What new initiatives has your operation undertaken that are proving to be successful?
One of the most recent things we’ve done here in the Midwest is launched Arrow Stage Lines Executive Edition. There is a decent amount of Fortune 500 companies here in Omaha, so we added some Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Vans, all blacked out with leather seats, which are a really nice option for business people that may need transportation to and from the office once they are in town. We just launched in the middle of August, and we are already starting to see really good feedback from that.
We also launched Arrow Connect, which is a Wi-Fi option with a unique landing page that allows customers easy, one-touch access to a variety of different media, including social media, news, stocks, shopping, entertainment news, stocks, games, sporting news and more. We would like to eventually grow Arrow Connect so that passengers can pull out their smartphones, tablets, or computers and connect to a media server where they would have instant entertainment individualized to them, including movies, music and live TV. We see that as the future of Arrow Connect. What we are offering now has been very well received, but I’m really excited about what the future holds.
Millennials and Baby Boomers are proving to be vital markets for the industry, are you having success reaching these two groups?
We’ve seen a lot of success. We have our charter side, which is groups, athletics, business, corporate work and those types of things, where we have noticed a lot of the younger generation coming in, so what we’re doing on the marketing side seems to really be attracting them.
We also run a schedule business, Black Hill Stage Lines, which we’re currently rebranding to make it more relevant for our current customer base. We are really seeing a lot of millennials choosing to travel by bus, so we want to take that product, rebrand and make it into something that they will be excited about using. We’re hoping to get that done by the end of this year.
What is your operation’s biggest issue?
One challenge we really faced earlier in the year was a driver shortage. We have certain standards when we hire drivers, and for whatever it is worth, we were having a hard time finding a bunch of new drivers to bring into the mix to help fill our growth. That being said, I was really impressed with our team and what they did. We did some open houses, as well as launched a huge marketing campaign called ‘Drive Your Career,’ which worked. We’re always recruiting and looking for people, but finding drivers was certainly an issue earlier in the year. Fortunately, though, we were able to re-up and find some good people through some really creative thinking.
What is the outlook for your operation in the next five years?
We are very customer focused and want to be elite at what we do. We have an on-time guarantee, because we understand the importance of being on time for every job we are operating and build so much around that in terms of metrics and how we operate. We also want to be the safest company in the country when it comes to motorcoach transportation, so there are so many things we’re doing behind that. We’ve made driver training longer. We do module training quarterly with everyone one of our drivers and our retraining program is very good and helpful to our drivers. That is just one piece of our safety, but it’s overall a major piece of what we do.
We also like our equipment and the maintenance of our vehicles to be absolutely elite in every way. We just took delivery of 12 new vehicles, and they are like no other coach on the road. We went to a different seat manufacturer, Kiel Seats, which are incredible and create more legroom — which was a huge request from our customers. We really just want to be that elite motorcoach transportation company. One of our taglines is that we want people to ‘experience the journey.’ That journey starts when the customer first comes in the door and lasts throughout the entire trip, so the trip is as enjoyable as the destination.
We are definitely in growth mode. We don’t want to grow too fast that we’d lose what we do, and do really well, but we have very aggressive plans for growth and what that looks like long term. Just this year, we acquired two companies — one in Fort Collins, Colo., and one in Mesquite, Nev. — so we are definitely on the hunt to find the right fits for our company. We aren’t going to be stagnant; we want to continue to perfect what we do and take those talents and skills into new markets so we continue to grow in the next five or 10 years.
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