The UK Coach Awards 2019 was very kind again to the Belle Vue team again on Thursday 2 May, 2019.
Best UK Driver – Gold
Winner, Gold Award: Belle Vue Manchester
You get nothing in this life if you don’t ask, and boy did Miguel Gonzalez ask! In 2015 Miguel was working as a delivery driver in Tenerife. After discussing with his family, Miguel sent over 400 e-mails to all the UK coach and bus companies with his CV requesting an opportunity to come and work in the UK.
His journey to success has not been an easy ride, but with perseverance, determination and assistance from the Belle Vue team, he has achieved his goal.
Miguel has a great rapport with his passengers. When Miguel was moved to another route, the pupils petitioned for him to be brought back. Miguel has developed himself into a true professional, and a worthy ambassador for Belle Vue and for the coach industry.
Says Phil Hitchen, Managing Director of Belle Vue: “He always goes the extra mile to exceed the customer’s expectations of their travel experience. He is friendly, helpful, conscientious and always mindful of passengers’ comfort and safety. This is evidenced from the volume of feedback he has received and from the personal cards the students have created for him over the last three years. Miguel’s story also featured in our quarterly magazine.”
The judges loved Miguel’s story and commended Belle Vue Manchester on giving him this job opportunity. It’s something which Miguel has clearly repaid as a loyal and important member of the company’s driving team.
Best Unsung Hero – Gold
Winner, Gold Award: Belle Vue Manchester
The old saying is that if you want a job doing properly, do it yourself. But staff at Belle Vue Manchester usually just go to their Transport Supervisor, George Docherty. There is seemingly no end to his talents – driving, cleaning, fuelling, washing, digging, repairing, moving, shifting, delivering, cooking, baking, decorating, climbing, organising, mapping, training, praising, assisting, fixing, finding, researching, painting, gardening, varnishing, sweeping, shunting, negotiating, coordinating, dressing up and dressing down!
Says Phil Hitchen, Managing Director of Belle Vue: “George truly is an inspiration to us all and the driving force behind our operations and driver team.”
In what the judges considered to be a heartfelt and compelling submission, George is shown to be someone who is happy to get stuck into whatever job is needed. He has a good eye for detail – even for tasks that he’s given at short notice.
Continues Phil Hitchen: “George Docherty is a force to be reckoned with. His determination to get the job done leaves people in awe of his capabilities George is one of our trusted supervisors within our Operations Team. He is a valued and respected member of the Management Team. George goes above and beyond his responsibilities on a daily basis.
George is a master at coordinating large events. He plans everything to the last detail. Some of his success stories in the task of coordinating transport are….The I Love MCR Concert, The Great Manchester Run, The Bramhall Duck race, Bupa Charity Run, JCB Mud Runner to name but a few.
George also decorates the vintage vehicles for weddings and prom nights. His wife provides the ribbons and flowers from her shop and she has occasionally very kindly given George a helping hand. He has helped organise charity events and participated in a superhero charity event dressed as Batman where he also arranged vintage and classic vehicles to attend (See picture above).
We have a Santa bus which is kitted out with a Grotto – all lit up and cosy; decorated with a full-on Christmas theme. George drives the Santa Grotto Bus to schools to hand out presents as Santa. He has a sing song with the kids and passes round letters from Father Christmas.
“Everyone needs a George in their company, we would not be without ours. He is a Gold Unsung Hero!” PHIL HITCHEN
Best Customer Service
Winner, Silver Award: Belle Vue Manchester
Mike Mitchell has been Belle Vue Coaches since 2012 as the Contracts Manager, a role which was created with Mike in mind.
He formerly worked at Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM). Mike now manages all the school contracts, swimming baths contracts, private school service and corporate contracts, ensuring they receive the best possible customer service.
The judges were impressed with how adaptable Mike is, jumping into different job roles that have enabled him to make a significant contribution in the seven years he’s been working at Belle Vue Manchester.
Mike ensures the drivers are compliant to the terms of the contracts, by holding regular driver meetings, going out on services to see first hand that the drivers are fulfilling the contract requirements. He checks the data daily and sends the information through to the required contractors. He monitors their driving though the tracking system and CCTV systems.
Mike has a proven ability to work independently and lead significant projects through to completion, sign off and launch.
