Lancer Insurance
Saturday, March 02, 2024

BY ROB SMENTEK

Crown Worldwide Cover Art: Crown Worldwide President Moe Bouayad in front of the Denver skyline. Photography by Julian Donaldson.

As Crown Worldwide Transportation celebrates its 20th anniversary, company President Moe Bouayad isn’t afraid to sum up his feelings about the luxury ground transportation industry with a familiar adage.

“It’s going to sound cliché, but if you love what you’re doing, then it’s not a job,” he says.

While many operators experience burnout from the daily grind, not to mention high gas prices, chauffeur shortages, and myriad other challenges, Bouayad truly loves what he does.

“To me, it doesn’t seem like a 24/7 job. Let’s face it, you can always hire people to answer phones or drive in the middle of the night. But when you have a team and clients who buy into your culture, the rest is easy,” says Bouayad.

Company culture is an integral part of Crown Worldwide’s outlook.

“The way I look at it, Crown was built on the vision of service first,” says Bouayad. “For me, the most challenging aspect of running a business isn’t the long hours, it’s instilling the same beliefs and culture in the people within the company. I want to have them believe and buy into the same vision.”

The company’s service first culture extends past their Denver, Colorado, headquarters and across the world thanks to their valued affiliate network.

Crown WorldwideL to R: Crown Worldwide Chauffeurs Rick Hoeppner, Ron Cleaver, President Moe Bouayad, and Chauffeur Don Anderson at Red Rocks Amphitheater “We are here to treat our clientele and affiliates the way they need to be. It doesn’t matter if the client is in Denver, Honolulu, or Kuala Lumpur, the service should be identical for everyone. We work hard to be an extension of our affiliates’ cultures, as well.”

Delivering quality customer service is something that comes naturally to Bouayad, to which he credits his heritage.

“Moroccans are known for their hospitality. If you go to Morocco, they will feed you and treat you like family. It’s part of the culture ... it’s instilled in our DNA, and therefore, this business came naturally to me.”

“We have clients who date back more than 30 years, and we have to keep our clients happy and our reputation strong.” – Moe Bouayad, President of Crown Worldwide Transportation

Oddly enough, for an operator who finds himself naturally suited to his field, Bouayad’s entry into luxury ground transportation came after a period in a different industry altogether.

“In the late ’90s and early 2000s, I worked in corporate America as a business analyst,” shares Bouayad. “However, right on the downturn of the economy around 2001, I got laid off. From there, I went back to college to get a degree in computer information systems. While I was studying, I worked as a server in high-end, five-star restaurants. Then it dawned on me to start a car service to serve Denver International Airport that was newer at the time. It was 28 miles from the city, which created more demand for luxury ground transportation to the airport. So, I traded in my Jeep Grand Cherokee for a Lincoln Town Car.”

Despite navigating the balancing act of studying during the day and serving tables at night—while raising a newborn child with his wife, mind you—Bouayad’s trademark optimism put a unique perspective on the situation.

Crown WorldwideBouayad with a collection of soccer memorabilia at his office “For me, the worst-case scenario was that I would be driving a luxury vehicle if the new business venture didn’t take off,” he jokes. “Fortunately, the high-end clients I was serving at the restaurant became my customers for the car service. To this day, some of them are still with us since 2003—twenty years now.”

As his venture took off, Bouayad found himself waiting fewer tables and taking on more rides. After a year, he was full-time driving as a one-car operator. Eventually, by the time he earned his degree, he had three employees with three vehicles. Thus, Crown Worldwide Transportation was born.

“Once I graduated college, I found the limousine industry was something I really enjoyed doing. There was great reward for what I saw as minimal risk,” says Bouayad.

Bouayad describes operating in Colorado’s capital city as “unique.” Though it lays high in the mountains—earning its nickname as The Mile High City—Denver rests on a plateau, so any expectation of it being hilly or mountainous is put to rest.

“Believe it or not, the city’s very flat, and it’s very open,” says Bouayad. “Geographically speaking, Denver is very different than New York, Philly, Boston, or other metropolitan areas. Where you can go from Philly to New Jersey with no problem, we don’t have that. The closest city to Denver is Colorado Springs, and that’s an hour and a half away. Also, add in the snow during the ski season—it’s a different ballgame. Going from Denver to Vail on a good day can take 90 minutes, but when it’s snowing it could be as much as six or seven hours. It can be very challenging to operate in Denver.”

Crown WorldwidePresident Moe Bouayad stands at Centennial Airport, the home base for Crown Worldwide Transportation. However, Bouayad says the city is growing and has become prosperous: “People are moving here and loving it.”

Currently, Crown Worldwide is based out of Centennial Airport (about 30 miles south of Denver International), which Bouayad says is the second busiest private airport in the nation after New Jersey’s Teterboro. The company’s fleet is currently 18 vehicles strong, ranging from sedans, SUVs, Sprinters, and now minicoaches, thanks to a recent acquisition.

“In October 2023, we acquired Towne & Country Worldwide, which has put us in the minibus market and has allowed us to open another revenue stream,” he says.

While this isn’t Crown’s first acquisition—they bought another area firm back in 2008—the purchase of Towne & Country gives them a whole new client base and the vehicles to match.

“We now serve customers who’ve used the company since 1991. So, in effect, even though we started in 2003, we have clients who date back more than 30 years, and we have to keep our clients happy and our reputation strong,” says Bouayad.

