Being the best is ABC for taxi firm

Rightly or wrongly everybody has an image of taxi firms and cab drivers.

But Norwich-based ABC Taxis has turned the stereotypes on their head with a radical re-organisation of the way the company operates, which it believes has helped consolidate its position as the number one firm in the city.

Faced with the pressures of expanding the business, directors Simon Callender, and Paul Walker, realised that they needed help to get the back office running as smoothly as it should.

Greater use of computer technology had helped deliver huge growth for the company, which with 25pc of the market share in Norwich is the city's largest firm. Last year ABC Taxis made �3.3m in fares and carries out thousands of journeys a week. But the back office running of the company had not kept pace with the changes at the front end.

So they took the unusual step of calling in management consultant Rachel Blackburn to help.

The tie-up has paved the way for the business to develop a staff training policy and appraisals, introduce a dress code, and, critically, a set of company values, known as the ABC Way, a six point mission statement, which makes sure both staff and customers know what to expect.

Mr Callender said: 'A lot of people have an image of a taxi firm based on Coronation Street of people sitting in a back street office handing out bits of paper. But we haven't seen a taxi firm work like that since the 1970s. We'd had 30pc growth over the last four years Everything is computerised. In order to run 60 cars at one time you have got to have the set-up to do it.

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Mrs Blackburn, who runs Norwich-based US2U Consulting, set about helping the firm draw up ways of dealing with all aspects of running the business from HR to training.

'The business had seen a lot of growth and there was an opportunity to put in place systems and processes to do things properly and make sure they continue to be the biggest and best. It's about enabling people within the business to do more in a better way,' she said.

Mr Callender said the changes had helped give everybody at the company a shared sense of purpose. Looking ahead the firm is hoping to consolidate its position as the market leader in the next 12 months with new initiatives.

'We now provide NVQ level 2 training in customer care,' he added. 'All our drivers are NVQ qualified. We are also developing an App where you can book your taxi online using your phone. We are also introducing touch pad technology into our cars.'

Mr Walker said both partners knew what they wanted to do with the business, but needed help turning that into a reality, which was where Mrs Blackburn – who initially got to know the firm as a customer, came in.

'We had the raw materials, but didn't know how to carry it out,' Mr Walker said. 'She brought structure to the business and I don't think we would be where we are today without it.'