Its all in the Preparation

One of the many questions I get asked is how do I manage to clean my car after a journey in such a short time, and when on a client job?

Preparation

So, before I answer that one, I thought I would first explain the preparation work that goes into ensuring our big cats have a protective cover over them that helps to reduce the amount of dirt that actually sticks to the body work.

I make no apology that all the products I use are from one supplier who have proved to be so reliable in their customer service, and supply great products that ‘do what it says on the tin’ so to speak - shout out to The Clay Cloth Company.

When a Deep Clean is Needed

When our cars are covered in heavy dirt, they are treated to snow foam using a lance and jet wash. This is the first treatment when the dirt is softened without any physical contact to the car at all.

Jaguar XFS under snow foam

After leaving for 10 minutes, acting as a pre-soak, the car is then jet washed again.

Micro fibre drying towel

Now its time to use shampoo, and a wash mitt, to wash the car normally. I use a woollen mitt as it is gentle on the car’s paintwork, and then, after another jet wash, dry the car with a micro fibre towel, which is much more efficient than using a leather chamois.

Wash Mitt

Just to confirm I only use snow foam when the car is extremely dirty. The above process is repeated except the snow foam for every wash when back at our base.

Preparing for a deep polish and wax

Clay Cloth

After doing the above process except the drying part, I use a clay cloth when I am preparing the car for a deep polish and wax. This I only do when the weather is planned to be fine for the day, as polish and wax are essential after using the clay cloth, which has the below functions:

  • Removes bonded contaminants
  • Before polishing provides a clean canvas
  • Prevents dragging particles across the panel

After claying, I then dry using the micro fibre drying towel.

Polish and Wax - why both?

Car polish is a product that uses fine amounts of abrasive compounds in order to remove very very fine layers of the top coat to flatten out the surface to ensure an equal reflection of the light, thus producing a highly polished look. The polish I use is ‘Killerwaxx No 1 Moon Shine’

Polish

Wax in its natural form can come as vegetable waxes, carnauba, animal and bees wax to name a few. It's these natural properties of some of these waxes that make them ideal for use in car waxes, with the most popular for use in the automotive industry being carnauba wax. The wax I use is 'Killerwaxx Carnauba Paste Wax’.

Wax Paste

Wax can be referred to the product that provides a seal to protect the shine produced by the polish.

Both are applied using micro fibre clothes and are very easy to use compared to the products I used when polishing my fathers cars!

Windows

Currently I use Killerwaxx Extreme Window Cleaner. Glass gets very warm in the sun and the real added bonus with this product is that you can spray it on a hot window and it will not evaporate, steam away or streak like all others on the market.

Window cleaner

Alloys & Tyres

CCC Devil's Mist Fallout Remover & Wheel Cleaner  is really great for providing the sparkle on those alloys and turns red due to the chemical reaction during use which will indicate contamination!

Devil's Mist wheel cleaner

Killerwaxx Tyre Gel produces a rich, long lasting, high gloss on rubber. vinyl and plastic.

Tyre Gloss

Leathers

Killerwaxx Premium Leather Cleaner cleans and lifts away dirt and oil build up on all types of leather. Cleaner will not dissolve the natural oils found in leather.

Killerwaxx Premium Leather Conditioner seals and protects the surface from wear and tear and will bring the original luster look and feel back.

Leather cleaner

So above is the process and products that I currently use in preparation for making sure our cars are well protected. The whole above process is only done about 2 or 3 times a year. I will leave the process I perform on each client job for another blog.

Delayed for a Honeymoon!

Some of the airport transfers I do for clients are to take them on the first leg of their journey to their honeymoon having just got married.

It just so happened that recently, I took a couple to Gatwick the night before they were flying. They stayed at the Hilton, South Terminal.

This reminded me of the time nearly 36 years ago, when after our wedding that same evening, we too were taken to Gatwick to stay at the Hilton ready for our flight the morning after.

First of all though, we travelled a short distance to my parents in law’s house, where my wife and I were waiting for my brother who kindly agreed to drive us to Gatwick.

So, after we had made a grand departure from our wedding reception, complete with tin cars trailing behind our car (it was allowed back in 1981!), we arrived at Sonie’s parents house.

We waited just a few moments for my brother whilst having a cup of tea. He arrived and we prepared to leave with him, loading up our suitcases into his boot, complete with our passports and wallet and all that we needed to travel overseas.

Adrian my brother, shut the boot of his Ford Cortina (library photo - not the actual car), and that is when we had a problem!

Ford Cortina

The key was in the boot lock and as the boot was closed, it snapped in half. The ‘other’ half dropped into the lock mechanism, and the boot was secure!

We tried fruitlessly to get the boot open and even the back seats in those days did not fold back, so we couldn’t get access any way to our luggage.

There was only one option, so Adrian called the AA, who came out later that evening to assist.

While we waited, we spent much more time that evening on our wedding day at my in-laws that we have planned. My parents arrived and so along with my brother, I guess we had a post wedding party, opening several wedding cards and gifts.

It was a pleasant evening, but really, we would much rather have been on our way to the hotel.

Eventually the AA arrived and after a while, we were on our way.

Once we arrived at Hilton, Gatwick, we were too late to order a meal, so we had to make do with a few sandwiches.

The next morning, we were up early for some breakfast which we enjoyed. It was then that we realised that we had missed the bus transfer to the terminal itself.

I had to order a taxi which arrived eventually, and we were soon preparing for our flight.

Gatwick

So, even in those early days I experienced taxi service, and to be honest, I do not actually remember what that experience was like.

My brother though, was brilliant - he never lost his cool, and drove us safely.

