Ted Jenkin: So excited today to be interviewing Danny Bacher, the CEO of Topper, a worldwide chauffeured transportation company. Really exciting stuff that’s happened only here in Atlanta. But all around the country. How in the world did you get into the limousine business and what is it that you guys do as a transportation company?
Danny Bacher: I started in the business. My father built the business from scratch started in 1996. And we are a true worldwide chauffeured transportation company. We specialize in corporate accounts and meetings and events. We’re very heavy in the meeting and events space as well.
Ted Jenkin: I’d imagine when someone’s thinking about a business like this transportation, these large buses and even limousines, it could be very expensive business. How do you come about getting the capital when you have to buy new buses or new transportation vehicles around the United States?
Danny Bacher: In the beginning, it’s very important to not buy vehicles that you don’t have a use for. You have to really look at your P&Ls and figure out what vehicles are making money. What are my clients requesting. Back in the day, we used to just buy cars that we thought people wanted. And then they don’t and you’re stuck with a car that almost six figures that you don’t have business for.
Danny Bacher: If you think you want to dive into the bus business, go find a partner with buses. Before you go by buses, see if you have the workforce. See if you can build the work for it. Build the business, contract the workout, make your margin and once you see that you have enough business to justify owning your own vehicles of these larger vehicles that are more expensive, then it makes sense to go start buying 1, 2, 3, 10, 20 however many vehicles.
Ted Jenkin: I had read on the website, this whole idea of your principles and this compromising nothing for unprecedented service. How do you excel at service a Topper versus competitors that are out there?
Danny Bacher: With us, it’s all about that boutique level of service and that high level of customer experience. When you call them to our office, there is no phone tree. Phones are answered by live Agent 24/7 within three rings. We’re not departmentalized. We work in a team concept. If you have a question that’s regarding to a reservation, another question regarding dispatch or a third question regarding an invoice. One person will handle those questions. You don’t get transferred from department to department.
Ted Jenkin: You mentioned that your dad started this business. And I wonder, because there’s a lot of people that may be watching this, that they’ve got kids and it sounds like that you were a kid that grew up as sort of as your dad or was in this business. What was it like growing up with the a dad as an entrepreneur?
Danny Bacher: It was not as glorified as some would make it. It’s a lot of hours when you’re starting a business from scratch. It’s a lot, a lot of time and energy. I remember being late to soccer practices and soccer games and my dad not being home the majority of times for dinners, and I think at the time I was resentful of that. But I think now as I’ve grown up, I have my own kids and running this business, you really want learn to be thankful and grateful for what he did. Because had he not done what he did then, which was 20 plus years ago, we would not be sitting here today.
Ted Jenkin: Now you are in a family owned business. You’re the CEO of the organization, but your dad’s in the business and you have brothers that are in the business. What’s that like running a family owned business?
Danny Bacher: It’s good and it’s bad. I think that the best part is working with your family. The worst part is working with your family. The biggest hurdle I think, is being able to leave work and turn work off.
Ted Jenkin: It’s tough.
Danny Bacher: It’s so tough to go home or on a Friday night or whatever it is, and be at a family dinner and dinner not consist of just business. Because then everyone gets burned out, there is no family relationship anymore. I think it’s a really fine line of learning how to balance working and working hard, but leaving work at work and home is home. We’ve really focused on different areas. We each stay in our area. Obviously, we’re entrepreneurs. We all wear all hats when you’re needed. But we stay in our individually lanes if you will and that has really allowed us to, I think continue to working together. Because if we were in the same sandbox, if you will, all day, every day, again, one of us wouldn’t be here if not all of us.
Ted Jenkin: Now, I know you guys have locations also in LA and New York, and you’re here in Atlanta. But in a city of 6,000,000, 7,000,000 Metro people here in Atlanta. What’s it like being a small business in a pretty large city?
Danny Bacher: I think being in a city like Atlanta has been a really great thing for us. They say, a high tide floats all boats.
Ted Jenkin: I like that.
Danny Bacher: And that’s really nice is that anybody in Atlanta, I think if you somewhat know what you’re doing should benefit from being in a really, city that’s on a high growth path. I think the more important thing is to focus on what your key demo is for your clientele and go wherever they are. We have a huge piece of business in LA and that wasn’t by design, that’s just we were chasing very specific business. A lot of it ended up in LA and we ended up putting an office there. I think that’s something to always be open to not just saying, we’re only going to look for business in our backyard. In today’s day and age, you can truly be a global company with, technology allows everything to be done pretty seamlessly.
Ted Jenkin: What’s the one thing you could tell people that are watching the program today that neither, make them want to become an entrepreneur or basically say, maybe I’m not cut out to be an entrepreneur when it comes to running a business.
Danny Bacher: You have to have really thick skin. You have to be able to roll with the punches and you got to be willing to put in the time. It’s a mix of working hard and smart these days.
Ted Jenkin: Well, thanks so much for coming on the Atlanta Small Business Profile Today. I mean, it’s really amazing stuff that you’ve done here at topper and continued success to your entire family.
Danny Bacher: I appreciate you thank you for having me.
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