Saturday, 24 February 2018

How to be a Private Hire Driver - Upgrading to A Mercedes S Class


Upgrading to Mercedes S Class

As a Private Hire operator you will have aspirations and goals which will affect your business decisions.

Business decisions and options will be made after careful consideration and research. The wrong path may lead to a different outcome with the resulting learning experience and financial repercussions.

Arguably the Mercedes S Class is the best and most luxurious Private Hire chauffeur car. Rivals include BMW Series 7, Audi A8 and Jaguar XJ.

My personal choice at Southampton Chauffeur Hire is the Mercedes S Class and is the most popular choice for the discerning customer. All the requirements that suit a client who demands and expects the best.
A vehicle built to a high specification and build quality.

Long wheel Base

Legroom and cabin space is a priority for top paying clients.
Move the front passenger seat forward to allow more room and cabin area. Be aware that the rear alloy wheels, especially the nearside, will be susceptible to damage as a driver has to adapt to accommodate a long wheel base car.
Don’t consider a vehicle which is not long wheel base.

Bells & Whistles

Luxury comfort fittings make all the difference between the high and standard cars.

Leather seats are the standard but adjustable electric and heated seats of the S Class are for enhanced passenger comfort. For first time passengers always point out seat adjustment to make their journey the most comfortable.

A panoramic roof and rear blind can be optimised on a lovely sunny day.

Air suspension will provide a smooth and enhanced ride.

Consequently a Mercedes S Class commands a high price and, as a result, a higher rate charged to the customer.

Lower Volume but More Profit Per Transfer

Customers wanting and prepared to pay the higher S Class rate are fewer than that of the standard rate and higher volume E Class and equivalent car.

Generally a new operator will start with a cheaper and standard car progressing to a higher capital outlay if income allows.

An S Class will therefore be an option for an established  operator who has built up a good reliable customer base over time and has the income to specialise in a market that has less volume but more profit per transfer.

If you are thinking of starting as an operator an S Class, or equivalent, is not advisable.

Level of Service

It is not just a bigger and better car but the level of service must be at a higher level. 

All the basic requirements of a standard car apply. Therefore car cleanliness, well-presented suited driver and job preparation go without saying.

Many companies will select their best drivers for S Class work. Driving ability, communication skills and service delivery go hand in hand with the highest and most expensive tier of Private Hire work.

Marketing

Your website, advertising etc. will have to be adjusted to attract the S Class customer. All other aspects of the service expected will also have to be reflected in your marketing ‘shop window’.

Buying

How old and how much? A question that can be subject to so many variables.

How long will you keep it?

How can you finance payment and eventual replacement?

These considerations will dictate what you can afford.

All cars depreciate and the first three years are the worst levelling out to an acceptable level.

Unfortunately you will never have the best and newest model but you will have an acceptable and affordable chauffeur car. Expenditure of £25,000-£30,000 will be required with a replacement after 2-3 years depending upon mileage.

Upgrading the car, ultimately, will not be affected by condition or mileage but with keeping up with the competition that will have a newer model.
After 2-3 years your older model will start to look dated and fall out of favour with CEOs and top executive who want, and will pay for, the best.

The Transition to S Class Rates

Will your E Class customers automatically pay your S Class rates? The easy answer is no.
A proportion of your customers will require an E Class service and not wish to upgrade and pay more. The best way to address this obvious problem is to discuss and negotiate. Be flexible and be prepared to lose your customer if they are not prepared to pay more.
I have found that compromise normally works with customers paying half-way towards the higher rate.
You can always quote S Class rates to new customers. An alternative for new customers is to offer two rates that include both S Class and E Class. Be prepared to take the lower rate to ‘win’ the job.

Learn for your experiences

Making mistakes is ok as long as you learn from them. It’s all part of the process of building your company. Everyone makes mistakes and can be a positive experience that progresses you along the right path. Consider alternatives, be flexible and compromise.
I started with an E Class and upgraded to an S Class. A successful but more business demanding choice. Adding a Viano to my previous E Class did not work but was a valuable lesson which enabled me to learn and adapt.

Southampton Chauffeur Hire website is an example of reflecting a Mercedes S Class service.


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