Help, I'm lost, do your magic!

One of the most essential pieces of information given me for every single job is the full postal address including post code, of where I am to collect my clients.

Many years ago, in the days when I used to travel with my father on long journeys (see one of my earliest blogs), we used such objects as a compass and a road map as large as the Financial Times, which seemed at first equally as complicated.

Compass

These times with my father teaching me how to use them were invaluable to me throughout my earlier years travelling in my previous jobs when I was travelling on my own or on family holidays with my wife and children.

Nowadays, technology is so useful in that all we do, is plug the post code into the car satnav and off we go. How rarely do we actually look at the map now?

Map Reading

As most of the weddings we do are fairly local to us, we make sure that within the week before every wedding, we do a test run of the complete route we will be doing on the actual day itself. We do this to make sure we have the correct timings, especially where we do relays in the same car back and forth to pick up more people, but also, to check out the route and to know for certain that we can locate each of the places where we are picking people up. 

One of our key focusses on the day is to make the journeys completely stress free for the bridal party.

This has proved to be so important on many occasion.

But, there is always one, whether for a wedding or an executive travel job, sometimes the post code does not exist in the sat nav, or indeed the actual road.

This means that the software needs to be updated, but to be fair even if I purchased the updated software (DVD) every year, it would not be enough. To do this would make the expense too much which would have to passed onto our clients - this is not necessary, although we do renew the DVD software after a few years.

So, when the post code is not recognised, we revert to our backup. This is google maps on the phone, as long as the phone is not touch while driving the car . This has helped us out sometimes.

But, yes there is another one! What happens when we are en route to pick up the client and we have no 4G signal?

Navigation

When this has happened in the past, I make the phone call (handsfree, using the car system) to our office and I speak to my daughter Hannah, who as she was growing up, would read maps on our family journeys and the compass and follow the journey. Before long she would actually guide me on the route to take. 

Hannah is now very technically able, and uses the computer and magic, she tells me. Using google maps and something else to locate the pick up location, along with my phone signal to locate my phone!

With this information, she skilfully guides me to the pick up location, street by street, until I am close enough and then I arrive in good time once again to proceed with the client job. This is especially useful when the location is on a very new housing estate when my car satnav has been located in a field. Thankfully, Hannah sees something quite different.

I mention this because I am mostly the only face our clients see, and also our backup wedding chauffeurs of course. Like most other businesses,  I have a supporting team at my office, who are play such a key role to the success of the business and ensuring clients have the service they require.

There are many other tasks not only Hannah does but also my wife Sonie, to whom I am very grateful.

Snow Driving

So, while I write this blog I am in my office looking out upon the incredible snow fall we in the UK are having right now. We are based at Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire and the snow that has fallen in the past couple of days is more than we have seen for more than 10 years in this area, so it is making quite an impact.

Jaguar XFS

While out walking our dog, I have also noticed a few cars out and about but I have to ask how urgent is their journey?

I have every admiration for the emergency services and how they attend desperate people when they become stuck in snow and worse, when accidents happen which they will.

As a professional chauffeur, I have to make the decision every day we have weather like this, whether to drive or not to drive - thankfully, this is not very often. The decision I make, is all about safety and I never want to let any client of mine down, but safety must come first, even if I have to say to a client that I am not travelling today because of the road conditions.

IMG_8016.jpg

To make that decision, I know my clients would understand, as I also know that they value their safety let alone their life.

Accidents happen and it is not always about ourselves, but can be caused by others too. 

This leads me onto my tips for driving in the snow which I have done and do, depending upon how bad and deep it is. There are actual courses to teach drivers how to do this and books have been written, so the advice I now give, is by all means not the A-Z knowledge.

  1. If your journey is not absolutely necessary and/or life and death that you do it, then quite simply - DON’T
  2. It is well known that 4 wheel drive cars are best in these conditions, followed by front wheel drive, so if like mine, your car is rear wheel drive, think carefully before going out
  3. Before setting off, ensure all windows are clear and all snow is cleared off your vehicle - it is illegal and dangerous to other road users to drive when there is a load of snow on your roof, that can blow off into the path of other road users
  4. Your lights must be clean and number plate clearly visible
  5. If you do venture out in very bad conditions, then make sure you have inside the car, an emergency kit of de-icer and ice scraper, torch, snow shovel, warm blankets, boots, as well as first aid kit, water & food supply and your mobile phone is fully charged. 
  6. It is best that your car has a full tank of fuel as well, so make that your first stop should you have to go out
  7. Onto driving - drive with care, even if the roads are treated
  8. Keep well back from other road users
  9. The advice on stopping distances is quite simply in the rain allow twice the normal distance, but in icy conditions, this can be ten times greater than on dry roads, so plan accordingly
  10. So, what are the normal stopping distances:
    1. 20 mph - 12 metres
    2. 20 mph - 23 metres
    3. 40 mph - 36 metres
    4. 50 mph - 53 metres
    5. 60 mph - 73 metres
    6. 70 mph - 96 metres
  11. Use the technical helps on your car, like 
    1. Winter Mode, which optimises stability of the vehicle to suit slippery conditions, when grip is reduced. 
    2. Dynamic Stability Control controls the vehicle stability in critical driving conditions - helps to correct understeer or oversteer
    3. and others - know your car
  12. So, it is important to know your car and drive accordingly. Most cars have ABS now, but you should drive taking care without relying on ABS, but good to know it is there to help braking in an emergency
  13. When approaching a junction or bend, plan well before, so as to avoid sharp braking
  14. Do not accelerate quickly when moving away, but pull away in a higher gear like second or third instead of first, gradually, when safe to do so
  15. Finally patience - do not rush any part of driving when in icy and snowy conditions and respect all other road users

I hope the above is helpful, it all comes down to valuing your life and others - too many accidents happen on unfit roads and I have heard so many stories of what people call a necessary journey, when the truth is, the journey can more often than not, wait.

