Wanna Get Breakfast? Sure, We’ll Take the Limo…..
(A Limo trumps an Uber anyday my friends)
If you’ve seen our Instagram you’ve likely seen the limo we toy around with. I get a lot of questions asking whether or not it’s a rental. Firstly, how insulting! Just kidding, but seriously, I own it. To this day it is by far one of my favorite purchases.
I bought the limo before the Aston during a period where it was the only vehicle I owned. I had just sold my Benz to a family friend after he wrecked his Mustang. Since I was working crazy hours as a rookie trader on Wall Street, I didn’t have much need for it. Above all else, selling the Benz had me one step closer to getting my first exotic car. However, the next step wasn’t into the exotic, it was into an all-white 10 passenger stretch limousine.
I constantly get berated with the question -- “why a limo?” -- so often that I contemplated changing the license plate to “Why not?” After considering the implications of driving around in a stretch limo sipping coronas in the back with a license plate begging cops to pull me over -- I decided against it. Probably best to lay low.
The real reason I decided against the “Why Not” was the money making opportunity I had just invested in. Before Uber, catching cabs around the city was nowhere near as easy as it is today. Seems like everywhere you go in Manhattan now there’s Uber’s/Lyft’s/Gett’s EVERYWHERE. For me, being in and out of NJ and Manhattan, a cab would cost upwards of $150 to get home. That is, when they didn’t tell me to go fuck myself asking for a cab to Jersey. Eventually, usually after a few failed attempts, someone would agree, forcing me and Big Papi to fork over a few Benjamins for a shitty cab ride home. Not your idea of a luxurious experience when you’re dropping over $300+ for round trip cab rides. This got really old after a few back to back weekends. There’s got to be a better way to get me and my friends drunkenly to and from the city without me having to blow my wad, while having a great time in the process.
After some Corona’s and brainstorming with Shake, Glow and Wrench, Glow brought up the idea of a Limo, and it was like a lightbulb went off. The morning after New Years, I roll over slightly hung over. Last night was a major blur. I have no idea who this woman in my bed was but I was not mad yet. I open up my phone and see the Uber app which I must’ve downloaded drunk.
HOW THE FUCK IS THERE A $320 CHARGE WHEN IT WAS A 3 MILE RIDE.
In that moment I was, and will be forever Short Uber and Long Limos. That was the day I said fuck it and went and bought the limo, which was an elegant white Lincoln limousine.The prior owner had just spent $15,000 (receipts in hand) showing all the work he had done to the interior. Brand new seats, headliner, lights, speakers -- all brand new. The exterior was just as flawless. There are only two types of limos you see on the road, brand new, properly maintained beauty's or absolute hunks of shit. Mine was unquestionably the former.
So now the limo was all mine. No car loan, no monthly payments, nothing but the title in hand. I still paid a decent sum for the vehicle, but there’s a big difference between what something is truly worth versus what someone is willing to pay for it. Luckily, the seller mistakenly told me about debts he absolutely needed to pay off, not the smartest move. Once he divulged that sensitive information, I heard the fear in his voice, and my bid instantly dropped. He really should have kept that information to himself as I knew now that he was cash poor and asset rich.
Nevertheless, my bid was still convincing enough as it was a brown bag full of cash. Right then the seller signed over the title and happily drove me home. You think I rode in the front with him? FUCK NO. I was in the back sipping a corona, partition raised, legs crossed feeling like Jordan Belfort as we rode down the turnpike.
If you read our previous story, “How It All Begin”, you might remember that my business grew by hiring friends like Big Papi and expanding. The limo was a similar concept except my competitor wasn’t kids in the hallway, it was billion dollar companies and some of the most recognizable yellow cabs in the world. I had a product of far greater value that my peers (my target market) wanted if I was able to market it successfully. So for the next month, I spent the weekends driving the limo offering any interested parties a free ride to the bar or club of their choice. I would always be in the back enjoying the ride with my potential clients, while Big Papi, Glow, or Wrench would be putting in there DD dues. A night of designated driving = a free night of partying in the back. Not a bad business model right?
Driving a limo is surprisingly easy. If you scroll all the way down on our IG (TradingExperts3) you can actually watch a video of me drifting it in the snow (much to Shake’s chagrin). For normal driving purposes however you have to drive like a Grandma; drive slow, take turns even slower, and know that the people in the back are in no rush. Ever. So it was somewhat of a breeze to drive nonetheless.
After a month of partying I mean marketing, it was time to monetize this ridiculous purchase. My value proposition was very simple: charge the same as a cab/Uber would charge per person and bank on the volume of people my limo could carry in a night. If a cab was charging $100 into the city ($50 per person) I could charge the same and bring in $500 in revenue, basically all profit after paying the driver and tolls. (Side note - tolls are more expensive than you think. Some nights were $150+ in just Tolls! So don't get upset when your uber charges you for them) Other than being the same price, my service was fun and you felt like a celebrity. You were traveling in a club on wheels with all your buddies or girlfriends. You also could drink, bring your own booze, play your own music, and put up the partition to avoid that awkward “so how long have you been driving a cab” convo.
At the end of the day this was just a fun business. Word of mouth was key in its growth without too much extra work on my end. With that being said, I did learn a lot on human psychology, especially regarding the notion of pricing your service, and the expectations your clientele will have based on that pricing.
