Fri, 22/02/2019 - 08:00
Current Issue 71
Redefining Kenyan Coach Services
Easy Coach has set new customer-centric standards since Managing Director Azym Dossa established the business in 2003, a journey which has resulted in superbrand recognition
Writer: Tom Wadlow
Project Manager: Josh Mann
“I founded the company at a crossroads in my life.
“I was inspired by my personal experience of 17 years as Chief Financial Officer for a leading passenger transport company, and my observations of how the industry can be improved as far as customer needs and satisfaction was concerned.
“The service providers existing then were, although acceptable, not up to the mark. We went on to establish a company with a different concept and to create a perception of the new kid on the block, delivering what the customer deserved and should have.
“Travellers grabbed the concept. We created a niche, more premium market for ourselves, and the rest is history.”
Azym Dossa is the Founder and Managing Director of Kenya’s Easy Coach.
Set up in 2003, its 105-coach fleet transports both people and parcels through a 37-branch network stretching across Nyanza, Western Region, North Rift, South Rift and Kampala.
From scheduled passenger services to 37 destinations to a dedicated bus hire service and corporate travel for companies, Easy Coach is a go-to provider of long-distance travel solutions with a license to carry cargo inside undercarriage boots.
Its services also cover a partnership with leading supermarket brands Uchumi and Naivas covering 20 outlets across Nairboi’s CBD and outskirts.
“We transport approximately 1.2 million passengers annually within our network and our annual throughput for parcel and letter shipments is 1.3 million items,” adds Dossa. “This is currently carried out by our 1,000-strong workforce.”
Easy Coach’s rise to prominence has earned it superbrand status from global professional services and auditing giant KPMG, a feat which instils Dossa with an immense degree of validation and pride.
“It is always the desire of any company that has invested its time, energy and resources to see it blossom, and to be given a superbrand status is a sweet reward,” he continues.
“It increases our ridership and boosts confidence amongst our customers. Last year we were the only and first bus company to be in the prestigious Club 101 and we have also received commendation by Kenya Revenue Authority as the top tax compliant company in the transport sector.
“Besides the honours and prestige, however, this gives us the motivation to ‘keep on walking’ and earn the respect of customers.”
Safeguarding the future
Easy Coach currently concentrates its energy on Western Kenya with routes covering approximately 900,000-1.8 million kilometres per month.
However, Dossa believes there is huge potential in central, eastern coastal and regional markets like Tanzania and Rwanda, and that the company is currently conducting feasibility studies to assess the viability of its business model in these places.
In order to successfully grow, Easy Coach will have to add to its already substantial workforce, something which should not be too difficult given the recognitions and awards previously won.
“In 2016 we were listed as nominees of the prestigious FKE award,” adds Dossa. “Easy Coach encourages staff training and we carry out at least two in-house sessions annually.
“Additionally, we afford time off to our staff that have joined colleges and institutions of higher learning to further their skills. We are registered with the National Industrial Training Authority and as such claim for all the trainings we undertake for our staff.”
Another pull factor that helps to attract employees is Easy Coach’s approach to road safety.
On top of the fleet management system installed across the company’s vehicles and workshop, the coaches are also fitted with speed restrictors, safety belts and high-quality tyres which are subject to daily checks.
“All our drivers undergo refresher courses on a regular basis,” says Dossa. “We developed an online interactive app that enables customers to register any feedback on drivers and driving habits, and they are responded to within 24 hours.
“We maintain records and adhere to a strict eight hours of driving for our drivers to curb fatigue, which is one of the major causes of accidents in public service vehicles.”
Easy Coach is a key partner of Kenya’s National Transport and Safety Authority, supporting several road safety campaigns and financially contributing towards civic education and installation of pedestrian barriers.
“Motorcyclists, commonly referred to here as “Boda Boda” riders, are rapidly growing in number, providing transport on short distances within the various CBDs in Kenya, and these have also been a major cause of accidents,” continues Dossa. “To enhance their visibility, we have donated reflective jackets which will help reduce accidents.”
The company also supports initiatives that help underprivileged children, namely through direct employment and provision of free transport for children’s homes for excursions to various destinations. Further, Easy Coach assists Rotary and Lions charities by offering financial and logistical support to their pop-up eye clinics.
By growing its business and simultaneously engaging with communities, Dossa and his company will continue to positively contribute to the wider development of Kenya’s towns and cities, a key motivator for the Founder and Managing Director moving forwards.
He concludes: “Transport and specifically the public commuter service sector’s future is bright because it’s a key economic mover, however, the players have to be protected or cushioned from the ever-increasing running costs of fuel, spares and maintenance.
“Kenya is a growing economy with ambitious plans, namely the BIG FOUR agenda, vision 2030 and transformation of its towns into 24-hour economies. To make all of these ambitions a reality, the transport sector will play an integral role.”