Kristina Bouweiri

HOW A SALES CALL CHANGED THE FUTURE OF RESTON LIMO

Kristina Bouweiri
President and CEO
Reston Limousine

Diversification has been the key to success for many businesses, and Reston Limo is no exception. President and CEO Kristina Bouweiri led the business’ growth from a small corporate limousine provider to a company that operates globally and can do almost anything — from weddings to government work to hospital and university shuttles.

Q: How did you come to join Reston Limousine?

A: I was selling advertising at the time and cold-called the owner for an appointment. We started dating, and then I quit my job to work for him. In less than one year we were married.

Q: What was the company like when you joined, and how has it diversified over the years?

A: When I joined the company, it had five cars. The company started out doing mostly corporate work. The first market I diversified into was the wedding business. After that, I went into government contracts. We grew from $200,000 to $5 million in 10 years. As we were approaching $5 million, we knew we would no longer be able to bid on the federal government’s small business set-asides, so I started diversifying again, and today I have 13 market segments including hospitals and universities. I also diversified my consumer business by adding wine tours, New York shopping trips and brew tours. Today, we have about 200 vehicles, and our fleet includes limousines, sedans, SUVs, Van Terras, vans, minibuses and motorcoach buses. Our staff has also grown over the years, and we’re still adding more today; we currently have more than 350 employees.

Q: Many business clients need to be able to travel internationally with ease. How does Reston Limousine accommodate that need?

A: We provide one-stop shopping — we can book a car for our clients anywhere in the world. We can do this through our international affiliate network; we work with dozens of limousine and bus companies in every city, and we vet these businesses to ensure that they are providing the same high level of customer service that our clients expect from us. With one call, you can book your ride to Dulles, BWI or Reagan National, as well as your pickup at your destination airport or train station. We can even arrange car service and other chauffeured transportation during your out-of-town or overseas sta

Q: What short-term and long-term plans do you have for the growth of the company?

A: We are actively networking with limousine companies all over the globe to share clients and give each other work. This initiative will allow us to grow our revenue without growing our fleet!

Q: A lot of transportation companies took a hit after 9/11 because clients cancelled their travel plans. How did you deal with that?

A: After 9/11, our company did not make a profit for five years. We finally bounced back in 2006 after strategic diversification initiatives, including our public wine tours. I decided wine tours would be a great way to get my buses out on the road on the weekends. They were busy during the week with government contracts, and the best way to maximize my assets was to keep them on the road. I also stepped out of my comfort zone and began networking, which led to requests for public speaking about the company. That led to more leads among larger and larger audiences, and I have just been building on that over time. Today, I belong to seven chambers and I’m now on the board of the DC Chamber of Commerce.

Q: What sets Reston Limousine apart from other providers in the industry?

A: Besides having one of the largest fleets in the country, Reston Limousine has a solid infrastructure that includes our own building, a 24/7 operations center with mechanics and car washers, and the latest technology. Thanks to these factors, we can exceed our clients’ expectations and keep our fleet working around the clock.

Q: One of Reston Limousine’s service lines is transportation for weddings. Do you have a favorite story involving a wedding client?

A: We have done so many weddings over the years it is hard to pick a favorite! I think the first wedding that impressed me was for a local entrepreneur who insisted I come to the house to discuss logistics. They spent $50,000 on transportation! I wish there were more of those types of weddings!

Q: Talent retention is a challenge for any business leader. How do you make it worthwhile for employees to stay with your company?

A: We offer the best benefits in the industry, including paid sick leave for our chauffeurs. We treat everyone with honesty and respect.

Q: As a leader, what advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

A: Focus on building a great management team. When you have the right employees, it is magical!

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