Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Acklams is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Highlighting best practice
Paul Acklam, managing director
Our new team coach rear
lounge interior
Founded in 1952, Acklams Coaches Ltd began as a taxi
company known as Alpha Taxis, before evolving into a
thriving coach company headed by managing director
Paul Acklam. Acklams Coaches operates from Beverley in East
Yorkshire and now maintains a fleet of 50 passenger-carrying
vehicles (PCVs), which range from highly specialised coaches
to minibuses, and includes eight vehicles on tier Euro 6 of
the European emission standards. Despite the hardships of
the recession and the uncertainty of a post-Brexit UK, Paul is
confident that his business model will continue to thrive in the
years ahead.
Growing the business
At the beginning of the recession, Acklams Coaches was a significantly smaller
company that specialised in school runs and private hire work, working at low
profit margins and I was forced to see to all the vehicular maintenance work
personally. Thankfully, my son, Alan Acklam, became a company director. With
our efforts combined we managed to push the business forwards, despite the
industry being a highly competitive market and the financial austerity of the times.
We began “Coaches to Concerts” when a local company went into administration,
leaving customers who had paid for performances and transport without any
means of getting to the concerts.
This market proved to be very successful and Natalie Acklam, Alan’s wife, has
been a great help in driving this side of the business through the use of social
»Managing director: Paul
»Established in 1952
»Based in Beverley, East
»Services: Multifaceted coach-
based transport
»No. of employees: 80
»We have recently opened
a new body work shop in
Acklams Coaches Ltd
media, employing Facebook as a tool
to promote these concerts and our
embedded transport services, and we
now have 36,000 Facebook followers.
We have had to invest heavily in new
IT systems to cope with the influx of
bookings for these events.
The holiday market
We have subsequently diversified into
the holiday market, specialising in
both day trips aimed at large families
and longer holidays directed towards
an older clientele where we pick up
the customer at their front door, take
them for their holiday and deliver
them home again upon the holiday’s
conclusion. This side of the business is
largely advertised through our holiday
brochures rather than social media as
this marketing format better suits the
older clientele. We ask our holiday
customers to fill out a questionnaire
at the end of their vacation, which
provides us with feedback on their
experience. From this we can improve
our provision where possible.
Taking care of the customer and their
needs is a very important aspect of our
company. Over the past five years, since
we began our holiday service, we have
expanded from 12 holidays per year to
150, and we travel to destinations all
over the UK, and even provide transport
to international destinations such as
parts of southern Europe.
We have highly specialised coaches
and one of our vehicles was chosen
to be the famous red “Brexit
Bus” because of the rear lounge
arrangement. This bus has gone on to
do other corporate work since. Most of
our vehicles have been British-built at
the Plaxton factory in Scarborough and
a highly specialised vehicle has recently
been purchased with a rear lounge and
full kitchen facilities.
We employ a team of 80, including our
own maintenance and vehicle cleaning
staff. Most of our staff, including office
staff, can drive our passenger-carrying
vehicles. This ensures they can drive
a vehicle in peak times or upon short
notice. The entire team at Acklams
share a passion for doing a good job;
we have a “can do – will do” approach
and maintain an excellent customer
service record, which is essential in
today’s market.
Acklams in Europe
Despite the widely purported negative
ramifications of the EU referendum,
Icannot see Brexit having a detrimental
effect upon our business, other than
the cost of fuel due to the falling value
of the pound. There has been an eight
pence per litre increase in the price of
fuel in the last six months alone, which
has had a significant impact upon the
costs of our operation.
As we travel across Europe there
are always different laws that must
be considered, and this produces a
significant amount of administrative
work. The toll situation and different
European vehicle specifications also
must be accounted for, which can be
very time consuming. To this end the
Confederation of Passenger Transport
is very good at keeping us informed
and updated about the weekly
variation of vehicle specifications in
Our new high-spec team
We constantly
attract new
business by
offering high-
spec coaches
and well-
trained staff
Highlighting best practice
each country we visit. Many UK cities
are going to demand Euro 6-compliant
vehicles before 2020. Some European
cities have introduced this already. We
have been investing and will continue
to invest in Euro 6 vehicles, which will
enable us to be effective competitors
in the future. Investment over the last
three years in tier Euro 6 transport has
exceeded £2.5 million. The cost of a
highly specialised Euro 6-compliant
coach can exceed £400,000.
New ideas for the future
Financing vehicles has been easy;
however, securing finances to build
new workshops and office space and
finding suitable land upon which to
build has proved difficult. During the
rest of the year, we plan to build two
new vehicle service bays and a new
office block and to purchase two new
coaches. The design of these vehicles
will allow extra leg room for our
holiday-making passengers. We are
aiming to install telematics connected
to camera systems to all the vehicles
in our fleet, which will provide real-
time information back to our base.
This system will also give real-time
information about the vehicle-fitted
tachograph, to ensure drivers are
keeping within their driving hours. This
system will ensure that our company
operates safely, avoids accidents and
enables us to take appropriate action
– such as retraining – if drivers appear
to be making mistakes. This system
will also provide on-board wifi for the
passengers to use – a service that is
increasingly requested.
We have successfully taken on
apprentices over the past few years
in both the workshop and the office,
and when they turn 18, we ensure
that they pass their PCV large bus
driving tests. This reflects one of the
underlying principles of Acklams
Coaches: the market in which we work
is only going to grow in the coming
years, and bringing young people into
the industry is extremely important.
Our services will always be in demand,
and our customers are going to expect
the next generation to have the
expertise and abilities to answer this
demand, as we have done since 1952.
Investment in
the latest
has greatly
efficiency and
been very
effective in
Our Elite coach in
Austria, February 2018

This article was sponsored by Acklams. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.