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Meet Fernando Santos of Suburban Rides

Today we’d like to introduce you to Fernando Santos.

Fernando, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
After doing everything I can to survive the recession that started in 2008, I finally threw in the towel in June of 2011. All that time, I truly believed that the economy would bounce back. I gave it all I’ve got but in the end, it wasn’t enough. As the saying goes, winners have many fathers but a loser is an orphan. I found myself alone. My friends and partners all abandoned me. While they all saved themselves, they pointed the blame to me. Despite those heartaches of feeling of betrayal, I still remained responsible til the end.

After closing the shipping company, I had to figure out how to bounce back to survive and support my family. I am a doctor and could go to teaching but that would not be an immediate solution. We would need to have earnings as soon as possible. My wife earns a good amount but it will certainly affect how we live. I did not want my children to feel that I have given up and so I used this as an opportunity to show them how to face challenges that life may bring.

I applied to at a taxi company as the earnings would be daily and I needed to learn how the business goes. It has always been a business I looked at and always wondered why it seemed recession proof. Of course, it was because travel is a very important part of any business. After 3 weeks however, I already learned what I needed to learn. They all, pretty much, ran the same way. I knew then what I needed to do and how I can succeed in this highly competitive arena that I was jumping into.

I started with the legal steps such as commercial insurance for my car and registering it for livery. I created my own website and started adverting online which drained me financially. I sought appointments to pitch my company, texted, wrote, and called potential clients. In a few weeks, I was booking and needed more drivers. I kept putting every dollar earned, back to advertising to increase clientele. I treated the drivers as my clients as well as the passengers. Both were my clients for one will not exist without the other. It was all about managing and advertising. Even the logo I used, which was illustrated by my daughter, had a subliminal way of making people remember Suburban Rides. The reason behind the logo was to ride on the popularity of the stick men behind private vehicles. We are now on our 7th year and we have grown yearly since the start. I refer to us as “we” for I know that it takes these group of selected drivers and dispatchers to run Suburban Rides the way I envisioned it.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Like any business, there are a number of factors that cause a struggle. Finance was the major one because I knew that I had to pour money on advertising. I was competing with companies who had steady cash flow while I was just establishing. I had to do it all, drive, dispatch, and manage yet not bring home the beacon because it had to go to advertising. I know that the key for Suburban Rides to grow was to gain a steady increasing amount of clients. In the world of technology where every cost is per click, thousands of dollars flows out quickly. We aren’t perfect for there is no such thing but I made sure that we provided the best service we can give so that we have a good retention percentage of the clients we have served.

Suburban Rides – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
At Suburban Rides, our affordable rates, exceptional service and consistent reliability has made us a name throughout Chicago and its suburbs. How we show respect and courtesy to one another in Suburban Rides is carried out on how we display the same to each and every one of our clients. This I make sure to personally be on top of and why we take every feedback seriously. Good or bad review, we appreciate them because it is our only gauge to know how we are doing and how we know which area needs improvements.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I have many proud moments in my career and in my life but for Suburban Rides, I am most proud when I see our drivers praised by the clients and how happy it makes them to hear it. It is why I always say to clients who wishes to write us a review to not forget to mention the driver’s name. I really want them to know that their efforts are recognized. I also always never fail to thank them for representing Suburban Rides well.

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