Company: Accent Transportation Services
Title: Owner | Est.: 2008
In May 2008, during the roughest stretch of the recession, a husband-and-wife team made a bold decision to start their own transportation business. Misgana Kebede and his wife, Bilen, started Accent Transportation Services, which specializes in executive car service around the Phoenix area.
Kebede moved to the U.S. from Ethiopia and was drawn to the tourism industry early on. In fact, he worked at various hotels and theme parks after high school and during college. Kebede eventually earned degrees in finance and logistics, transportation and supply chain management.
Prior to the creation of Accent Transportation Services, Kebede was working for Honeywell Aerospace in the supply chain department. Although he was learning a lot about the business, Kebede realized he wanted something more than to work in a cubicle.
“I had the dream of becoming a business owner, and a desire to serve others from the heart,” Kebede says.
When Kebede first started his business, the transportation industry was being hit hard by the economic downturn.
Companies were cutting down on travel costs, and car and limo services weren’t in demand. Despite the challenges, Accent Transportation managed to stand out to clients. Accent Transportation gains most of its business from repeat customers, and has grown from one vehicle to a seven-vehicle fleet within two years.
“Building a repeat customer base tells us we’re doing something right,” Kebede says. “Seventy to 75 percent of our business is repeat customers.”
Accent Transportation retains its customers because it continually focuses on improving the level of service it provides. It offers easy, online registration and account management. Customers can choose from Lincoln sedans, SUVs, stretch limos and a mini-coach. Kebede also emphasizes the importance of being on time.
Another major part of customer retention is that Kebede’s employees have excellent customer service skills. When looking to hire new employees, Kebede looks for people who already have spent time working in the hospitality business.
“If you know how to serve people, anything else can be learned,” Kebede says.
Kebede knows that building a business from the ground up is especially hard right now, but he is committed to his work.
“The first and foremost thing is to have a passion for what you do,” Kebede says. “Plan your days, weeks and months. Think about what will grow your business, not just what will help you get by.”