Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 17

Thread: Giving Away Free Limo Service

  1. #1
    Super Moderator Limo Scene's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Bakersfield, CA 93307
    Posts
    3,419

    Default Giving Away Free Limo Service

    I am working on an article about the various ways we promote our companies through charitable donations, free rides for publicity and similar things where you give away service in hopes of making money down the road. If you are interested in participating in an interview with me to be featured in LCT Magazine, please post your ideas HERE or email me: Jim@LCTmag.com

    What are some things you have done in the past that paid off down the road. How did you get involved?

    Remember, if your signature line on the forum doesn't include your company name and city name, you're selling yourself short here. I will need a high-resolution (no cell phone) photo of you, your full name and company name to publish your comments.

    Thank you in advance for your comments.......
    Jim A. Luff
    Forum Moderator
    Contributing Editor & Consultant - LCT Magazine

    Limousine Scene - An Award Winning Company Since 1990
    Bakersfield, CA
    Limousines, Sedans, Vans, Charter Buses, Limo-Buses, Wheelchair Vans www.limousinescene.com

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Houston/TX
    Posts
    452

    Default

    I just did another Make-A-Wish this weekend. It was a big one -- about 500 miles total of driving. The Wish child and family loved it!

  3. #3

    Default

    Golf sponsorship for the local Concierge Association.
    Donated a six hour wine tour through a local charity raffle (never has collected).
    Donated six hours to the Junior League (never was collected).

    A few other things over the last two years. None have ever paid off in any bookings.
    John Harris
    Owner Operator
    Austin Ultimate Sedans

  4. #4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by FamilyLimo View Post
    I just did another Make-A-Wish this weekend. It was a big one -- about 500 miles total of driving. The Wish child and family loved it!
    This is an industry related topic relating to how this had paid off down the road. You've missed the second part of the question.

    Yes, everyone loves free limo service, we know this.

    But the question is, has it ever had a real financial return on the investment you've made by providing such service free of charge?

    What I have found in my experiences is there is little to no return on investment on give aways for luxury service (which is what we are). When you give something away for free, the person receiving the service assigns a value of zero to what you have given them. They will not pay for something later that they got for free before. In their mind, the service has zero value and that whatever you are charging them later is 100% profit in your pocket. Also the people that know that you've given away free limo service will also assign a value of zero to your service. In the times that I have given away free limo service as part of a prize package, the recipients failed to even tip the driver (thankfully, it was me) and have never reserved a car later on with my company and even joked while on the charter that they would never pay for a limo (I instantly knew I made a mistake).

    I'd rather donate the cash from the trip to an organization. i.e. Someone pays for the limo service. Like an auction where a person has to pay $X for the service. The organization gets the proceeds via my services and the person using my services is an actual person that is willing to pay for my services in the future. The value of my services was not diminished to zero as it is in a straight up give away.

    Give aways of your service will hurt the perceived value of your product. Ask yourself this, have you ever seen Tiffany & Co give away jewelry to people that can't afford their merchandise in hopes that they will come back and buy something from them later to at least make up for the value of what was given away? No, everyone pays all the time.

    Professional limo service is expensive. Labor is expensive. The upkeep of the cars is expensive. Insurance is expensive. Marketing is expensive. Our profit margins are ridiculously low as compared with other products out there. Giving away a $5 product (that cost $2.50 to make) might snag you some new customers. Giving away a $300 charter that costs you $200 to provide means that the person would need to bring you back at least two more 3 hour charters just for you to break even. Not to mention, you're giving away in some cases 50% or more of your capacity. i.e. If you have one limo that you are operating at a $200 loss and someone calls and needs a limo that is willing to pay, you just lost that potential income and may have lost a potential repeat customer in lieu of a customer that more than likely will never pay (see reason above).