On one occasion, I had a wedding party booked, the ride in was always the easiest. Everyone was excited, having a good time and pumped for the night ahead. If I had to work, there was a 100% chance I was doing the initial pick up. I meet the bride, the groom, the best men, the mother in laws, and also meet that $750 check. This sounds like a lot, but competitive limo companies were quoting them at double, even triple what I was.
So I take everyone to the reception and head home. I hired a driver to finish the job later that evening, my buddy Hulk. He was 6’2’’ and 240 pounds of straight GIRTH. He was my “if you got a problem with me, you got a problem with him” guy. The reception was an absolute shit show. 6 hours prior these were the nicest people I’d ever met. Now, after a few too many choo-choo’s on the cocaine train and enough whiskey to make Sinatra blush, they were fucked four ways to Friday.
My driver is now attempting to get everyone back to the hotel. The last ride back is shuttling the bride, the groom who has officially reached zombie status, the best man and a few Bridesmaids. Oh and the Best Man is still snorting rails in the back, yelling at the bride. What a guy! The argument gets so heated that Hulk has to pull over to calm them down. A few seconds later the best man takes a swing at the bride! The groom is sitting there motionless, too fucked up to comprehend his own name, let alone this situation.
Hulk sees this and goes nuts! He turns around and pulls the Best Man THROUGH THE PARTITION. I kid you not. The partition is about 18-24 inches high, a tight squeeze for the average child. Well let me tell you, Hulk pulled him through like a rag doll and proceeded to beat the living shit out of this class act. Hulk calls me to explain what happened and I’m just standing outside the bar I’m at there trying to calm him down, telling him it’s over now so he can chill.
“It ain’t over dog, I got this asshole in a headlock on the side of the road.”
WHAT IS GOING ON?! We unanimously agreed, to leave the piece of shit on the side of the road about 10 miles from the hotel and get the rest of the people home safely. After getting the bride and groom back to their honeymoon suite, the groom thanks Hulk by tipping him $20 for saving his wife from getting her face punched in. Thanks chief. I’ll speculate and say their marriage didn't make it a year.
So was every group we drove around a bunch of blowhards and assholes? No, actually quite the contrary. However every ride home was always far more tense than the ride in. Hence why I always made sure to do the pick up in order to get paid up front. In most cases, the higher the price of the booking, the nicer the people were. A group paying $75 per person for a night out in the city was always far more courteous and polite than a group paying $30 per person going to the local bar.
Most people always like to negotiate, so in time, I baked that into the price and would negotiate down to my ideal price. We see this all the time in the retail world today. Jeans will have a $300 tag and be marked 50% off to $149.99 and we think we’re getting a deal. Really, we just paid $150 for some pants. I started to apply the same principle to my pricing and saw the benefits.
Now if you’ve ever rented a limo, exotic or even a rental car, you know how these companies try to bang you every which way. My pricing was simple: fixed prices, round trip, no tip, no toll fee, no fee for being late (when they would demand the limo be there at 7pm and proceed to pregame until 7:45), all things that a limo company would tack onto the bill. I didn't tack on any extras, just wanted to keep it simple and fun, and everyone always got more value than they paid for.
Other than the business side, on a personal side, talk about a marketing tool. I was 23 years old getting driven around in my own limo. Sorry to my other 23 year old friends at the time but it's going be hard to top that one. The funny part is that I sold my car and had not pulled the trigger on the Aston yet so that if I had to actually go anywhere, I would have take the limo. Want to go get bagels? Limo it is. Wanted to go to the mall? Hop in the limo.
I actually got banned from 3 different malls because the thing takes up 3 spots. I always parked far away to avoid being an inconvenience, however the rent-a-cops would get thoroughly pissed off. If you read the story, “Academic Probation” where I brought the Aston and Limo to my school and the public safety officers looked to have a field day with me. They couldn't hate me more, being their age, owning these two sexy vehicles as they suffered everyday to make $8 an hour. Let's just say I could smell the jealousy on their breathe.
Regardless I took the limo everywhere. I took it snowboarding up to Vermont probably a dozen times, with my future Trading Experts partner as we did Keg stands on the ride up. (Business meetings?) Every time I went on vacation, of course I was taking the limo to and from the airport. Drifting in the snow? Check. Drag racing? You guessed it. Thing was a tank and got up to 120mph without breaking a sweat. Football tailgates? Couldn’t think of a better ride.
(Shake & I severely inebriated in the back, along with his cat traveling to Vermont)
Were there downsides to owning it? Of course. Let's not even get started on the repairs or someone puking in it. Anytime something happened, it seemed like the mechanic was my ex-wife getting alimony checks each month. Were there late nights? On top of working 100+ hour work week as a rookie trader on Wall St, without a doubt.
Was it worth it though? 100%. Net-net, the Limo was worth every penny and every dollar of profit I made. It also was an interesting social experiment to really understand consumers that you cannot simply learn from a book. Very similar to trading, we can teach you everything that is needed to become a successful trader, but there comes a point when you’ll have to wipe your own ass. If you are consistent and relentless in your pursuit to succeed in any endeavor whether it be trading, running a marathon, or getting a date with that girl you had your eye on, you’ll likely prevail. If you have a dying passion and desire to do it, you will get what you put in.