He has an organised and methodical mind, with a high proficiency in written communication and a love of insight and detail. He is highly numerate and has proven experience of building and testing financial models for businesses and/or discrete projects.
Mike is tenacious and confident, and shows a commitment to continuous learning and process improvement. He is an expert of managing competing timelines and deadlines and has experience of developing winning tenders of scale.
Best Staff Support – Bronze
Winner, Bronze Award: Belle Vue Manchester
Mechanic Adam Tailby is becoming a force to be reckoned with at Belle Vue Manchester. His exemplary attendance record, attention to detail and his desire to succeed have driven him forward over the last eight years.
Adam is a systematic and organised individual who pays attention to the finer details of any task. He consistently demonstrates an eager and honest approach to his work, with a strong understanding of commercial vehicle systems and functionality. Adam’s MOT pass rate remains at 100%.
Adam also impressed the judges with his 100% attendance record over eight years. He clearly loves what he does and makes a significant contribution. With an impressive 100% DVSA MOT first-time-pass-rate, helping Belle Vue Manchester to maintain its Operators Compliance Risk Score (OCRS) “in the green.”
Says Phil Hitchen: “Adam came to us as a valet for the buses. He was so quiet, we thought we had cleaning fairies in the yard! The fleet was immaculate. We gave Adam the opportunity to work in the maintenance department through an apprenticeship. Adam jumped at the chance and never looked back.
“He listens and watches everything that goes on. He is not afraid to speak out and to air his views, give his opinions to assist the effective running of the Maintenance Department.
“We believe Adam is a worthy winner of this award as, regardless of his success so far, he remains grounded, focused and dedicated to his role and he is an inspiration to all young mechanics coming through the door, showing that with the right mind set, direction and plenty of determination, you can achieve your goals.
Best Engineer -Silver – Jason Cotgrave
Winner, Silver Award: Belle Vue Manchester
From Maintenance Apprentice to Maintenance Manager, Jason Cotgrave has come a long way at Belle Vue Coaches in Manchester. Jason was managed for many years by the Engineering Director who tried to instil the old styles of working. Being the technology geek, Jason had his own style of working which he continues to develop today.
Since his promotion to Maintenance Manager, he has implemented some of his ideas to improve the already high standards in the garage. Jason is now pushing for electronic walk round checks and electronic work tickets for the team of eight engineers he manages. This will take the maintenance department to another level and streamline the paper chase, freeing Jason up to spend more of his time motivating his team and engaging in more learning activities to improve their knowledge and experience.
Jason has learnt to think outside of the box. This enables others to grasp his line of thinking and input their views and opinions to assist in a solution. If something does not seem rational, he directs his focus to find a solution. Jason loves to solve intricate situations. He finds it stimulating and is ingenious in tackling complex problems. He is driven to think up many alternatives for a project or system, due to his ability to constantly see the bigger picture. He enjoys deciding what ought to be done and can give the necessary instructions to ensure that it is done.
Jason heads a team of 9 staff responsible for the maintenance of over 55 vehicles including Iveco, DAF, Volvo and Mercedes Coaches, various aged Optare and Iveco Yellow School Buses and Belle Vue’s heritage fleet. Jason has learnt to respect his team and in return they respect him. His approach to training his team to a high standard is paramount to the effective running of the department. He shares best practice on a daily basis and encourages his team to do the same.
Jason is very passionate about his work and he likes to convert everything into possibilities, ideas, plans and schemes and his initiative and imagination have led him to implement many new projects that have benefited the business and his team. He is resourceful, industrious and decisive, analytical, persistent, systematic and task-oriented.
The judges praised the way Jason has grown into his role and looked at new ways of doing things, citing the examples of saving money on parts by working with suppliers, and how he introduces new technology to bring further efficiencies into engineering.
Best Innovation – Silver
Winner, Silver Award: Belle Vue Manchester
It is sometimes said that the passenger transport industry is all about vehicles. It’s not. It’s about people. People (coach drivers) carry millions of passengers and all those interactions are more successful if communicated successfully, and iMA helps you do that. iMA identifies which of four ‘dialects’ an individual uses to communicate, with each dialect looking at, and filtering the world, through different eyes and ears. Having identified how a person wants to receive information, iMA teaches you to modify and adapt the message in a way that is most likely to be understood. When this happens communication, trust, understanding, co-operation and sales go up, while stress and tension go down. When a coach driver communicates more effectively with passengers, coach excursions become harmonious and an optimum way to travel.