“It’s very important to be involved. If you stay in the shadows and don’t have your voice heard, then no one can help you on a small or large scale.” – Moe Bouayad

The operator says that with the acquisition, they’re able to open their long-term clients’ eyes to their newer fleet, new technologies, new software/reservation systems. As he holds a degree in computer information systems, you can bet that technology is important to Bouayad.

“It’s very important. Tech facilitates a plethora of solutions for us. From customization of things to automation, it makes things very lucrative to follow that path. With my degree and background, it just makes sense to me to incorporate technology into our company and culture.”

Bouayad cites LQC (lead-quote-close) that they access through Addons/Limo Anywhere as a key bit of technology they can’t live without. Also important was GNet moving cross-platform.

“It literally saves the day with our affiliates. Having that communication going cross-platform really helps us out. We no longer have to field phone calls for minor concerns from affiliates or clients. They can see what is happening with a trip in real time,” he notes.

Crown WorldwideThe Bouayad family (L to R, rear) Moe, Elias, Zineb, and (front) twins Driss & Dalya. (Ayah is absent, attending college) Most importantly, though, technology allows Crown to deliver exceptional service to their clients.

“At Crown, it’s just not picking someone up and taking them from point A to point B. The Crown experience starts with the first phone call or online quote. Through automation and constant communication, we can let clients know the pricing and then check back with them if they have any questions. We’ll follow up with them with a text, email, or call. Once the reservation is secured, we’ll send another reminder prior to the service delivery. The day of the service, we’ll send notification of their chauffeur along with the type of vehicle. After the ride, we send surveys to keep us honest. We are able to let our clients know what’s going on during the whole process—and they love it. Our 280+ five-star Google reviews attest to that.”

While they dip their toes in the water of various pools, so to speak, Crown Worldwide’s typical clientele seems to be corporate.

“In the early days of Crown, we tried to diversify our client portfolio—we did some retail and even medical transport—but it’s been something that doesn’t jibe with our culture. It always seems natural to service corporate clients. And since we’re based out of Centennial, we now do a lot of private aviation work. To us, it doesn’t matter who comes out of that plane—whether it’s a CEO, athlete, A-lister, or public figure—we provide the same quality service. That integrity is what we’re known for. Further, if an affiliate calls and says that they need such-and-such, we’re going to find a way to do it. We’re interested in being relationship-driven as opposed to financially driven. The way we have clients who have been with us for 20 years, we have affiliates who have been with us through thick and thin.”

Remarkably, Bouayad’s local connections extend beyond mere commercial ties; they encompass familial relationships as well, including a sibling and several cousins. Yet, even though they cater to the same clientele, their dealings are characterized by mutual support rather than intense competition.

Crown WorldwideBouayad at Empower Field at Mile High, home of Denver Broncos. “To us, it’s not a competition, it’s an extension of our service,” says Bouayad. “Even though I have 18 vehicles currently running in my fleet, I could have 50 if I add my family members’ vehicles. We also service different clientele. The way we look at it, there’s plenty of work to go around. You need more friends in the industry.”

Bouayad says that goodwill extends to other Denver companies as well. The city’s operators seem bound by a spirit of camaraderie, as opposed to being driven apart by fierce competition.

“We all seem to get along,” he says. “People from other cities and markets see us together at shows, and they’re surprised at how well we work together. But the fact is, there isn’t one single company that could handle all the work for, say, a tradeshow. We have found a way to work together beneficially.”

That solidarity is evident in the Colorado Limousine Association, of which Bouayad is a member. He is also proud to be part of the National Limousine Association (NLA) and was even a recent candidate for an open Board seat.

“It’s very important to be involved,” says Bouayad. “If you stay in the shadows and don’t have your voice heard, then no one can help you on a small or large scale. Keep relationships with everyone. It really helps your business. It could be as simple as reaching out to a fellow association member with a problem and getting some feedback. They might have experienced the same challenges and could help with simple advice. Besides that, the education and advocacy that come with association membership is integral. There’s always an opportunity to learn new things or explore avenues of income and how to run your business.”

Bouayad says his recent involvement with the NLA Day on the Hill opened his eyes to a plethora of things that the NLA does.

“There are things we do as an association that fight for the greater good of the industry. We can’t just install a congestion tax in New York ... even though I’m not in New York, I went and fought against it. If New York passes it, it becomes a nationwide issue, and you can bet it will come to Denver. Early involvement in issues helps in the long run.”

And while he ultimately was not elected to the open Board seat, he found the campaign to be a rewarding experience.

“I ran to advocate for small markets and minority business owners. For a first-time candidate, running against industry stalwarts, I still got 145 votes, which was very humbling.”

With a staff of 19—14 chauffeurs and five office personnel—Crown Worldwide is poised for the next 20 years of operation. Bouayad is quick to cite his team, and its part in the company’s culture of service, for their part in Crown’s continued success.

“It’s all hands on deck here at Crown. Our chauffeurs, one-by-one, could all be recognized for their hard work. They do a great deal of work on their own without being told, whether it’s washing towels or doing maintenance checks on the cars. Of course, there’s also Office Manager Cathy Bosier. She is my second in command, my right-hand woman. She’s been with us for 9 years and is wonderful.”

Ultimately, Crown remains devoted to delivering that high-end service they’ve come to known for in Denver, and beyond, and it starts by living up to their moniker. “We treat you like royalty. You wear the crown ... you’re the king or queen,” says Bouayad.   [CD1223]