    I even made the mistake of allowing friends / acquaintances to use the limo for almost nothing (not free, but not even enough to break even) at times when I first got my first stretched limo to try and pump up the word of mouth. Everyone they referred to me wanted the same rate that I gave my friends which wasn't even enough to break even. Then the original users backed off when I tried to charge them slightly more than break even, thinking I was trying to bilk them. Now, it's full price, all the time. It took a while to repair the damage I did to the value of my service by trying to be a nice guy. If you want my service, you will pay for it. I do go the extra mile for all of my clients though. If you don't want to pay for my service, there are plenty of other cut rate limos out there, I suggest they use them. I know they will be back next time once they get a readjustment of the perceived value of my service.

    Barter on the other hand is a whole other story.
    Andrew Armitage
    Vintage Chauffeuring LLC
    Andrew@VintageChauffeuring.com
    www.VintageChauffeuring.com

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Houston/TX
    Posts
    452

    Default

    Well, there's no exam to make sure you know how to market before you start a business like a limo biz. I don't run a limo biz, but my free rides for Make-A-Wish do pay dividends for my day job, and it makes me feel good to help these children.

    How you give away service is everything. You made the mistake of not telling your friends that you were giving them a special rate that was a buddy-only-I-lose-money-every-trip rate that you could not give to everyone. If they were true buddies, you would be able to convince them not to advertise their special rate, but to advertise your great service and that you were trusted by them. In essence, you are paying them with discounts for their endorsements to their contacts. When asked about pricing, your friend could just point their friends to your website to get the rates. Live and learn.

    For Make-A-Wish, they are dying to have limo services donated. But do you just have to go and donate quietly? No. You can put promotions on your website that say something like for every 10 trips purchased over $X, you will donate a trip to Make-A-Wish. You could probably lock in corporations to do business with you exclusively since you help Make-A-Wish, or any other charity they like.

    I may not run a limo biz, but that doesn't mean I don't have 20 years of pro sales and marketing experience, and experience running companies.
    Last edited by FamilyLimo; June 9th, 2014 at 03:24 PM.

  6. #6

    Default

    Hey Andrew, I see what your saying but I think the main point of Jim's original post was donating rides to charity, not giving away rides for free. Nobody should do that although I have taken friends out before just because I wanted to. I didn't expect to get anything out of it. I have donated wine tours to silent auctions for charity but I only do them under certain conditions and the customer understands that gratuity is not included. And their not getting a free ride because they paid for it at the silent auction. And it's not a total loss because donations to legitimate charities are tax deductible.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Limo Scene's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Bakersfield, CA 93307
    Posts
    3,419

    Default

    Whoop... I see Los Olivos,CA is in the house! I'm going to use those comments.
    Jim A. Luff
    Forum Moderator
    Contributing Editor & Consultant - LCT Magazine

    Limousine Scene - An Award Winning Company Since 1990
    Bakersfield, CA
    Limousines, Sedans, Vans, Charter Buses, Limo-Buses, Wheelchair Vans www.limousinescene.com

  8. #8
    Senior Member Whglimo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Wheeling, WV area
    Posts
    180

    Default

    2013 Spelling Bee.jpgMB 2014 Spelling Bee.jpg
    We do some "free airport trips" for the local hospital auxiliary and I think they may use the certificate for a silent auction or put it with something else for a package.

    For the last few years, I have also taken our local county (Belmont county, Ohio) Spelling Bee winner and his family to and from Amtrak for the National Bee. The run usually needs a large van and is a 2 am trip to Pittsburgh for some driver. But we get a good amount of publicity (as do the other sponsors, AAA, etc.), picture of our van and the student/family in the newspaper, and name recognition. This year I sent the new Mercedes van for the picture, so that was a good way to get the word out about that.

    I added the 2013 picture with the wrapped Dodge Sprinter and the 2014 pic with the new one.

