Spencer and Claire Hickson took over the business in 2008 at a very difficult economic time – right in the middle of the global recession. They managed to quietly and carefully grow the company through those challenging times, by keeping long standing client relationships and showing a consistently high level of service and dedication. Perhaps one of the secrets of their success is to retain the values that John Findlay enforced all those years ago: a personal service, attention to detail and consistency.
“Although we’re a very different company now, with a far bigger fleet, we are still a family-run business, very personal and we like to keep it simple. We speak to people in person, we don’t hide behind automated bookings and apps – those work for taxi companies of course, but we offer a very different experience.” says Claire.
Despite that personal touch, Findlay uses a sophisticated booking system that tracks the booking from the starting point through to the final invoice, kicking out PDF confirmation docs and auto texts to passengers as part of the process. Claire adds “All of those processes just minimise the risk of any errors, allowing everyone to triple check everything along the way and giving peace of mind.
Claire concentrates on customer relations and new business, spending her time talking to new customers and popping in to see existing customers for regular catch ups. Customer service comes naturally to her, having spent years working in marketing agencies. In the last eight years she has been working with her husband, Spencer, to ensure that Findlay is the county’s best choice for executive travel. The skills and industry knowledge she gained through her marketing career lend themselves very well to the clientele that Findlay work with every day, as she explains.
“Whilst working in marketing, a crucial part of my role was to research and appoint good suppliers – printers, designers, event companies – I absolutely relied upon them to deliver for my clients. Now that I’m on the other side so to speak, I know what customers are looking for when they approach us. They need good communication, fast responses and a ‘yes’ attitude – and of course the knowledge that we have the cars and drivers to handle their requirement.”
Price Point and Diversity
“I’m keen to prove that whilst we deliver a very premium service, we offer standard rates, so many new enquiries are pleasantly surprised when we quote” explains Claire.
The mixed fleet and strong driver portfolio means that Findlay can deliver all different sizes of job and certainly many different types of job. “We have been known to drive all the way to Portugal to collect a client who was stranded due to the volcanic ash cloud a few years back” Claire reminisces “and I think one of the wonderful things about this kind of company, is the sheer diversity of what we do and who we work with. Airport trips are pretty much the bread and butter, but we do so much more than that – weddings most weekends, 3 day events using the entire fleet, tours around the county and country, all sorts of interesting and lovely people get in our cars every day and we take pride in that.”
Claire adds “We are also an ‘unaccompanied minors specialist’ meaning that we are qualified and professionally trained to escort young people between school and the airport or to a guardian property. Clearly this is absolutely paramount to parents, to know their child is in safe and reliable hands and that we’ve been providing this service for years.”
It is the team of staff at Findlay that really deserve the credit for keeping customers happy. Melissa Pusey (pictured) is the Operations Manager and has been working for the company for 8 years. She knows the business inside out and juggles a very complex set of logistics every day. “We call her the logistics queen in the office” laughs Claire, “she has unbeatable attention to detail and just gets on with the job every single day – she literally gets people from A to B and makes it all look very easy’.
Findlay’s portfolio of drivers are equally as dedicated, most of them coming from professional driving backgrounds (often ex-police) so they absolutely love what they do. “Some work full time, some work part-time – it’s the kind of job that suits someone either retired or who can combine it with another interest” Claire explains. “We take the recruitment, training and induction process extremely seriously and spend a lot of time searching for the right people. We’re licensed with the Vale of White Horse District Council, so all the DRB and DVLA checks happen as part of that process.”
A Mixed Fleet
• 1 x black Mercedes S Class Bluetec- long wheel base for extra leg room
• 4 x black Mercedes E Class saloons Bluetec
• 2 x black Mercedes E Class Estates (large luggage space)
• 2 x black Mercedes Viano 7 seat people carriers
Latest additions – Mercedes Sprinters
• 2 x Mercedes Sprinters Bluetec minibuses – each carry 8 passengers with huge luggage compartment to the rear
“We have a high demand for these larger vehicles” Claire explains, “as many companies have the requirement to transport larger groups of people for events, conferences, group trips, Christmas parties, exhibitions. The Sprinters are perfect for those kind of jobs and can carry a really large amount of goods at the rear”. They are practical, comfortable, fuel efficient and very hard-working vehicles, so they will be on the fleet for a very long time.
Good Connections and Networks
Findlay also has a wider network of vehicles in Oxfordshire and beyond, as Claire elaborates. “We have access to more vehicles via a carefully selected group of private chauffeurs that we’ve been working with for many years. We deliver the same level of service in the same quality of cars, and it just means we can lay on more vehicles for big events if clients require them.