Ethos Asset Finance
Building on chauffeur market experience
Although new to the PCV sector, Harrogate-based Ethos Asset Finance is no stranger to vehicle funding with lengthy and widespread experience in satisfying operators’ funding needs. Chris Peat speaks to Ethos Owner, Chris Brown, for a fuller story.
Chris Brown’s route into PCV has been a circuitous one. With plenty of experience gained on the way. He’s honed his expertise through twenty years in finance, funding chauffeur vehicles and black cabs, and worked for many years with some of the larger manufacturers such as BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Jaguar. This industry knowledge together with his customers in the chauffeur driven sector gave him a solid foundation for setting up Ethos Asset Finance in 2007. Chris established Ethos after discovering a gap in the market for providing funding to chauffeurs and private hire operators who’d been turned down by manufacturers and banks.
This was Chris’s inroad into PCV. Over the past few years, he’s seen plenty of chauffeur companies sub-contract to bus and coach operators when they had large numbers of passengers to transport. Some have even taken this work on for themselves, acquiring their own fleets of PCVs, usually mini-coaches. By helping these businesses source the funding they needed, Chris has been able to build new relationships with dealers such as EVM. These relationships are strengthened by Chris’s own vehicle sourcing services.
The chauffeur market’s shift to running PCVs mirrors another recent trend; party buses. As the fashion for stretch limos has decreased due to tightened regulations, particularly with regard to Construction and Use regulations, party buses have seen an upswing in demand. He is experiencing considerable demand for minicoaches and executive buses, often in the form of high specification Mercedes-Benz Sprinter conversions.
The Ethos database now numbers around 10,000 customers, many of whom approach Ethos before they even visit a manufacturer or bank. It is hard proof that Chris knows his way around a tailoring a deal. ‘Getting the best deal for a customer takes more than just understanding their requirements. I also take the time to see how they run their business. This helps me identify ways to increase their likelihood of receiving funding. For example, one customer had been struggling to get finance, not because work was scarce, but because cash flow was a problem. Sometimes all it comes down to is account keeping methods.’ It is this willingness to go beneath the surface and help an operator that is the secret of Chris’s success
A thorough knowledge of his customers, the wider market and the vehicles themselves all play their part in Chris’s achievements to date. Chris adds, ‘The PCV side of my business dovetails nicely with the chauffeur side. We’re keen to expand and build on the success we’ve had in the chauffeur market, and things are going fantastically. We’re getting busier all the time.’