HOW RMA GOT A CLIENT FOR LIFE
Robert Alexander runs RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation, a limo service catering to executives and high-end clients worldwide. He started the company in his parents’ basement in 1988, with one car — a Saab 900 — mostly shuttling senior citizens and family friends around. Today, RMA has 200 employees and offices in Washington, Baltimore and New York City; and that Saab has morphed into a fleet of town cars, SUVs, vans and buses that always arrive 15 minutes early.
RMA’s success, Alexander says, is based on having the best service — which is the main way the company attracts and retains customers.
“To me, it’s being referable,” he says. “You see a great movie or try a great restaurant, you want to tell your friends how great it was. And it’s just the same if you had a bad experience. … If we don’t do something special and different and make sure you feel appreciated when you use our service, then you may use somebody else. So we want you to get out of the car and go, ‘Wow, that was great, I’m going to go tell my friends about it, because [this company] took all the worry out of getting where I needed to get to.’”
The bottom line for RMA, Alexander says, is, “We make promises and we keep them.” The company views great customer service as more of a value to aspire to than a product that can be manufactured. “What is great service? I don’t think great service is something you get or don’t get. It’s the way you feel about an experience,” Alexander says. “When your arrival time got changed three different times because of thunderstorms, and at 1:30 in the morning there’s a friendly face with a sign with your name on it, someone who knows the route to your house — well, that’s priceless, because now you get to go home and see your family. That’s what we’re delivering. It’s that feeling, that magical feeling that someone is there to take care of me. If you’ve got a tight schedule and five meetings to get to — we’re there. If you’re hungry and need someone to bring you a sandwich between meetings because you’re too busy — that’s what we do. That’s a service experience that is different than just taking you from point A to point B, because anybody can do that. Anybody can show up in a new, clean car.”
There’s a great story that illustrates RMA’s commitment to service, and it involves a dog. It also involves two RMA customers — an elderly couple. The couple flew to another city on a private jet. RMA had a partnership with a limo service in that city, so the partner limo was scheduled to pick up the couple at the airport and deliver them to their destination. The couple planned to travel with their lap dog, and RMA communicated this information to its partner limo service in the other city.
But somewhere, the message got lost. So when the couple and their dog arrived, they encountered a less-than-accommodating chauffeur who refused to allow a dog in his car. The couple was highly irritated and caught a ride with a different car service. They also let RMA know that due to their bad experience, they would no longer be customers.
However, RMA promised to make it up to the couple, and they agreed to give the company a chance. On the couple’s return to their home city, they found an RMA driver holding a little sign with their names on it. In the RMA car, the couple discovered a bag with $85 worth of gourmet dog biscuits, with their dog’s name printed on each one.
In addition, the bag included a note to the dog. As Alexander recalls, the note read, “Fido, we are sorry about what happened. You are always welcome in our car.”
The couple ended up staying with RMA. “They were so touched that we would take such care for their dog,” Alexander says, “that now we have a client for life.”
Photos (L to R): Top row: Robert Alexander, President and CEO; Lynn Alexander, VP of Administration; Jeff Shanker, General Manager. Bottom row: Gigi Bridgers, Director of Finance; Art Miesemer, VP of Business Development