The news recently of the untimely death at 56 of Edward Stobart – who took his father’s small haulage business comprising of eight lorries, and turned it into one of the most successful logistics companies in the country – should remind us all in the transport industry what is meant by customer service and brand awareness. Stobart’s 2,250 trucks make a delivery every 5.5 minutes travelling a total distance every day the equivalent of 21 laps of Earth.
[T]he success of Eddie Stobart can be attributed to Edward’s ability to create an icon; the drivers are always smart and until recently would face disciplinary action if they did not wear a shirt and tie at the wheel. The truck, always immaculately clean and each painted in the highly recognisable corporate colours. The trucks are driven competently with care and consideration to other road users – they say an Eddie Stobart truck is passed on England’s roads every 4.5 minutes – note it’s not the other way round, with the truck thundering past the motorist.
Compare and contrast that with London’s cabs. Once an internationally recognised icon; first the colour was changed from Henry Ford’s ‘you can have any colour you like as long as it’s black’ to a kaleidoscope of colours; next advertising was permitted, and now other manufacturers produce ‘black cabs’; now with the proliferation of private hire vehicles, it’s hardly is surprising that tourists find identifying a cab confusing. Many of London’s cabs are filthy both inside and out, gone are the days when the driver could be ordered to clean his cab before picking up another fare.
Now with summer approaching drivers will be seen with the most bizarre apparel, looking only fit to be seen on a Spanish beach than providing a professional service driving what was once one of the most iconic vehicles in the world.
Stobarts even have their own fan club with 25,000 members, about that same number of London Black Cab Drivers ply for hire on London’s streets. If only black cabs could engender enough loyalty for themselves – many have lost the values that Edward Stobart understood so well.