In a crowded market, London Exec is still leading the way, with a turnover of £7 million on account and £2 million in cash, employing 300 drivers and 42 office staff. Not bad for a company in an highly competitive industry.
I speak to Adam Harvey, founder and Managing Director of the 15 year old business about the journey so far and his thoughts on the minicab industry.
Hi Adam, when did you get the entrepreneurial bug?
I grew up in South Africa and had high hopes of being a solicitor, but misbehaved in school so didn’t quite get the grades I needed! Never the less, I was hungry for success and kept pushing for career opportunities. I knew one day I’d be running my own business.
How did the journey begin?
At the age of 28, I came to London. I saw an advert in the paper for a salesman, selling couriers, got the job and worked my way up the ladder to a point where I had become good friends with London Executive’s current chairman. I am now a major stakeholder and Managing Director for the firm.
What is London Exec?
London Executive is a ground transportation company offering a whole array of services that are bespoke to our clients. We offer executive passenger cars, courier services, mailroom services, and even provide global chauffeurs which our London clients can access anywhere in the world. London Executive is now the London’s market leader with more than 460 cars operating over 3500 accounts.
Tell us about the type of blue-chip clients London Exec has?
We have some of London’s biggest corporate firms such as like Clifford Chance, Allen and Overy, Bank of New York Mellon and Freshfields and MTV.
What would you say has been the most crucial thing that you’ve done to grow the business?
Embracing and investing in technology and staff training so that we can provide our clients with an executive service that is quick, reliable and cost effective.
It's a very competitive market, what makes London Exec unique?
We are the only company in London to have a premium quality fleet - and at prices comparable with the corporate minicab market. You don't pay more for a brand new, spotless, E-Class Mercedes-Benz. It is a very competitive business, but there isn't much quality or consistency. That's our edge, It's why we think the potential for growth is huge too.
How do you see the future of the minicab industry?
The industry is changing rapidly, we’ve seen the whole green issue playing a big role - the importance of reducing your carbon footprint has meant adopting types of vehicles which support this. We use the Mercedes BlueTec and E300 Hybrid models for this reason - not compromising on quality or eco credentials. Many businesses in this arena are struggling to survive when they do not apply fundamental business principles - i.e. profitability is key - it requires businesses to find better ways of reducing their own overheads without compromising on service.
Tell me about a difficult time during the early days and how you were able to overcome that?
When the recession hit (approx. 4 and a half years ago) our industry was hit hard. Some of our clients were scared by the media into not spending money at that time. Our turnover dropped approx. 30% which was very worrying for us. We rolled up our sleeves and went out and won 3 of the biggest contracts that we have ever won. This helped get us back up and running and that same fighting spirit has enabled us to grow the business into something much bigger than it ever was prior to the recession.
What has been your best business decision?
Definitely investing in technology. Two years ago we launched our own unique web-based transport booking and reporting system ‘Genesis’, which is fast becoming the industry standard for London's big-business world. Genesis is online software allows users to set and monitor their own bespoke transport usage policy to suit their individual business needs.
What can we expect from the London Exec in the coming months?
Our plan is to continue to grow, making our services even more accessible. We want to stay at the forefront of innovation in technology available to the car service industry. We are currently preparing to roll out a brand new self-service kiosk concept that will allow hotel and restaurant guests to book a car, pay by card and have it waiting for them within 15 minutes, anywhere in the city. This truly represents a revolution in bringing personal chauffeur service standards to everyone at an affordable price. The car that arrives to collect you will be a top of the range Mercedes.
Within two years we’ll have fully converted our fleet to Mercedes-Benz' E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid’s, so we will be eco-friendly as well as economical.
What advice can you give to first time entrepreneurs just starting out?
Put your clients first - we achieve this through adopting the best of breed in technology, training our drivers to be true ambassadors of the brand and implementing processes that make us more cost effective and efficient.