Born in Kingston, Jamaica to a single mother, Albert Williams grew up in the birthplace of Hip Hop and the home of the New York Yankees – the Bronx. Motivated by the countless hours his mother worked to create a better life for him and his siblings, Albert grew up to hold several jobs in both the public and private sectors, while all at the same time owning and operating several of his own businesses. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to explore many avenues including landscaper/snow removal, restaurant menu designer and printer, computer consultant, barbershop owner, part time owner in a laundromat, and part time owner in a hair salon.
In June 2012, Albert acquired Best Deal Private Car Service Inc., based in the North East Bronx with 35 owner-operated cars in its fleet. As president and CEO, he went on to certify the business as a Minority Business Enterprise, increased the company’s revenue to top $1.5 million, added hundreds of new drivers, and created a new revenue stream by adding non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) to their line of services.
This serial entrepreneur with a proven ability to grow a business now teaches others through his Mastermind coaching. Albert considers it his responsibility to give back, coaching minorities with entrepreneurial aspirations to realize their dreams.
How did the concept for Best Deal Car Service come about?
I’m not exactly sure how the idea to form the company came to be, as I was not the founder. I bought into the company approximately seven years ago with the idea of building a transportation business around the NYC Access-A-Ride (AAR) program.
How was the first year in business?
The first year was particularly challenging. Soon after purchasing the company, I connected with one of NYC’s top brokers for the AAR program. Reality quickly set in when I saw the prices. There was no way I would pay my drivers a livable wage and still make a profit. In fact, the rates that the brokers were offering at the time was, in some places, lower than the minimum cash fare that a customer would pay to a driver.
What was your marketing strategy?
Marketing strategy…what’s that? I figure that I’m an entrepreneur and I’ll figure it out. What I have come to learn is that in my business, as with any other, it’s all about service and relationships. These are two attributes that define any successful business. So I guess my marketing strategy is to build good and meaningful relationships with your internal and external customers while offering the best service.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
Once I got the bad news that the rates for AAR were a nonstarter in 2013, I pulled up my big boy pants and decided to try plan B thru Z. There was no plan B at the time, much less a plan Z. I’m proud to say that last year Best Deal was named one of 2018’s fastest-growing companies by Inc. Magazine, ranking #2965. When I purchased the company in 2012, we had 35 owner-operator drivers under one entity. Today, we have over 300 drivers and 4 companies that make up The Best Deal Group of Companies.
How do you define success?
Success to me is the ability to perform at a pace that moves the needle forward each and every day, with each and every play. I must admit that it wasn’t always like this, but I’ve come to learn that success doesn’t come easy, or else everyone would be successful.
What is the key to success?
My key to success is realizing from an early age that my greatest, in fact my only competition is myself. By that, I mean I compete with ME. In the current environment where Uber and Lyft are the dominant forces, it’s fulfilling to know that Best Deal is holding its own, recruiting drivers on a daily basis, securing accounts, and growing not only as a business, but as a part of the community in which we live and serve.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Honestly, this may sound like a cliché, but as an entrepreneur I can tell you that it’s lonely at the top. As an entrepreneur, who is responsible for the well-being of a company that serves 25 employees, over 300 drivers, and countless customers, you are forced to make decisions that are not going to be very popular with all the stakeholders. I recently read an article in the New York Times where Delta’s CEO Ed Bastin said, “Leadership Is not a popularity contest” – I think that sums up my greatest lesson.
What are some quotes that you live by?
I don’t really have too many mantras. If I were forced to give one, it would be if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry and brush it off and try again.
What are some of your favorite books?
Hands down, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is my go to.
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
The toughest day thus far was when we discovered, after searching for a missing driver, that he had taken his own life due to non-work-related issues. This gentleman, “elderly statesman” as I called him, embraced me from the first day I walked into Best Deal and threw his support and influence behind me and my initiatives to build the company. I will be eternally grateful for him, his friendship, and his support.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I love this question, but like to rephrase it as “What drives me?” Let me start with what used to drive me, work. What drives me today is the legacy that I want to create for my family, the folks who work for me, and the community.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Learn to listen. Great listeners become great leaders.
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This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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