We recently made the exciting announcement that the 365 Response Group of Companies has expanded once again, to include one of the leading Home to School Transport Solutions, Flexiroute. To give an insight into the thoughts behind the deal, we sat down with 365 Response CEO, Brendan Fatchett and Founders of Flexiroute, Lawrence & Geraldine Cocker. Keen to share and acknowledge the history of Flexiroute, we wanted to know the story behind where it all began.
Lawrence shared, “We set up Flexiroute after a friend working as a community transport provider asked if we could create a system for them to digitally manage their routes. There was nothing similar in the market at the time.”
Geraldine continued, “Our original concept (over 10 years ago) was to provide a web-based system. Over the years we have worked with many different clients, growing and adding to the system in line with the needs and demands of our customers.”
In contrast, 365 Response also began out of a need to change the way that vital services were managed.
Brendan shared, “Sarah and I had both witnessed too many scenarios that could have been different if the technology was in place to support the public sector in the same way that it is used in the private sector. We have personal motivations for making real change and this passion drives us to constantly challenge the status quo, using tech for good.”
It is clear from our origin stories that our values are aligned and that we can benefit from shared knowledge and resources.
Working with Local Authorities
A natural progression for Flexiroute was to work with Local Authorities to manage the complex requirements that they have for transporting children – particularly SEN children – to and from school.
Lawrence shared, “We began speaking with a number of Local Authorities about their Home to School transport and we introduced the route planner – this is an automated and interactive planning tool that takes multiple requirements and schedules the best plan for transport. Once we had developed this element, the system grew around it. We were lucky to implement our first Local Authority contract with Cheshire West & Chester Council in 2016.”
Geraldine added, “Many Local Authorities have their own in-house servers for managing transport, but we believe this is cost-prohibitive and we were able to offer a solution that did not rely on physically going out to each client to update their system.
What followed, was a customer-centric approach that meant building the system around client requirements and resulted in a large contract with West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
Speaking of the 365 Response story, Brendan shared that the business also recognised the needs of Local Authorities and the software being developed could be applied to multiple public and private sector transport requirements.
“We began working with the NHS to improve the transport of patients to and from places of care, with us too applying our system to Local Authorities to help with the challenges they face managing Home to School and Social Care transport. We developed an innovative mobile app for parents and carers of vulnerable children to easily track their children on their route to and from school, all with the reassuring knowledge that the driver is fully compliant and the vehicle is safe for use. We have since worked with some of the largest councils in the UK to drastically improve the way that their services are managed.”
Joining 365 Response
Providing mission-critical transport solutions is at the heart of 365 Response and plays an equally important role for the team at Flexiroute. It was clear from initial discussions that working together could create lasting change in the market. We asked Geraldine and Lawrence why they agreed to join the 365 Response Group of companies and this is what they shared:
Geraldine: “Being part of the Group was a really interesting idea for us. We were keen to ensure our legacy, our customers, and our staff are well looked after as we get older. We wanted to work with people who would care about our clients as much as we do, and we found that in Brendan and Sarah.”
Lawrence: “Joining 365 Response allows us to share our knowledge and resources to drive further improvements and reach even more people with our solutions. We are clearly a good fit, with a very similar ethos and we wanted to have that long-term commitment for our staff and our customers. We consider our team a family so that was of the greatest importance to us.”
Discussing the acquisition, Brendan commented, “We had wanted to work with Flexiroute for some time, but we needed to make sure the partnership was right for everyone. It is our aim to be the single best provider of transport management solutions for public and private sector; and this fits in perfectly with our long-term strategy to support the delivery of zero-carbon solutions for Councils.
We are passionate about developing new solutions to better service the market and deliver our promise to improve transport for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”
What can our customers expect?
Moving forward, customers of 365 Response and Flexiroute can expect the same great level of service from the contacts they have always known, but with additional resources and functionality. This acquisition brings together our Home to School transport solutions and combines functionality for demand responsive transport and integration with mainstream bus and ticketing, with digital transport marketplace solutions.
Working together using our customer-centric approach, we plan to further develop our award-winning solutions, bringing true transformation to the public and private sector.
If you would like to discuss the solutions that we offer and how this new acquisition impacts you, please get in touch via [email protected].