The Most Common Mistakes Chauffeurs Make

January 07, 2014

- Posted by Stephen Chapek


You have an important event coming up or a trip to somewhere special and you are planning on renting a limo. Limousine service can be a wonderful and fun way to add value to your event or trip, bringing much needed style, class and comfort to your itinerary. Naturally when you’re planning for an important occasion, you want to receive the best professional service you can.

Whether you’re an experienced limousine user or event planner, or perhaps someone booking a limo for the first time, here are a couple of helpful tips of things to watch out for to make sure you receive the best service.

In the limousine business, ninety percent of problems are due to lack of adequate preparation. Delivering people to their destination on time and in comfort is not an overly complicated business, yet many things can wrong before or during a trip. Most of the time these problem can be avoided with careful planning and thorough preparation.

Top 5 Mistakes Limousine Drivers Make (& how to avoid them)

  1. Being late or missing a pick up.
  2. Showing up with vehicle that has a mechanical or cosmetic problem
  3. Receiving incomplete instructions from the client.
  4. Preparing on the fly
  5. The chauffeur does or says something inappropriate

Being Late

It’s pretty basic but unfortunately it can be an occupational hazard in the limo business. After all, the job you hired the transportation company to do is to show up at a certain location and time and then take you somewhere else. But there is no excuse for being late for a pick up or missing it altogether, (say by going to the wrong location).

Again this comes down to the issue of preparation. Before any trips begins, the chauffeur and his or her supervisor need to plan every detail of an upcoming trip very carefully, even if it is a routine trip because conditions can always vary on the roads.  That includes mapping out the route to the pick up location, figuring out how much time it should take to drive the route, and preparing for possible delays by coming up with alternative routes, checking traffic and weather conditions long enough before a trip begins to make corrections if necessary.

If they are picking up a flight at the airport, then they need to check the flight status before arriving on location. If they don’t they risk perhaps missing the arrival and having the client inconvenienced standing on the curb waiting for the ride. Being prepared has to do with using your common sense, but all too often in the business unfortunately, because someone hasn’t taken the time to be thorough, or are in a rush, these critical little details get overlooked. The result is poor service and upset customers. Not a good way to run a business. As a consumer, you don’t have a lot of control over this process, but as a buyer, you can do your due diligence. When you book a trip, ask the representative some informed questions about their preparation process: do they map and plan everything out beforehand?

Substandard Vehicle Condition

Showing up with a dirty vehicle, or perhaps with a mechanical issue is another major no-no in the limo business. A limo business that has good operational practices will always clean out and freshen up their vehicles after each and every trip. Of course, through frequent use, vehicles get dirty and the wear and tear will require replacing parts. The way to get around this problem is for the company to have a regular  maintenance, cleaning and safety regime. You can ask questions about their maintenance regime before you book a trip with a transportation company. In terms of cleanliness, some companies make the chauffeurs clean the vehicles they use, larger companies often have  a detailing staff on hand.

But regardless of who does the actual cleaning, the assigned chauffeur for your trip is usually the final checkpoint before your vehicle is dispatched to the location. A good chauffeur will also perform a detailed cosmetic and safety inspection before leaving on a trip. It’s the little details that count: has the trunk been checked for any leftover items or trash? Did they vacuum the floor, check the ashtrays, clean the windows and tires? Your driver should pay special attention to the interior of the car to make sure it is perfect. Regarding the safety inspection, the driver should check all the fluid levels in the car, air pressure in the tires and make sure that no warning light are on. Once everything checks out, the driver is ready to roll, and the client can expect a relaxed and worry free trip.

Not Explicitly Understanding Direction

Receiving incomplete instruction from a client is also a good way to ruin an otherwise successful trip. And it makes perfect sense, because if the chauffeur doesn’t know exactly what the client needs and is expecting, then how can he be expected to fulfill those expectations? Many details fall under this category, like not having passenger contact information for an airport pick-up, which could make it difficult for the passenger and driver to meet up at a large, busy airport with thousands of people walking around. Airport wise, other critical lapses could be not having access to the flight information or and updated flight status. Other problems could include being ignorant of special routing or pick up instructions, not knowing what the destination is, particularly if it is a hard to find place.

Avoiding these types of mistakes is actually a team effort, because it is the job of the reservation specialist and limo company to get these critical details at the time the booking is made, or at least obtain them before the driver needs to garage out to his pick-up location. If the front office does their job properly, then the job should be easy for the chauffeur to accomplish, no matter how challenging the trip may be; he will be prepared.  

Lack of Preparation

Not Preparing is very much related to problem number three.  Preparing on the fly is a good way to screw a job up, because in the last minute rush to get on-site, important details could be forgotten. Perhaps the client had a special request, like for the vehicle to be stocked with certain foods or beverages, or perhaps to have a certain DVD movie or video game available if the vehicle comes equipped with entertainment technology. If the chauffeur is running late to a job or didn’t check in with the office in advance, he could well miss these important details, or worse, get lost, and he or she is likely to have a disappointed customer on their hands.

But the biggest problem is if the driver is trying to figure where to go and who to pick on his way to a job, he will be rushed, stressed and things could easily go downhill from there. The solution, always prepare for a job beforehand so you have plenty of time to get the details right. If a company is juggling a demanding schedule on a certain day, it is the responsibility of the front office to have enough drivers available, and schedule them efficiently so that everyone involved has enough time to complete the job.

Inappropriate Behavior

When the chauffeur does or says inappropriate can be major reason why a limo company loses a valuable client, or business relationship. Often if a limo company gets ‘“fired” from an account, it is because the chauffeur acted in less than in a professional manner. Sometimes a company will lose an account and never know why, because the client wanting to avoid confrontation, won’t address the issue. They simply hire another company. The problem goes back to the issue of having good customer service and proper training. Chauffeurs should always be polite and courteous, even if the customer is not. Even top clients have bad days and it is not the driver’s business to make things worse. Chauffeurs should never argue with client over anything, whether it a matter of directions, following instructions or resolving a problem that comes up. Kindness, understanding and good customer service are the order of the day.

Another reason chauffeur blows a job, sometimes after the fact, is by not keeping client information confidential. This is especially true of VIP and celebrity clients. Sometimes traveling clients will be going places or doing things they might not want their customers or competitors to know about, such as paying for an expensive limousine trip or maybe going to a casino. The chauffeur must always keep the identity and activities of their passengers confidential. Respect and privacy are often what limousine customers are paying for, in addition to being escorted around in comfort and style.

Basically, if a chauffeur can avoid all of the pitfalls mentioned above, and take ownership and responsibility for their jobs and trips, conscientiously taken care of the little details that make up a great customer service experience, then they are well on their way to a successful career as a chauffeur. They will have better job performance, better client satisfaction and in the end, better earnings. And you the customer, will see the signs of superior performance, and take more comfort and enjoyment in using a professional limousine service. Being forewarned, is being forearmed!


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Luxury transportation experts focusing on special event transportation using Mercedes Sprinters, luxury mini buses, and coach buses in NYC and LA.