Business management is a science – but it’s also an art. For a business to be successful, most management experts agree that you need systems and processes – but the really successful organisations are those that apply the rules with flair and adaptability.
Jon Dow certainly embodies that approach. As the ebullient, enthusiastic boss of Kent-based Club Class Chauffeurs, he applies a systematic management approach to his business that wouldn’t seem out of place in a major multinational. Business buzzwords are chucked into the mix as he explains his business philosophy and outlines his ambitions for the firm he bought nearly 20 years ago.
Which companies spring to mind when someone mentions eco-chauffeuring? There are a couple of obvious candidates – but neither of them was the first to market.
That honour falls to one of London’s one of the oldest surviving private hire fleets. GLH started switching its fleet of burgundy Ford Mondeos to silver Toyota Prius hybrids back in 2004 – before Greentomatocars and Climatecars were even a business plan.
In a changing market, it's important to be different. The chauffeur sector continues to develop rapidly, and the trend, certainly in London, is for fewer but bigger operators.
One of the companies leading that move is Tristar Worldwide. And Tristar is certainly different. For a start, it has carved out its own niche, thanks initially to its pioneering relationship with Virgin Atlantic Airways, which sees Tristar Worldwide handle airport transfers for all the airline's Upper Class customers.
In London, big chauffeur fleets are a major part of the business travel mix. But in many other big UK cities, the executive chauffeur concept is still largely unexplored. And that means bright entrepreneurs can carve out a niche for themselves and build a solid business foundation.
It’s a concept Brian Rudd understands very well. As a London-based senior executive in the electronics industry, he regularly used London chauffeur companies in the 1990s to transport his clients. And when he started hankering for a return to his home town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne around the time of the Millennium, he had an idea.
It’s been a hectic 12 months for Cabot Global. The London chauffeur operator has been involved in a major takeover, a strengthening of ties with a major client and expansion into a new city. And founder Farooq Saleem (pictured) is not stopping there.
The London chauffeur industry is changing. The big players are getting bigger, and leading operators are becoming recognised brand names. Farooq is determined that his company comes through these changes as one of the big players. “In London you’ve got four or five big companies, and we’re nicely positioned in there,” he says.