Safe travelling all.

Matchsticks or Burning?

Sometimes I am asked how do I stay alert when driving at night time. Many of us have probably seen images of Mr Bean using various means to stay awake when driving a long distance through France through the night. These include using match sticks to keep his eyes open as well as putting his fingers into the cigar lighter to evoke pain to keep him alert.

I can honestly say that I have not tried either of those methods and neither do I intend to!

So, joking aside, how can this be done, when your body is naturally closing down at night time and wanting rest?

I have to say that those of us who work at night as well as day, need to find times to get the rest and sleep that our bodies need before we take to the road. So for me, preparation is key when I know in advance that I am going to be driving at night. My family also help me with this and keep reminding me to get the rest I need.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists, now call IAM Roadsmart, we have what we call a cockpit drill, P O W D E R Y, which is a check list to be used to ensure the car is ready for a journey but also ourselves. It checks the following:

P - Propulsion, is there enough diesel or petrol for the journey?

O - are the Oil levels correct?

W - do the Water levels need topping up?

D - is there any Damage on the body work of the car that needs fixing?

E - are the Electrics working correctly?

R - checking the Rubbers, so, tyres and wipers.

Y - You - so am I fit to drive?

Of the above, the last one mentioned is ourselves - we must only drive when fit to do so. So given this, my top tips that seem to work for me, knowing that these and, or others, work for different people, are the following. When passengers/clients are onboard, the temperature is often set for their comfort and not my own, so the below are the ones that work for me:

  • I give myself a running commentary of what I am observing on the route ahead, so that I am prepared for a change in road circumstances. I do not speak this out loud!
  • Extra strong mints and Fishermans Friends, help me to sharpen my mind
  • My seat is positioned so that it is not too comfortable - often very close to the dashboard
  • I alternate my air vents near me so that are focussed on my face or hands
Night time driving

Once I have delivered my clients and I am on my own in the car, I take a break as soon as I can, grab a coffee and then set myself up for the journey back to our base. Then, I do not have to keep the car cosy and warm and I can revert to whatever my body needs, so that can include the following:

  • Keeping my fluids up
  • Music
  • Make the car cool and open windows if needs be
  • Take appropriate breaks and rest

I hope the above helps anyone else, but the overriding rule, is that we should only drive when safe to do so. 

No more match sticks and burning fingers!!

From Proms to Sally Army!

As well as exhibiting at some wedding shows, we have been exhibiting at School Prom Shows and I would like to tell you about a very long day at the McArthur Glen Outlet Centre, Swindon when we joined with Prom Day and many other exhibitors.

The day was earlier in February 2018, and was a very cold day indeed.

The position we were given to display our licensed silver Jaguar XFS was just outside the main north entrance to the centre along with KevsKampers, who provide self drive camper vans for both weddings and self drive hire holidays.

One of the great things about these shows is that even though, they and us were both looking to find clients for school proms, there is always a great deal of respect for each other and a willing spirit to help each other.

I was very pleased that I had my travel mug of coffee full, but that soon went down, and this was not missed by Kevin and his team who were very quick to offer me a fresh coffee from their camper van - how kind!

We arrived at the centre at 8am along with others, to ensure we were all set up ready for when the public arrived around 10am. We were not due to leave until after 6pm, so a long day ahead of us.

In addition, we had a table in the main display area inside where our slide presentation was on a loop[ displaying the whole time. The table was manned by 2 of our reserve wedding car chauffeurs swopping over after midday.

Table Display

Our stand was also shared with Kate Southall from KE Southall Photography who went around the show during the day taking provisional photographs of the events during the day, whom we can fully recommend!

So, now to a few of the funny stories that happened during the day - never a dull moment.

Meeting the public of all ages and backgrounds is usually quite eventful. 

Bearing in mind how cold the day was, I was dressed in my full chauffeur suit along with my cap and overcoat, prepared for the temperature. At one particular moment I was holding my travel coffee mug and handing out leaflets and business cards, catching people’s attention, when a gentleman came over to me, placed a pound coin on top of my mug saying ‘Oh I thought you were the Salvation Army’, and then very quickly took the coin away.

I’m not sure what he thought about the Salvation Army going up market with an executive Jaguar by the side of me!

On another occasion, some older teenage lads came over to me and asked whether I also took escorts in my car. I played it cool and asked him what he meant. He was fumbling around trying to work out what to say when his mate said that he meant prostitutes, to which I replied ‘I don’t think so’

His response then was, ‘Why are you dressed like an undertaker?’, to which I replied ‘because its cold out here all day!’

At that time, I also had my black fleece on under my jacket as well as my black overcoat on top.

I guess a full chauffeurs uniform can look very similar to a funeral director, especially when I wear a black tie!

Pink Moon

Being asked to meet people at airports or collect them for the airport, means that I need to be on the road at all times of day and night.

One of the rewards of getting up in the early hours of the morning is that on clear nights, it is a joy to look up and admire the night sky. This week, was one such occasion, when as I travelling East on the M4 I was facing the most beautiful pink moon as it was rising above the horizon. 

Pink Moon

The moon looked so much larger than normal and I felt so privileged to be able to witness such an amazing sight. 

