Secrets Of Success: Dean De Beer, CEO, Tristar Worldwide

What products or services do you provide?

Tristar Worldwide provides global chauffeur services ranging from airport transfers, and transport and coordination for events and financial roadshows. Our clients include a wide range of blue chip companies and SMEs, both in the UK and globally. We have offices on three continents and operate in over 80 countries, delivering over 500,000 passengers safely to their destinations every year.

With a fleet of high spec vehicles including Mercedes S and E class, Vianos and mini coaches in the UK, and Platinum and Gold Services providing different price points, companies can choose the service that is perfect for their needs.

What is your USP?
Our first class service, although this is a bit cliché, we ensure our customers receive an exceptionally high level of consistency and reliability. Our business is about so much more than just a car. It is about an informed travel experience at every touch-point from booking to invoicing.

We’re also well known in the industry for the scale and scope of our global operations as well as our safety and training practices. We place safety at the forefront of our operation and have won numerous awards for our commitment to safe driving and in fact we recently won a RoSPA Gold Award for Management of Road Risk.

What have you done to make sure you get the right people with the right skills in place?
The key attribute we look for in people is a passion for service. It is absolutely critical in a 24/7 high end business and we have found that if people have this we can generally teach them the skills needed for a particular role. After that it’s finding the right mix of reward, recognition and career progression so that people want to do their best for the customer and therefore the business at all times.

We also place great emphasis on training, providing a comprehensive programme of internal and external training for all our staff to help them develop their skills and progress their careers. For example, over 150 of our chauffeurs have recently successfully passed the NVQ Qualification Credit Framework (QCF) Level 2 in Road Passenger Vehicle Driving, which included completion of nine units on subjects relating to their role.

Do you have any tips for managing suppliers and customers effectively?
With customers it is vitally important to understand their needs and deliver on them, this is the foundation of a strong relationship and builds trust. Also be honest at all times, this furthers your working relationship and continues to build trust.

We also try to be as proactive and flexible as possible and this is particularly important in a business like ours where many of our clients have very demanding schedules which have to be carefully managed. For example, we recently organised the ground transport for a company MD who was taking a sales trip to 18 countries, visiting 26 cities over 23 days. This required a lot of careful planning, constant monitoring and, as to be expected, lots of last minute amendments by our international team so that the client was kept on schedule.

With suppliers, treat them fairly and be clear about your requirements. Set KPIs and measure their performance to ensure that they are being met. As with customers, be honest and manage them the way you would like to be managed.

Any finance and cash-flow tips?
It sounds boring but cash really is king. Right from the day I joined we’ve had a simple cash flow model that is updated on a daily basis, so we can estimate our future cash position over a range of time periods. If you establish the foundations of good cash flow and financial planning in the early years of your business and are disciplined about taking the time to manage your finances however busy you are, then you will be better placed to manage them as the business gets larger.

Any advice for the Government?
Keep on cutting the red tape so people can concentrate on building their businesses rather than being burdened with admin. I think there is a growing entrepreneurial spirit in this country, which is reflected in the increased number of our clients that start-ups or small to medium businesses that are really going places. I think anything the government can do to help and support these young businesses, encouraging them to accelerate their growth, will be a good thing for the on-going economic recovery.

What is your attitude towards your competitors?
We keep a very watchful eye on our competitors at all times, but I think you can also learn a lot from businesses in other sectors as this can help introduce fresh thinking and innovation, rather than the same tried and trusted practices.

Any thoughts on the future of your company?
The future for Tristar is very exciting. The global economy is recovering and we have seen an increased demand from clients and prospective clients for a high level, consistent and reliable service, which is exactly what we offer. We are also in a great position to capitalise both on important trans-Atlantic routes, and the anticipated increase in business from Asia.

The continued growth of mobile technology that really helps the traveller to manage their travel on the move has also been causing big changes in our industry. We have recently launched new booking channels which include apps and mobile ready booking tools to enhance the user experience and give them the flexibility to book in the way that suits their needs. Technology developments in the industry and at Tristar are also set to continue.