Changing strategy quickly during COVID-19
(31 March 2020)
Tom Shanks is Finance Director for Blueline Taxis, a firm based in the North East which was founded over 60 years ago by his grandparents. Tom graduated with an MSc Finance degree from Durham in January, and being 25, he didn’t ever think he’d be plunged into such a challenging time so early on in his career.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he, his family and colleagues got straight to work thinking of how to support their much valued staff/drivers, and also the wider community.
This family business prides itself on its values, which transcend throughout the organisation. The company does not see its staff as simply resources, they care deeply for their wellbeing and want to support them as much as they can. Faced with a huge obstacle such as this for any taxi company – the vast majority of the population being told to stay indoors – they changed strategy very quickly in order to protect their team and help their community.
These are three of the key activities Blueline Taxis put into place very quickly:
A £25,000 fund into enabling NHS workers to get to work
Blueline set up a £25,000 NHS giveaway, allowing those working on the frontline to benefit from taxi credits. Tom said: “These workers are the true role models of society and their commitment, dedication and level of care to the community is admirable and somewhat incomprehensible.”
Shifted the primary service from transporting people to delivering essential goods.
Within less than a week, Tom and colleagues collaborated with other regional suppliers to arrange supply of goods to Blueline Hubs across the region. This then allowed them to deliver essential goods to people. It was a steep learning curve with its very different processes, supply chains of goods and analysing how best to distribute.
Changed the fee structure for drivers
Instead of a fixed weekly rental fee, the company changed to a ‘pay as you earn’ percentage model. This has significantly reduced the financial commitment drivers have hanging over them during these turbulent times. If there’s no work available, they don’t have to pay.
Tom said: “It’s been rather emotional to see how our family values really have been visible within our organisation. We always hear that ‘the proof is in the pudding’ and if that’s right, our team have shown us that they’re worthy of a Michelin star. They have shown teamwork, compassion and a support system far greater than I could have ever imagined.
I’m also lucky enough to have the best business mentor in the world, my father, who is our Managing Director. As well as that, the support of Dr Joanna Berry at the School, who has been a shoulder to lean on in such a tough time, and a constant source of encouragement, for which I owe her dinner once this pandemic ends!
My education from the School, and University experience as a whole, has proved indispensable in helping me attempt to construct some form of COVID-19 support network for the regional economy and community.”
- See the Blueline Facebook page for the latest updates on services available.
- Blueline expanded to become Blueline Group, incorporating – incorporating Blueline Property Services, Blueline Telematics, Blueline Garage Services, Blueline Insurance Services and Blueline Media.
- See more Business School articles on the impact of COVID-19 (e.g. panic buying, remote working tips) here.