I recently felt that the Martin Print team were in need of a healthy day out, away from the hustle and bustle of the office and the printing press.
Being a generous and kind-hearted soul, I took it upon myself to organise a fun-packed day of extreme sports activities, just to blow away a few cobwebs and help keep us all in good shape.
Nothing too challenging or strenuous.
Just a little bit of light abseiling, rock climbing, white water rafting , zip lining, rapid riding, zorbing, and a couple of other things which I’d never actually heard of, but looked pretty exciting.
I’d even organised a small coach from DingoBus to take us to each thrilling location in surprisingly affordable style.
It’s a good job I did really, as the luxurious coach trip turned out to be the best part of the whole day by several very comfortable miles.
The trouble only really started whenever we got off the coach to get our teeth stuck into the latest high-octane sporting challenge.
With some regret and shame, I have to report that none of us ever actually got round to participating in a single one of the activities that I’d planned.
Whenever we arrived at a new location, the feeble excuses from my team would suddenly come flooding out in a monsoon of misery.
It came as quite a shock to discover that so many of my team members had sprained ankles, were allergic to water, had a phobia of safety equipment, and were prone to fainting if their feet weren’t quite touching the ground.
Still, it wasn’t all a waste of time.
During one of our regular stop-offs, as the rest of the team were meandering around outside the coach trying to think up ways of getting out of a Bungee Jump, I grabbed the chance to have a good chat with Andrew R Reid AIAME.
Andrew was not only the driver for our journey, he was also the man in the driving seat of the growing DingoBus business as a whole.
DingoBus certainly seem to be on the right track in their aim to become the number one name in affordable executive Coach and Bus charter in Perth.
So where exactly did this journey start?
“I’ve been involved with buses for more than 30 years now,” Andrew explains.
“Following an aborted career change about six years ago, I bought a small company called Dingo Bus Charter which did practically nothing – but it did have an inroad into a major school in the area.
“A year or so later, I bought another small company with an inroad into another major school, merged the businesses together to form DingoBus, and then grew them from 5 buses to the current 10.”
So, what kinds of organisations make regular use of the DingoBus services?
“80% of our work is with schools,” replies Andrew. “With the rest being made up from corporate and private work.
“I do like the school work because there is always a demand for it. I currently have 8 contracts with 2 schools to supply ‘to and from’ transport, as well as additional transport for their sport and excursions.
“I’m very keen to continue to grow the school bus side of the business – it’s what we do and it’s what we excel at.”
We all know that running your own business is certainly no easy ride, even when your business has the sturdy wheels of DingoBus!
I wondered if Andrew had come across any particular trials and tribulations on the road to success?
“The most challenging part of running your own business is simply the 24 hour commitment to it,” Andrew reveals.
“Many people look at small business owners and think ‘Hey, they must be doing alright – they’ve got their own business!’
“But they just don’t see the real picture – the seven day working week, only getting one week’s holiday in the past 2 years, getting up at 5.30am to go and drive a bus, then working in the office all day, and then finally going home and grabbing a quick tea, then spending the rest of your evening answering emails, doing the BAS etc.
“It’s bloody hard work!
“Yes, we might just treat ourselves once in a while. But that’s because during the tough times I’ll pay everybody else before myself – and some weeks I’ll even go without altogether!
“If there’s one thing that I know about being self employed, it’s that you have to become everything from a diplomat to a doormat.
“When you start out on your own, you really have to develop your own style and business direction and be aware that there are people out there who want you to fail.
“Personally, I simply strive to provide the very best customer service that I possibly can and make it easy for the customer to spend their money with me.
“I might not be the cheapest bus operator in Perth but I consider myself one of the very best.”
Building on his 30 years of rich experience, it would seem that Andrew R Reid AIAME (the initials stand for Associate of the Institute of Automotive Engineers) and DingoBus are now on the verge of entering a new and exciting phase of development.
“As I’ve grown the business, I’ve also diversified into bus repairs. I’ve utilised my years of experience as a heavy vehicle mechanic to set up a ‘one stop’ repair shop for buses. To this end, we are now a fully licensed heavy automotive repair business! This fledgling side of the business is one that I’m really keen to expand.
“But I have no plans to conquer the world,” Andrew candidly admits.
“I can fully control my business at this size – and slightly bigger – but I see a point when I will stop expanding so as not to lose my strong focus on customer service, completely driven by me.
“I’m currently in the process of revamping our website which is all new territory for me. There’ll be a new improved DingoBus site up very shortly, as well as a brand spanking new website dedicated to the bus repairs.
Just as soon as I’ve figured out how to upload my new designs…”
At this point, the rest of the Martin Print team had given up on even trying to come up with excuses, and were simply filing back into the coach, demanding to be taken to the next leg of the journey.
What a ridiculous bunch.
But whilst we may not have got involved in any extreme sports activities that day ( I would have gone and done them all on my own if it hadn’t been for my bad leg), we certainly enjoyed the ride with DingoBus.
Meanwhile, Andrew R Reid’s own successful Small Business journey looks all set to continue well into the future.