Our heavens do look majestic on these cold dark nights. Unfortunately, as I was driving on the motorway I was not able to even stop to take a photograph which for sure would not have done the moon any justice.

Once I came off the motorway and needed to navigate through country roads to a location near my ‘pick-up’ to prepare the car, I was then presented with a ghostly barn owl as it flew across the road. 

Night time driving is so rewarding especially when it is dry and we have those wonderfully clear nights.

On other occasions, I have seen opportunist foxes as they go on the search for food for their young.

When I park up near my clients place and start to wax the car again in preparation, I often wonder what people think when they notice this strange sight of a bloke in a suit with a coat on, waxing a car at ‘stupid o’clock’ in half light. It must look so odd, but I carry on, as this is what we do - indeed it is our Ways Of Working - we call it our WOW factor.

The down side of travelling at night time, is that I also need to make sure that I get enough sleep, which I do during the days at different times. This takes me back to when I was young growing up in the family home, when my father would often have a nap just after lunch - I am sure he was then younger than I am now.

Who would believe that I am now the one taking those all important naps in the middle of the day. I find that if I only catch an hour of shut eye during the day, it is enough to revitalise me for the next journey. Obviously, the amount of day time sleep I need, depends upon the activity of the night before or indeed the night to come, as I   may take advantage of sleep before a night time job where necessary.

This is something my family is very hot on, ensuring I get the sleep I must have in order to be safe on night time driving.

Keep safe on the roads folks!

Lost!

Have you ever lost a significant and expensive item?

Well, this week’s blog is about the time when I was collecting some clients from Heathrow Terminal 5. 

All was going so well and following my SMS to my clients they ordered from me their preferred coffee choice, I queued up at the Cafe Nero in Arrivals and sent another SMS to them saying I was in the coffee queue.

Although my back was turned, I was unaware that they had just come through Arrivals and as I turned, there they were - they had no difficulty finding me as once again, I was the only one wearing a chauffeurs cap.

They were pleased to see me and I was able to present them with their coffees.

Heathrow Luggage trolley

We proceeded towards the lifts and after I paid for the parking, we walked the short distance to the car, with me pushing one luggage trolly and they had the other one. All going so well.

I opened the doors for them, and then loaded the luggage into the car. We were soon on the way back.

Heathrow Car Park

They were getting comfortable in the back of my car, and I progressed through the terminal and safely negotiated the airport traffic - this can be quite a challenge for those not used to it.

Onto the M4 we went and then, it struck me……………….

My iPad. Oh no, I left it on the luggage trolley. It was then that I felt really uncomfortable, as I already knew my clients needed to be back at their place for a meeting that afternoon, and besides that, I was never going to let them know what I had just done - the level of service and our branding is after all, stress free for our clients. All I wanted to do, was get off the M4 on the next junction and go back and pick my iPad up - after all I knew exactly where I left it. All I could do was pray like mad that it was safe.

We continued on the M4 for the 90 mile journey until my clients were safely delivered to their home, totally unaware of what was going on in my mind.

Next stop for me was LHR T5, again!

Keeping to the speed limits, I got there in good time and managed to park in exactly the same place as I was earlier, but there was no iPad to be seen. Not happy!

Next stop, Lost Property. Their response was to record the details on a form and face the reality that it was most probably stolen. 

Heathrow Lost Property

I went back home with what it felt like, my tail between my legs. That was Thursday.

Saturday morning, I still had heard nothing from Heathrow, and I said to my family, that I am going to get another iPad and cut my losses. It was then that my daughter Hannah, suggested I call Heathrow, so I did, expecting the worse.

To my utter astonishment, they were asking questions like, ‘what picture is on the front?’ When I said my silver Jaguar, they then asked the model number and after I told them, they then confirmed that they had my iPad!

The relief and surprise was tangible. Overjoyed and I went back to Heathrow that afternoon.

After negotiating my way to Lost Property, I was reunited with my iPad and I can honestly say thank God, and the Heathrow staff who found it and went through their procedures to log it correctly.

Lesson learnt - or I just hope I have!

It's Show Time!

2017 was our first full year providing quality Jaguar wedding cars for many happy couples, 19 in fact, and each one was so much fun. The many reviews on our website bears witness to the high level of personal service we have provided, some of which are part of our 21 5 star google reviews we have received so far.

Also in April 2017, we launched our high quality executive travel chauffeur service and during last year, we completed 44 travel jobs and have again received many testimonials and 5 start google reviews. 

Other activities in the year comprised of building relationships with hotels, local businesses as well as being part of networking groups to widen our exposure helping people and businesses to associate us with a high quality brand of chauffeur services, whether that is for weddings or executive travel.

In addition, we have attended many wedding shows in multiple venues and during the first 3 months of 2018, we continue to exhibit at a number of wedding shows in the area.

I would like to highlight the next one in particular, organised by The Whitewed Directory, the Great Western Wedding Show at STEAM, Swindon on 13th and 14th January 2018.

STEAM Museum wedding show

At this show there will be over 60 wedding suppliers exhibiting and we are taking over the whole of the museum space with such an interesting back drop with all the history that is encapsulated by STEAM. It will be amazing with live entertainment and so many people to see.

I fully recommend coming to chat about your wedding day requirements and, even if you do not have a wedding coming up soon, come along, as there are may suppliers there including ourselves, who do not just do weddings!

The days and weeks leading up to a wedding show of this nature for us as exhibitors, are full of activity such as regular social media posts, ensuring we have enough marketing material like flyers, business cards etc, and also preparing any presentations where on Powerpoint or Keynote, ensuring they are up to date and relevant. Not to mention preparing the cars for show!

