Paris Transport & Tours’ Owner, Marsha Muir, On Running Her Local Business Against All Odds
Running a business and raising children are both full-time commitments. This combination may surely test one’s patience and mettle. However, many entrepreneurs believe that it affords them more flexibility in sparing time for family. In the case of Marsha Muir, owner of Paris Transport & Tours, these sentiments carry a weightier undertone.
Raising Her Son
“One of my children needed extra attention, which did not allow me to work a regular nine-to-five,” she stated.
She expressed that her son, at an early age, had begun to exhibit developmental delays. He was eventually diagnosed with ADHD, ODD and Asperger’s (now ASD). This made it extremely difficult to find a school that would accept him for very long.
She strongly asserted, “There aren’t any educational institutions in Jamaica fully equipped to handle certain disorders”.
In her experience, even schools that claim to be tailored to such needs have proven seriously inadequate.
As a single mother faced with all these challenges, she contemplated potential entrepreneurial possibilities. It would have to be something that could provide her with the flexibility to properly look after her son and “…function as a capable parent”. This was the line of thought which led to the formation of Paris Transport & Tours. It is a business born out of the deep love it takes to raise a child faced with such challenges.
Operating the Business
Marsha went on to share with us the services offered by Paris Transport & Tours. These include providing transportation for the movement of people and goods. More specifically, the business centres on authorised stage carriages that offer transportation to the public. The regions in which the business’ service spans are somewhat limited due to the economic toll of the pandemic. However, Marsha remains hopeful that she’ll be able to grow the fleet and increase the number of routes covered in time.
Paris Transport & Tours has around six employees, some of which operate on an as-needed basis. She strongly emphasised how important it has been to assemble a capable and reasonable team which have good synergy.
It is no mystery that with the employment of individuals, disputes and conflict are inevitable occurrences. Marsha notes that this challenge seems to be amplified in the industry in which she operates, as it is not uncommon for temperamental and volatile characters to be present. This, she says, is attributable to a pervading perception of the field as a “hustle”. This usually results in the haphazard employment of bus drivers and conductors who are not screened or trained in any sense for the service industry. To circumvent this problem, Marsha puts a concerted effort into avoiding doing business with those who are “disrespectful and abusive” to passengers and workmates.
She makes sure to educate and train her team on using empathy with passengers and avoiding hostility even towards uncooperative people. This, in turn, mitigates the risk of potentially violent disputes.
She reasons with them on how to keep their cool if they are “bad driven” and even on being polite, courteous, and professional when dealing with the authorities. Remarkably, this often results in less harsh dealings during traffic stops.
Critically, too, she has relayed that this training has resulted in a level of customer service which has set Paris Transport & Tours in the local economy. Factors like those have proven especially important as the transportation industry has become extremely competitive. Due to the pandemic, there has been a reduction in revenue. This can be attributed to the limited movement and reduced activity in the country. The suspension of face-to-face classes and the rapid implementation of remote working was a damaging blow, as these constituted a large bulk of overall income. This has resulted in many businesses in the transportation industry withdrawing their services or significantly scaling back their operation.
Paris Transport & Tours has also been forced to adapt to these changing circumstances. Some of the vehicles owned by the business had to be withdrawn so that things could stay afloat.
The pandemic hasn’t been the only challenge her business has faced. She explains there are “a myriad of problems” which result from operating stage carriages locally. These problems range from challenges with how the Transport Authority function, high maintenance costs for the vehicles and even such issues as extortion.
Nonetheless, Marsha has pushed through adversity and continues to run her small local business with no intention of letting up.
When asked, “Is there any advice you have for aspiring small business owners in your field?”
Marsha’s response was, “Struggles will come, and you will face them every day but be consistent and know you will get past whatever challenges you face.”