The winners of these awards deliver consistently excellent customer service. The operators demonstrate their success through sustained effort.
They have shown that they:
- are financially sound
- maintain high operational and engineering standards
- give priority to the Health and Safety of staff and passengers through comprehensive risk management
- invest in their fleet and staff
- form effective partnerships
- identify with and respond to the communities they serve
- always strive to sustain and grow the market for coaches and coach services.
As well as this award for the medium operators of fleets between 21 and 100 vehicles, there are two others for businesses with fleets of 20 or fewer and over 100 vehicles.
From the winners of these three awards, the judges chose an overall winner, named UK Coach Operator of the Year.
For each of the categories, customer nominations were sought from group organisers and other industry clients. Nominated operators are also invited to submit further information to the judges. The judging process also includes 'mystery shopping' of the nominated operators to test their commitment to customer service.
Winner, Gold Award: Maynes Coaches
Maynes Coaches is a family owned business established in 1947 and runs 30 vehicles from its base in Buckie in north east Scotland. The company is renowned for its high standards and the quality of its service. Emphasising the importance of its staff team, the company believes that the two limiting factors on its expansion are not only the demand for coach hire and holidays, but also the availability of suitable drivers. This emphasis is reflected in exceptionally low staff sickness and turnover rates of 0.5%. Maynes recognises that customers are demanding every higher standards and so it invests a lot in keeping the fleet up to date and allows it maintain its reputation for quality and reliability which helps it grow its customer numbers.
The judges commented on the exceptionally low staff turnover and sickness figures and applauded the high level of investment in new vehicles for the size of business. The focus on customer satisfaction ensures a high level or repeat business. All together, Maynes Coaches deserves to be a Gold Winner.
Winner, Silver Award: Belle Vue Manchester
Belle Vue Manchester was established in 1996 and operates 70 vehicles and employs a team of 97. Its core markets are education, corporate and private hire and it aims to provide a transport system by road that is safer, cleaner and greener. It has a strong commitment to fleet investment, staff training and innovation. Customer feedback is valued and ensures continuous improvements to the business. Health and safety is paramount. As the company puts it "we carry human beings, not baked beans." Belle Vue really values its staff team and regular 'happy hour' meetings are held with the directors at which anything can be discussed. There are monthly cash prizes for exceptional performance and ideas for improving the business as well as iMA life management tool which helps build trust, confidence and communication as well as reducing stress and tension.
The judges noted the emphasis Belle Vue places on the welfare of its staff, which is obviously paying dividends in having very happy customers in what is an expanding business. The company's attention to health and safety issues and business systems are a good example to the industry, making the company a deserving Silver Winner.
Winner, Bronze Award: Alfa Coaches
Alfa Coaches was established in Chorley as a family business in 1997 and now works with sister companies Alfa Travel - which provides the holidays and tours - and Leisureplex which operates the 21 hotels to which the holidays run. The common ownership ensures that quality standards are maintained throughout the holiday and the entire group became employee-owned last year. Alfa always buys new vehicles and became the first UK operator to use Fleetboard, Mercedes Benz' tracking and remote diagnostic system. The Company prides itself on offering quality value for money holidays in the UK, Ireland and continental Europe and applies its company motto 'Exceeding your expectations' to all aspects of the business.
The judges commented on the quality of the fleet and thought that the company has an exciting future ahead of it as an employee-owned business.
Finalist: Crosskeys Coaches
Folkestone based Crosskeys Coaches was established in 1973 and is a family run business. It employs 30 members of staff and runs a fleet of 20 coaches, mainly on private hire work and a programme of day trips and holidays. Last year a high street shop was opened, selling third party coach trips alongside Crosskeys' own products, and this year the company has obtained an ABTA license allowing it to operate as a travel agent. Crosskeys continues to develop its private hire business and its own programme of day trips and holidays, and enjoys very low rates of sickness and staff turnover.
Who could be nominated?
The awards are open to all operators of coaches for hire to the general public or used on tours and excurions.
... and by whom?
Group organisers and other clients who hire coaches on an occasional or regular basis were asked to nominate the coach company which has delivered the best service to their groups. Self-nomination was also acceptable.