Give a client’s security needs and budgetary requirements there is rarely a plan and funding for professional security drivers. Yet clients still need to be driven from point A to point B,C,D when visiting cities and locations that are outside of their normal place of business.
The Situation and the Solution:
The honest truth that driving schools don’t tell you is that you will almost never use the techniques taught in high-speed vehicle dynamics courses. On city streets of DC, New York, Los Angeles or any other city you will not screen or block protecting the client’s limo. They are great tools to have in your toolbox but what is more important is how to manage motorcades and the drivers.
Any given executive protection contract will require clients to travel, as a security professional we must problem solve in order to make those arrangements. By having previously vetted Limousine companies I have been able to know what types of vehicles are available and what can be ordered if necessary.
Limousine companies, if reputable, have access to fleet of various luxury cars and SUV’s to include the typical sedan and stretch limo. I have been able to get everything from Range Rovers, Mercedes and BMW’s to fit my client’s wants and needs thus providing added value and great customer service.
Benefits of hiring a limousine company verse utilizing rented cars with “security drivers”
- Maintenance licensing, liability, bonding and insurance is the responsibility of the limousine company.
- Limo drivers are commonly very familiar with the area, especially helpful when you are operating in unfamiliar locations.
- Vehicle selection is broad to meet the client’s wants, not just what he needs.
- Some companies have vehicle-to-vehicle communication, which is especially helpful with larger motorcades.
- Limo companies have relationships with various venues and valets, which allow them to park with easier access to the venues then the normal public.
- With the driver you get an extra person to help with bag management when shopping with the client. For example, if you are shopping with the client and because you are adding value, problem solving, and have excellent customer service, you take the clients bags while they are shopping. After you take the bags you then can call the limo driver to meet you inside and collect the bags from you. Once they have completed that task of meeting you they can now take those bags to the car and await any other direction you give to him or her. This is based on real scenarios that I have had to do with multiple clients.
It is very helpful that as a security professional that you aware of basic motorcade operations and added value customer service items for the vehicles.
For motorcade operations its important to know what vehicle the primary client goes into, your placement within the motorcade and how to manage the entire motorcade. If you have communication with each vehicle, which you should even if it is a cell phone, know how to change lanes and possible conduct minimal screens as needed. Prior to movement you will need to talk to the drivers in advance to insure that they know what you want and what is need to keep motorcade integrity.
Keep in mind potential outside threats to your motorcade. I was working for a client and we had contracted out 7 blacked out Escalades, which do stand out when traveling together. Normally this is not a problem however POTUS had just landed in the same city I was operating in. Because of the potential threats to POTUS I decided to break the motorcade up and have each vehicle leave 1 min apart. Initially the client was upset however once I explained to him that I did not want someone that might target POTUS to mistake our motorcade for his and put us at unneeded risk. He appreciated that I though outside the box and I continued to do business with him on multiple contracts.
When traveling in single or multiple vehicle motorcades its important to provide the following in each vehicle:
• Comfortable climate control
• Hand sanitizer
• Gum or breath mints
• Beverages at a minimum bottled water
• National Newspapers and other periodicals that you know your client would be interested in.
• Cell phone charger
• First aid kit
It is not feasible, as a solo practitioner to also drive however that does not mean in some cases that wont happen. Solo or not the above items should still be in the vehicle for the client.
When contracting out with a limo company it is important to have a driver briefing prepared. Some of the times that should be discussed include but are not limited to:
• As a security professional inspect the vehicle and make sure its serviceable and acceptable. This doesn’t mean check the oil but check the tires, the interior ask to see its service record.
• Verify all drivers and their driver’s license and vehicle insurance cards to make sure they are current and not expired.
• Operational Security- I have had drivers relieved for texting out who their passenger is. I have also gone up to other peoples motorcade and spoke with the drivers and found out who their client is and their schedule. This must be addressed with each driver before they come into contact with the client.
• Discuss the above items that need to be in each vehicle every time the client gets into the car.
• Make sure they are aware that the vehicle is to be clean at all times.
• Exchange contact numbers and make sure they know that while they are working they are to always have access to their phone. If they leave the vehicle while you are on venue for any reason they are to contact you immediately.
o It has happened where the client is ready to leave a venue and the driver has gone inside to use the restroom, smoke or eat. If you are aware they are not at the vehicle you can inform the client and delay the departure.
• Preferably the driver should not smoke however if he does then at no time should the he smoke in the vehicle or get in the vehicle smelling like smoke.
Understanding that limousine companies can be used as an asset, having prepared expectations for drivers and a drivers check list I have been able to provide safe transportation to and from multiple locations. By finding a great company that shares some of your same principals and values you can also help reduce the price for your clients based on the amount of business you provide to the limo service provided. This is again an added value to your client that they will appreciate.
Key Points and Lessons Learned
- Vet and build relationships with premium limousine companies prior to having a client.
- Have a vehicle and driver checklist prepared in advance
- Brief all drivers and verify their understanding of the information you provided
- Use internal communication if they have it.
- Be situational aware at all times and control the motorcade even if it’s a single car.