Another Season and another Dollar/Pound

Spring has turned into early summer and the weather in London swings from the traditional wet and grey to bright sun and blue sky’s (with the occasional white fluffy cloud). The best part of this time of the year are the new faces, the adventurers who come to role through the city on three, peddle powered wheels, some seek escape from the ‘boardroom’ of a future life working in an office, some for more adventure and a tiny few, who’ll build an empire. Each one of us a story unfolding, as we catch the hours, days, weeks and months, butterflies in the city’s flowing river of people and transport. Adverts will catch our eyes, windows will lead us away and people will offer promise and adventures. A season is of many shades, a game of chess, a game of chance and often a leap into the unknown.

 

These Bugbugs riders will be unlike any other batch and each group have the eyes of youths and the skills of hunters, I love the slow steps at the start that some make, the huge plunge a few make and the gentle unfolding of the tales, as they meet the city head on. I’m reminded of the days I started, how everything was moving lights and smells. From the spicy air in china town to the perfume rich soho, to the mix of humanity a rickshaw rider is both a passing shadow to the saviour, to the transport pimp, all adventure is open and ready to role, so I ask myself what will this year bring and my eyes are keen to see and my heart is ready to role, the roller coaster that’s this new season.

Great advert, all exposure good

So the MD wanted to see if an advert in Facebook would creat any actual business or entice any user to be become a Rickshaw rider. To our surprise we ended up with an abuse fest posted by Black Cab drivers.

So our thinking is that any press exposure is good exposure, as this creates increase traffic to the Bugbugs web site.

So, the results half way in, we have an increasing number of ‘likes’ mostly caused by the side effect of the exchange and not due to us actually paying for ‘likes’. We did get 4x calls for people who want to do the training and this has been disappointing, as we pay per day (14 days booked) and the number of potentials was supposed to be 25000 Londoners, at a 2% converses rate we should have been off our feet.

Turns out our new riders are the best ‘recruiters’ and also seam to be more proactive in bringing friends.

So, we will up date at the end and post some highlight of cab vs Bugbugs 😉

But ears a link 🙂
Cabs vs Bugbugs

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Things to do today

So I start with a little article by TfL, which was plastered through every paper and news page they could find to print this. Sadly most just regurgitate the same text word for word without, checking the facts or purpose. Balance seams to be out of the window in favour of ease – kind like filling the Christmas turkey with paper, looks good but wrong.

So the next step is how to speak to those that feel the industry is wrong or ‘dangerous’. Most have there own agenda, family, political alliance, ambition, an easy vote winner or readily lead. What response will I get when contacting –
Alex Peters-Day, General Secretary, LSE Students’ Union, who seams to have said: ‘Pedicabs can be an incredibly dangerous form of transport.’

Will she be open to facts we requested from TfL about the accidents that have happened in the industry – 8x minor incident in 2011 or will I get a brush off?

So today I sent the email and wait to see what happens next.

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Rickshaw challenge 2012

So finally managed to finish the BBC trike for ‘Children in Need 2012‘ and now get to watch it hit the streets. It took months for us to perfect the prototype and now to see her sister on TV, my fingers are crossed that the kids make more cash then Matt did and that all the hard work will pay off.

I’m a father and proud of my kids, I hope that the parents of these kids are going to be over the moon at the guts those kids have. Long life to Rickshaws and a happy life to kids!!!

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Neon Wedding

So we get an order by email from an events company for a wedding rickshaw. This is not unusual as it sounds because compared to a short limo trip the whole thing remains closer to the traditional horse and carriage style of transporting of bride and groom. Lot’s of interacting with guests and street based well wishers.

Now this Autum seams to have been in particular very busy but it’s good planning in my book, as you get some one to snuggle for the winter .

Now the events company usually are suitably vague as to what will happen, so the hapless rider can have anything ranging from a climb to mount Olympus to a film shoot, in this case it was transport booked for 1am on Sunday morning just near Richmond. The style was to be of a traditional Indian rickshaw. So my first task was to head off to find decorations, which were authentic, Bethnal green turned out to be the best spot for shopping and a swarm if friendly ladies advised me on colour schemes and patterns.

Then back to the base and ways to make it fit to our amazing little beast, 5 hours all carpets, seat covers and roof netting secured and made to sparkle.

The next step was booking a van, as the distance for this job was over 15 miles and a 3hr return trip at 2am on a Sunday morning, along a dual carriage way, is not advised with a 130kg rickshaw.

After using the van to pickup up a number of other items, to ensure we got our money’s worth, it came to trying to fit the wedding trike into the van.

To my horror, after having used a similar van a number of time, I discovered that the rickshaw on this occasion with this van, did not fit.
Not the best thing to know, two hours to the starting line.

I quick think and I chose not to take off the wheels to get it in but chose the obvious easy route by getting a friend with a bigger van. New van loaded, myself and said friend raced off to meet a newly married couple. We followed the satnav to our hidden spot on a private road fenced off from the world.

The street, was populated with multi million pound mansions and was surprisingly unlit. The best man popped out just as we unloaded, with around 30 mins to go. Happy that the last of his plan had arrived he looked us over smiled and then asked me the killer question ‘do you have lots if lights in it?’

Looking at the dark road in the middle of the night, I understood what he meant but when we were booked no mention is made that we have things like hills, 1000 kids or an unlit road, so it’s hard to find the right mix of things to bring for ever possible dice role of Lady Luck.

So, again a bit of thinking later we had a mix of bike lights and tape holding in place enough of a spot light to light the newly weds.

Then just to make it interesting the best man brings out a meter square neon sign and a battery to weigh me down.

After more stringing and hanging it’s all done, wedding special ready to role.

The actual pickup, photoshoot and cycle ride to the end if the road is nothing but spectacular with myself grinning as if I got the bride. All the work was worth it in the end.

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Games and stratagem

Now any one who likes to play games, especially the computer games which involve strategic thinking to build and to conquer or win, will come to the point at which they will have a question, ‘is it better to invest in expensive ‘troops/equipment’ or to go for cheap mass quantity?

One allowed you to flood the field/market but when the going gets tough you lose huge numbers. In our field of marketing, it seams it is the same thing, do I invest in huge numbers of cheap rickshaws like my competition or to invest in low grade ‘throw away’ models from china.

Looking around for examples I’ve looked at the whole thing of running my business as a computer game in the real world. I look at my resources, look at the cost, look at the goals and look at what the competition is doing.

A picture similar to ‘Age of Empire’ emerges, one that many players come and go. Those players that have invested in cheap models out number us by 40:1 yet as we struggle through year after year I see that the failure rate of these short term thinkers is huge.

To date they have all folded, failed or sold, at the 4 year mark, our company has now survived it’s 12 year and securing it’s survival over the next 4 years. Our investment into new equipment has increased and we are more lean then when we started in 1998.

The philosophy of investing in the best equipment, to ensure we have less maintenance, a less aged fleet and better running rickshaws, looks to be paying off. We try to enforce this with good rider and keep an eye on how our team behave, defending them when they get unfairly tackled and getting to pay up if they make a mistake.

So looking at the long term savings and survival of my company, will continue to do like the SAS, small, best equipped and up to date.

Long life to Bugbugs 😉

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