Sunday, April 21, 2024

Couple’s hands firmly on wheel of business


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SERVICE: from one family to another.

It is the way the Greenidge family – co-owners of Emmanuel Tours – operates its taxi service, through creating long-lasting friendships with repeat tourists to Barbados.

Husband and wife duo Willie and Dreina Greenidge started the business almost nine years ago, using the Crane Hotel and Resorts as their base, which is close to their St Philip home. As their business grew, so did the relationships with clients. And although they may come from various parts of the world, they are all treated as an extended family.

“The guests ask for our children, and we ask about their families . . . since the Crane is a timeshare hotel they would have many repeat tourists to the island.

“Our service level got to the point where customers would come back to use our service each time they came to Barbados,” Willie said during a recent interview in The City. That warm mid-morning, the Greenidges took the time to talk to the SUNDAY SUN while waiting for the guests they dropped off in Bridgetown to do some shopping.

They said that some of their customers have been driving with Emmanuel Tours for as long as it has been in existence.

“Sometimes our clients don’t even look for their name on a sign; they just look for Willie. In fact, we had one client who walked right past the driver [who had the client’s name on a sign] because he expected Willie! And it has happened more than once!” Dreina added with a laugh.

It was much more than service with a smile for the family. It also included their demeanour, attire and the ways they were willing to go the extra mile.

“They see our relaxed nature we have and how we interact with them and they like that. Another thing is that our vans are kept clean and they are always immaculate. We are always on time, we dress cleanly and we are fair with our prices,” Willie said.

He noted that they abided by the Government-set tariffs for airport taxis, as well as the prices suggested by the hotel. Regulars and repeat clients received specially discounted prices.

“We try to work with people. We don’t just take them as guests, we take them as friends,” Dreina added.

“We do extra things for our guests and if there is something that they want us to do before they come, we will do it for them. Our service becomes personalised once we get to know them.”

For example, Willie explained: “If we had a guest we know that every time they come in, they want to stop at the supermarket on the way to the hotel, when we are corresponding with them, we would ask: ‘Would you like us to go to the supermarket for you? We don’t mind.’ They would then send us the list and we would do the shopping for them.”

Dreina was the first one to start working in the private transportation industry 15 years ago, shuttling children to and from school for a company.

The 48-year-old took the job after choosing to stay at home with her young children, after making the choice to leave previous employment as a cashier in a department store. Dreina eventually branched out with her own shuttle service, El-Elyon, initially transporting seven children.

“It really took off because of the service level that we were giving to the families . . . and it started to spread from St Philip into St George and Enterprise [Christ Church]. We then had to be calling in others and give some of the business to other people,” Willie, 54, said.

His wife then added taxiing to the range of services and changed the company’s name from El-Elyon to Emmanuel Tours, sticking close to the Bible-based names.

“I started to operate taxis . . . and I realised that the taxi [work] was overpowering the [shuttling service] and we decided to [end] it. Running the taxi service was easier for our schedules. It made it easier to plan our day, and we could manage our time a lot better.”

Willie came aboard Emmanuel Tours, taking the night jobs in order for then-pregnant Dreina to take some much-needed rest. Nowadays, however, Dreina and Willie no longer do as much driving as in previous years.

“I don’t drive as much because of the office procedures [I perform] and also because I prefer to be home with the family and make sure that everything is going fine,” the mother and wife said.

“At the end of the day, we need to be working and making sure that you are financially providing for your family, but you also need to have balance. If mummy and daddy are out on the road all day and the children only see glimpses of them at night, that’s not good either . . . You can’t have too much of one and too little of another.”

Son Justin has also joined the family business, working steadily as a driver for the last four years and one of their daughters, Cherise, assists Dreina with office administrative duties when needed “because she is very good at typing”.

“They also have two other daughters; Lisa-Anne and Emelee-Rose. Thus far, the only interest their daughters have shown in driving is “having a private car”, Dreina quipped. However, she was happy to let her children steer their own paths.

Willie and Dreina will continue to build upon their success, with plans of expanding the business by adding to the fleet of four taxis and setting up an office outside of their home.

“We are pushing Emmanuel tours as a family and we are interacting with families too. They see that, and see our honesty and that nothing is being hidden from them,” Willie said. (Green Bananas Media)


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