Case Study - Bioshuttles

Business Details

Business: BIOSHUTTLES
Location: Crowborough, East Sussex
Proprietior: Peter Zucchetti  PZ
Start-up date: August 2005

Overview of the Business

Bioshuttles is a taxi service operating out of Crowborough serving not only local needs but specialising in catering for clients from Tunbridge Wells, Langton Green, Rotherfield, Uckfield and Forest Row wishing to travel to Heathrow, Gatwick or London.

The USP of the business is that every effort is being made to provide an eco-friendly service. The first taxi is a converted VW van operated entirely on biodiesel fuel. Not only do clients travel in comfort with plenty of room for luggage but emissions are cut to 219 while fuel costs are substantially reduced, the vehicle performing at 35 mpg.

The original planning was to introduce a Toyota Prius “hybrid” as a second vehicle. This car has only recently been available in UK but has already won praise from taxi operators in USA, Canada and Mexico, operating on emissions of only 104 and fuel economy at 65.7 mpg. This move has not been possible due to lack of sufficient finance so the proprietor is considering the purchase of a used VW Passat which will also operate on biodiesel.

Also planned for the second year of operation is a luxury chauffeur-driven vehicle particularly for the airport and London runs and every consideration will be given to  a vehicle that is eco-friendly.

The proprietor has invested in considerable training over the past year including advanced driving, a chauffeur’s course and is in possession of a taxi licence. Any expansion plans will have to include employing or subcontracting an additional driver.

A further medium term aim is to co-operate with the Local Authority in the provision of public transport vehicles running on eco-friendly energy.

Key Issue

Mentoring under the ISBS programme has concentrated on assisting the proprietor to complete his own business and marketing plan, identifying financial needs and recommending potential funding providers.

We initially explored the availability of EU funding through Wealden District Council and although eco-friendly development would be encouraged they expressly exclude the financing of vehicles.

Although the proprietor is actively exploring personal motor finance we have referred him to Capital Business Support Ltd in Hastings to address what we consider to be the key issue of this business.

Solutions/Actions

BIOSHUTTLES is on target for turnover in its first year and the business has justified the outlay on local advertising spending. To achieve a profitable turnover it does require at least a second vehicle.

The proprietor needs to address the problem of the availability of biodiesel supplies in the South of England. At present he travels to Norfolk to buy in bulk.

The business is becoming known to the local authorities and BIOSHUTTLES could reasonably expect more municipal contracts (schools, hospitals, care homes etc).

Outcome

The proprietor is a committed believer and practitioner in an eco-friendly lifestyle while both national and local government authorities are bound by strict targets of compliance relating to air pollution and the public’s wellbeing.

It is to be hoped that what we have achieved through mentoring on the ISBS programme with BIOSHUTTLES will translate into a profitable business and better awareness of ecological problems.