At the age of nineteen, Monique Anderson was introduced to a job in valeting. She wasn’t sure exactly what she was getting into. She had dropped out of college at an early age to try to figure out what she really wanted in life. In 1998, her journey began in the male-dominated world of the car service industry – as a valet supervisor. Monique Anderson shares her story with Industry Rules on breaking into the business from working as a Valet Supervisor to now owning a company that provide services for top business executives, entertainers, sports team owners, political figures and foreign dignitaries. In 2015, her company provided services to many religious and political figures during Pope Francis Visit to Philadelphia.

MHC-When did the inception of Universal Corporate Enterprise come about?
MA-While in college, I was a valet supervisor and used to valet in Philadelphia at many restaurants. On many occasions, patrons would come out of the restaurants drunk and I’d have to contact a taxicab or limousine car service for them. A coworker and I decided we wanted to learn more about the car service industry and figure out how to break into the business. When I first got started in the limousine service industry, my clientele mostly consisted of restaurant patrons. At that time, the company was called Limo Extraordinaire. Despite the partnership not working out, it was instrumental in kick starting my business, which is what brings us to what is today.

MHC-How did you go about the process of launching your own business?
MA- I was passionate about the business and decided to learn more on getting involved. When you have a dream and you want to do something, you first need to research the subject whenever you have the opportunity. Philadelphia City Hall was my first stop. I used to go to the Philadelphia City Hall all the time to learn about the process. I didn’t know what I was getting into. Everyone knew me by my face at the City Hall because of the many of times I went up there. I didn’t know anyone in the limousine world that could truly guide me in the right direction. So, I had no choice but to ask questions and research information constantly and on my own. Eventually, my efforts paid off; I was referred to a contact at Murrell Limousine Services, an established company in Philadelphia. The limousine contact was phenomenal and paramount. Fortunately, I later met an older gentleman, Butch who walked me through every single step. I couldn’t help but notice that his phone was always on and he never denied a phone call. If he didn’t know the answer, he made sure to contact someone for me to get the right information that I needed.
It is important to know that there is always somebody out there willing to help you. You must first do the legwork. Go out there and find that person. In getting started, I faced many hurdles and the process itself wasn’t simple. I had to get licensing, insurance, titles, vehicles registered in company names as well as other mandatory requirements. With the support of Murrell Limousine Service and the helpful staff at City Hall, everything worked out perfectly.

MHC-How does it feel being a woman working in a predominately-male environment?
MA: I started off as a Valet Parking Supervisor at a young age. As you may observe, when you go to valet park at a hotel or restaurant, you will see that it is predominantly a male-operated workforce. So tell me, when was the last time you went to a restaurant and saw a female valet parker? I have always been around a lot of men. My average employee was a male between ages 25 and 35. There were two things that made my journey challenges: I was young and a woman. I had to earn respect in the industry and work extremely hard.
I am glad that I went through all the obstacles. They made me a better manager and owner today. I stayed true to myself despite having people look down on me. I took a care-oriented and loving approach to leadership. However, I remained firm about my values and work ethic. I gained the respect of restaurant owners and managers who saw my commitment to growing within the company. It was tough in the beginning, but now I have employees ranging between 20 and 70 years of age.

MHC-Tell me about your college journey while managing a company and not giving up?
MA-I started college at Stockton State in Pomona NJ in 1998. I was a little immature and was not ready for the college experience. I thought it wasn’t for me so I left. However, my mother, Darlene Collins, inspired me. Thirty-five years after leaving Rutgers College without completing a degree, she returned to the school to accomplish her goal. It was so wonderful for me to experience the journey with my mother and to see her finally walk across that stage and live her dream. She motivated me to go back to school and get my degree. I enrolled at the Rutgers Camden location that was close to me. It allowed me to continue to run the business while attending classes. The school was wonderful and was the right fit for me. When I made up my mind to attend Rutgers, I told myself that I was going to give it 110% or I wasn’t going to do it at all. So while managing the business as well as driving, I always had my books on me. Any and all of my free time was spent studying.
Learning about people is important, especially in this line of work. As a sociology major at Rutgers, I took many psychology classes. I learned a lot about mental toughness. It is very difficult and hard sometimes but you must persevere. Pushing yourself forward, you have to realize that you have a goal at the end of what you are doing and what you do now is the only thing that will get you to it. Despite being discouraged, I pressed forward and carried on. Nineteen years later, I received my Bachelors of Science with honors (4.0 GPA) and graduated Summa Cum laude.

MHC-How has your customer service skills help you to land major contracts and provide service to some of the top clientele in the country?
MA- I have always been friendly, down to earth and personable. In the beginning of my limousine service career, I used to attend different events and business meetings. I was very young, but my professionalism and customer services skills shined through. I gained a lot from working in the valet as well as from my studies at Rutgers. It helped me acquire one of the major aviation’s contracts in Philadelphia. Whenever there were major events, Universal Limousine Service provided transportation to clients that had personal planes or used private jets. We have provided services for company owners for some organizations such as Amway, NFL, NBA, and MLB sport figures when they come to Philadelphia as well as owners of the Phillies Baseball team and Eagles Football organization.
We also had a lot of political clientele come into the city of Philadelphia for the political Republican and Democratic conventions.
Any event presents the opportunity to forge relationships if you have great customer service skills. It allows for a chance to get recurring clients and referrals.
I am excellent at customer service and so are my employees. When I send my employees out, they are a representation of me; my ethics, my beliefs, my professionalism and that level of customer service.

MHC-What advice will you give anyone trying to get into the transportation Industry?
MA- Do your research, try to meet and contact as many people in the field and ask them many questions. When you are trying to get information, you have to have both mental toughness and persistence. Do not be ashamed to ask questions. Be passionate and don’t get discouraged. If this is your dream and this is what you want out of life, you have to work as hard as you can to try to accomplish your goal.

MHC-What are your future endeavors?
MA- I am currently recruiting for professional and passionate staff to grow the company. I want my company to expand with a new location in Florida to start.
Also, I am very creative and I like to work with my hands. I do a lot of remodeling. I am very passionate about the construction/home remodeling field as well as event production and party planning. I look forward to starting two more businesses in the upcoming years.

Closing
More information on Universal Limousine Incorporated is located at www. Southjerseylimousine.com.