Jaguar Wedding Cars

Being part of the Whitewed Directory, after the show, we will be sent the Brides List comprising of those couples who have willingly made available their details, so that we can send them follow up emails based on conversation we have had with many of them during the day.

So, that said, the days before the show are spent creating the template emails that after the show, can be used to base our communications back to the engaged couples.

During the shows, we all arrive early to set up and for us with wedding cars, we arrive early enough to make sure that the cars are pristine once again even after the journey there. The stalls are set up and decorated with all our materials, making sure that the Keynote material is working well on the screens.

Wedding Show Stand

When the couples arrive, all is calm with us stood by our stands, just waiting to talk to the wonderful couples and discuss their requirements.

We all so much want the day to be fun, informative and interesting for everyone. So much effort goes into making it so, and it really is exciting to chat to so many people and hear about their dreams and hopes for the coming day.

It is always amazing when we who exhibit cars, can clear down so quickly - our personal record is 5 minutes, and after a very long but enjoyable day, we are off home.

The  next few days are all about following up, which we do by means of email and then a phone call. The important thing is that the couples are contacted but do not receive any spam - we make this very clear when chatting to them and keep to our word.

So, here’s to a thrilling wedding show season once again and we look forward to seeing some of you soon!

One final word - we are also looking forward to the Whitewed Awards ceremony on 1st February 2018!

Whitewed Awards 2017

Very Happy Christmas to you all!

During this past week, our family along with millions of others has been trying to complete the final preparations ready for next week as Christmas approaches. It is a very special time indeed and whether you personally celebrate Christmas or not, we would like to wish all our clients and followers a very happy Christmas time and a great New Year!

 Happy Christmas to you all!

Happy Christmas to you all!

It is true that the 3 of us have gone down with the common cough and cold, so this has ensured we have spent most of the time this week in our home.

From the business prospective, it has been a valuable time of reviewing the past year and planning for 2018. Time to reflect - what has gone well and where we need to improve.

Generally, we have been immensely encouraged especially from the massive number of meaningful connections particularly on LinkedIn and the 21 5* google reviews that have been sent to us, in addition to the many reviews sent directly by email. 

If you are not yet connected on LinkedIn, do connect and benefit from our regular posts and also from being able to connect to our followers too and expand your own network.

 LinkedIn Profile view

LinkedIn Profile view

To give you an idea, my connections on LinkedIn have grown from around 600 in July to the current level of nearly 5,500 meaningful connections! This is amazing growth in networking and I must give a shout out to Jill Chitty who has helped me in doing this. I can recommend her to anyone wanting to generate an increase in leads on LinkedIn.

Special thanks goes of course, to each one of you who have been willing to watch and connect as our story develops. 

Very special thanks to those of you who have entrusted us for their transport needs either already in 2017 and for the many who have made commitments to use us in 2018!

2017 has seen us provide wedding transport to 19 happy couples and achieve 45 executive travel runs, which has included transport to airports, events and special occasions.

We look forward to 2018 with great expectation as we move this 'start-up' business into a strong brand that will continue into the future providing high quality, reliable and personable executive transport to all - regardless of status. 

We are also so pleased to have been shortlisted for the Whitewed Directory Start Up Business of the Year 2017, and are looking forward to the awards ceremony in February!

DBWC Shortlist Logo

Finally, I look forward to seeing more of you in the future and wish you a very fine family and/or rest time over the coming weeks. 

Thank you for your support

Oh I do love to be beside the seaside!

Occasionally, I receive a job that takes me to the coast. A chance to breathe in the wonderfully clean fresh air.

Few weeks ago, that happened again and it was the return journey from Heathrow to Brighton. The plane landed at 06:40 and my clients came through into the Arrivals lounge an hour or so afterwards, and were greeted by coffees which seemed to go down well.

That morning for me started at 04:15 when I left our base and started towards Heathrow, arriving about 06:15. I checked the landing board and the plane was just going to be a few minutes late, so not much different from what I discovered earlier before I left Royal Wootton Bassett. Time enough for me to clean the car with the detailing wax spray.

We were soon on our way out of the airport complex and onto the M25. The usual heavy traffic faced us and we eventually continued down South passing Gatwick on the way.

After being up a long time before, as indeed my clients had, I have to say, I was looking forward to a rest by the sea, before heading back to our base.

I managed to deliver the client to his home by 10am, so I headed off to a place for a coffee and sea view. I found one and was just taking in the fresh air and then the phone rang. 

Jaguar XFS seaview

I received some instructions to get back to our base for the next job, so, no extended rest break before heading back. It is a good job I enjoy my job and have a superbly comfortable big cat to do the journeys in. 

When I do not have a client on board, it is also very nice to spoil myself and listen to some music and the DAB radio. It is also, a time for my own space and I value the times of quiet and silence as I can focus and plan the way the family business is growing.

These times of solitude are so important and I find it helps to clear my head.

It makes me thankful for all the blessings we have in life, very aware of others who are not so blessed.

Typical Admin Day

Having mentioned about what started off as a ‘network meeting’ day last week, I thought I would give an insight into what I do during a working day when not attending network meetings or when I am not sat behind my steering wheel for executive travel or wedding car duty.

Thankfully, the days vary quite a bit, but there is a pattern which goes something like this:

Having already walked the dog and had breakfast, I start the day with cup of tea and do some social media posts which includes Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - I have found for over a year now, it is good to keep our presence on these platforms showing many different types of photographs, usually of the cars on jobs. 

