If you talk to Dee Bhatia, CEO of Signature Car Hire, you’ll quickly realise that he displays one of the key qualities of any successful entrepreneur – passion. ‘The best thing about running Signature’, he explains with a grin, ‘is without a doubt enjoying what I love most: looking at some of the most fantastic, sought-after, dream cars there are in the world – and of course having the opportunity to drive them.’
Although it sounds like the best job in the world, Dee is quick to point out how much hard work it took for him to get there. “In the early days of the business I was very much involved on a day to day basis; I did everything from speaking with clients to following through with customer service and delivery/collection of the car. I worked hard to ensure that the levels of service were delivered to the standards that I expected. This paid off, and today I have teams and devoted individuals within each department, which have grown substantially. There are now 3 or 4 individuals within each department to run all the different aspects of what we do.”
Not only has the extra staff members been brought in to deal with increased customer demand and an expanded business, but they are also a vital part of fending off the competition. Dee founded Signature in 2006, when the marketplace was very different: “When I initiated the concept we were pioneers who provided a unique opportunity for high net worth individuals to access a portfolio of very diverse supercars that included Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Bentleys. I think being one of the very first on the market it really did set us apart from the competition who followed us. Nowadays, not only are the manufacturers offering a broader range of vehicles at different price points to the general public – thus making it more accessible – but there are also a lot more competitors who are fighting for a share of this market.”
As a pioneer in the industry, however, Dee has gone to great lengths to ensure that he stays ahead of the competition. “Our core strategy is to make sure we have THE latest models and the best marques. Even if that means we have to order them in advance and put down premiums to be the first to receive them, that’s what keeps us ahead. Examples of those that we have delivered and are about to take delivery of would include the Range Rover Sport, Vogue and Evoque, which I am proud to have been the first to deliver those to our clients. The same philosophy has been applied to Bentley with the GTC V8; we were again the first to have the car available for hire, as well as the Mercedes S Class facelift. We also ordered top of the range supercars like the Lamborghini Aventador a long time in advance, to ensure we were the first to release them for hire, and this will follow through with the Aventador Roadster and Huracan when they arrive”.
Yet the heart of Signature hasn’t changed. Dee ensures that client feedback is given high importance, particularly when it comes to deciding which cars to order next. Customer satisfaction is essential to the business, and over the years Dee has learned how to make things run smoothly and cope with any situation that arises. “By offering an efficient care service over and above what might be expected has become standard for Signature and sets us apart.” Dee also knows that it is the customers, as well as the the cars, that are the most important thing: “We are in a very unique position that is envied I am sure by many of our competitors. So they key here is not to get complacent and to be able to adapt very quickly to changes – if that does mean selling certain assets, and I mean cars, then that needs to be done even if it is a loss to the company.”
Although the market has changed a lot in the past nine years, Dee is proud of his achievements and determined to maintain Signature’s high standards. “The market is more niche than it used to be. I believe Signature has led the way. I understand more so than ever before what our clients need and what we have to do to stay ahead. Our clients are extremely demanding and it is all about understanding their needs and delivering these to them with ease. Listening to clients has been key over the years and it will forever remain at the heart of Signature.”