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London operator Reza Choudhury has diversified his chauffeured transportation service with multiple, complementary product lines.
LONDON -- Operator Reza Choudhury of Reliance Worldwide in London and a founder of EuroLimousine.net offers insights on how his company operates amid the challenges of the U.K. industry market.
What is unique about chauffeured services in your nation compared to the U.S.?
We all provide pretty much the same level of terms and conditions of business — 24/7, chauffeurs in uniform and presented well, booking systems, mobile technology. But a major difference is our vehicle types; 98% of the vehicles that operators are running in U.K./Europe are Mercedes-Benz (E Class, S Class, Viano SUV), BMW 5 & 7 series, Audi A8 & Q7, Range Rovers and/or Volvos.
What are key challenges of your service area/region?
Besides rouge chauffeurs, in this economy the cost of motoring has soared by 14% in the last year. The average new vehicle now costs more a year to own and run than it did in 2007. The cost of running a new vehicle is rising almost three times as fast as official consumer price inflation of 5%. By taking depreciation and car finance out of the calculations, the daily running costs were up 11% compared to last year. Car insurance was the next major outlay, with costs associated to insure a vehicle up 14.5%. Rising petrol costs added 12.5% to the cost of running a vehicle. The average price for a litre of unleaded petrol is about 15p (pence) higher than this time last year, and diesel at 18 (pence) higher.
What qualities do you look for in a U.S. affiliate?
Trust, reliability and commitment are the major ethos we carry out throughout my organization and with our international suppliers. All affiliates have to be 24/7 and adhere to our terms and conditions of business: Providing chauffeur details, meet and greet procedures, billing within 24 hours of ride completion, and more importantly, carrying the correct insurance cover for the passenger and vehicle.
What specific rules or procedures do U.S. operators need to be aware of when affiliating with operators in your nation?
All meet and greet is carried out in the Arrivals Hall area — Not ‘Baggage Claim’; no curbside pick-ups are allowed at any major airports within the U.K.; no cash or credit card bookings are accepted by the chauffeur; using the correct international dialing code to the country + 011 (44) when dialing to the U.K.
What are your primary business challenges?
Looking at world markets, price is becoming a major factor in our global economy. Purchasers/procurement divisions are buying services based on price only. First and foremost is the question of price and consumer loyalty. The impression given by such a headline is not that most people are price sensitive, but that price is becoming an important factor when deciding which operator to buy services from. Overall, it all depends on what you are purchasing. With some products we need good quality, and in other products price is more critical. But if price is chosen, we should never forget quality completely. Is price important? Yes, but no price is a good price if you don’t like the quality!
What are your top-rented chauffeured vehicles?
Mercedes E Class, S Class and the Mercedes Viano (SUV)