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How Addison Lee are battling Uber

Catherine Faiers, Chief Operating Officer of Addison Lee, explained how the company is taking the fight to Uber at Pro Driver Congress in June

Since launching in London 5 years ago, the American firm has acquired a huge slice of the UK’s taxi and private hire market. The black cab trade and private hire operators have both been severely hit.
As the UK’s largest private hire operator, you would forgive Addison Lee for being preoccupied by the actions of their transatlantic counterparts. However, Faiers explained to the congress’s attendees that their approach is to concentrate on their own performance. There is, of course, a need to “be aware of the outside world” but the key is to “focus on their own delivery.”
Addison Lee operates across the UK with over 4,800 vehicles in London alone. The firm was purchased in 2013 by private equity company The Carlyle Group for £300 million. They have since invested in the acquisition of UK chauffeur company Tristar and further international expansion. The Addison Lee website states that they operate in over 350 cities worldwide.
Offering journeys globally is one of their key tactics to continue expanding, but it must be viewed as part of a much larger master-plan.
Their approach includes the following strategies:

  • Expansion internationally
    To “own” the customer across their whole journey.
  • Development of their App
    To improve customer experience and gain feedback.
  • Investment in training
    The private hire operator now spends five times as much on driver training. Every driver must pass what is described as a “rigorous in-house training course, which includes city driving skills, navigation and customer service”.
  • Investment in vehicles
    A large amount is spent to provide a “young fleet” with options for executives and eco-friendly vehicles for environmentally concerned customers.
  • 4G Wifi as standard
    A free internet connection is supplied in all vehicles which is particularly useful for international travellers.
  • Loyalty Programme
    A reward scheme has been created to benefit and incentivise their most frequent users.
  • Personal Approach
    Effort has been placed into developing more of a personal approach to marketing communications with their clients in order to build stronger relationships and higher levels of repeat custom.


Can the cab trade learn from Addison Lee?

It is clear that, although Addison Lee might claim to not be focused on Uber, they definitely have had to raise their game in recent years due to their entry into the market.
It’s interesting to see that they didn’t instantly resort to reducing prices and engaging in a “race to the bottom.” However, with significant financial backing and some serious business brain power to call upon, their approach has been far more strategic.
Yet there is nothing in their plan that is different to either what the London cab trade can currently offer or will be providing in the future.
For example, the private hire operator is competing and expanding in order to own a customer across international borders. Cabbie Apps such as Gett and MyTaxi are operating in foreign territories and owning the “whole journey.”
The main advantage Addison Lee has over the black cab trade is that it can implement a unified, coordinated response to the threat posed by its new rival in a far quicker time frame.
Yet with the power of the knowledge behind them and the ability to go in bus lanes, cabbies can still maintain a competitive advantage.