Q&A: Secure Drive – Peace of mind

During the financial crash in 2009, one of the first line items removed or reduced on most balance sheets was security, which presented Secure Drive with an opportunity to provide customers with a secure travel service at a more cost-effective rate, solving a budgetary issue while also meeting the needs of businesses that required safe transportation. That's the story of Jared Higgins, CEO of Secure Drive, as told to Business Traveller Africa.

Q: In which African countries does Secure Drive operate and are there plans to enter new territories?

A: Secure Drive currently has offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lagos and Abuja. Through long-term, strategic partnerships where we have a direct involvement, we also offer Secure Drive services in over 40 countries around the world, not only Africa.

Q: Why is the Secure Drive offering a good fit for the African continent?

A: Africa, like other developing continents, is known for its poor road infrastructure. This has resulted in motor vehicle accidents rising to one of the highest risks that travellers face when travelling today. Negligent or reckless driving, the poor level of roadworthiness of vehicles, and the standard of training for most ‘off the street’ drivers can also make travelling a very stressful experience. So our offering, which provides highly-trained staff, roadworthy vehicles and tracking units, gives great peace of mind.

Q: How does Secure Drive differ from other point-to-point services?

A: Our drivers are specially trained with a skill set that is not offered in the market currently. We have a mandatory training programme for all our staff which includes ‘street wise’ driver training, hijack prevention, first aid, advanced driving, basic motor mechanics, and counter surveillance. Each client is assigned a dedicated journey facilitator who is actively involved from the first request until after the trip has been completed. Customers have access to our Arcwatch App, a geolocation app that allows customers to check in along the way (as some companies require this) as well as a distress function which pin-drops their location.

Q: What are the different products you offer clients?

A: In some locations, we can offer armed Secure Drive services, also assisting with escorts, driving a variety of vehicles. We can arrange meet-and-greet services for arriving passengers. Our GSOC provides 24/7 traffic updates and crime or risk-related updates as and when they occur for ease of travel and peace of mind. Customers can book and pay for our services using the Secure Drive app. We monitor client flights and advise them of delays, as well as ensure that staff are informed of earlier arrivals to ensure seamless meeting and collection at airports.

Q: What’s the response from your clients to the in-car wi-fi you offer? Is there much of an uptake?

A: Our customers love it! This is one of those added extras we won’t compromise on as it allows them to improve productivity by working on the move. However, we do discourage against it at night for safety reasons when travelling from one location to another.

Q: What type of travellers would benefit most from Secure Drive’s services?

A: Most travellers (even the seasoned ones) can benefit from one or more elements of our offering. More often than not people become too comfortable in foreign settings because nothing has ever happened or they feel at ease in areas they have already been to, but much like insurance, you’ll wish you had it when you needed it.

Q: What training do Secure Drive drivers receive?

A: Street wise driver training, hijack prevention, first aid, advanced driving, basic motor mechanics, counter surveillance, customer service and etiquette, firearm training, and wellness programmes.

Q: What vehicles do you operate in your fleet and why?

A: We have a range of vehicles varying from entry level sedans (Toyota Corolla) to Mercedes Benz Vianos, various SUVs and luxury sedans. We use a variety of vehicles for a number of reasons, as some customers like specific models or vehicles, whilst others are more concerned about the service and less on the luxurious vehicles. In other cases, we make recommendations based on our knowledge of the environment, such as suggesting an SUV to counteract the road condition in a certain location.

Q: To what extent do you feel the chauffeur drive/point-to-point sector has been affected by ride-sharing services in Africa?

A: I think that the standard point-to-point services have been affected with customers finding it faster and easier to use an on-demand service nowadays versus booking and using an airport shuttle. Because our focus is on security and secure transportation and targeted at somewhat of a niche market, we find we are offering exactly what our customer base wants and is willing to pay for. The knowledge that their movements are planned, safe, secure, and that we have the systems to assist and respond in the event of an unfortunate incident is really what sets us apart within this market.