Marketing My Executive Car, Part I

After buying the Audi in 2003, marketing my executive car was crucial. Still working in a taxi office, I was seeking a new opportunity. It wasn’t long before a passenger expressed his difficulties. He wanted to hire a car from Wrexham to collect him at Manchester Airport. Unfortunately, nobody would travel that far without a deposit. The black cabs at Manchester Airport were an option but they were expensive and they were slow.

Image of driving through a water splash for marketing my executive car.
The Audi A6 driving through a water crossing near Wrexham

It gave me an idea: I could build a web site and take payment over the Internet. It sounds simple today but back then, PayPal was still new and didn’t like service based businesses, banks wanted to charge a fortune for card transactions and card machines were long-winded. They were expensive devices that didn’t favour the cardholder not being present. There was a high risk of chargebacks too.

Bluestone Cars

Undeterred, I built a website called Bluestone Cars and started reading about search engine optimization or SEO for short. Within weeks the new website reached the top of Google for the search term ‘Manchester Airport Taxi’. Soon there were people from all parts of the world completing a booking form and asking for quotes. Within no time, the first customer arrived and travelled in the Audi.

Bluestone Cars banner from a website in 2003
Bluestone Cars. The first UK Internet Licensed, Private Hire Company

With one or two jobs a month appearing, it was looking promising. Marketing my executive car was going well! I read more about SEO and the website traffic kept increasing. As things developed I met VIPs, celebrities and millionaires. It was a long way from driving around town on a Saturday night with inebriated locals. Sadly however, it wasn’t to continue.

Experimenting with Google

I experimented even more with Google. The rankings progressively increased for broader search terms. Then, I tried something Google didn’t like. Instantly the website dropped to the tenth page of the search results. Very quickly, I realised that relying on Google was not a prudent strategy. While it might have delivered the icing on the cake, it certainly wasn’t a bread and butter income!

Picture of the Audi A6 near Llangollen at Valle Crucis Abbey
The Chauffeur Driven Audi A6 at Valle Crucis Abbey, Llangollen

While the Internet opened up a huge market, the Google algorithm meant results were always going to be unpredictable. There is no guarantee of a regular income with search results. So marketing my executive car would require a different approach. Something which was less technical and more reliable. It was back to the drawing board to find another idea.

Marketing My Executive Car, Part II

Realising the original business idea was in tatters, it was time to explore a different strategy in marketing my executive car. I resorted to supplying the local market with Wrexham Airport Transfers. This time I would only use a website to support my business card. No more reliance on Google! Marketing my executive car would be done the old-fashioned way.

Image of Audi A6 executive car with police escort
A motorcycle outrider providing a police escort through Holt

Making The Newspapers

In an effort to gain publicity and raise a profile, I offered my services to local charities. The strategy had no shortage of uptake but the return was not so good. It proved successful when a story made the local ‘Wrexham Leader‘ newspaper but media coverage never seemed to convert to new business. Even with a prime location in the local press – complete with police escort and blue flashing lights for Father Christmas – there was no new business generated.

Newspaper cutting of Santa Claus being Chauffeur Driven with police escort.
A cutting from the Wrexham Leader Newspaper

Joining a Business Club

The next strategy was joining a Business Club in the search for Wrexham Airport Transfers. I was attending every week and was slowly receiving the odd booking. This continued for a while. Then the Regional Director spent some time with me. He asked what my turnover was and what proportion was being spent on marketing. The ratio wasn’t good – it was unsustainable! Rather than looking for individuals, he persuaded me to seek business customers and contracts.

Audi A6 outside Manchester Airport Departures in 2003
Marketing my first executive car as a Wrexham airport transfer service.

Wrexham Airport Transfers

Joining the club proved to be beneficial. It gave me the mentoring and guidance I needed in marketing my executive car. Rather than looking for £100 annual bookings from holiday makers, I started seeking £10,000 yearly business contracts. I knew Wrexham taxi companies already did this type of work but the quality was not great. It left a lot to be desired, especially if you knew how to manage information efficiently.

Business Contracts

Attracting a reliable business customer who booked cars continually was now the plan. Marketing my executive car finally had the direction it needed. This strategy would prove a better return on investment for the time involved. Here is where it all began for DrivenByQ Ltd the corporate chauffeur service.