I started Albany Limo in 1997 under a different name and website; we’ve rebranded since. I had saved up enough money to buy a used limo, so I did that and started advertising in the yellow pages, on the radio, and a couple other mediums to get the first set of customers in the door. Things went a bit more smoothly after I hired a scheduling/marketing employee, Jamie. Jamie had just graduated from St. Rose College in Albany, and she was a God-send. Our phone line started blowing up, so I was able to hire more help and grow from there.
One of my favorite things to do growing up was attend weddings, and everyone knows what happens when you get to your 20’s – all your friends get married. It was a seemingly endless limo ride back and forth to weddings and related events. I had a lot of fun and I thought I’d like to create that same experience for people. I love what I do.
Everything was tough! I’m not a business person. I went to school for art; obviously that didn’t pan out. Ha! I took my savings and bought the first limousine for my business. I ran it out of my apartment initially because I didn’t really have a choice. After a couple months, I had saved up enough money to lease a nice space to work from in downtown Albany with some private parking to fit a few limos. I think the hardest part of everything was Marketing. I just had no idea what I was doing, so I put up job postings on Monster.com and a couple other job search sites I had used to apply for jobs after graduation. I ended up interviewing Jamie, who I loved immediately. She was a great fit for my company and really helped take things up a notch and bring in a steadier stream of customers.
If I had to start over, I would switch majors in school to business. My degree doesn’t help me for this field.
There are a lot of limousine rental companies I compete with, and not just in Albany – Troy, Schenectady, and Latham as well. Thankfully people continue getting married. Weddings are the most popular, followed closely by girls’ night out, and birthdays. Once in a while a church sponsored event might call for a limo. Wine tours too.
Our pricing and limousines are comparable to the other companies in the area. The thing that separates us from the pack is timeliness. If we’re asked to be there at 7:00 PM, we’re there at 6:55 PM. I never liked when limousines were late picking us up for friends’ weddings; it’s not professional and hurts the experience. A limo ride is supposed to be that amazing time when you can sit back, relax, and enjoy time with your family or friends without having to worry about anything.
We pay for some advertising, but at least 50% of the calls that come in are from social media and our website, which Jamie manages for us. The website is probably 50% of the calls we get to book a trip. The rest are friends of previous customers. It’s important to ensure everyone has a great experience because it’s the right thing to do, and it leads to repeat customers and lots of new ones. People spread the word when they have a great time.
I’m retiring in two years, so I’m training Jamie to take over and run the company day-to-day. She’s smart, she’s got the business savvy that I never had, and I’m excited to take a break and spend some time with my husband.
My husband wants to move to Florida. I’m not opposed to it, but my first choice would have been Virginia. We need to discuss it some more. Initially, I would like to stay close to make sure Jamie is all set before we disappear, you know? Plus, I told my husband – we’re not old yet…there’s no reason to move to Florida right away. I am not ready to give up the winter yet or move that far from family, who all live in NY and MA. We’ll see what happens.