If Cinderella had gotten a ride from Reston limo we are certain she wouldn’t have had the issues of her ride turning into a pumpkin! No matter what you choose, Reston Limo is no pumpkin. Whether your destination is a formal ball or just the airport, with its vast array of chariots you are sure to feel like royalty.
Kristina Bouweiri is driving force behind this national business that is showing no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
Q & A with Kristina Bouweiri
Q: Why are you in business? What is your background? Education, Work Experience? How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
I have sometimes called myself the accidental entrepreneur because business wasn’t the career path I had chosen for myself after college. I have a degree in International Affairs from George Washington University. After graduating, I worked in Somalia for the Overseas Education Fund, which had projects to uplift the status of women in Third World countries. After a few years there I decided to leave that field and the only job I could find in the US was 100% commission sales advertising! I cold-called Reston Limousine from the yellow pages and was given an appointment to sell an ad. After the sale, William Bouweiri, the owner, asked me out. Soon I quit my job to work for Reston Limousine and within one year we were married. We worked together for 10 years and then we decided he would stay home with the four children and I would run the business. Ten years later, we divorced and I bought him out.
Along the way, I discovered that networking played a large role in developing leads and generating revenue for the company. I was also acting as a mentor to other women entrepreneurs, and I combined the two passions when I founded Sterling Women in 2008. Since then, the monthly networking luncheon has steadily grown and draws more than 100 attendees at each event.
I am grateful for the professional and personal rewards from this business and have always been dedicated to giving back to the community. Our corporate philanthropy mission is to support organizations that help sick children, but we provide in-kind and cash donations to hundreds of other local, regional and national nonprofits. In addition to personally raising hundreds of thousands of dollar for charities, I also have contributed my time and efforts by sitting on various boards including the Inova Loudoun Hospital Foundation, Loudoun Education Foundation, Northern Virginia Community College, George Mason School of Business Dean’s Council, Washington DC Economic Partnership, DC Chamber of Commerce and others.
Q: Why are you in this type of business?
I married into the business originally, but honestly, I can’t think of a better job for me. Every day is different in the chauffeured transportation industry, and I have grown so much as an entrepreneur and as a person in overcoming the challenges I’ve faced over the last 28 years. While we’re based in the metropolitan DC region, we do business with clients and vendors from around the world – which appeals to my background, having lived overseas throughout my childhood!
Q: Can you provide me with a description of your business?
Reston Limousine is the largest limousine and bus company in Washington DC. With a fleet of more than 235 vehicles and 400 employees, we provide a spectrum of transportation services including commuter shuttles, university shuttles, corporate and residential shuttles, limousines for weddings, wine tours, and special events, and sedans for airport pickups and corporate needs.
Q: How long have you been in business?
A: Reston Limousine has been in business for 29 years.
What type of business form do you have, sole proprietorship, partnership,
Reston Limousine is a corporation.
Q: How did you get started in this business?
Having lived in Washington DC for 11 years, I was very familiar with Virginia, The District, and Maryland – which enabled me to determine how much time it would take our drivers to get places. My sales background prior to joining the company provided a foundation for the marketing and sales aspects of running the business. Over time I supplemented the hands-on training by joining peer organizations such as a business book club, a mastermind program, and a CEO membership group called Vistage.
Q: How do you market your business? How are people aware of your business? Do you do marketing for your business?
Our marketing runs the gamut from digital strategies including search engine optimization, email campaigns, and social media, to community outreach programs that include donations to charities, sponsorships, and partnerships. We also have 200 branded buses and vans constantly driving around town and acting as moving billboards!
Q: Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? The
following ten years?
In the next year, we anticipate continued growth, especially in the corporate commuter services. Many companies are now providing shuttles for their employees to get to work from the Metro. In the next five years, we see even more commuter shuttle work especially with Amazon choosing Arlington for a second headquarters. We also see increases in tourism, wine tours, and brew tours. In the next 10 years, we envision a larger part of our fleet comprising motor coach passenger buses.
Q: How has the technology, such as computers and the internet, impacted how you
Technology has changed everything! Cell phones and GPS have enabled our charter clients, dispatch team and drivers to connect instantaneously. On the contract side, our commuter clients can immediately see where their shuttle bus is. Our commuter clients can see where their bus is on their phone if they are waiting.
Q: Does your business have a stated mission statement, the reason that this Does business exist?
As an organization, our passion is to provide a variety of transportation solutions for individuals and groups that exceed client’s expectations’ at home and around the world through our commitment to safety, excellent service, and lasting relationships.
Q: Can you describe your customers?
An overwhelming majority – 85% – of our customers are women. About 90% of our business is corporate work, and the person who orders a car or bus for their organization is usually the executive assistant, HR manager or office manager. The organizations range from schools and educational institutions to hospitals to private corporations to embassies. Women also make up the majority of clients booking us for charter transportation services such as weddings, winery tours, day trips, and more.
Q: Why do your customers select you over your competitors?
Over the last 29 years in business, Reston Limousine has distinguished itself as having a diverse fleet, an excellent safety record, and the latest in technology.
Q: What are the most significant issues for running this business?
Like many companies in the Washington DC metro region dealing with the low unemployment rate, labor is one of the biggest issues we face. There is a national shortage of drivers and more driving jobs out there so we are all fighting for a small labor pool. Another issue is the seasonality of demand for transportation services. We are extremely busy in the spring and fall and somewhat slow in the summer and winter.
Q: What is the future for this type of business?
Despite Lyft and Uber coming to our market, there will always be a place for luxury and group transportation. We have taken pride in our ability to pivot with the times, so if and when there are driverless cars, we have a plan – we’ll offer those companies secure storage and maintenance services!