…and as convinced as ever this is a people business
Jonny Goldstone, original co-founder of Green Tomato Cars, has returned to the company as MD at a pivotal time in the London private hire market and urges the industry to get back to focusing on people. He comments: ‘Disruptors like Uber promote themselves as tech companies that happen to need people, with high tech and (by their own admission) unsustainably low prices being the driving force of their businesses. While everyone at Green Tomato Cars embraces the use of technology to help provide the best possible service, I believe the private hire business is all about people: passengers, staff and, above all, drivers.’
Jonny continues, ‘We see the attractiveness of the largest operators being able to offer near-instant availability, but we know that many people won’t use them because of big questions about their corporate culture and practices, and the reducing quality of a growing proportion of their drivers. Many of our customers would rather wait a little longer or make a pre-booking, knowing the actual journey will be a more pleasant and relaxing experience, with no nasty surprises about the fare at the end of the trip.’
With Green Tomato Cars’ unique proposition as the only serious option in London for environmentally-friendly private transport services, further development of the company’s green credentials will be a priority. Jonny’s plans include upgrading the fleet to exclusively zero emissions and hybrid vehicles by the end of 2018 and pioneering other innovative transportation services, while reminding Londoners about what makes Green Tomato Cars special – both for people and the planet.
Jonny comments: “The changes in the competitive landscape and the Mayor’s pledge to introduce an Ultra Low Emission Zone by 2019 have helped us focus on what makes us special. We’re now going back to our roots and will be leading the way with advances in environmentally-friendly vehicle technology and making sure we treat all our customers, drivers and staff, as well as we can. We expect to have some major announcements in both those areas in the coming months.”
Early changes Jonny has instigated include an upgraded website with easy, secure booking from the home page and a simplified process for drivers and business clients to apply to work with Green Tomato Cars.
Jonny founded Green Tomato Cars, with fellow ex- City lawyer Tom Pakenham, in 2006. They believed passionately that there was a need for an affordable, high quality and green private hire option to serve Londoners and so started the business in west London with just four cars. The company grew rapidly and in 2010 Jonny and Tom sold the business to Transdev Group, the world’s largest ground transportation company. Jonny stayed on to see the company through a period of sustained growth, before relocating to Washington DC to establish Green Tomato Cars there in 2013. He returned to London two years later and took on various consulting roles with businesses in the wider transportation industry and outside sectors too and more recently he worked on a start-up called Piccnicc, offering takeaway delivery in airports.
Jonny was invited back to the business when previous MD Julia Thomas, accepted a promotion relocating within Transdev to Chicago to help run the Group’s US business.