From our small start-up way back in 2005, DrivenByQ has become the mature age of eighteen. It is quite a milestone with the turbulence of the last few years! During Covid, there really was a time I thought it was game over with the Omicron restrictions. Luckily, we secured a last-minute grant, and scraped through. Over the last year, things have rapidly returned to a sense of normality, and we currently have a steady ship.
When I think back to the early years, my time was spent on more than just managing bookings and driving. I had to learn about licensing laws and how they govern the private hire industry. I had to invest time in marketing and finding a niche for DrivenByQ. New technology was a biggie too (such as introducing email and online booking). As a business owner, I have always endeavoured to streamline our operation and make it more efficient.
After eighteen years, we still have goals. We still hope to achieve them with greater intelligence (and experience) than our competitors too. Like any business owner, it is important to know what is happening in your industry and foresee the challenges on the horizon. So, what are the major issues chauffeur companies currently face? Well, this week I attended the PHTM Expo in Milton Keynes and discovered the wider industry still has a driver shortage (although DrivenByQ seems to be okay).
Current challenges include a shake-up in licensing laws. In fact, while I was in Milton Keynes, one of my colleagues was attending a meeting in Llandudno. This was to discuss the Wales White Paper consultation. While the licensing review attempts to tackle the Wolverhampton issue and the Uber effect on the wider private hire industry, it threatens to trample on the smaller, more bespoke chauffeur industry. It is therefore essential we give feedback and voice our opinion.
The next issues to research and investigate are the costs of purchasing vehicles and the progress with clean air zones. In relation to this there is the development of electric vehicles and the woefully inadequate charging infrastructure to support them. There is such a rapid development of battery technology and new Chinese manufacturers, there is an impending major disruption in the automotive industry. However, it is not a feature of any mainstream media.
As well as these more focused issues, if the last eighteen years have taught us anything, it is that we have witnessed numerous unpredictable events. Such things as terrorist attacks, natural disasters, a pandemic and the uncertainty of ongoing political concerns such as Brexit and the war in Ukraine. With the cost of vehicles and so many other things being high, it is paradoxical that black swan events are becoming a new normal.