Having recently been speaking with TPS Photo, I’m pleased to introduce the delightful Tim Hoy as our guest blogger. Tim has been working within the photography industry for over thirty years, after learning his trade in the submarines, and would kindly like to talk about how Zipcar works so well for his business transport needs:
'Being a London based photographer has a number of opportunities and benefits over my peers in remote rural areas. An integral advantage is the availability and diversity of transport options, the top of that list being Zipcar. Prior to signing up, we ran a family estate car for anything that was too awkward or large for the bus or the bicycle trailer. I shoot mostly weddings and portraiture, but also do the company’s handmade picture framing. Whenever I NEED a car I can quickly pick one up locally and use it by the hour or day without having to worry about costs. When we bit the bullet I imagined that the convenience of Zipcar would be worth paying for and budgeted a little more for this “luxury” than we had been paying to keep our ageing Volvo estate on the road. Two years later and it’s obvious that the match was completely wrong on my projections. I currently pay between a quarter and a third of my old costs and when I broke it down it was obvious:
- Road tax £225 PA
- MOT (with work to ensure up to standard) £400 PA average
- 1 new tyre per year (average) £120
- Each full tank of fuel (70 litres) £100
- Congestion charge where applicable – about once a month £120 PA
- Insurance £600 PA
Most of the year our car sat on the forecourt depreciating, (purchased for £18,000 in 1996 and scrapped in 2011 with a value of £800). It’s not just about the money however, for anyone who needs more convincing. Cars that aren’t used very often are just as likely to depreciate and rust than if they are getting regular use. Making and scrapping vehicles has a huge impact on the environment so by sharing the Zipcar fleet with my neighbours, our company’s carbon footprint is further reduced in comparison to selfishly running one vehicle for my exclusive use. TPS is a photographers cooperative, although not all of our team reside or work in London, and adding a member of staff or business partner to the account couldn’t be simpler. The vehicles are maintained to a very high standard and the rules ensure that there should be sufficient fuel for most trips and that the vehicle is clean and fit for purpose. Refuelling is simple using the car’s own fuel card for those longer journeys and the Zipcar team have rules in place to ensure that the people we share our vehicles with (i.e. my local community) leave the vehicle as you would hope to find it. There are also measures in place to deal with the small minority of users who don’t think that the rules apply to them, but given the nature of the sharing concept these transgressors are few and far between.
It’s easy to believe that all is rosy with any business when there aren’t any problems evident, but the true indicator of good customer services is where something does actually go wrong and the way the company deals with it. Where there have been a couple of (very minor) issues, the Zipcar team have sorted them out quickly with the least of fuss. I have recently returned from teaching a master class at the annual convention of the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers. During one of the classes I attended as a delegate, we were all asked to recommend three companies who exhibited best practice in terms of customer service. I could only list two from the previous year’s events and Zipcar was top of that very short list (for what it’s worth www.theimagefile.com was the other one).
Zipcar has become an integral part of our cooperative and being able to speak to my Account Manager or someone from marketing as though I actually worked for the company makes it feel like I’m listened to, which remains a fairly rare experience. More commonly with the majority of other suppliers and companies I deal with, I am directed to a web site when I have a specific question, run a gauntlet of FAQ’s which aren’t MY question that needs attention, only to be offered (on a good day) a pay to call number which has a message along the lines of “your call is important to us/we are encountering a higher-than-normal volume of calls, so please listen to some canned music that will make you lose the will to live”.
If Carlsberg made a car sharing company it wouldn’t be as good as Zipcar.' - Tim Hoy
Thanks Tim! We'd also like to share some of our favourite snaps from Tim's portfolio: