Barwood Taxi - Our Background and History.
In 1960, Harry Barnes started a taxi company in Bethesda. A business that began with a few taxis grew to a fleet of 45 by 1964. The company currently has a fleet of almost 500 vehicles. Barwood is privately held and is operated by Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Lee Barnes. Close, personal attention, care and involvement make for effective management and the retention of key personnel, resulting in excellent customer service.
Barwood serves over 5,000 customers per day. Many of Montgomery County’s government leaders and citizens have expressed appreciation for such efficient and dependable transportation services. Montgomery County, the State of Maryland, and the International Taxi and Livery Association have bestowed Barwood with various awards and honors.
With a national reputation as an industry leader, Barwood is highly innovative among ground transportation companies. Every phase of the business is computerized. In 1989 Barwood became one of only 15 companies in the United States to go online with a fully computerized dispatch system that included terminals in the taxis. This technology greatly reduced dispatch time and enhances customer service. Since 2002 we have employed GPS technology, which has many benefits for passengers, drivers, and the vehicles.
COMPANY VISION & MISSION
Barwood’s vision is “Driven for Excellence.” This ideal is carried by all Barwood team members to guide them in the provision of excellent customer service.
Barwood’s corporate mission is to exceed our customers’ needs by providing professional, courteous ground transportation solutions, to create superior business opportunities for our drivers, and to develop an ideal working environment for our employees.
LOCATION, FACILITIES, EQUIPMENT
Barwood is located in Kensington, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C., in a modern and well-maintained complex of corporate offices, including a dispatch center and a full service vehicle maintenance facility.
Our commitment to using innovative technology is something Barwood is known for and proud of, because we were an early adopter of different technologies. In 1982, we were the first Maryland taxi company to have computer-aided dispatch. In 1989 we installed Mobile Data Terminals in each taxi. We were one of only six taxi companies in North America to so at the time. It was a good decision: this technology helped us achieve significantly better response time for our customers.
In 2002, we were one of a dozen companies in North America to initiate the use of Mobile Data Terminals with GPS, further improving response times. This technology had a positive effect on the environment. Drivers spent less time sitting with engines idling and they traveled more efficient routes, decreasing wear and tear on the vehicles. We have Centrodyne smart meters that inform drivers and customers of traffic delays.
These meters produce printed receipts and we are the only Maryland taxi company to offer printed receipts to customers. Our paperless billing system is also an industry first in our area, and customers appreciate the ability to see online images of their vouchers, complete with signature and tip. They also receive GPS verification of the fare and the shortest route.
The latest technology we installed in our taxis went into the back seat: we integrated our Mobile Data Terminals with the VeriFone Transportation System, a video and credit card device for taxi customers who want to pay by credit card. The swipe-it-yourself device is called a Personal Information Monitor. Transactions are processed via the Sprint Nextel data network. This eliminates any coverage issues the drivers experienced with the previous credit card system.
In Barwood’s fleet there are approximately 500 vehicles, including wheelchair accessible minivans and hybrids, all of which are late model vehicles that are well maintained.
Fleet Tech, our maintenance facility, is essential to Barwood’s commitment to safety as its number one priority, and prevention is integral to maintaining safety. The ultimate goal of every shop visit is that the proper job is done and the car is back on the road without delay, in spotless condition, inside and out.
The Shop has a large and experienced staff of mechanics, including State of Maryland certified inspectors. Within Fleet Tech is a fully stocked and staffed Parts Department. All cars in the fleet are checked and serviced on a regular basis, with the most modern diagnostic equipment to prevent problems before they begin.
All vehicles meet or exceed state standards for safety and maintenance. Each car is checked daily for interior and exterior condition, general appearance, and oil and fluid levels. Every 4,000 miles a thorough check up is performed, ensuring optimum mechanical operation. At six-month intervals, a vehicle inspection report is prepared according to County and State standards, which call for a stringent road test and an exacting inspection of the brakes, lights, alignment and tires. Vehicle emissions are also tested every six months, which is twice as often as required by Maryland State law.
CUSTOMER SALES & SERVICE CENTER
Phones are answered and orders taken by a staff consisting of a Sales & Service Center Supervisor, a Radio Dispatch Supervisor and six to eight Customer Service Agents per shift. The CustomerSales & ServiceCenter operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Orders are entered into computer terminals for computerized, but human-assisted, dispatching. This system is very efficient, with a personal touch that is possible due to the volume of tasks that are handled by the computer.
The computer dispatch system has greatly reduced response time; therefore customers’ taxis arrive as quickly as possible. From a business perspective, the system allows for unlimited potential growth while stabilizing labor costs. It has the capacity to process many times the current amount of trips with no increase in dispatch staff.
Barwood is the only area taxi company that tracks and records drivers’ on-time performance.
MANAGEMENT AND PERSONNEL
Lee Barnes, son of the late Harry Barnes, is President and Chief Executive Officer. He grew up in the business, drove a taxi during his college years and began his career in earnest in 1974 at age 21. Active in numerous industry and community organizations, he is Chairman of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce for 2009-2010. He has served as President of the Maryland Taxicab Association, President of the International Taxicab and Livery Association, and President of the Montgomery County Conference and Visitors Bureau. A member of the Leadership Montgomery Class of 2000, he was honored with an appointment to the Montgomery County Executive’s Economic Advisory Council, and served as a member of the Montgomery County Workforce Development Group, the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, and the board of the Olney Theatre Center for the Arts.
