A springboard to success

The hard work of Driver Hire Belfast’s Diane Maxwell has seen her become the recipient of numerous awards and nominations in recent times. Here, The Franchise Magazine charts her six-year journey through the business

When Diane Maxwell collected the ‘Rose Bowl Award for Endeavour’ at Driver Hire’s 2014 Conference, it was the culmination of two very exciting years for her, and maybe the springboard for even greater achievements in the future.

Diane, whose background is in transport management, joined Driver Hire Belfast six years ago, initially working for the previous management team. She became their Office Manager, running the business very successfully. When her employers moved on, Diane became an employee of Driver Hire Trading Ltd and ran the business for them. During this period she spotted the office’s untapped value and with backing from her bankers, she ultimately became her own boss. Diane has now been running Driver Hire Belfast since 2012.

Since then her rise has been meteoric. Turnover in 2012/13, her first full financial year, was more than £700,000 and in her second year she doubled this figure to over £1.4 million. Measured on turnover, it’s one of Driver Hire’s top 10 performers. Through a mix of marketing campaigns, use of social media and email marketing, Diane has led her small sales team to massive success, doubling the number of customers invoiced in a relatively short space of time.

All of which made her ‘Endeavour Award’ and recent British Franchise Association ‘Female Franchisee of the Year’ award nomination well-deserved. However, what made her move from the somewhat cosier world of employment to that of being your own boss? “In the first instance, I just love the business,” says Diane. “Having run it for someone else, I could see the potential and the idea of making it mine was an exciting one.”

Diane employs two colleagues, neither of who had any prior experience in either road transport or recruitment, so it’s been a question of moulding them into a well-drilled office team. Recruitment is a fast moving business. It’s all about reacting to customer demands quickly and smartly. It’s about finding the right person for the job, whether that’s for a temporary or permanent position. At Driver Hire it’s round the clock. So a 3.00am call from a client desperately seeking a driver is a regular occurrence.

“The support I received from Driver Hire in the early days was fantastic,” Diane continues. “Although I knew the business well, there were certain aspects of it that were unfamiliar. My Area Development Manager helped me to look at ways of increasing our revenue with existing and lapsed customers. There was also hands-on support to help me target our sales activity effectively using the various campaigns created by the marketing team, as well as help with aspects of Driver Hire’s internal client management system that I hadn’t used as an employee.”

Of course, none of her success would be possible without a team of loyal drivers. They are the office’s bread and butter. Diane has worked hard to recruit the right people, keep them busy and look after them.

On average, Driver Hire Belfast finds work for 90 drivers every week. When she took over the business, there were no drivers on the books. At its peak the office covered 460 shifts in one week and used 100 drivers. This is another clear marker of Diane’s outstanding success. “Failure was never an option,” says Diane. “When I bought the business it gave me a real rush of nervous excitement.Two years down the line and I still feel the same. The big difference I’ve noticed is that, as your own boss, you really cherish success.”