    I will also try to quietly do rides for poorer people needing to go to the WVU Children's Hospital, if it can go with an empty part of a trip.
    Last edited by Whglimo; June 10th, 2014 at 12:49 PM.
    Renee E. Dorsey
    Airport Limousine Service, Inc.
    Transporting passengers since 1964
    Wheeling, West Virginia


    304-232-1175
    800-326-2907
    info@wheelinglimo.com

  9. #9
    Senior Member MrQ45Limo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,238
    Blog Entries
    4

    Default

    Well Jim, I can tell you this Cancer has invaded the ranks of my Family and some of my close friends. When we have the opportunity to give back to those who are living with this unfortunate disease, and can make someone feel special, such as a child we do this not for self gratification or self promotion, but for the ability to Bless others as we have been Blessed. If giving to a charity in the hopes that you will receive something back is your motivation I would say that your outcome will be disappointing especially to yourself. The whole point of giving is for the gratification that is received by others. Now when I have an event that is a donation type run I never have anyone but myself do these, unless they come through my Chauffeurs and they volunteer to do the driving. To expect a gratuity from these type of runs is understandable, but I would have my guy's refuse this Gratuity only because I already plan to take care of them out of my pocket. Have we received public recognition for these type of runs....Sure, from some of the local Television Stations and Radio Stations. The question on the table is this, did you see any increase in business from these Kudos, I would have to say yes. People have phoned me and have said I saw you on TV last night do you have any vehicles available for this weekend? But there can be a negative effect as well, some people out there do want service for nothing and may be looking to take advantage of your kindness, I have heard this happens to Lottery Winners as well. So I guess the best way to give to charitable functions is to go in with the heart of a giver and not a receiver. One of the best definitions of Charity is simply Love. I Love this Industry and it has been pretty good to me, so to give back every once in a while, in my mind is the least I can do. Now there have been some School promotions that we have given away with the hopes that some of these young students in the future will be in need of a Limousine or Sedan, and the initial investment may not pay off next week, but maybe just maybe somewhere down the road.
    Last edited by MrQ45Limo; June 10th, 2014 at 08:09 PM.
    Badger State Limousine Service
    "When nothing less than perfection will do"
    (414)-GO-GO-RED (414)-464-6733
    www. BADGERSTATELIMO.com

    http://www.Badgerstatelimo.com
    http://www.MILWAUKEEWISCONSINLIMO.com

  10. #10
    Super Moderator Limo Scene's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Bakersfield, CA 93307
    Posts
    3,419

    Default

    Loving these stories!!!
    Jim A. Luff
    Forum Moderator
    Contributing Editor & Consultant - LCT Magazine

    Limousine Scene - An Award Winning Company Since 1990
    Bakersfield, CA
    Limousines, Sedans, Vans, Charter Buses, Limo-Buses, Wheelchair Vans www.limousinescene.com

  11. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    MI
    Posts
    1,951

    Default

    I don't think anyone should donate with the intentions of it bringing you in business in the long run, because it won't. If you decide you do want to donate for charity I would recommend making sure it's 501c3 so you can write it off on your taxes. If you just want to do a good thing for a specific charity that can also be a good reason. I've donated for fund raisers for friends or friends of chauffeurs (usually the chauffeur will drive for free for the trip too).

    When I first started out I made a mistake and donated for a private schools fund raiser auction. I was thinking the school would book me for a bunch of proms after that and it would be worth it (private schools proms are always on Sunday when it's slower). This is a perfect example of how donating doesn't pay off in the long run. After donating it when their prom rolled around I booked two buses for the school and both of them found me on google looking up party buses and not one booking from the fund raiser.

    Another thing I recommend never ever doing is donating trips to club promoters in exchange for advertising. Club promoters will never pay full price because there are always idiots out there giving them vehicles for next to nothing or free. Here is an example of a message I got on facebook a few weeks ago to my business:

    "Would you be interested in a every Tuesday promo where we promote your company you provide a bus and we send you business and our clients tip your driver $150"

    I nicely told her to kick rocks and then not long after that I see one of my competitors fell for it and was providing free service for their event.

  12. #12
    Super Moderator Limo Scene's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Bakersfield, CA 93307
    Posts
    3,419

    Default

    Brandon, I may incorporate your comments in the article too. They run counter-culture to the rest of the industry and business marketing of other industries as well. Donations cause your name to be exposed to your community. Let's just take two small examples.....