Says Phil Hitchen: “In 2012 Belle Vue fitted tracking systems to our fleet that informed us how drivers accelerated, braked and cornered. Through science we wanted to perfect our driving standards to the highest they could be. We achieved that by driver communication and feedback scores. We made rides smoother, safer and more efficient. We then wanted to install a tracking systems to our driver brains! So we could ensure they offer the best planning, onboard communications and customer service! We searched and found IMA. The cloud based software solution to build teams that peak perform! IMA is a simple and effective communication tool. Anyone can pump in their name, email address and answer ten simple questions at ima-bellevuecoach.com and find out their own personality and comfort zone. iMA begins by identifying how a person wants to receive information, and then teaches you to modify and adapt the message in a way that is most likely to be understood. By communicating on the other persons wavelength, and speaking in a way that the other person finds it easiest to listen to, communication, trust, and co-operation go up and stress and tension go down. IMA is great for coach drivers who have to communicate with group organisers over a day or a weeks tour. And IMA is great for putting the right people in the right jobs to achieve extraordinary results. We have tracking systems to monitor vehicle performance and now we have IMA a personality tool to understand what people are good at so we can place them in the business where they are most effective. We have High Yellows who are great ideas people and motivators We have High Reds who drive projects. We have High Green who make great planners and problem solvers. We have High Blues who are great team players and show great empathy. “
“We trained all our staff in how to use IMA. People found out their own personality colour style and learned their strengths and weaknesses. They then learnt how to communicate effectively with people who were different from them. “When Belle Vue take on a client we ask them to answer our questionnaire so we can understand how they like to be communicated to. But we already recognise their personality by human assessment. This builds trust and rapport and cements relationships by communicating more effectively in ways that people are comfortable with.”
“The research took us 6 months to find something so simple rather than complicated personality assessments. Once this was discovered we trained in IMA to become practitioners and partnered with the founder of IMA. We now not only train our own team in IMA but also that of our clients. More and more people are fascinated with our growth over 2012-2016 and the simplistic way we build teams that peak perform.Our clients like our service delivery but more importantly the way we influence our team to perform a high level of customer service. We are now taking this training service to our client base with numerous clients coming onboard and using IMA to enhance their own organisations.”
“In 2011 when we started using IMA revenues were £1M. In 2012 they doubled to £2M. In 2014 they doubled to £4M. It is no coincidence since using IMA we have put the right people in the right jobs, IMA High Performance Teams focus on the needs, wants and strengths of the individual, creating an environment where people feel valued. For 5 years we have consolidated the business and had a greater work life balance rather than being in the office 12 hours a day 6 days a week.”
“Despite having huge success with our team, group organisers, clients and passengers, we are now starting to see the value of taking our training to clients teams. If we can show the benefits of IMA where our clients prosper too this will cement our relationship partnership.” iMA Team building adds value to your company’s bottom line by: Improving connectivity between individuals, teams, departments and clients. Increasing co-operation leading to improved organisational effectiveness. Helping to achieve personal and company goals Improving working relationships Reducing stress and tension Reducing staff turnover and absenteeism Increasing productivity Increasing sales Managing people the way they want to be managed Building morale
Continues Phil Hitchen: “People think the transport industry is all about fleet vehicles, it is not. It is about people, people carry millions of passengers and all those interactions are more successful if communicated successfully, and IMA helps you do that.”
The judges praised Belle Vue for always being willing to try something new. In what is possibly the first application of iMA by a coach operator, the company is reaping the benefits of the technique, including matching coach drivers to the private hire customer. The judges thought it is good to see the company investing in its staff and is a reminder than the coach industry is all about people.
Top Large Fleet Operator
Finalist: Belle Vue Manchester
Belle Vue Manchester has a team ethic that sets it apart. The company understands human behaviour and the part each individual plays to contribute to a quality organisation offering value, quality and reliability on every passenger journey.
Although an individual can do great things, only with a team of people will impossible feats be accomplished. When everyone works towards the same common goal, a lot more can get achieved.
Snowflakes are one of natures most fragile things, but look what they can do when they stick together. Teamwork makes the dream work.
Congratulations to our team. People Drive our business.