Green Ride driving in fast lane of success

FORT COLLINS – Compassionate client care, creating a fun work culture and rooting for the competition have landed Green Ride CO Inc. atop the Mercury 100 list this year, bringing in revenue of $3,107,696 in 2012.

Outstanding customer service is what distinguishes Green Ride from other airport transport services, said general manager Megan Kuhnen. In an industry riddled with complaints about long wait times, canceled shuttles or lengthy, indirect routes to the airports, Green Ride guarantees to pick its passengers up within 10 minutes of their scheduled reservation. It drives directly from Fort Collins to Denver International Airport, and the company axiom is to be as considerate as possible to each and every customer.

“Traveling is already stressful enough,” Kuhnen said. “And when you give over control of getting to your flight on time to somebody else, it raises the stress level even higher. Our main priority is to alleviate that stress.”

In 2008, Robert Flynn and Ray Scholfield started Green Ride with just a couple of vans. The company has grown to 22 vehicles and 21 trips a day to and from DIA in addition to 11 trips from Fort Collins to Wyoming. About 300 passengers a day are served – a total of 65,000 so far. Green Ride has 48 drivers and 84 employees total who also serve as reservation agents and office administrators.

“We operate very differently than most other share ride services around the country,” Flynn said. “From a very high-level view, compared to Super Shuttle or Shamrock, we’re not much different.”

The big difference between shuttle drivers for Green Ride and other similar companies, Flynn said, is that those drivers are independent contractors, while Green Ride directly employs al of its drivers. Independent contractors’ need to fill seats to capacity as an incentive to recover their fees often compromises the quality of service to the passengers, he said.

“Having a family-based model such as ours means that we’ll take a single passenger out to the end of town,” Flynn said. “And we won’t cancel or postpone a scheduled trip because there aren’t enough butts in the seats.”

Green Ride drivers aren’t going to lose money if their vans aren’t at full capacity. They receive the same hourly wage, ranging from $9 to $12 an hour, and it’s up to each driver to determine their level of tips by the kind of personalized care they offer to their passengers.

Scholfield said he and Flynn aren’t out to trash the “other guys.”

“If one of our customers wants to jump on a Super Shuttle because it might get them home quicker, we’re fine with that,” Scholfield said. “What we’re really aiming for is capturing the other 5,000 or so travelers that are driving their own vehicles to and from the airport.”

Scholfield said he wants to see the other companies do well. If people have lots of options and trustworthy service, he said, they’ll be more apt to choose a shuttle over their own car – which is what Green Ride ultimately wants, as it lessens the environmental damage of too many cars on the road.

According to IBISWorld Market Research, trends from the past five years predict an upswing in business for airport shuttle operators. Over the next five years, shuttle industry revenue is projected to rise at an average yearly rate of 3 percent as a result of a more stable economy that will increase air passenger travel by 3.5 percent annually to about 879.2 million.

“There’s plenty of untapped market to go around,” Scholfield said.

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