With the COVID-19 epidemic wreaking havoc on the chauffeured transportation industry, it’s not only operators and builders dealing with the effects. Vendors who work closely and even tangentially with the industry have also been devastated by the shutdown caused by the pandemic.
Virtually overnight, Create-A-Card founders Arthur and Kathy Messina, who built a career by supplying business cards and marketing materials to the industry, found themselves without clients to service.
“With no one traveling or conducting business, our clients didn’t need business cards or mailers,” says Arthur.
Like so many other businesses struggling to stay afloat, Create-A-Card shifted gears to provide safety and sanitization products for their client base. Arthur says he took the cue after seeing local distilleries distributing hand sanitizer instead of spirits. With hand sanitizer, gloves, and especially masks high in demand, particularly for the service industry, the Messinas saw a way they could help.
“Different companies that lost revenue had to retool their businesses. These days we’re all into this “re” concept—RE-brand, RE-start, RE-fresh,” says Arthur. “We could have sat on our laurels, closed the office, and not answered the phones. But our clients were looking for safety products for their employees and customers, and we chose to stay active and help them.”
The Messinas worked with local vendors to provide a selection of masks and mini hand sanitizers that could be branded with a company logo. Safety kits for passengers and employees containing masks, sanitizers, wipes, and gloves, have been increasingly popular for Create-A-Card clients. However, with peak demand, providing the items was challenging in the early days of the pandemic.
“It was like the precious metals market: each day the price would change,” laughs Messina. “We’d quote a client, and by the time the order was processed, we’d be out of stock. Fortunately, now that it’s June, the stuff that was coming from overseas is hitting our shores. Prices are finally dropping.”
Create-A-Card has continued to expand their safety product line by offering Safe & Sealed labels to their customers. These labels are removable, tamper-evident seals that can be affixed between the door and the body of a vehicle. When the seal is pulled free, it reveals a “void” text on both sides of the sticker, ensuring the passenger that the car has been unoccupied after being cleaned or sanitized. Messina says the labels can be customized with your logo and any desired text to create peace of mind for your clients.
Like Create-A-Card, their sister company Driving Results peer groups had to change with the times. Traditionally, the Spinning Wheels and Going Global groups would be traveling to cities across the country for peer-to-peer education, networking, and fun. Unfortunately, the travel restrictions (and business decline) currently in effect have put the Going Global affiliate manager groups on hold until 2021. Meanwhile, however, Spinning Wheels members have continued to meet regularly via Zoom meetings. Not only do these events allow the members to keep up with news and commiserate, they also provide the education that Driving Results is known for.
“We’ve been able to bring some speakers on, including CD Publisher Chris Weiss and Kristen Carroll of The LMC Groups, along with other guests to educate the members,” says Arthur. “We recently had Matt Daus of Windels Marx and IATR speak to the group. By doing these Zoom meetings, I’m staying in front of my clients. To me, that’s important. The group environment is a plus—they offer support for each other.”
While COVID-19 has presented the ground transportation industry, and its associates, with an unprecedented set of challenges, the Messinas are confident that the storm will pass and the industry will survive. At the very least, Arthur believes that recent events will serve as a learning experience for operators to strategize.
“We’ve been in business for more than 30 years through the ups and downs. This is the craziest of the ups and downs, but it’s not going to devastate us. Fortunately, we’ve always run our business with the right mindset. If you plan and strategize, you’ll be able to survive.”
Visit createacardinc.com for more information.