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: Have you had any surprise successes with DIY projects for you or your business? Moreover, perhaps more importantly, were there any spectacular—or hilarious—failures?
As I’m not busy with clients, I’ve spent a lot of my time in making short films about my fleet, my company, and other short movies to share with my clients, peers, and friends. I also did a short video for one of my affiliates in Seattle. Our YouTube channel can be seen here. Also, I made an effort to be in close touch with some of my affiliates to work out how we can better help each other. I really believe that now is the time to build relationships more than ever.
Sebastian Dragan-Dima, President and Founder
LimoAngel in Chicago, Ill.
DIY has always been a passion of mine both at home and work. If I have the time and confidence to get a job done myself, you bet I'm going to take a stab at it. With how slow business has been lately, I've been taking up larger tasks than usual. Just this week, we had a front air conditioning failure in one of our Mercedez-Benz Sprinters. After about an hour of research, a couple hundred dollars in parts and tools, and some elbow grease, we got the job done. Let me tell you, it is way more fulfilling to fix something yourself for a fraction of what you would have paid a shop/dealership to do. When I started that engine and felt that cold AC, I gave a celebratory fist pump. I've even taken up bigger DIY projects at home. I'm about two weeks into a complete remodel of my boat, but with twin girls due in mid-July, all that will come to a screeching halt.
Michael Guertin, General Manager/Affiliate Director
Arizona Limousines in Phoenix, Ariz.
I’ve always loved DIY projects. In the past few months, I’ve had the time to do many things, some of them with no success—well, actually, I can say many of them. However, pallet plaques are my best project. This cute little picture frame is so simple, so elegant, but so rustic. Made from upcycled wood pallets, this frame has a look that is very popular right now. I’ve been able to sell as many of these as I can make. I learned how to make these homemade frames in a tutorial. Ideal for a gift idea, I highly recommend making these cute handmade picture frames to have on hand for holiday sales.
Agustin Hernandez, Owner
Blackcar Offers Limo Services in Mexico City, Mexico
The past few months have been an adventure for me. I am heavily reliant on my team—both personally and professionally—to do what they do best, so that I can do what I do best. Once we went into quarantine, I no longer had a housekeeper or laundry service. I did OK with keeping the house picked up, until we got to the end of May. The dust was really starting to accumulate, the toilets actually needed to be cleaned (not just a quickie, but a genuine clean), and I had to find the vacuum cleaner. Also around the end of May, I ran out of my favorite, comfy T-shirts, so I did a load of laundry that wasn’t towels. I’ve survived through the worst of these situations. We’re back in order having the house cleaned regularly and having clean clothes. Coming home to a clean home is a source of peace and comfort for me.
I love to cook, and actually have my culinary degree. Being in the kitchen daily helped me keep my sanity. It’s always been therapy for me. I tried some new dishes, including Asian, Indian, and South American cuisines. We’ve also made a ton of different pizzas: thin, cracker crust; thick, Chicago-style crust; and even traditional regular pizza crust. We went mild to wild with the toppings. While some dishes I wouldn’t make again, there were no real disasters in the kitchen.
Ultimately, the worst recent failure is that my personal car that I drive regularly is a total mess. It has empty water bottles, stuff that just ended up in there, and it hasn’t been washed unless it rains. It’s been in for maintenance, but I swear I’m ready to take a power washer to the inside and out.
Tracy Salinger, President and CEO
Unique Limousine in Harrisburg, Pa.
We have taken on a number of projects. Currently, we are building a custom 1967 Lincoln Continental convertible that was similar to a car my dad owned. Also, we are building out an RV Sprinter from one of our old Sprinters. Both projects are being done by our own team, and it’s been a blast.
David Uziel, CEO/Chairman
UrbanBCN Worldwide in San Francisco, Calif.
We’ve loved hearing your answers to our benchmarking questions—but we always welcome suggestions for future topics, too!
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