With a good coffee, I’ll then catch up on LinkedIn posts responding back to any inquiries, welcoming new connections and inviting others to connect, thanking for ‘likes’ and ‘profile views’ and responding back on comments made on any of my posts. It is so important to be active on LinkedIn in a way that is personable and shows that I am a real person. I also view what has landed on my wall and like/comment on those that catch my eye. 

During the rest of the morning depending on the weather, I might be cleaning the car(s) from the day/night before, so that they are ready for the next job.

Lunchtime consists of food of course, but also involves taking our dog for another walk. Midday’ish, another post on the 3 social media sites mentioned above.

Lunchtime walk

In the afternoon, I often use that time to catch up on our accounts, emails, or as now, writing a blog, or crafting another post on LinkedIn. 

I am also on the lookout for companies within a local area to our base, where I might be able to develop a relationship that could lead to more business.

The services we provide, can be a genuine help to businesses where, as my LinkedIn profile says, they can receive real benefit from using us.

Of course, all the timing of the above is flexible because I am often with a client on a journey any time day or night or indeed any day. 

As we are running our own business, I have to wear many business hats, and this afternoon, I received a call from a compliance SME who was following up a previous discussion we had, working through our business compliance with regards to the oncoming EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) deadline on 25th May 2018.

Even though we are currently a small family business, we still need to comply and so does every business, no matter how large or small they are.

If you are reading this and are not aware of GDPR, then I urge you to get in touch and I can fully recommend someone who can help. The deadline will come and ignorance will not be a defence. 

 

'Day Off or Not!'

Earlier this week, I was due to have a networking day. Typically they are a Wednesday which this week started again at 04:15 when I woke on the alarm, took Clover our GSD out for a walk, before getting ready for a BNI networking meeting at Swindon which starts at 06:45. At these meetings it is an opportunity to net work with in excess of 35 local business leaders plus any visitors who have become like colleagues and friends.

BNI

After the actual meeting I also had the opportunity in having a 121 meeting with one of the members. After the meeting once back at our Royal Wootton Bassett base, I dealt with a few emails and then went to a 4Networking lunchtime meeting at Chippenham starting at 12:00, but being one of the leaders I needed to get there by 11am. All going well so far.

Then, I had a phone call, before the 4N meeting actually started from an existing client, asking can I pick up his colleague from Swindon at 14:00 to take to LHR T5? Naturally, I responded yet I’ll be there. Question I had to consider is this - Client's needs or networking? Yes, its a no brainer - I gave my apologies and planned to leave for our base.

Thankfully I just had enough time to grab a bite to eat while talking to various people at the 4N meeting, and then had to leave while the meeting continued until 14:00 at Chippenham.

Once back at our base I just had enough time for a quick change of clothes, grab some supplies for my client and then off to Swindon. Thankfully he car wasn’t too dirty, even though it was not as clean as I usually like - the priority this time was the deadline for the ‘last minute.com' for my client! 

The deadline was to get the client to T5 before 15:30. In spite of traffic delays caused by an accident on the M4 with am ambulance weaving through the traffic, we arrived at 15:25 and within all legal road limits.

Heathrow Terminal 5

Objective served and client was happy and relaxed.

This is an example that under extreme circumstances we are always seeking ways to help our clients out even when the notice is short.

On the way back I managed to squeeze in another meeting at Reading to discuss strategy  ]before heading back home.

That evening - it was time to wind down with another GSD walk before getting some shut eye.

 

DB Wedding Cars & Executive Travel shortlisted in first ever The Whitewed Directory Awards

OK so we are super excited to have been short listed for the prestigious award:

DBWC Shortlist Logo.png

 


It has been announced that DB Wedding Cars & Executive Travel has been shortlisted in the first-ever The Whitewed Directory Awards.
Wiltshire based DB Wedding Cars & Executive Travel is shortlisted for the Start-up Business of the
Year 2017 Award.
The Whitewed Directory is the region’s ultimate resource for grooms and brides-to- be, offering a
definitive directory of vetted and approved wedding suppliers. The Whitewed Directory Awards
were launched in June this year to recognise Wiltshire and Gloucestershire’s best wedding planners and suppliers. 
Creator of The Whitewed Directory, Natalie Lovett, said: “Congratulations to DB Wedding Cars & Executive Travel for being shortlisted in the inaugural The Whitewed Directory Awards.
“We were very pleased to launch these awards earlier this year because we wanted to recognise the high levels of professionalism and incredible standards of service we see from our many dedicated suppliers.
“It’s fantastic that we have had so much interest in the awards and are delighted to have received
many excellent nominations from around the region. All of our shortlisted nominees should feel very proud of themselves for this fantastic achievement and we can’t wait to find out who the winners will be at our exciting awards ceremony in February.”

The judges were impressed with David from DB Wedding Cars & Executive Travel’s professional approach to starting up, and his consistent stream of glowing testimonials from clients.

There are three award categories, Business Person of the Year 2017, Most Inspiring Business Person of the Year 2017 and Start-up Business of the Year 2017.
The winners will be chosen by an independent judging panel made up of three highly respected
industry professionals and will be announced at an awards ceremony taking place on 1st February
2018 at the Doubletree by Hilton Swindon.
The Whitewed Directory covers 40 different types of wedding suppliers throughout Wiltshire and
Gloucestershire, from bands and musicians to cake designers, toastmasters and fireworks suppliers.
Every company recommended has been vetted, approved and accredited with each agreeing to
abide by The Whitewed Directory & strict Code of Practice. Suppliers interested in joining the
directory can call Whitewed on 01793 238921 or email hello@whitewed.directory to find out more.
For more information about The Whitewed Directory Awards and the award ceremony,
visit http://www.whitewed.directory/ww-awards.html
Find out more about The Whitewed Directory: http://www.whitewed.directory
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WhitewedDirectory
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thewhitewed

Red Sun and Sand Storm

What an amazing week it has been! We have been exceptionally busy and the weather has been extraordinary.