Driver selection and training are critical to Barwood’s success. In order to be considered for taxi leasing, the recruit must meet the following criteria: stability in the area, preferably in Montgomery County, a good driving record, true knowledge of the metropolitan area in addition to map reading skills, and excellent personal references. No driver gets behind the wheel of a Barwood taxi before being fingerprinted and passing a full FBI background check.
Applicants must pass a Montgomery County test to receive a taxi driver I.D. card. The exam is based on geographical knowledge, language skills, math and U.S. currency.
Barwood leases taxis – the drivers work as independent contractors. Each is thoroughly trained at Barwood, well beyond transportation industry standards. A safety-certified instructor trains prospective drivers in the following areas: defensive driving, map reading, customer service, radio and computer terminal skills. Training includes a two-hour segment on sensitivity toward people with disabilities. Addressing safety matters and personal issues, the instructor covers proper equipment handling and aspects of treating all passengers as individuals who have a disability but are not defined by it.
SPECIALIZED DIVISIONS AND SERVICES
Barwood has grown steadily over the years, and we are a full service ground transportation company with the capability to respond to a full spectrum of customer needs.
TAXI PLUS utilizes specially modified minivans that are capable of accommodating people who ride in their wheelchairs, enabling them to travel independently in comfort and security. Barwood developed the Taxi Plus division in 1986. We are proud of our early awareness of the needs of this population, before the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted into law in 1992.
EXECUTIVE COACH offers luxurious yet affordable sedan transportation. On-demand service and advance reservations are easily arranged. Business people who are pressed for time and who need reliable transportation count on Executive Coach. The late model sedans are immaculate, equipped with cellular phones, and driven by professional, uniformed chauffeurs. Billing options include corporate accounts and credit cards. Vans and buses of various sizes — accommodating 14 passengers, 25 passengers, or more — are also available, as are stretch limousines.
SOBER RIDE, a commitment of Barwood’s since 1985, is a program designed to keep drunk drivers off the road by providing free taxi rides to those who call from area bars, restaurants and even private parties. Barwood provides this service in conjunction with other metropolitan area transportation providers via an area organization called the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP). This campaign has also served to raise public awareness. Due to the publicity associated with SoberRide and similar campaigns, fewer people drink and more people designate a driver in their group who will not drink at all during the evening. SoberRide is in effect during the winter holidays and on other holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween.
ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIENTIOUS: BARWOOD GREEN
BARWOOD GREEN is a term that reminds us to be as ecologically-sensitive as possible. It began in 2009 with two hybrid Ford Escape vehicles that we are evaluating for their ability to endure the rigors of high use taxi service.
Barwood is, and has always been, attuned to environmental issues. Natural Gas Vehicles were incorporated into the Barwood taxicab fleet in 1996, when Barwood became the first for-hire vehicle company in the area to have such vehicles available to provide service to customers. Unfortunately, it became almost impossible to find the fuel, and we had to abandon this program.
Other Barwood Green efforts include paperless billing, recycling, and commuter benefits to those who use public transportation. We have won regional awards for our programs. For example, Barwood was recently named one of the Washington area’s best commuter workplaces by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its efforts in helping to reduce traffic and air pollution in the community. In June 2009 Barwood received the Advocates for Alternative Commuting Excellence Award, also known as an A2CE Award. Barwood was recognized for providing alternative commuting options to employees, including flex - schedules, tele-commuting and providing employees with subsidized transit cards.
Barwood’s approach to customer service and customer communications sets it apart from other taxi and transportation companies. A Customer Sales & Service Center Supervisor is on duty 24 hours a day. This manager is responsible for speaking to customers who have service inquiries. If the question can be answered or the problem solved immediately, then that is accomplished. If further investigation is required, a report is written up on a standard Barwood form, a Customer Service Report (CSR), and the Customer Sales & Service Center Supervisor directs the research through an Operations Manager who is then responsible for meeting with the driver involved and following up until the matter is concluded satisfactorily.
This process is supervised by our Quality Assurance Manager, (QAM). The QAM researches each Customer Service Report and determines appropriate responses. The QAM then reviews each Customer Service Report with CEO, Lee Barnes. Barnes emphasizes to employees that all customer communication facilitates better service because it highlights areas that need improvement. Customers often report their satisfaction with the prompt, fair and professional resolution to their concerns.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH Last but not least, with full and proud corporate support, many Barwood drivers give of themselves, raising funds for abused children in the area. Drivers have participated in a number of events such as golf tournaments and transportation day at various schools. Other drivers have given their time and energy helping out in the transportation of clothing and food to area shelters, and have also transported underprivileged children to different events sponsored by local charities.
In addition to our drivers’ efforts, the Barwood corporate office has a deep commitment to helping the community. We take great pride in giving back, often volunteering services or donating money to various Montgomery County organizations such as Big Train Baseball, Olney Theatre, and the NIH Children’s Inn.
Additionally, we participate in a number of programs that provide free or discounted service to the citizens of Montgomery County, such as Project Prom and Call ‘N Ride. Project prom is a Sober-Ride style service for prom-goers in Montgomery County. This program is designed to get prom attendees home safely in the event that they or their driver has become incapacitated. Call ‘N Ride is a Montgomery County subsidized taxi coupon program.
Barwood’s website is www.barwoodtaxi.com Information about the company is accessible via this site, and account customers may book service with us online. We also have a Facebook and Twitter page; the link is on our website or you may find us via keyword ‘Barwood Taxi’ on Facebook and Twitter. We believe Barwood’s reputation for courteous drivers, clean vehicles, and exceptional customer service is the company’s best source of advertising.