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 firstname.lastname@example.org for next issue’s question.
TOPIC: How has your business/market been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak? What methods are you adopting to protect your clients and chauffeurs from this—or really any—highly contagious illness that attracts media attention?Editor’s note: Responses were collected before coronavirus was declared a national emergency in the U.S.
Our Chinese market segment has been decimated, and our daily corporate travelers have reduced travel to an absolute minimum. Recently, the NLA provided its members with constant resources that detail practical measures for prevention and managing this crisis. Our company also created a one-sheet for our staff. We are being very prudent on cleaning and disinfecting our office and vehicles, and if employee is feeling sick they’re automatically required to seek medical attention using their sick time.
Gary Buffo, Founder/President
Pure Luxury Transportation in Petaluma, Calif.
For many years, we have recognized that a clean vehicle greatly contributes to the satisfaction of a customer. As the industry is now confronted with a pandemic, personal sanitation is paramount to protecting yourself from contracting any virus. Obviously, wiping down the surface areas of known or suspected areas with sanitary wipes will have a limited satisfactory protection. Thoroughly washing your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds after touching doorknobs, stair rails, etc., needs to be an intentional practice.
For many years, hospitals and hotels have used ultra violet light (UVL) devices that kill viruses and bacteria in the air and on the surface area inside of their rooms. We recently purchased portable Enerzen High Capacity Commercial Generator 11,000 mg Industrial Strength Ozone 03 UVL Air Purifiers Deodorizer Sterilizer to be used during the interior vehicle detail. The manufacturer boasts more than 98 percent effectiveness and will turn over the air in the cab of a typical sedan several times within 15 minutes leaving it with a clean fresh smell. In addition to killing germs, the device will remove mold, and other odors. However, they should not be operated with people inside the vehicle and must ventilate the vehicle for 10 minutes prior to use. We feel that this additional step in ensuring our vehicles are sanitized will protect our passengers, our chauffeurs, and the rest of the community from stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
Chuck Cramer, Safety Director
Jimmy’s Limousine Service in West Chester, Ohio
We are getting more and more cancelations, and companies in the Netherlands are splitting their employees over multiple locations. I posted a release on LinkedIn recently that the health and safety of our passengers, partners, and staff is our top priority. As questions and concerns arise as a result of COVID-19, we have taken a number of precautionary measures to provide the highest level of protection for our customers and staff. A thorough cleaning of vehicle interior surfaces with bleach-based disinfectant wipes is conducted following each ride. Furthermore, we have instructed all our chauffeurs and staff to seek medical attention immediately if they feel unwell. We let our clients know that they may notice some changes to regular service as a result of these precautions, such as the removal of all printed and reading materials from the seat-back pockets; the cessation of candy, mints, water or beverage offerings that are not individually packaged or sealed, unless requested; and limiting of all physical material shared between passengers and drivers wherever possible.
Richard de Krijger, CEO
DMC Limousines Worldwide in Amsterdam, Netherlands
The threat of a widespread outbreak is real. We have created an internal video and written statement about how our employees can best protect themselves while in the office and at home. The video demonstrates how we expect the chauffeurs to clean the passenger area between every client. We have removed all material including magazines, water, and mints—items frequently touched by clients—from the vehicles. Water is available upon request. We have created a “presser,” which is ready to distribute when asked what Premier is doing to protect its clients. We will come out from this with all our teeth, maybe a few black eyes, but with all our teeth. Hunker down, use the slow time productively (a great time to reach out and say thanks your existing clients), cut costs, plan for the worst, but hope for the best. We got this!
Eric Devlin, President/Owner
Premier Transportation Services in Dallas, Texas
During the coronavirus outbreak, we have zero business in China. The government gave orders to have everyone stay in quarantine at home and designated areas. The streets are empty. The Chinese government has implemented isolation quarantine in all cities throughout China to prevent the spread of the virus. Most public transportation has been cancelled and stopped. Top-level inspection and examination points have been setup at airports, train stations, highway/expressway entrances, streets, community and housing estate entrances, malls, etc., to check for fever and whether protective masks are being worn. All citizens are required to stay inside their homes, and encouraged to work and study from home. Schools have been told to give online courses only. All communities, housing estates, office buildings are isolated under quarantine; only one person per household is allowed to go in and out and drive, with a pass. All of our chauffeurs and cars have been registered to be able to travel around the city under the quarantine situation. Our chauffeurs are fully suited up and vehicles are disinfected before and after each ride. Prevention kits are also provided in each of our vehicles for the clients, which includes prevention masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes. Our chauffeurs are aware of all surroundings under all situations to warn the clients to stay away or be prepared for checking points. Each chauffeur wears protective masks and disposable gloves, which are thrown away at the end of the service.
We were lucky that we purchased some of the prevention products before the virus outbreak because there has been a huge shortage of masks, hand sanitizer, and any disinfectant products. I strongly suggest that operators please pay attention to all media sources and updates about the outbreak, have a good sense of future forecast and prediction, and prepare for a reasonable storage of possible future shortage of supplies. We are prepared to not have any business for six months. If we’re lucky, an epidemic like this may only last for a short period.
Cathleen Lamprecht, CEO
BCDLIMO-CHINA Services in Shanghai, China
We have pushed off as much as we can during these times. The company has also made the decision to pay our loans and prioritize the vendors. We do not know what is ahead of us so minimizing all other costs has been a priority. It has been interesting to see who has been willing to work with us and which companies are being aggressive. How the vendors work with us now will determine our relationship in the future, because some things you never forget.
Gus Ortis, CEO
Executive Transportation in Minneapolis, Minn.
We have a standard policy regarding hand shaking, hand washing, and other preventative methods to avoid contracting the flu viruses, even before the coronavirus. We stay vigilant in regards to advising our guests of the precautions we are taking.
Gary McKeon, Owner
Joshua’s Limousine Service in Gales Ferry, Conn.
We purchased 500 masks for our chauffeurs and offer one to our clients who are flying out. We’ve also been diligently sanitizing the office desks, phones, desktops, and vehicles interiors. Further, instead of completely canceling weekly meetings, we’ve been holding meetings via conference calls.
Richard Mishriky, Owner
CTI Transportation in Houston, Texas
When we started noticing a few cases in the U.S., our team began with a plan and posted how we were being proactive on our social media. The chauffeurs are using sanitary wipes and disposable gloves to wipe down all touchable surfaces between each ride. Then, to assure the passengers, place a card over the back seat pouch that states the date and time the vehicle was sanitized. Placed in the rear armrest we have hand sanitizer wipes (single use) and bottles of water that are replaced each time. There has been great feedback from our passengers.
Gus Ortis, CEO
Executive Transportation in Minneapolis, Minn.
It has taken longer for the effects of the virus to reach the literal middle of the country from the two coasts. However, we have stocked up on bacteria- and virus-killing cleaning supplies to wipe down our vehicles between and after each ride.
Quentin Shackelford, Owner
AllClassLimo.com in Wichita, Kan.
We have shared with our clients the precautionary measures we are taking such as after every ride, wiping down seats and handles for example to address this issue. We have also removed magazines and mints from our vehicles. We have been discussing internally what will be our next steps if we find we need to address as a company to ensure the safety of our chauffeurs and clients. We are grateful for the letter sent by the NLA to keep us posted on this situation and giving us a template to address this issue with our clients.
Nancy Vargas, Chief Executive Officer
DH2 Chauffeured Transportation in Jamaica, N.Y.
We’ve loved hearing your answers to our benchmarking questions—but we always welcome suggestions for future topics, too!
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