It’s not been a bundle of laughs running a taxi business over the last couple of years. We’ve been integrating Rainham Cabs into the Company, bedding in new computerised systems then training our Operators, Drivers and ourselves to make the most out of them. At the same time we’ve seen hundreds of Uber cars illegally flooding the towns and more recently we’ve been dealing with the effects of the pandemic and the threat that’s created for our employees and Drivers. It’s been one thing after another and quite a challenge. The choices we’ve made throughout this period have been and continue to be focussed on using these challenges to improve the Company in every way we can.

The acquisition of Rainham Cabs extended our reach from Rainham right across Medway into Strood. This enables us to accept jobs from 98% of the calls we take and reduced the average pick-up time to just over 5 minutes. This scaled up the size of the business sufficient to enable us to invest heavily in the technology needed to stay ahead of the Uber in terms of customer service. Vokes now offer everything offered by Uber and much more, with a booking App matching that provided by Uber and options to speak with an experienced Operator whenever a booking is a little more complicated.

The ongoing COVID-19 has been devastating for many, but we’ve used it as an opportunity to demonstrate the commitment and support we provide to the local community. A number of our Drivers put their own wellbeing aside during the lockdown recognising the reliance many people have on a local taxi service. Our Operators manned the phones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week arranging transport for key workers and the collection of goods for some vulnerable individuals that couldn’t leave home. We also continued to transport vulnerable children and young adults to school throughout the period. It was more or less business as usual (but at a 75% reduced level) but we seized the opportunity to go further with the Great Cup-Cake Delivery that we launched on Facebook in April. We teamed up with Jacqui at https://www.facebook.com/Berryliciouscakesbyjacqui and had her bake over a thousand cup-cakes that we delivered totally free of charge to anyone needing a bit of a lift in what was for many a very difficult time. We loved doing it and were moved to tears by some of the recipients who were just so pleased to know that they weren’t alone. We also took a great deal of pride in putting smiles on the faces of many key workers including doctors, nurses and care workers. In addition we got into the habit of making weekly calls to some of our regular customers, just to make sure they weren’t in need or suffering mentally from the isolation.

Perhaps selfishly we used the situation to draw a comparison between Vokes and Uber. Uber drivers flood the towns when times are good but completely disappeared when the going got tough. Our Drivers and staff stood firm when the community needed them most and we really value the notes of appreciation we’ve received from so many of our customers.

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