How the idea for Prestige Chauffeurs started - Part 2

Prestige Chauffeurs Limited > Our Blog > Our History > How the idea for Prestige Chauffeurs started – Part 2

Its been a few months since we published the first part of how the idea for Prestige Chauffeurs started. We left off at at picking a company name, something I thought would be easy. I started off with the usual, my surname to the town we lived in, but nothing quite felt right. The name came about when I was trying to source a chauffeur cap.

The owner of the store asked what I wanted the cap for, a question which one may think was obvious and it was several months before the release of the movie, The Full Monty. I explained I was setting up a new chauffeur company, to which she replied “a prestige chauffeur service then?”

Not only did we leave with a chauffeur cap, I also left with a name, Prestige Chauffeurs.

The next step was to get licensed with Bury Council. I already had a private hire drivers licence, but I needed to obtain an operators licence and a one for my Rover 800. This is where my problems started. The council gave me an operators licence with two conditions, I could not operate from my home and I was going to be treated like a normal “taxi service”.

The main issue was the council would not back down on the requirement for me to display stickers and “taxi plates” on my vehicle, something that would not portray the image I was after. To be fair other companies had tried to provide an executive service within Bury, one even calling themselves S.N.O.B.S, but it wasn’t long before they reverted back to “normal taxi work” and changing their name, can’t think why.

We had stickers made that were as discreet as possible for the doors and windows and applied the rules as laid out. With everything in place, following months of researching the best vehicle, fulfilling the licensing requirements, posting business cards locally I was ready to launch on the 1 December 1996.

A couple of days later a client booked a trip, a local businessman with a request to be chauffeur-driven to a local hotel and back for a meeting. So, at 3pm on the 10 December I put on my suit for the first time, dusted off the cap and set off. The trip went well, the customer paid and was very happy with the service.

Luckily my parents own a milk round in the local village, so my dad became my unofficial sales person. It was a bit worrying having no calls at first but the phone started to ring with bookings and I managed to pick up quite a few disgruntled customers from my taxi days who heard I had setup a chauffeur service.

Prestige Chauffeurs journey was expected to be slow as is with a lot of new businesses starting off, but as word spread quickly through the area we continued to pickup new clients on a weekly basis. By January we were now being approached by local businesses and international ones to chauffeur their visitors and employees.

As we grew it became difficult to cope with the demand, so in February 1997 I sat down with my parents, who had been in business for the vast majority of my childhood. It was a time when mobile phones were not cheap to use or to call, and I felt an answer machine was not the image I wanted to portray. My mum had a history in book keeping and my dad loved meeting and working with people, so it was not only a logical step, but it was also an opportunity for us to have a family business we could all be part of.

The next step was to form a limited company, something you can do with a few clicks on the internet today, but back then you had to find a formation company to do it for you. We were advised to use a company near Manchester Airport and when we visited their offices and gave the name Prestige Chauffeurs, their immediate response was “no chance”.

By this point I had only been trading a few months. I had business cards printed, I had designed a logo, the same one we have today and suddenly you are faced with having to go back to the drawing board. However, after they came back from searching the registry it transpired, to their amazement that no other company had ever registered that name at Companies House, or used it.

It was official, we were the first ever chauffeur company in the UK to ever use Prestige Chauffeurs as its name.

Over the next several months my parents sold off their business, my father obtained his private hire licence, passing first time and as we approached our first anniversary trading we were all working in the business full time. Next step expansion!

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