Florida operator Peter Zacek has learned some good advice: Don’t take things personally, be ready to sacrifice, and don’t complain.
What he did before: Peter Zacek graduated from St. John’s University in Jamaica, Queens, with a major in business and a minor in psychology. He pursued a career on Wall Street where he was a stockbroker for more than 10 years.
How he got into the business: “I got burned after the [stock market] crash; I got my clients back up so they weren’t hurt, then I said, ‘I want out,’” Zacek says. “My wife and I left New York and came to Tampa with no jobs and we started from the ground up. I started selling cars, then I started bartending, and that’s when I met someone who owned a limo company in Tampa. If you want to meet people, you bartend.” Zacek worked for and received mentorship from late NLA board director Julie Herring of Julie’s Limousine and Coachworks in Tampa and Steve DiMarco of Premier Limousine in Berlin, Conn.
Start-up costs and methods: Zacek founded All Access Transportation in 2005 with a GMC Yukon SUV. “I started with an SUV instead of a Lincoln Town Car because I wanted larger passenger capacity. I would go by myself to all the local hotels and get business cards and talk to people, then I’d follow up with phone calls to see if I could provide transportation.”
Best marketing strategy: “Being involved with the community is number one. I meet a lot of people going to charity events. When you’re at something like a charity golf tournament, you can make fun of each other’s golf swings. I don’t sit there as a salesperson to sell my company. I chat with everyone about other things, and then business comes up eventually. Also, I have built a company of good people [who] define my business and reputation, which brings good word-of-mouth.”
Biggest success: Super Bowl and the Republican National Convention. “The Super Bowl was a trial; we made mistakes, rented too many cars, paid for too many permits, the decisions for overhead were done incorrectly, but I didn’t know what was coming at us. We modified things for the RNC. We made a list of things that we screwed up for the Super Bowl and made sure we didn’t repeat them at the RNC. I ended up with the accounts for Fox and Bloomberg and it went great.”
Lessons learned: “Don’t take things too personally.”
Keys to success: “Being hands on and making a client’s happiness my number one concern. In this game, offense always wins and defense loses. If there’s a problem, you have to handle it right then and there. I will call the client to address the situation before they call me.”
Unique approaches to customer service: Before each run, Zacek and his chauffeurs go through a checklist to make sure they have everything prepared, such as their keys, a pen, water, coolers, ice, gas in the tank and a clean car. “I also give myself enough time to go to the drop-off location before pick up to familiarize myself with it,” he says.
Advice to operators: “Take your ego, take your time that you want to spend for yourself, and be ready to sacrifice. If you don’t sacrifice [and] don’t get involved, then don’t complain. No one wants to hear you complaining. It’s not easy in this industry, but when I wake up, I don’t say, ‘Oh this sucks.’ No. I look forward to going to work every day. I enjoy my job.”