    #1 - Our Class A Minor league baseball team asked us to donate a limo to drive their mascot out on the field during opening ceremonies. We were given a field billboard for the year with our logo in exchange.

    #2 - Our minor league hockey team asked us to donate a limousine to deliver special guests out on to the ice during the opening ceremonies. Our limo drove on the ice and we were exposed to 5000+ fans. Our logo was placed on the Jumbotron. Our name was mentioned by the announcer numerous times.

    In both of these instances, I did not expect someone to call the next day in book. Instead, I bank on them being exposed to our logo and out name and WHEN they have a need for a limo and they Google limos in Bakersfield and see the name Limousine Scene, they are going to feel like they know us because that is the limo company their local sports team uses. That's what marketing is all about.

    If I donate to the American Cancer Society in the form of a gift certificate for two hours of service (we always do that in conjunction with a local restaurant so we control where they go) we get mentioned at the event, included in the program etc. and generally, the people attending these events are well heeled people throwing around their money to a good cause. The mention of our name to these people is much more important than the tax benefit. In fact, the only thing you can write off on your taxes is the ACTUAL cost of running the donated trip. So, your donation deduction is driver wages and the standard IRS mileage rate for the year. You would be lucky to get a $50 write off on what I donate at one time.

    On the other hand, the exposure to 10,000 people for the total cost of about $40 is outstanding! That doesn't even include the exposure of our billboard at the ballpark for the whole year...
    Jim A. Luff
    Forum Moderator
    Contributing Editor & Consultant - LCT Magazine

    Limousine Scene - An Award Winning Company Since 1990
    Bakersfield, CA
    Limousines, Sedans, Vans, Charter Buses, Limo-Buses, Wheelchair Vans www.limousinescene.com

  13. #13
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    MI
    Posts
    1,951

    Default

    I agree with the ball park thing. I consider that more like them doing you a favor letting you drive your vehicle out in front of people. It's not like driving it down the street where you don't have their undivided attention. I think donating it to fundraisers while you might be getting exposure it's not targeted exposure. I believe in spending marketing dollars on something that directly targets people who want limo service. Not only do you get exposure to targeted clients but when it results in bookings not only do you instantly make your money back plus profit but your vehicles are out on the road being seen and you have a chance to impress that specific client and they can tell their friends about you.

  14. #14
    Senior Member LIMOJESS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    seattle, wa
    Posts
    1,521
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    The only time where I have given free limos is the death of a trooper and two local police officers were gunned sown. The local captain called me and I said yes without thinking twice. I was not looking for exposure but just trying to give something back to the community. Plus it is nice to know some high ranking officers.

  15. #15
    Super Moderator Limo Scene's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Bakersfield, CA 93307
    Posts
    3,419

    Default

    Jess, don't think for a minute that that will not serve great purpose above any beyond what you did. The cops that were involved in planning that funeral will share within the department what you did. Cops charter limos too. When they have a need, they will come to you in appreciation for what you did for the families. It's that type of giveaway that DOES build future business but it is not an immediate thing. As a side story, we loaned a stretch to our local police department for two days to use in a prostitution sting. They said the first day didn't go so well. I asked them to explain the "set-up". I told them that the downfall was the "chauffeur" was trying to engage the hooker FOR THE CLIENT. I told the officer that a chauffeur would not engage in the solicitation of a prostitute and that's why it wasn't believable to them. I told them to roll up on the hooker and roll the right rear window down and let the officer in the back negotiate the deal and get the girl in the car. They arrested 14 hookers on the 2nd day.
    Jim A. Luff
    Forum Moderator
    Contributing Editor & Consultant - LCT Magazine

    Limousine Scene - An Award Winning Company Since 1990
    Bakersfield, CA
    Limousines, Sedans, Vans, Charter Buses, Limo-Buses, Wheelchair Vans www.limousinescene.com

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •