So…. You want to become a great chauffeur? Or…. You are a chauffeur and you’re looking to make more money? Either way, this article will help and give you 5 simple steps that all great chauffeurs follow to make more money.
Many limousine companies refer to their chauffeurs as “drivers”. While in a round about way, this may be a true statement, calling someone just a “driver” is considered a curse word at our company. The word “Driver” insinuates mediocracy, or someone that just does the bare minimum. (Like calling a Chef de Cuisine, a cook – or a Maitre d, a host/hostess).
The word Chauffeur encompasses much more than driving. A great chauffeur has a wealth of knowledge about his/her city. They are always several steps ahead of their clients and are prepared for any situation. They are an ambassador, tour guide, reservationist, host, entertainer, butler and mobile concierge. (Just to name a few)
Now that you have a better understanding of what we mean when we say the Chauffeur, lets looks at how to be a great one. These are 5 easy steps that great chauffeurs use to make more money:
1. Learn your city and become an expert on travel routes
Roadway knowledge is one of the most important keys to being a great chauffeur. They are constantly increasing their knowledge of their city. From becoming an expert on the roadway system, traffic patterns, and best travel routes, to a road construction, one way streets, and landmarks, having this knowledge is paramount to making money. The good news is that this free, barring taking some of your time, effort and fuel.
-Take some time to drive around your city at different times during the day.
– Drive a different way to work.
-Try to get lost and find your way back (i.e. not on your way to work)
-Read and research road maps. See where you’re going and where you’ve been. (actual maps or online)
Clients expect their chauffeurs to know general directions and routes. With the exception of a few clients that will give you directions regardless, most clients hate when they need to direct their chauffeur to a destination. (This can certainly make or break your gratuity upon drop off.)
2. Learn your cities history, unique landmarks, and places to go
Again, your knowledge base is key. From the cities history, interesting facts, and “must-see” places, to popular hotels, restaurants, and things to do, great chauffeurs are constantly increasing this knowledge base. Over time you will develop a list of questions that your clients commonly ask. Until then, I’ll share some of the most common.
-How many people live here?
-Where do you recommend we should eat? (Lunch, dinner, steakhouse, seafood, Italian, etc.)
-How expensive will it be?
-What is this city known for?
-How long is the drive to…the airport, our hotel, my business meeting, etc?
-What is the weather going to be like over the next few days?
-Where is the closest store? (Walgreens, shopping mall, pharmacy, liquor store, etc)
These are just a few and every client is different. That is what makes being a chauffeur exciting, 2 clients are never the same. Whether you are just starting out or are a seasoned chauffeur, increasing your knowledge of your area will increase your income.
3. Dress for success
Most limousine and car service companies have guidelines for attire. The standard is a black suit, white shirt, company tie, and black shoes. Most of the time you will be on your own and not being observed by your office staff, dispatchers or chauffeur managers. It will be up to you to maintain the professional appearance your clients expect. (Believe me, this is a big one).
Imagine you are going on a job interview and when you show up, your shirt collar is stained, you’re wearing a suit jacket that was crumpled in your front seat, and you put a cigarette out as your new boss walks over to meet you….. What are the chances you’ve made a great first impression?
Well, that’s what meeting and greeting a client is like, (especially a new client) its a job interview. Your first impression can set the tone for your entire trip. It could mean $0 gratuity when you could’ve gotten $5 or $5 when you could’ve gotten $20. Taking the extra steps to keep yourself sharply dressed, clean and professional is an easy way to make extra money.
-Keep a lint roller with you
-Keep your uniform pressed or dry cleaned
-Keep an extra coat hanger with you. (To hang up your jacket when you’re not wearing it)
-Keep your fingernails trimmed and clean (Clients notice your hands more than you think)
-Don’t smoke (if you must, make a rule not to smoke at least within an hour of meeting a client)
-Keep a mild fragrance enhancer with you (Such as Febreeze)
-Don’t wear cologne or perfume (if you must, very very little)
-Always keep a back up suit, shirt, tie at your work or nearby
4. Don’t speak unless spoken to! Seriously!!
Now, this is 4th on the list but it’s one of the most important, if not THE most important. Somewhere in your mind you must remember that this is a client, it may be your regular client, but they are still your client. This is not your buddy, girlfriend, wife, or bff that you are driving to go bar hoping or taking to the airport, this is a paying client. You are working for them, so only speaking when spoken to is a Golden Rule for great chauffeurs.
Listen, developing rapport is great, but you need to let the client lead the way. A business man/woman in your back seat working on their iPhone, blackberry, or computer, does not want to hear random banter about your kids, your favorite food, or your opinion about who is going to win Dancing with the Stars. Let them engage in conversation with you, not the other way around.
Again, don’t speak unless spoken to…. I cannot emphasize this enough!
-Let them lead the conversation
-Be friendly when your clients ask a question, but don’t say 100 words when 20 will do.
-Never talk about politics or religion
-Read your clients (A good general rule we teach to our chauffeurs on reading whether or not clients are wanting to chat….
* If they ask you at least 4 questions within a 2 minute span, it’s ok to speak more freely
5. Be prepared for anything, the extras
Clients expect you to drive safe, know your way around, and look professional, although many chauffeurs fall short. The real way to becoming a great chauffeur and increasing your income is by giving your clients more than they expect.
At our company we’ve created a chauffeur bag unlike any other so they can be prepared for the unexpected. The bag has over 100 items which are used quite frequently for our clients needs. These items range from a sewing kit with extra buttons, stationary, bleach pens, and a wine tool to Kleenex, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, gum and mints.
I could fill an entire post with client stories on how these extras helped them in some unexpected way. The point is, great chauffeurs will plan ahead for unexpected client needs. Put yourself in the clients perspective and create a chauffeur bag with items you may need while you we’re traveling, going to business meeting, or even out to dinner. I’ve seen a $1 travel sewing kit turn into a $100 tip, a .99 cent pack of gum be worth $50 to a client who’s ears always pop on an airplane, and having a wine tool make a client not want any other chauffeur.
Great chauffeurs aways look for ways to give their clients more than they expect and in return clients tip more than expected. Being a great chauffeur takes practice, patience, and the ability to learn from your mistakes as well as others.