Tifinni Wissing, Founding Director of Old School Cool, dropped out of university and with her small little car decided to start up a unique school transport service.
What started with one vehicle and one driver has now evolved into a 30-vehicle fleet, offering the highest levels of safety when transporting school children. No expense is spared in ensuring every possible safety feature in each vehicle, from advanced technology such as on-board cameras, to real time tracking of each vehicle.
The company employs and up-skills only female drivers, to ensure that they have experience in childcare AND driving. They are trained extensively (at least one month of training before they even touch the steering wheel of a car) and they are closely monitored while on the road.
Cool (Kids) Cabs won the 2015 702 Small Business Award, and has plans of increasing its fleet to up to 100 by 2019.
We chatted to Tiffini who explained exactly how it all works:
- Please tell us what Old School Cool is and how it works?
Our flagship service, Cool (kids’) Cabs offers safe, reliable transport aimed at the discerning parent. We see ourselves as ‘childcare on wheels’, acknowledging that transporting children is not limited to driving. We are available for customised lifting tailored to parents’ specific needs; this includes transport to and from school, extra murals, social engagements, medical appointments and more.
- How did the idea come about and what led to its success?
Old School Cool originally started as a home-based care recruitment agency. During my time placing various caregivers into households, it became blatantly obvious that there was a massive gap in the market for a safe, monitored alternative to transporting children. The typical school transport systems (i.e. bussed serviced) often result in children spending unnecessary time on the roads whilst dropping off fellow pupils. Au pair transport is hugely unmonitored and often means placing your child in the care of a new driver who may not have a reliable vehicle. I knew there was a better solution – and thus Cool (kids’) Cabs was born. The service offers unparalleled safety features including live feed cameras from our vehicles and highly trained LADY drivers.
- What measures are taken to ensure the safety of children and passengers during trips and how does this differ from other taxi/ride hailing apps and companies?
The safety of our passengers (and their fellow classmates within the schools) is of paramount importance to us and no expense is spared in ensuring that the most state of the art technology and driver training is secured.
Every vehicle is fitted with a live tracking system which is monitored by a supervisor at all times. Thus if a child is being transported, not only is s/he being cared for by her driver, s/he is also being carefully monitored by a supervisor based in our head office.
This supervisor is responsible for generating SMS notifications to parents on pick up and drop off. We do not condone drivers having any use of cell phones on the road; hence our decision to ensure that the SMS notifications are generated in the head office. This also acts as a wonderful check and balance to ensure that the child is in fact where s/he is supposed to be.
On the note of hands free communication – every vehicle is fitted with its own sim card – ensuring seamless communication which cannot be tampered with. Unlike traditional hands free phone connections, our driver communication system links directly to a speaker in the vehicle meaning a driver cannot refuse a call and supervisors have access to the audio within a vehicle at any time.
Every vehicle is fitted with an on-board camera and we are currently moving across to a live feed system (installed in many of our vehicles already) which gives immediate access to all footage in the cars in real time.
Our drivers, who are all ladies, are not only skilled in driving, but also childcare. Every one of our amazing team is handpicked and nurtured throughout the course of their employment. Extensive training (including First Aid, Advanced Driving, HiJack Prevention, Childcare, Car Seat Installation, Etiquette and more) is given on an ongoing basis.
We are hugely passionate about car seat safety and do extensive and intense training on this topic.
- What has the general response from parents and other members been like? How much has the business grown since starting up?
Our service is (thankfully) highly sought after and we run extensive waiting list. Parents speak highly of our service and to date, all business has been based on word of mouth. We have experienced amazing growth, limited only on our ability to lever finance quickly enough to mobilise additional vehicles.
- In which parts of the country is Old School Cool available?
The majority of our current fleet is in JHB, however we have just put a few vehicles into the Centurion/Pretoria East area. We anticipate mobilising vehicles in KZN and Cape Town in January 2017.
- Any new/future plans to expand or enhance the business?
Definitely – we plan to have 100 vehicles on the road in three provinces by 2019.
And lastly, where can parents go to register?
and www.facebook.com/oldschoolcoolcc (where you will find weekly car seat tips and advice too)