More than 500 chief executives attended the 2nd annual SmartCEO G3 conference, where President and CEO Kristina Bouweiri shared her thoughts on Brand-Driven Leadership as part of a panel on the topic. Kristina was joined by TW Perry CEO Michael Cassidy and Horizon Consulting CEO Wanda Alexander at the conference panel, which took place Nov. 10 at the Washington Hilton.
This entire week, we’ll be sharing her answers in a series of video clips and transcriptions on the blog! In today’s installment of the series, presented in chronological order, Kristina answers what she has learned over time what brand means to the business:
For you to really understand how our company grew so big, you’ll have to understand that when we started we just just five cars and we only had one bus. We saw that there was a trend out there in moving people in groups and we fell into government contracts kind of by accident. We were just in our office one day minding our own business and a guy knocked on the door and literally said, “Here’s an RFP for a government contract, would you like to bid on this? And if you win the bid, can I work for you as a driver?â€ And that’s how we got into the government contracting business.
So we got our first contract and it was out in Reston at the U.S. Geological Survey and our brand was to buy a brand new bus every time we got a new contract and then hire a fantastic driver because for us, our drivers are our ambassadors. We’re not going to be the ones greeting the customers every day, it’s the great drivers. So the brand was to get a brand new bus, hire a great new driver, close our eyes and then move on to the next contract.
And after we got the first government contract we though, “well there has to be more of these.â€ So we subscribed to the Commerce Business Daily and we started bidding on government contracts and because we did a a great job, we won every government contract in the shuttle market for the next five years in Washington D.C.
And doing a great job just meant that we answered our phones 24/7, we used brand new equipment, we embraced technology, and today we still do all of those things. We have more technology than anyone in our industry, we have cameras on the buses, we have double GPS, we have a software called TrafficLand — we can monitor traffic patterns — so when we came onto the market, our competitors were using used equipment, they weren’t answering their phones after hours, and it was kind of easy to do a better job. And then we just tried to get better and better, and reinvent ourselves along the way.