January 2007

Innovative Operator Profile: Professionalism is Cornerstone of Success

by Alex Roman

Silver State Trailways President Tony Fiorini believes that the charter bus industry is a business of relationships; the better relationship you build with the customer, the more business you’re going to get and the better you’ll get at it as a result.

To build that strong relationship, the Placentia, Calif. based company’s excellent customer service begins with the first phone call the customer makes and continues with drivers arriving in clean uniforms and coaches doing what they can to keep the passenger comfortable for the duration of their trip.

“We try to do whatever will make them happy,” says Fiorini about his operation’s service. “Customer service is a statement that everybody makes, but realistically it’s about doing your job professionally. That’s what it boils down to.”

A majority of the operation’s drivers also attend customer service classes conducted by one of its main customers, Harrah’s Rincon Casino & Resort in San Diego, which focuses on how to treat the passenger so that each one feels as if he or she is the most important customer on the coach.

Silver State has 10 coaches wrapped with Harrah’s advertising that run service from various pickup points and take tour groups to the casino daily. The operation also recently opened up an operation in Las Vegas with six motorcoaches and is hoping that its recent decision to join the Trailways network will pay off.

“Trailways is bringing in a marketing director to launch a nationwide marketing program, which we hope will translate into more business for us,” says Fiorini.

Silver State also hopes to increase business by becoming U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)-certified transporter — a requirement for all Trailways operators. Receiving that certification also makes the operation eligible for federal grants, which they hope to use to add Voyager GPS systems on all its coaches.

“We really didn’t have to do anything different besides having the DOD come out and perform the inspection,” explains Fiorini. “I think we benefited from the fact that the California Highway Patrol performs similar inspections on our fleet every year.”

Silver State’s fleet mix consists of 37 Van Hools and three MCIs. It runs both the Van Hool C and T models, using the Cs for its everyday trips and the Ts for its touring and over-the-road trips. Currently, the operation is testing Van Hool’s latest model, which pairs a CAT engine with a ZF transmission.

To gain more control of its inventory and enhance its preventive maintenance program, the operation has begun using FleetMax Inc.’s maintenance management software solution. “We haven’t had the control that we wanted over our inventory, so our hope is that this will vastly improve that control,” says Fiorini.

Making things easier when it comes to replacing parts, the company’s proximity to ABC Companies’ facility — Van Hool’s U.S. distributor — helps keep costs down.

“They’re only 20 minutes away from us, so we don’t really have to house a lot of products here,” Fiorini explains. “If we need something, we can pick up from them daily if necessary.”

AT A GLANCE

Motorcoaches: 40

Fleet mix: Van Hool, MCI

Employees: 73

Drivers: 40 full-time, 15 part-time

Service area: U.S., Canada, Mexico

Services offered:  Charter

Year started: 1995

Average annual mileage: 2 million

President: Tony Fiorini (pictured)


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