Wednesday, 15 August 2012

How To - Private Hire Licence. Choosing your equipment from Car to sat Nav.

Choosing equipment to suit your type of work.

What type of work and customer group will dictate the equipment you need. Do your research to find the best equipment and at the cheapest price. The internet is a valuable tool with review companies and price comparison sites. Get advice and end up with an informed decision.

Here are some of the items I researched to suit Southampton Chauffeur Hire

Vehicle.

One of the most important decisions is the vehicle you use for the type of work you are targeting. Get this wrong and it can be a financial disaster.
My target group is luxury chauffeured private hire catering for those who are prepared to pay a bit more for transport for weddings, corporate, special events and airport transfer. 
Suitable vehicles include Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Jaguar which can command high prices.
My choice was a Mercedes E Class 220 auto (diesel with a 2.1 engine). My considerations were reliability and running costs. Size and suitability for my requirements.
Apply the same criteria to the vehicle that you research.
Depending upon your available funds, I would recommend second hand and a private sale for a vehicle three years old or more. I found that the E Class was a good size and relatively economical. Apparently, most of the German taxis are E Class due to their reliability. The S Class has higher running costs and would increase overheads, eating away at profit margins.
Vehicles loose most of their value through depreciation by about three years. 
I bought my E Class privately through the Auto Trader. I paid for an HPI check and took over an hour examining the vehicle in detail as well as the usual test drive. Be prepared to travel to get the right one. As the vehicle was three years old and low mileage I was happy to make a purchase without a professional mechanical inspection. I paid £13,500 with 28,000 miles for a car that cost over £30,000 when it was new.

For older vehicles obtain an RAC or AA report. It will give you confidence and help with your negotiations and give leverage if offering a lower price. Ask for a full tank of fuel to be included in the price.

Sat Nav.

Again, research is the key. A sat nav will be your life saver for getting you and your customer to and from a destination. My knowledge and experience of London is very limited so when I had a customer needing to go to Central London I was apprehensive, to say the least! I chose a Tom Tom with Live Services which took me to the hotel without a problem.
Connecting your mobile, via Blue Tooth, is another bonus if your car has no 'hands free'.
I would recommend Live Services as this gives you up to date traffic information and your sat nav will then give you an alternative route if a problem is identified.

Computer/Lap Top/Printer. 

Keep your records and accounts up to date and accurate with spread sheets and invoices. Make sure you 'back up' regularly. A lap top is practical as you can take it with you when you are waiting or between jobs.
The internet can give you all sorts of information especially sites like Google maps with Street View. Highways Agency with live traffic information. Google the flight number and the result page will show if it is on time or delayed.
Sending invoices via Email will save postage and is efficient.
Internet banking transferring and accepting funds is hassle free.
I bought an i Pad which is very handy and fits easily into my briefcase. It's 3G connection allows me to check on flights while 'on the road.'
A reliable printer is essential for several reasons including your 'Meet and Greet' board.

Mobile Phone.

Consider using two phones. Most of us have our own phone for domestic use with another in a draw having been replaced with an 'upgrade'. Depending upon your requirements choose a phone with either a contract or 'Pay As You Go' sim. I use an old phone with a top up sim. Having two phones is a God send when a battery goes down or you use up your allowance on another.

Clothes/Suits. 

You don't need to spend a fortune on suits. I have bought second hand suits from EBay. People often buy suits for special occasions and don't wear them regularly. They put on, or loose, weight. Buy different suits to fit the occasion. £40 was the average I paid for a suit.

Business Cards. 

A very import way of promoting your company in a professional way are business cards and other printed documents. You can employ someone to design and provide business cards or you can do it yourself which will save you a fortune.
I found Vistaprint very cost effective. They provide the template and you can upload photos making an impressive card that advertises and promotes your business. In addition to business cards consider additional  
advertising products like banners and door signs. I also use large post card size leaflets which attract attention when pinned to a notice board or stands out when filed by a prospective customer.

There are many other items you may need to consider to suit your individual requirements.

Have a look at my web site at www.southamptonchauffeurhire.co.uk to get an insight into my informed decisions.

Next I will be talking about choosing a company name. 

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