Fleet owners operating in the biggest cities and tourist destinations are having a tough time hiring drivers. As customer demand for limo rides and other luxury transportation is rebounding, many are struggling to find reliable labor in this post-pandemic market.
LimoLive24 is ready to help your fleet get back up to speed despite the labor shortage. Our limousine call center handles inbound calls, reservations, chauffeur dispatch, and limousine management that works with your current scheduling software. With LimoLive managing the phones, you can focus less on office staffing and more on growing your limo business.
Let’s take a closer look at the factors that have led to this current situation and what that means for businesses in the livery industry.
It’s not news to anyone here that many chauffeurs and office staff were laid off or put on furlough when the pandemic crushed demand for rides and canceled events. Other drivers chose to cut back on work or take a break due increasing concern of getting the virus and the need to care for their children when schools closed.
Some operations went from employing dozens of drivers to just a couple who could be dispatched in case a customer called during this period of downturn. Fleets were also downsized as owners sold off vehicles and to pay the bills and avoid rising insurance costs.
But businesses are opening back up, events are being rescheduled, and more people are traveling again. Now, National Limousine Association (NLA) president, Robert Alexander, said business is growing by the week. “We can’t hire quick enough.
Besides the pandemic coming to an apparent end and the economy perking up, there are some other factors that are pushing up demand for limos and chauffeured rides. One is that rental cars have become astronomically expensive in some areas. Rental agencies sold off much of their fleets last year, for the same reasons that livery owners did, and now with travel bookings up, demand has also pushed up the price. At the same time, ridesharing fares with Uber and Lyft are up 40 – 50% compared with the charges from this time last year. So, both of these price hikes are spilling over into higher demand for black cars.
Plus, luxury transportation is experiencing greater demand as an alternative to other forms of travel. Operators have been getting calls from customers wanting a reliable airport pickup, relaxing transportation to weekend getaways and weddings that have been rescheduled. We’ve also seen greater demand from those who still want a safer alternative to airline travel and commuter transport.
Related article: Business Is Back for the Livery Industry.
Livery Operations Caught Off-Guard
The NLA predicts business will return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year. In response to increasing demand, livery businesses are rebuilding their fleet by buying and insuring more vehicles. But they were largely caught unprepared for ride demand to bounce back so quickly. In some areas across the U.S., limo companies have been hustling to get their infrastructure, fleet, and drivers back at full speed in such a short amount of time.
Fleet managers are having difficulty finding drivers as other industries have already sounded the alarm about a lack of workers during this post-pandemic economic rebound. Job postings for individuals with commercial driver’s licenses and clean driving records have been slow to attract candidates and result new hires.
Despite publicizing the fact that they are hiring, many full and part-time positions – chauffeurs, reservation staff, and its detailers – remain unfilled. Abdou Brahim, the owner of VA Executive Sedan and Limo Service in Virginia Beach, said he put out the word that he was hiring drivers on social media back in April. “But I still need more,” he explains.
The response is lagging because of a general, nation-wide labor shortage. Even Uber and Lyft are having a difficult time coaxing drivers back to their network. More specifically, livery owners say that some of their furloughed employees found other jobs and others are choosing to stay on unemployment for the time being.
How to Attract & Retain Workers
Economists say that rather than a labor shortage, this may be a sign of workers feeling more empowered. In reality, workers across many similar industries have more options related to work conditions, wages, and benefits than they did before or during the pandemic.
This power of choice for job-seekers is partially bolstered by enhanced unemployment benefits. As these benefits expire, and people feel safer about coming back to work, the end results should be a better match for those returning to workforce. Studies have shown that laid-off workers who receive benefits search harder for jobs, get better paying offers, and accept positions that better match their schedule.
There is also a lot of competition at the moment. Other industries, like hospitality and restaurants, are also desperate to hire. And, at the same time, trucking, public transportation, and ridesharing companies are competing for some of the same pool of drivers and operators with commercial licenses.
Increase the Offer
Livery businesses may have to sweeten the deal to hire and retain licensed drivers and qualified staff. In a time when the unemployed have incentives to stay unemployed and competition for workers is steep, the clearest way to attract workers is to offer to pay them more.
Both Uber and Lyft are bumping up incentives to get drivers back behind the wheel, and this strategy has worked to some extent. Incentives include bonuses for drivers who are busier than average and for those who stick with their platform. This two-pronged approach helps respond to demand by attracting new drivers and encouraging current drivers to stay with the fleet even as more businesses are competing to hire from essentially the same pool.
Human resources experts recommend providing incentives that are easy to use, especially in the short-term, and which increase employee satisfaction. This could mean higher pay, but it could also be in terms of flexibility and convenience for the worker.
Automate Office Work
Technology is quickly decreasing the need for physical workers. Automated solutions – like livery booking, fleet management software, and integrated call answering services – are specifically designed to limit the need for office labor in our industry. A digital platform is an efficient way to avoid the problem of a labor shortage altogether.
Get Started with LimoLive24
Contact LimoLive today to discuss how we can help get your fleet organized at a fraction of the cost of hiring in-house staff.