Stuart McColm, commercial director of London Executive, the executive car hire company
In a nutshell, what does London Executive do?
We are 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 we even provide global chauffeurs which our London clients can access anywhere in the world.
Where did the idea come from?
The other two directors had worked elsewhere in the industry before and they wanted to go it alone. This is a big industry – and London is a huge city – and they had an initial backer to whom they repaid the capital, plus the interest, within the first 12 months.
When did you start up?
How has it gone so far?
The services industry was one of the first industries to get hit by the recession, but Adam (Harvey, MD and co-founder) and I went out, rolled our sleeves up and went out and won three rather large contracts, which has pushed us forward. There are a lot of companies in the industry that are struggling and I am very pleased to say we have just won probably London’s largest contract, but I’m not allowed to say who it is yet. So things are good, fortunately.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
The recession, without a doubt. When that hit, we were doing really good things and it knocks the stuffing out of you, to be honest. I think the media almost frightened everybody into stopping spending money and we had about a 30-35% drop in turnover at that time.
What sets you apart from your competition?
We offer the E-Class Mercedes as a standard vehicle for a comparable rate that someone like Addison Lee would offer their mini-cab service. And that is the ethos behind what we do – ‘give somebody that little bit more without asking them to pay for it’.
What is the best decision you have made to-date?
Everyone was going down the Toyota Prius route two or three years ago but we decided to go for the E-Class Mercedes and offer that as our standard vehicle – and we have never looked back. We have actually just put an order in for the new E-Class Mercedes Hybrid vehicle too, which works exactly the same way as the Toyota Prius; battery-powered up until 30pmh before the fuel kicks in. So we are going to be ticking the green box more than we have ever done before.
Where will the business be in 12 months’ time?
We are hoping to grow turnover by another 20-25% this year. I think some companies make the mistake of going out and trying to take on too much business at once. London Executive’s policy has been to make it sustainable and manageable and if we can continuously grow turnover by 20-25% year-on-year, I think in five years’ time we could be a real monster in the industry.
If you had one piece of advice for entrepreneurs, what would it be?
I think you have to be knowledgeable about your product, believe in your product, eat and sleep the business, enjoy what you do and be willing to roll up your sleeves and work hard day and night. It is a 24/7 job, and it is going to be hard, but you just have to keep fighting and never give up.