Despite the best efforts of a group of internet pranksters, the joint Zoom meeting between the Long Island Transportation Association (LITA) and the Limousine Association of New Jersey (LANJ) on October 1 brought lots of valuable information and key takeaway for the members and guests taking part. More than 40 members were logged into Zoom for the virtual get-together, which included special guests Edward Kaye of Schickler Kaye and Brian Ludlow from Alternative Claims Management.
LITA President Douglas Schwartz of Executive Ground Transportation and LANJ President Jason Sharenow of Broadway Elite Worldwide served co-moderators for the meeting, which kicked off with a brief state of the industry in the two metro areas. Schwartz was happy to report that LITA is still seeing support from its membership base, largely in thanks to a new, reduced dues structure. While business/corporate work remains largely stagnant—Schwartz says regional rail ridership is at 30 percent—retail work remains busy, with weekend events and getaways very popular with clients.
Regarding his state’s business, Sharenow concurred with Schwartz that retail is currently keeping vehicles moving. Weddings have returned and have provided steady work for operators. As a selling point to his fellow operators and a safety measure for clients, Sharenow suggested that operators limit capacity on their minibuses; this often results in customers booking more than one vehicle for the wedding party.
Kaye—well known in the industry from his time with Advantage Lending and Access Capital—was the afternoon’s first guest speaker. He provided much-needed insight into what operators can expect as they approach a third deferral for their loans.
“Banks have some awful choices to make,” said Kaye. “They’re between a rock and a hard place.”
In short, lenders are hesitant to offer further extensions on payments; however, with the used car market stagnant—particularly commercial vehicles—they are not particularly keen on taking back their collateral. Kaye advised operators to be ready to negotiate and be proactive when speaking with their lenders; this includes speaking “up the chain” at your bank and preparing a clear financial story that includes your past, current, and future business outlook.
Ludlow, another familiar face at industry and association meetings, was next on the docket, providing an overview of the services provided by Alternative Claims Management. For the uninitiated, the company covers operators for loss of revenue and diminished value for not-at-fault accident claims. Unfortunately, as Ludlow began his presentation, a group of online hackers crashed the meeting, forcing the hosts to end things early.
In a statement on Facebook the following day, Schwartz said that the hacking was a learning experience, and the associations will plan accordingly in the future (i.e., make Zoom info private) to prevent this from happening again.