Family business Hummer Limousines started out in Melbourne in 2005 with a single vehicle, providing a stylish way to travel to weddings, buck’s nights and other special occasions. Today, the business has a fleet of 16 Hummers – complete with leather seats, premium sound systems and a red-carpet welcome – operating around Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Business owner Clint Comelli talks about the growth of Hummer Limos and the role of e-commerce in the business’s success.
What was the inspiration for Hummer Limousines?
“We were in Las Vegas for a buck’s party and we saw some stretch Hummers getting around there. My dad’s been in the limo industry most of his life, so we thought we’d hire one and go for a spin. We did that and we were pretty enthralled by it all. By the end of the week, we’d been to the factory where they stretch them and make them, and we almost purchased two before we came home. We were the first to bring Hummers to Australia, and that’s how it all started.”
What kind of growth have you experienced?
“When we started Hummer Limos, we purchased two vehicles and brought one over to Australia first. It had to go through stringent testing and be re-engineered to suit Australian design rules. That took about nine months. Once we had approval, the Australian Government let us bring in more.
“We started Hummer Limos in Melbourne with two limos, then we had two in Sydney and two in Melbourne, then we bought another one for each city. After about 18 months, we took some cars to Brisbane, too, and kept growing the Hummer Limos fleet. Now, we have 16 vehicles.”
When was the e-commerce website, hummerlimos.com.au, set up and what was the thinking behind it?
“We built the website back in 2008, based on people wanting to make enquiries and request quotes. We built a web system so that if someone makes an enquiry, it gives them a customer number and a quote. If they wish to take up the booking, they can just log back in to the website and make the booking. It’s almost like booking an aeroplane ticket – it’s pretty simple. No other limo company in Australia has an automated system like that.”
How has the SecurePay payment gateway been integrated into the Hummer Limousines site?
“Our family runs a number of businesses, so we have a team that works for the whole company and they set up SecurePay for us. It was set up relatively quickly and it was smooth. We haven’t had any hiccups with it. We mostly use SecurePay for reconciliations – and, for things like making additional payments for customers, it’s easy for us to do that ourselves through SecurePay.”
What methods have you used to market Hummer Limos?
“When we first started, we were doing a lot of wedding magazines, some newspaper ads, some mail-outs. We’ve dropped off a bit on that now and focus mostly on wedding expos and corporate expos. You need to see these things to believe them! It’s more effective for us to actually get the cars out there and put them in front of someone than to send them a brochure.”
What are your goals for Hummer Limos?
“To maintain the fleet that we’ve got. They’re no longer making Hummers now, so that’s something the business needs to plan for and we need to work out what we’ll move towards next. We’ve got a database of 100,000 people that we’ve collected from the website, so we’ll also be looking at ways to use this data and get out there with more exposure of our cars.”
What advice do you have for other businesses that might be looking to launch an e-commerce business or accept online bookings?
“Going from the old manual system of emails and a lot of phone calls, having the online system certainly makes life a lot easier. We find that a lot of people don’t want to pick up the phone and talk to someone – they’d rather just do it all online.
“The system Hummer Limos has is very good, and we’ve built it along the years to get it right, so that it works for us and works for our customers. And that’s why I think we’ve been so successful – because we are advanced with our technology and our booking system.”