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Thread: Car Makes

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Feb 2010
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    Default Car Makes

    Looking to possible start my own service and have a question about cars used. I have been a chauffeur for a company on the central coast of CA a number of years ago, they used Lincoln's exclusively, my question is why couldn't you use a different luxury car instead of the mainstream vehicles such as the Towncar, surely that would be a selling point and something different to offer the client? Or is it more a matter of economics?

    Thanks.

    Mark.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Default

    Hey Mark welcome to the Forum.

    It sounded like you were sort of talking about the corporate market in your question yes? The use of Town Cars and the like for airport transportation and business related trips? Or were you referring to stretched Town cars used for the retail sector (night outs and celebrations and the like)? I am going to answer based on the corporate market:

    Most use Lincoln simple for the economics you stated. Low initial cost (relatively), low maintenance costs, extensive repair and parts network. You really have to think of these cars as tools. You mentioned a selling point and differentiation, very good your thinking, thats great! The lack of differentiation in our industry in terms of vehicle choice is not by accident. Many operators try different brands, models. What they come to find is that (and we are talking corporate customers here) the customers really do not care as much about the vehicle as we do. They want a clean car, knowledgeable, professional, personable chauffeur and they want both to be in place when they ordered it (even early). And probably the most important part they want it at a value price. Meaning most are not willing to pay extra for a Mercedes that will do the same job as a town car. Now there are exceptional clients that must always be in "the best" but they are rare and counting on them alone will not pay the bills. If you are in a market that will support it that fact will become clear in your business plan.

    Then there is the idea of Image. Corporate customers are very concerned with this. Now this image does not mean they want the best, just the opposite, they want the least (within reason). Many large accounts I have worked with usually always had this stipulation 'no substitutions of Limousines or any type of stretched vehicle shall be used with any of our executives at any time" this was always under the threat of contract cancellation. They do not want the image that management is riding in limousines at the same time the workers pensions are being cut. So even if you pull up in a non stretched Mercedes or BMW That still could be viewed as a "High End Perk" for the executives. A town car is Luxury, but common luxury that is not an overstatement of wealth or prestige.

    Now everywhere I have said Lincoln you could substitute Cadillac, it's just the new front wheel drive unibody cads have not impressed to many people with their reliability.

    Now one area of differentiation in the vehicles that I have seen work is that of Environmentally friendly vehicles. Some people will choose or switch to another company simply because they have a fleet of environmentally friendly vehicles. Most are willing to pay some premium for this but nothing extravagant. They might even stay a little longer after a few screw ups because of the vehicles and more importantly the mission of the company to be "Green". But if the rest of the formula is not there (reliability, service, value) they will go back to who ever can provide that on an ongoing basis.

    Once you are up and running you will find you will spend very little of your time concerned with the vehicles. Employees, customers, money, marketing, cash flow will be what's on your mind. When it's time to buy new vehicles your only requirement will be "WITCH ONE WILL GIVE ME THE LEAST TROUBLE!?? BUY IT!!

    What did you have in mind for your fleet?

    I have always thought the idea of an all silver fleet of jaguars would be kinda cool to see if it would fly. Really stand out from the crowd for sure. I just would not want to invest my money in something like that just to see if it would fly. Because for some reason the idea that is stuck in people mind is that a hired luxury car should be Black and changing that mindset is an uphill battle and why fight a battle when your money is at risk. As in all business the best bet is just to go with what works. Conformist? Yes. Boring? Yes. Successful? Usually

    Alternative is to change the game and take a big risk. Is that what you are up to? If so I will be the first to cheer you on from the sideline!! But you won't be seeing any investment dollars from me! LOL

    Good Luck!
    Steve Walker ppvsteve@gmail.com

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    2

    Default Car Makes

    Steve,

    Thank You for the very informative reply, You are correct in assuming that I would be looking at the corporate world, though limiting oneself to one niche of the business seems like a bad business decision, considering the economy at present. I would offer the car to other clients, hence the desire to shed some but not all of the business/corporate image of the car. Starting with some luxury type cars was my goal, possibly an SUV with the possibility of offering the stretch Limousines in the future based upon the percentage of clients looking for that type of transportation.
    For the fleet I was thinking of going with the Lincoln series, for the updated look, proven series of vehicles that I have driven, good to be familiar! Not really considered the Cadillac series, the Chrysler 300 series seems to becoming a little more accepted, not sure about reliability and cost though. Need to do some research on that. Black seems to be the way to go, though a Bear to keep clean.
    Any thoughts on Training?
    Thank you again for the opinion and information.

    Mark.

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