I have been working hard on marketing, especially on LInkedIn, which is a big thing for me seeing as my background was being an accountant for my first 20 years of working life (refer to my earliest blogs), but during the last week, have been busy on the following:

  • Friday 13th    Pickup a business person from our local area and take to LHR returning late in the evening
  • Saturday 14thWedding in Keynsham with the same car as the day before, followed by reception at Ston Easton Park Hotel - meaning early start 8:30 and back around 3:30 just in time to go to our youngest grand daughters 1st birthday party
  • Sunday 15thMoonraker Whitewed Wedding Show at Bradford on Avon meaning another early start with Steve, one of our wedding car chauffeurs. Return at 5pm ready to be out again in the evening playing my guitar at church
  • Monday 16th     Last minute arrangement to pick up an elderly lady who travelled down from Scotland and arrived at Bristol Airport to visit family and bring back to our town. More on this story below.
  • Tuesday 17th   Lighter day, but a pre-run with my daughter Hannah, when we did the journeys that I will be doing for the Cotswolds wedding tomorrow
  • Wednesday 18th Early BNI weekly meeting at 6:45, followed by a lighter day but focussed on marketing
  • Thursday 19th Last minute request, meaning an early start at 5am to pick up a business person from Melksham, take to LHR and then a trip to Bath Apple Store to replace my new phone which I dropped a week ago. This is the only phone I have ever dropped, but thankfully I took out Apple Care Plus! Arrived home at 3pm.

 

So what was different about the Bristol run? It was the day the birds went silent, and the sun shone red and the wind deposited sheds of ‘Sahara’ sand everywhere. It was a very eery experience!

Before I left our base as on every occasion, including the 5am start on the Thursday run, my Jaguar XFS was immaculate, but by the time I arrived near Bristol Airport, when I got out one mile from the airport, I check the car over. 

The car was covered in a dusty film of sand. I had 45 minutes before the scheduled landing time. No time to spare, I just did what I do - I got out my detailing wax spray in the high winds, and cleaned the car off, including the wheels and the door frames.

Jaguar XFS Airport

I then proceeded to the airport short stay parking area, and entered the terminal. I then received an SMS saying the client would probably be last off the plane as she is an ‘assistance passenger’. 

With that knowledge, I approached the assistance desk and inquired about where I could bring my car closer to make it easier for my client. 

I was then able to move the car much closer.

On every journey whether for a wedding or executive travel, our thoughts are for the client on how we make the experience more restful and stress free for them - every time.

There is much pleasure for us in doing this and I trust makes the journey much easier and restful for our clients, whatever is thrown at us, sand and all!

Were you affected by the sand storm at all - feel free to post comments at the foot of this blog.

 

Airport Transfer Mode - part 2

Following on from last weeks blog on the outward journey to the airport, I thought I would take you all through a typical inward airport journey. The most frequent airports I currently visit are Bristol, Gatwick and Heathrow, although I am able to go to any airport depending on my clients needs.

2 days before, I SMS my client to confirm that I will be at ‘Arrivals’ for them when their plane lands, also confirming the flight number, arrival time and terminal. This again ensures peace of mind that they have not been forgotten.

Once again within 24 hours before I do the journey I ensure that I am not taking in any alcohol whatsoever. to ensure that I am fit to drive within not only legal limits but also within our self imposed limits.

Depending on when the flight arrival time is, I will prepare the car the day before or, early in the day if I am due to meet the client later in that day. By preparing the car, I clean and detail her much as I have described in earlier blogs inside and out.

Jaguar XFS

When it is time for me to leave our base, wearing a black 3 piece suit, white shirt, black tie and a chauffeurs cap, I check the flight to ensure it is scheduled to arrive on time and progress on the journey to the airport.

I arrive in time to once again clean car from the journey there, using a detailing wax spray for waterless cleaning. Since we launched DB Executive Travel, I have not noticed any other chauffeur or driver doing this - it’s attention to detail is what we are focussing on all the time.

Once I am happy with the car, having frequently checked the flight on the monitoring app on my iPhone, I make my way to the terminal with my chauffeurs cap on and iPad in hand already loaded with my clients name on it.

As I progress towards the terminal and as I make my way to the Arrivals area, I am often given a few second looks as they wonder which famous VIP I am picking up. I have now got used to this and I find it quite amusing really!

On a particular occasion, I stood by another chauffeur and checked the landed board (not landed), and as I did, I bid him good afternoon. He responded appropriately and said ‘chauffeurs cap, nice touch. I used to wear one until the car roofs were too low’.

We exchanged chuckles about that and I pointed out that yes, that is an issue and requires careful attention to avoid the obvious mishap, which is why I lower my drivers seat as low as it can go, adjusting mirrors etc and take extra care. Again attention to detail.

Landed

I keep watching the landed board and as soon as the status is updated to ‘Landed’ I SMS the client’s spouse to confirm the plane is landed. If it is delayed I SMS appropriately. When landed, I SMS my client to confirm I am here in Arrivals and will remain here until they come through regardless of how long, and ask them to let me know their coffee/tea choice once they get to immigration, so I can get it ready for them. Peace of mind and another nice touch.

As they come through Arrivals, I present them with the drink of their choice and help with their suitcases. As we make our way to the car park I check if they need anything else and I pay for the parking without passing that charge onto my client.

