From dreams of being a farmer, to construction, to Franchisee of the year, to finally owning Travel by Knight, Alan Aim has had a varied career so far. He chats to BQ about his business, his determination, and what makes a great leader.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
Travel by Knight takes the concept of sleeper bus travel to market for private hires for small groups. I am the founder, so I am involved in all aspects of business operation, marketing, admin, and organisation of vehicles and drivers on ad hoc basis.
What is it the company does?
We operate sleeper coaches so that small groups can combine their transport and accommodation requirements in one. Getting people to their destination overnight whilst they sleep. The company currently has two vehicles; a double decker tour band bus which this year has been on hires to Germany and Glastonbury, and a Mercedes Sprinter which was launched as the UK's first sleeper mini coach in October and had exposure in three bus trade magazines.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I worked with the family construction business in the Orkney Isles four years part time whilst studying and four years full time after University. I operated a Iveco mini coach on a restricted license for country pub runs and Cruise Liner tours in Orkney.
After a family tragedy I left home and set up a Cash Generator Buy & Sell retail franchise in Inverness, and later opened stores in Elgin, Aberdeen and purchased a store in Dundee, which led to receiving the Franchisee of the Year award in 2014.
In March 2017 I purchased the Ayats Bravo from a tour band bus company who over the summer supplied me with some work. All the time I had organised a mini coach conversion company in Swansea to create a sleeper bus but on a mini coach scale. In June I passed my operators CPC and in August teamed up with a small coach hire firm from Dunfermline as their part time transport manager who helped me find an operating centre and maintenance supplier for the vehicles.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Integrity – if you don’t do what you say then keep quiet.
Passion – do what you do for the love of it, and the money will follow, not the other way around
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Exposure of this new travel concept. Most people see the cheeky tag line on the side of the vehicle and laugh, but when they see inside the mini coach they are wowed at how awesome it is to have sleeper berths instead of seats.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Meditate – if you focus on the problem then you will attract more problems.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
People who don’t follow procedure then get mad when problems arise. Reiterate with training the WHY behind why we do things.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
Retail shops sold off, more investment into Travel by Knight, own dedicated Operating Centre, a scheduled service, and an international route operating in Europe.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
KISS – Keep it Simple Stupid. If you can’t explain what you do to an 8-year-old, then no one is going to get it in your elevator pitch.
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