Just down the road from this rather special landmark is a transport provider with quite a history of its own: Swiss Cottage Cars. Originally opened in 1982, this private hire company is now well established within the industry; its dramatic expansion has occurred by strategically acquiring smaller firms. In fact they have expanded with three additional offices, and with further growth in sight. Swiss Chauffeur is in the pipeline.
The firm services Hampstead, Greater London and the surrounding area with a fleet of over 450 vehicles of all varieties; in addition, with well formed links with other platforms, they are branching out even further, servicing the Midlands and both northern and southern England. Interestingly, over half their fleet are the hybrid types within the green ‘eco’ range. Over a third of their bookings are for account work, and naturally one of their fortes is airport transfer work.
Mindful of the growing prominence of some technology companies via the booking app, the management at Swiss Cottage Cars state that they can guarantee the most reasonable fares at the most reasonable prices – as they have no surcharging. They stress that they have a very strong and strategic link with Kabbee, and together they both service the many transport needs of Londoners at half the price of any other transport providers in the capital.
Without doubt the third arm of this successful formula is Cordic, whose cPAQ booking and dispatch system has revolutionised Swiss Cottage Cars’ operation in many ways. The total package of features – the tailor-made app, web booker, IVR – have assisted in all directions. It’s best hearing in what ways, directly from Swiss Cottage Cars’ team:-
Raj Jethwa and Purnima Jethwa – Managing Directors: “Swiss Cottage Cars had already had some success with using the mobile [phone] as a channel for customer communication. At first we started using text messages to give customers the mobile numbers of minicab drivers, and it later introduced a website allowing customers to book cabs through the web then through their phones.
“With the rise of the smartphone we moved towards launching the Swiss Cottage Cars App and modernising our website. Mohit Shah and Sumit Sehajpal, our Business Development Managers, who had never used a Mac before, worked effortlessly in redesigning the website to fit today’s hi-tech society.
“In addition Cordic have worked well to further develop the Swiss Cottage Cars App and it has come a long way from the first prototype App. Our App is now on its 4th version; the App has allowed Swiss Cottage Cars to grow sales by 40 per cent in the last few years without having to expand its customer call centre [which comprises some 11 controllers and about 64 telephonists in total].
“Put simply, the app and website allows customers to book a cab on their smartphone or personal device. It can save the user’s frequently used destinations, such as their home or the office, and can access the phone’s GPS system to find their current location.”
According to both Mohit Shah and Sumit Sehajpal, redesigning the website was made all the easier by the company’s earlier investment in its booking and cab monitoring system with Cordic, which meant key functions were accessible as web services. Adoption has grown organically since then, and the App has now been downloaded several thousand times and supports almost six thousand bookings a month.
Shamma Farook – Accounts Manager: “We’ve still got the same office space, with the same number of people, but we’re doing more jobs and we’ve grown revenues. In the past we used to knock a wall down or move the office around in order to put in more workstations. The app has meant that we don’t have to do that as aggressively.”
Bharat Jethwa – Lead and Senior Controller: “As dispatch controllers my colleagues and I at times face an extremely difficult task. However, the cPAQ system allows us to operate efficiently while facing the challenges of a large volume operation.”
Akeel Ahmed/Nitin Dixit and Muhammad Joglu, the Controllers attribute the success of the app to the fact that it is actually designed to improve the experience of the customer, while simultaneously benefitting Swiss Cottage Cars.
Faiz Osman – Fleet Manager: “Swiss Cottage Cars works well with The Royal Free Trust and would like to partner closely with further Trusts to increase transportation needs across North London. Another focus area for our expansion is securing servicing the transportation needs of key London Hotels, our most recent being Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park.”
We’ll leave the last word(s) to MD Raj Jethwa: “It is also important to point out that any successful minicab business will always need to deliver good customer service. Unlike App based firms, we pay our fair share of tax liabilities.
“Further, Swiss Cottage Cars believes the future of the taxi industry is to work with all taxi/minicab companies with a piece of software that can connect everything together, and the app is just one of many interfaces and connectors. Time will tell what makes the biggest impact on the industry. In years to come there will likely be a combination of some exciting emerging technologies, such as the Google self-driving car, Google OAA car dashboard software and a universal booking system connected to all internet devices and third parties.
“In reality, this could lead to only a few major players in the industry. One thing is for sure, Swiss Cottage Cars is well placed to be one of those major players.”