Coventry has always been synonymous with London Taxis and it appears as if the good times are back. According to Peter Johansen, the man at the forefront of London Taxi Company’s revival, lessons in pride have been learned along with new ways to create a demand for orders. The firm underwent extreme difficulties recently but it has regained its place near the top of the ladder thanks to its recent resurgence.
Johansen is quick to point out that the firm found it difficult to make its comeback and coming back from the brink was a stressful affair. Only when it came out of administration did Johansen breathe a sigh of relief though he knew more work needed to be done. He said that most people are unaware of just how hard it is to bring a business out of administration.
Johansen said the first three months were the most difficult as they had to get things up and running and even getting a bank account was hard work. It took a couple of months just to open a bank account for the firm because the complications of being in administration.
Running a company without a bank account was a nightmare according to Johansen as he had to pay suppliers and employees. Just a week before London Taxi Company went into administration, 400 cabs were recalled due to faulty steering boxes so as well as trying to improve the black cab, the company’s employees also had to work extra hard just to restore the company’s once great reputation.
Putting Things Together
Johansen said he didn’t want the company to continue making the same mistakes and he had three priorities once he took over. First of all, customers had to be the number one concern; secondly, the quality of everything produced by the company had to be exceptional and thirdly, the business needed to make profit.
The company had a number of vehicles in stock after administration but they had various issues in terms of quality. Johansen knew these vehicles could not be sold until all the problems had been dealt with. The result was a total refurbishment program which cost the company £6.5 million.
He also travelled to London to talk with cab drivers and received almost 300 angry letters in the first month. He admitted that it was a hard task but he did reply to everyone and found it to be an important exercise as it helped him better understand the concerns of cabbies. Now, he receives only a handful of negative emails and a number of positive ones which praise the new direction the company is taking.
Cab drivers were not happy that the door panels of the taxis were easy to scratch and hard to repair. One of the first changes made by the ‘new’ London Taxi Company was to change the nine interior panels with better quality panel that doesn’t scratch. This was a costly project however as each new set cost almost £300. There is also a 21-point check which addresses all the old faults and Johansen claims cabbies say the new cabs are the best they have ever bought.
The hard work is paying off for the company as it won a contract to supply 500 cabs to Azerbaijan. Baku, the nation’s capital, will be hosting the European Games next year so this could represent a great marketing opportunity for London Taxi Company. Some 300 of these cabs will be reserved for VIPs travelling to and from the games.
Johansen concluded his interview by saying he was proud of the company employees and said the company would not have succeeded without their hard work and attention to detail. He has seen a resurgence in the pride of the black cab and while it has been a very tiring year, the rewards have been well worth it.