to an early-morning pickup. Chauffeurs must call dispatch a couple hours before pickup departure, ensuring us that they are up and running on time.
Denise Cali, Vice President
J & J Transportation in Allentown, Pa.
We do not allow chauffeurs to take vehicles home unless it makes sense for an early-morning pickup. We require all vehicles to be at the lot for our staff to clean and prepare for each day’s trips. With everything going on with our company, I don’t want to have to monitor each vehicle’s GPS to make sure our fleet isn’t being used when it shouldn’t.
Gary Day, CEO
American Limousines in Baltimore, Md.
We allow about 15 senior chauffeurs—strategically placed around the Dallas-Fort Worth area—to take both sedans and SUVs home. This helps both the company and the chauffeurs be more productive and profitable. Of those 15 chauffeurs, 10 have the early-morning shifts. They are assigned the first runs of the day based on the location of their residences, and quality of life for these chauffeurs has improved drastically. We estimate that we save 1.5 hours a day of their personal time driving to and from work by allowing them to take our vehicles home. We have a very robust contract with each chauffeur, which spells out the do’s and don’ts (our expectations). With the shortage of chauffeurs, this perk is very instrumental in keeping and attracting top talent. We also save up to one hour of salary pay per chauffeur per day, since we don’t have to pay them drive and spot time, which originates from our office vs. their home. Our dispatchers do a great job of starting a chauffeur’s day near their home. We have had zero issues—and GPS keeps it that way.
Eric Devlin, President/Owner
Premier Transportation Services in Dallas, Texas
We only allow our chauffeurs to take a vehicle home if they are dispatched a ride for an early-morning run. Our dispatcher schedules a time for the chauffeur to pick up the vehicle in the late evening the night before, after it has been washed and prepped for upcoming trips. We currently monitor any misconduct of our vehicles through our GPS camera technology provided by Samsara. It allows us to see who is driving via the in-car camera and track where the car has been so there are no discrepancies regarding where the vehicle was or what it was used for.
Sam Emam, General Manager
BBZ Limousine & Livery Service in Bergenfield N.J.
We allow chauffeurs to bring company-owned vehicles home only for specific circumstances. One example is having an early-morning pickup and the chauffeur lives near the pickup location. Another example is to save on chauffeur driving hours for the day.
We use multiple software programs for tracking the vehicles to ensure there is no abuse of this privilege. We are currently utilizing Fleetmatics for our black car work and Samsara for our coach work. In addition, to ensure the cleanliness of the vehicle, we are currently using a product called WhipAround for pre- and post-trip inspections. With this app, pictures can be taken of the interior and exterior of the vehicles, which are then sent to our dispatch team. Technology has certainly made having these types of privileges much more feasible.
Ashley Richey Goldston, General Manager Affiliate Relations
Going Coastal Transportation in Charleston, S.C.
We do allow our chauffeurs, on occasion, to take home vehicles. Everything is spreadout in New Mexico, and senior chauffeurs who are trusted and have space to safely store a vehicle can bring the vehicle home if their run is early in the morning or late at night; this saves them at least one hour of drive time. We always keep a car at an Albuquerque driver’s home, as we are involved in the film/production industry and there are constant changes when immediate response times are necessary. In Albuquerque, the driver is compensated $50 per month to clean and care for the car and make sure it is stocked with water. Our general manager and chauffeur trainer check to make sure there is no abuse.
Kathy Greenbury, CEO/Owner
RoadRunner Shuttle & Charter in Santa Fe, N.M.
Our company policy does not allow our chauffeurs to take fleet vehicles home for several reasons. We house our vehicles in our own covered garage where each is cleaned and detailed by a full-time employee, ensuring that when a vehicle goes out it will always be in immaculate shape, stocked with water, with tire pressure checked. Our garage is located next to LAX, which allows us the luxury of having frequent vehicle exchanges. As such, our chauffeurs may not be assigned to the same vehicle for the day.
By definition, chauffeurs are limited to their working hours on the road—but cars are not. By allowing a chauffeur to take a vehicle home, you limit your vehicle’s usage as the chauffeur cannot be working 24 hours every day. In order to accommodate a chauffeur taking a vehicle home, an operator must have large fleet (literally, one car per driver) to allow three shifts (including weekends) of usage as per dispatch schedule.
It’s also important to note that in California it is illegal for an operator to use his employees as independent contractors (unless they have their own TCP license). For that reason, if you allow your chauffeurs to take vehicles home, you are exposed to a lawsuit as your chauffeurs may claim that while having a vehicle in their possession they were “on standby” and couldn’t do anything but being attentive to calls from dispatch.
Avi Karpel, President
A List Worldwide Transportation in Inglewood, Calif.
We don’t allow chauffeurs to take cars home due to multiple factors. In addition to ensuring the cleanliness of vehicles, we’ve found that it’s an insurance liability when they keep a fleet vehicle at their home. What’s more, if they use the car personally, it creates even more liability. Also, it’s a labor issue just waiting to happen: When do you clock the guy in—when he leaves his house? It’s a practice that has just never worked for us.