On one particular occasion, when my client came through at Gatwick Arrivals, I heard her very clearly say to her colleague who was not travelling with us ‘Here’s Dave, he’s mine!’ Its good that my clients are so pleased to see me!

The rest of the journey is mostly the same as the outward journey which I described last week in Part 1.

Once we have our first encounter with any client, we aim to do our best to make sure that is not the one and only time they choose us - we are looking for a longer term business relationship by providing exceptional service every time to every client.

 

Airport Transfer Mode - part 1

One of my most frequent type of trips is to either pick up or take to an airport. Whilst to some this may be thought of just jumping in a car and going to pick up and take to the airport, I thought I would describe a typical run in the way we do this as DB Executive Travel. I hope you find this interesting and provides an insight into the detail.

Before any job whether wedding, airport or special event 2 days before I text my client to confirm that I will be with them at whatever time was agreed when the order was taken. This ensures peace of mind that they have not been forgotten.

24 hours before I do any run for a client I ensure that I am not taking in any alcohol whatsoever. I know there is a legal limit, but I believe my clients deserve something better, so before I take on a job with little notice, I ensure that I am fit to drive within not only legally but also within our self imposed limits.

Depending on when the arrival time is agreed, I will prepare the car the day before or, early in the day if I am due to meet the client later in that day. By preparing the car, I clean and detail her much as I have described in earlier blogs inside and out.

When it is time for me to leave our base, wearing a black 3 piece suit, white shirt, black tie and a chauffeurs cap, I will have already checked the flight to ensure it is scheduled to leave on time - important information that I give to my client when I greet them.

chauffeur ready

Already loaded in the car, is a selection of quality magazines, daily newspaper, mints, tissues, snack bars, cooled bottled mineral water, charging cables for the current top 3 mobile phones along with a USB charging adaptor for the back of the car.

As I arrive near to the client I stop a few streets away and check the car again, wiping down the outside to ensure it is immaculate every time we ‘client face’. I adjust my seat to be as close to the dashboard as is safe to drive and the passenger front seat is already pushed as far forward as possible.

I arrive 15 minutes before due, to ensure peace of mind again, ready to load the boot with luggage.

I greet my clients and assist them with luggage ensuring they are settled inside the back of the car first of all. If raining, I ensure they are dry by escorting them to the car under our umbrella, opening the doors for them.

Chauffeur class attention

As we drive off, I check that air conditioning to set to their preference and let them know of the in car provisions available for them. The sound system remains off unless they request otherwise. My mobile is set to airplane mode to ensure my clients are never disturbed by any calls coming in for me, even though the mobile is connected to the care and is therefore handsfree.

En route the sat nav is on view so they can clearly see the progress being made and the expected time of arrival.

My standard of driving is consistently advanced meaning I look ahead to ensure I avoid harsh breaking and heavy cornering. I do not accelerate rapidly but progressively, so as to ensure passenger comfort and stress free travelling.

I provide as many nature stops as they require, and on arrival I assist with doors and luggage checking that nothing is left behind.

We are committed to the above standard for every journey, as this was what I would have hoped for when I was being chauffeur driven myself when I was working in the corporate world. Sadly, I rarely experienced this, and I now have the pleasure of providing this exceptionally high standard to every single one of my clients which is what I love to do.

 

Wedding Preparation Mode

With the summer wedding season over, we now enter our autumn season with our first wedding this weekend. You would think that after many weddings this year already we might have lost some of the excitement for weddings, but this is certainly not the case.

The week before the wedding I have completed a pre-run of the route to make sure I know where in Calne it is that we pick up the bride and father, as well as checking for roadworks and potential hazards along the way. It is also a good time to check that the sat nav has the correct locations to avoid any awkward moments on the day!

Jaguar XFS on a wedding pre-run

The next route is to where the ceremony is to take place, so on this occasion, I drove to Chippenham and went to the location and while I was there paid a visit to a really good bridal shop, Amare Bridalwear, when we could catch up and see how we are both doing.

This is one of the great things about being self employed, is that I can put in some detours to do some networking, which helps both ways.

Next stop was to go to the reception venue in the little village of Goatacre. 

Goatacre has a very special place in our hearts as a family, as a number of our parents and grand parents were resident at Goatacre Manor Care Centre in their latter days, so it was nice to drive through the village once again. 

Before we approach the wedding day itself, the chosen wedding car, our silver Jaguar XFS is washed and waxed once again and the leathers go through the cleaning and conditioning treatment as well as carpets and all the interior spruced up once again for the brides special day. 

Thankfully, our cars are always cleaned and washed very regularly so this is not a very labour intensive task for each wedding, but they are all given that special treatment. In go the interior flowers colour co-ordinated to the brides colour scheme.

Finally on the day, the car is dressed with the chosen colour for bows and ribbons. For this particular wedding as it is a local wedding, we can do this at our base. For weddings further afield, I will make that a subject of another blog.

On the day, whether myself or one of my 4 reserve chauffeurs, dress in a black suit, white shirt and colour co-ordinated bow tie - a special touch we like to provide along with the chauffeur’s cap.

As we prepare to go to the bride’s house, we arrive close to that spot and then check that the car is still immaculate and clean any marks off the car before we arrive at the bride’s home 15 minutes before the agreed time.

It is essential that when the bride enters the car, that it is spotless so there is no risk of any dirt arriving on her beautiful dress as a result of contact with the car.

Once she is on board we progress to help make her day go as smoothly and stress free as we can on the journey, driving at advanced standard, keeping the car smooth and comfortable. 

Another happy couple begin their journey of life together and we wish them every happiness and a long wonderful life together!