Coach driver agency on road to double turnover growth
An Exeter-based coach driver agency aims to double its turnover by 2014 by taking on more freelance drivers in a UK-wide expansion.
The Freelance Team was established from home by former coach driver Del Haggerty in 2007, initially to secure work for himself during a winter lay-off.
Mr Haggerty said: "I was fed up of being laid off in the winter and had started to look at incoming traffic via the holiday industry. I began as a driver with The Travellers Choice, based in Lancashire and asked, if I started an agency, would they use it?"
His business, now based at the Matford Business Park, has grown to become the largest of its kind in the UK and the only employment agency to exclusively focus exclusively upon the provision of coach drivers.
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It supplies drivers to a portfolio of around 40 regular clients, which include some of the biggest coach tour companies in the UK and Ireland.
Also providing emergency drivers as one-off requests to smaller clients including school bus services, many of those on its books earn a year-round living via the agency. It has its own in-house training centre, offering CRB and licence application support to its drivers, also ensuring that all its freelancers meet its prerequisite standards.
Many of its jobs come from clients with a full-time staff, needing relief drivers to cover statutory rest periods during the working week. With its agency drivers based all over the UK, the company can also save companies the expense of sending a second driver to relieve coach drivers on excursions around the UK, by meeting them en-route.
In 2008, the company amalgamated with, and later took over, Scottish Independent Drivers, giving it a foothold in Scotland. More recently, it has established London links, with operators now co-ordinating driver shifts from Exeter, Edinburgh and the capital.
Over the next two years, the company anticipates doubling its turnover to £1 million. A recent appearance at the industry's Coach and Bus Show at the NEC resulted in an invitation for the firm to meet operators from across North Wales to showcase its services, which Mr Haggerty anticipates will generate some fruitful leads in the near future.
He added: "The growth of the company in such a short space of time has been amazing, and it's rewarding to have been able to help so many talented and well qualified drivers to find work through what has been a difficult few years in the UK job market."
Mr Haggerty credited Lloyds TSB Commercial, for its flexibility and support after switching his business accounts to the bank.
David Collins, relationship manager for Lloyds TSB Commercial, added: "The Freelance Team is an excellent example of how a well run business in a niche market can expand quickly and successfully, even during a difficult economic period."