Matthew Johnston, President
AJL Transportation in Austin, Texas
Boston Chauffeur does have a policy that allows our chauffeurs to have an assigned vehicle and also take vehicles home that are not permanently assigned to them. Our full-time/senior chauffeurs are assigned E-300 sedans/Lincoln Navigators and are responsible for maintaining vehicle upkeep such as oil changes and scheduled maintenance. All maintenance is the chauffeur’s responsibility and billed to our corporate account. While in possession of the assigned vehicle, interior and exterior cleanliness is the responsibility of the chauffeur. It is very rewarding knowing that our chauffeurs take great pride in their vehicles, treating them as their own.
There are also circumstances where it makes better business sense to send a car home with a chauffeur. This is handled on a case-by-case situation. A very typical situation is a late night drop-off with an early morning pickup, in which case a vehicle is sent home with the chauffeur with the same responsibilities in regard to cleanliness.
Our entire fleet has GPS systems in place to ensure location accuracy and safety, while eliminating any potential abuse for vehicles assigned to chauffeurs.
Mark Kini, Founder & CEO
Boston Chauffeur in Beverly, Mass.
We do allow senior chauffeurs to bring company-owned vehicles home for the convenience of clients based on the time of the scheduled trip; however, chauffeurs do have to return vehicles to the company garage when they’re off duty. To prevent potential abuse of the vehicles, we came up with a bonus program for the chauffeurs: When it’s time to turn over a vehicle, a chauffeur that has been with the same vehicle for more than three years (the lifespan of the vehicle) will get a share of the resale price of the vehicle. This both provides an incentive for the chauffeurs to keep the vehicles in a superb shape, and encourages them to stay with the company longer, thus reducing our employee turnover rate, too.
Cathleen Lamprecht, CEO
BCDLIMO-CHINA Services in Shanghai, China
At the request of an employee, vehicles may be taken home with my written approval. We provide a form that must be signed by both the chauffeur and me. The company has the discretion to revoke permission granted to an employee to take the vehicle home at any time. We mandate that the vehicle is to be used for business purposes only, namely to accommodate an employee’s direct commute to and from a particular assignment. Negligence of the car and use of the vehicle for non-business is considered cause for disciplinary action, up to and including termination. We also track the vehicle via GPS and monitor fuel consumption.
Don Mahnke, President
ABC Chauffeured Limousines in San Matteo, Calif.
We let chauffeurs take a car home if they have early-morning runs or if they’re on standby. Our agreement with them is if you have the car, you’re available to do anything new or extra runs. Since our industry has seen an uptick in last-minute or short-notice trips, this has been a plus for us.
Youssef Marrakchi, General Manager
Centennial Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation in Centennial, Colo.
It is the policy of our company to not allow any chauffeur to take a car home simply because when the units are in our garage, they are provided with maintenance, cleaning, and gasoline. For late-night or early-morning services, we have dedicated shift chauffeurs, which guarantees an on-time pickup.
Ramon Mateos, CEO
Alquimavi Limousines in Mexico City, Mexico
We allow chauffeurs to take vehicles home with them for logistical reasons. We cover a wide area and it just makes sense to start them out close to their homes. We use a maintenance software system with an app that chauffeurs utilize to do a pre-check, step-by-step process of the vehicle. That information is then sent to our maintenance team. We also send random requests to our chauffeurs to take pictures of the vehicle to ensure it’s clean. In addition, all of our vehicles have GPS so we can tell when, where, and how fast the vehicle is driving at all times. On days off, the chauffeurs are not allowed to use the vehicle for personal use and we monitor that with GPS.
Jeff Nyikos, CEO
Leros Point to Point/Royal Coachman in Valhalla, N.Y.
Our chauffeurs are not permitted to take cars home. It’s a violation of our insurance policy for the vehicles to be out on the road when not being used for work purposes. It is also violation of our company policy. We have three locations, and chauffeurs sometimes change vehicles throughout the day (i.e., they may be in an SUV in the morning, and a van in the afternoon). Just the logistics of how we operate requires the vehicles to be returned to the home garage for proper cleaning and maintenance on a daily/regular basis. We have been very consistent with this over the years, and we monitor via GPS.
Those who have tried to sneak it home are caught, usually because someone went to wash that car or another chauffeur needed to use it, and it wasn’t there. We then check GPS, and it tells us exactly where the car has been and is currently. That leads to a conversation that reiterates our policy that the vehicles are for work purposes only. Usually a single conversation stops it; however, we had one case where I had to write the chauffeur a letter, had him sign it, and put it in his file. He’s been returning the car back to the garage ever since.
Tracy Salinger, President and CEO
Unique Limousine in Harrisburg, Pa.
We’ve loved hearing your answers to our benchmarking questions—but we always welcome suggestions for future topics, too!
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