Changing private-hire perceptions: Justin Patterson
Current Eco Superstar winner at this year’s Great British Fleet Awards, Justin Patterson surprised everyone this summer after leaving Addison Lee to join Splend as their UK country manager.
Splend, is an Australian-founded business supplying cars to drivers working for on-line cab companies such as Uber.
The company, which is now based in London at a new Cricklewood HQ, doesn’t just supply cars to these on-demand drivers, it can also fix all the necessary financing, insurance and maintenance.
After just over a couple of months in his new role, Martyn Collins spoke to Justin to discuss his plans.
Can you give any idea of your short and long-term plans in your new role and for the company?
“We’re focused on growing rapidly in London and expanding to cities around the UK in the months ahead. We have a dedicated team that’s been assessing metropolitan areas around the country with a specific criteria, from the Midlands to the South West, as well as the North East and the North West.
“In London we’ve established a 2,300 square metre facility in Cricklewood where members collect their cars, catch up with their personal account manager, receive training and join community events. We plan to replicate this model in other cities, as we continue this mission to take the hassle away from on-demand drivers and support them so that they can get more out of the job.
“Splend chose to relocate its HQ from Australia, where the company was founded, to the UK where the on-demand market is booming, making it the ideal launchpad for global expansion.”
You won our Eco Superstar award at the Great British Fleet event this year, whilst working for Addison Lee, will you be using elements of the same environmental framework at Splend?
“We fully support the move to ultra-low emissions and improve air quality, so we provide all Splend members with more eco-friendly vehicles that are also more affordable.
“Today, this is of course plug-in hybrid models, and we’re looking ahead to more viable electric vehicles coming onto the market and the right infrastructure being put in place to support them.”
Private hire drivers play a key role in end-to-end transportation, which is becoming more and more important – how at Splend do you plan to capitalise on this?
“It’s an exciting time in the industry, particularly for data-driven companies. We’re using our technology and analytics to make the job work for on-demand drivers, rather than the other way around.
“The car ownership model has of course shifted quite rapidly in recent years – and consumer behaviour in the on-demand market has changed considerably to increase demand.
“Services like Uber are growing exponentially here in the UK and around the world. It represents a huge opportunity for all of us operating in this market, which will only continue to increase in the years ahead.”
Splend is new to the UK, how do you plan to get the message out to private hire drivers?
“We are a preferred partner with Uber, and our marketing strategy is multi-channel by default. However, we believe the best endorsement comes from our current customers – word of mouth testimonials prove the most valuable.
“As a result of our approach we’ve generated a strong net promoter score – a testament to the strong customer relationships we’ve built.”
There’s still an image problem with private hire drivers – more so since the launch of Uber. With the recent London licence renewal in the news, how do you and Splend seek to improve this?
“Splend ensures all of our members know how to operate professionally in London and provide all the backup and tools to do this. The industry is also leading the way in providing new ultra-low emissions into the city.”