Chauffeur on call

 13 September 2010 – New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: Need a chauffeur to pick up important business clients from the airport? Or pick up your aged parents or young children when you can’t do so?

Then it’s time to give Pulse a call and a uniformed, trained and insured chauffeur will be sent to attend to those needs.

Pulse Chauffeur Services, a new chauffeur training institution set up in February this year, is where ordinary drivers are groomed to become professional chauffeurs. “Your car, Our chauffeur” could well be the company motto.

“Our goal is to improve the quality of chauffeurs in Malaysia as well as develop chauffeuring as an industry, which is practically non-existent,” said Tharmaraja Thiruvangadam, the managing director of the company who has years of experience in the hospitality and clubbing industry.

He knows how difficult it is to get a good driver.

“I have been driving my car for the past 20 years but in the last five years, I’ve had a driver take me around. I’ve had three drivers in five years. I would like to think it’s not my fault, but that drivers are not given enough incentives to be committed to what they do.

“It disrupts your entire day when your driver doesn’t show up for work. You have to take the children to school, your mother to hospital, your wife to work, then pick up the kids from school and so on.

“Whatever plans you had would be spoilt,” he said. And hunting for another driver can be an exhausting experience.

“There is a huge demand for chauffeurs in this country because both husband and wife usually work, and there’s nobody to take the children to school.

“With kidnapping ,robberies and other crimes rampant, people are a bit wary to ask their children to take public transport or school buses. That’s the reason I hired a driver,” he said.

Having travelled extensively, Tharmaraja found that chauffeuring was big business in countries like the United States, Canada and Australia. That’s how he came out with his idea to set up his own chauffeur services with business partner ‘and director Ian Gordon.

According to him, there are companies in the country which offer a car-and-driver package but Pulse doesn’t do so unless there’s a request.

“If you don’t have a vehicle, then we will rent a car from legitimate car rental companies and put our chauffeur behind the wheel and package it for you,” he said.

So, what differentiates a chauffeur from a cab or ordinary driver?

“I think the most important aspect is attitude. Even if one has good driving skills, knowledge and experience, one cannot become a good chauffeur without the right attitude.

“Honesty, punctuality, trust-worthiness and patience are important. As a chauffeur, you might have to sit around for a long time, waiting and doing nothing.

“So, patience is key. Knowledge of the country’s roads, places of interest and of course, driving skills, are other factors that make a good chauffeur,” he said.

Pulse, he said, developed a professional certification programme to train chauffeurs.

“If they don’t want to work with us, that is fine. They can attend the training programme and become certified chauffeurs. With that certification, they can hopefully get employment somewhere else,” said Tharmaraja.

Harith Abdullah, head of training for Pulse and one of its directors, said there are some modules trainees have to complete before they can be certified as chauffeurs. These include personal development with emphasis on attire, hygiene, communication skills,customer service, driving skills, driving experience as well as areas such as car maintenance, safe driving, security, and how to attend to the specific needs of clients. “It’s a six-day programme.

On the first day, we send them for a medical check-up to ensure they are healthy. One of the most important tests is to check whether their eyesight is good. We also do a background check for criminal records. We check with police, JPJ (Road Transport Depart-ment) and CTOS records to ensure that these people are “clean”.

“We also check how many traffic summonses they have. If a driver has numerous traffic summonses, it not only shows his attitude towards driving but also if he is law-abiding. But if the summons are for matters such as parking, we will counsel them and ensure they don’t repeat them,” added Tharmaraja.

“As the chauffeurs will be driving different types of vehicles of our clients, they also need to learn how to manage and maintain such vehicles. We rely on modern technology and the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) kits.

We have tied up with a company called Gophers which teaches our chauffeurs how to use the GPS tool,” said Harith.

Anyone aged between 20 and 59 who are keen to become chauffeurs can approach Pulse to become a professional chauffeur.

Call 03-4043 7951/012-274 3201 or email chauffeur@pulseservices.com.my.

For more information, visit www.pulseservices.com.my or visit the Pulse centre at 22, 3rd Floor, Jalan Kovil Hilir, off Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur.

By Naveen Mathew Menon
streets@nstp.com.my

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