Andy Moore, an entrepreneur at heart weary of working for someone else, decided to put himself in the driver’s seat. Literally. With financial assistance from the Orillia Area Community Development Corporation (CDC), the local resident recently opened a Driverseat franchise.
“It’s a great concept,” Moore said of Driverseat. “You’re helping people and you’re keeping the roads safe.”
Utilizing Driverseat is like employing your own personal chauffeur. The unique business offers four core services: designated driver, airport chauffeur, assisted transport and vehicle chauffeur. In all cases, their professional drivers chauffeur you in your own car.
“For example, if you call us for the designated driver service, a two-person team – a Coachman and a Chaser – will show up wherever you are,” he explained. “The Coachman will drive you (and your friends) home in your own vehicle and a Chaser follows and picks up the Coachman.”
Moore says when people understand the benefits of the concept – their car is safely back at their home, they don’t have to worry about parking tickets or picking up their vehicle the next morning and, most importantly, roads were kept safe – they are thrilled about the service.
“Our fee anywhere in town is $25 and that covers eight kilometres. You can download our free app and directly order rides on your smart phone then pay directly through the app … it couldn’t be easier,” said Moore, who noted the company will also offer a customized designated driver service for special events such as weddings, Jack and Jills or corporate functions.
Driverseat’s airport chauffeur service is also proving popular. A Coachman will arrive at your home, help you load your luggage and drive you – in the comfort of your own vehicle – to the airport and then drive your vehicle back home. When you land, the driver will be waiting to take you back home.
“We offer white-glove treatment,” said Moore. “We’ll arrive at the house, shovel the snow off the car or hold an umbrella for them if it’s raining and we drive them in their vehicle and drop them off at the terminal … they don’t have to pay for park-and-fly, worry about a shuttle or finding their car when they return or worry about the car getting dinged in the lot … they avoid all the hassle.”
The assisted transport program is similar; drivers will take customers – in their own vehicles – to appointments or errands. For those without a vehicle, Driverseat’s minivan and driver can be booked. Driverseat also offers vehicle chauffeur services in which a driver will take a customer’s car in for its oil change or service or transport the car to another location.
“Driverseat began in Barrie a few years ago and has since spread to over 150 communities being serviced by 22 franchise locations,” said Moore. “I think it’s a service that is really needed in Orillia. Recently, the local police charged four people with impaired driving in one weekend. We want to see impaired driving eliminated.”
Customer service also drives the enterprise. “Service is what differentiates us,” he said. “We pride ourselves on being as affordable or more affordable than a taxi but with the customer service level of a personal driver or a limousine.”
While he believes the service is much-needed and will be widely embraced, he said without the support of the CDC, he would not have been able to open the business. “The CDC was absolutely instrumental … they made this possible and affordable,” he said. “(Loans officer) Susan Stacey encouraged me to get involved with Starter Company, which was also fantastic.”
The provincial program offers entrepreneurs aged 18 to 29 a $5,000 grant in addition to professional mentoring support to help launch a business. Moore said Starter Company support has been a key to his success.