Ipswich: JR Travel aims to go the extra mile
- Credit: Archant
The latest technology is vital for any transport business, and not just inside the engines of its modern vehicles.
Local company JR Travel has a fleet of hire vehicles, from a tiny Smart car to full size executive coaches used for school transport, theatre trips and days at the races.
But the Ipswich firm, which specialises in airport and holiday travel, is also smart in its use of the latest technology.
There is real-time communication with drivers, and customers, and every vehicle is tracked so it can be plotted on screen and an exact time of arrival or departure planned and confirmed.
“It has another big advantage,” explained Glyn Roberts, “If there are traffic problems which could delay a journey, we can see them at any time and often call a driver to give them an alternative route.
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“We always know exactly where are vehicles are, and other information such as the speed they are travelling. The other Friday we had 15 vehicles going round the M25 at the same time. It was murder,”
The advance of new technology is important for any customer service business, he says.
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“We email our customers with confirmation and text message.
“We tell them the name of their driver, and the drivers get an email the night before to confirm their jobs for the next day. Our drivers are smart; they turn up in uniform, black trousers, jacket and white shirt.”
The phone rings and he breaks off to take another booking, from a regular customer. “It is a very busy business,” he says, “This is the log for a Friday, 67 jobs, and all more than two hour journeys.
“We don’t do any short, local taxi work. We do have a lot of school runs in term time. We are not the cheapest, but we are offering a quality service.”
JR Travel, now based at Little Copdock House, a few miles from Ipswich, owns its own fleet of vehicles.
“It is an expensive business to do it properly,” explained Glyn. “The outlay on vehicles on the vehilcles is high. They are maintained every two weeks and we aim to clean them before every job.”
The fleet includes Mercedes 41 seat executive coaches, E class Mercedes saloons and, that one liveried Smart car.
“It has grown a lot on the past five years. We have 21 vehicles now and 36 drivers, 18 of them full-time.
“All are experienced drivers, trained and they know the local area. Some are ex-policemen and some are ex servicemen.
“They range in age from 25 to their 60s. There are all CRB checked too. We pride ourselves on our professionalism.”
“It is a 365 days a year business. Even when the schools are closed there are still customers who want to go to the airports for their holidays, or to be collected from them.”
Glyn rarely gets behind the driving wheel himself, for work.
“If we are really busy I sometimes do a school run, Otherwise there is plenty do do here in the office, There are four of us in here.”
JR Travel was started by Glyn’s dad, Malcolm 10 years ago. He previously ran a fruit and veg wholesale business. “The initials are mum’s, and my wife Julie’s too,” said Glyn. “Dad started it when he retired. He bought a minibus and took friends and family to the airports.
“Then he got a couple more vehicles. When I started with him five years ago he had four. Today Dad still does a school run three days a week.”
The JR Travel patch takes in the airports, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, or course, the M25 area, London and right across Suffolk.
Theatre trips and Newmarket racing nights are very popular. One JR Travel seven-seater minibus has clocked up 180,000 miles in a year.
As a youngster Glyn Robert was a talented footballer and joined Norwich City’s youth scheme as an apprentice. He was there until 18, though he never made a first team appearance.
“I played for the reserves and was in the same group as Jamie Cureton, Darren Eady, Ade Akinbiyi and Andy Marshall.
“I went on to Rotherham, from 18 to 20 and got in their reserves and played 16 first team games. Then I came back to play part time.”
The travel business has taken over his life. “The last two years have been absolute mayhem,” he says. “We moved here three years ago and we have spent a lot of time and money getting it just right. It is absolutely ideal here and easy to get to the A12.”