RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation | Map Skills, Punctuality, Customer Service, and Leadership |
Published in the July/August 2013 issue of print Search & Employ® |
Veterans who drive for RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation – which has one of the largest fleets of sedans, SUV’s, limousines, buses, and vans in the DC area – describe the work as stimulating and rewarding. “It is an interesting job, particularly if you don’t like being behind a desk,” says Lance Ervin, who served in an Army chemical-decontamination unit in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War (1991). “Most of the time, you’re on your own; you don’t have a boss looking over your shoulder. You get to meet all kinds of exciting people – celebrities and successful business leaders. And you get your downtime.” Depending on the number of days per week a chauffeur works, and upon his or her level of clientele, a Washington Metro Area limousine driver may earn $40,000 to $80,000 annually.
Ervin and fellow veteran Kendell Snedden, who also drives for RMA, agree that the military does a terrific job of training people to be effective in society and successful chauffeurs. They cited four military skills that translate well to chauffeuring: map skills, punctuality, customer service, and leadership.
MAP SKILLS. “The military teaches you to know where you are at all times and to know how you would get back to your unit or base,” says Snedden, who served as a non-combatant Army medic in Vietnam during 1969 to 1971. “Back then, we carried maps and compasses. Today, I use a GPS – but the idea is the same.”
Ervin, who has been a chauffeur for 17 years, agrees that the map skills he learned in the military have been vital to his success as a chauffeur. “When I first started driving, they gave me a location test to gauge my knowledge of the local geographic area. I got one answer correct. So, my map skills were invaluable in learning how to get around at the beginning.”
PUNCTUALITY. “One thing you learn in the military is that – whether it’s breakfast or formation – you’ve got to be on time,” says Ervin. “Today, I am very rarely late, unless it’s beyond my control. This is something I learned in the military.”
CUSTOMER SERVICE. Snedden’s first assignment in country was the instruction and “pacification” of villagers. He taught them how to protect themselves, how to build perimeters – and, if necessary, how to hide. “You had to befriend those villagers – and it’s the same situation with clients – often, they’ve got issues going on, and you have to ride out those issues and, at all costs, not be confrontational.”
Clients might be extremely stressed, they may be opinionated about something that offends you, or they may share something that’s personal, said Snedden. “It’s kind of like being a bartender or a therapist. You might be dealing with people in extreme situations. You have to just roll with it.”
The key is being able to read a passenger’s needs, said Snedden. “Some people are interesting and friendly, and some want to just sit back and not be bothered by your questions or opinion.” Snedden adds that chauffeurs frequently have high-profile clients who prefer to have their space and not be identified. He likens this to high-ranking military officers who did not want to receive a lot of attention on the battlefield, because the attention could have exposed them to increased danger.
Snedden believes veterans emerging from today’s military are highly prepared to succeed in the subtleties of customer service. “You have people who are highly trained in technology and psychology. If a person trained in today’s military ended up as a chauffeur, they would be superbly trained and have much higher capabilities than someone in my day.”
LEADERSHIP. “If I’m doing a job with another driver – or we’ve got eight cars working for one client and the guys are just standing around – I immediately take charge to organize our efforts,” said Ervin. “That has a lot to do with being in the military.”
For anybody contemplating a career in the chauffeured transportation services, Alexander has this advice: “Be sure to let a potential employer know exactly why your experience in the military can be useful to them. A lot of times, veterans are extremely humble about their experience. In the civilian world, it’s OK to brag a little. Trust me: sitting on this side of the desk, if you can make your experience relevant in the job interview, if you are willing to work hard, and if you are a natural ‘people person,’ you’ll get hired.”