Most people get annoyed when a guest stays too long after a party. When it happened to Amanda and Behrooz Mirfathili, they got inspired.
It all started when a cab failed to show up at the couple’s Cascade Park home after a friend had a few drinks and didn't feel comfortable driving home. The Mirfathilis decided to step in, driving their friend – and their friend's car – home. It was a decision that planted the seed for the couple’s new business: Pubfly Designated Drivers.
“That's when we said 'we have to do this,'” recalled Amanda.
In January, the couple launched Pubfly. For a $25 base-rate plus $2 per mile, Amanda, Behrooz or one of two employees (plus additional on-call drivers) will pick up Vancouver-area revelers and drive them home – car and all.
“Our goal is to be a designated driving company, making sure we give friendly, courteous service,” Amanda said.
Pubfly drivers are insured to drive other cars and will not drive uninsured vehicles. They're mainly in operation on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, though anyone hosting an event can make advance reservations with the business to take guests home. Along the way, customers are in charge of the music, the A/C, and if they want they can even have the driver stop at the store.
“It's very entertaining,” Amanda said. “We love it.”
On each trip, a second Pubfly employee follows along in a chase car. This gives the designated driver a way to get picked up after getting to the customer’s home. The chase car also serves as a backup in case of a breakdown along the way (which has only happened once so far, according to the Mirfathilis).
“We'll go as far as someone needs to go,” explained Amanda.
Prices are based on the typical fare for a 10-mile trip in a cab, plus a little extra to cover the cost of gas for the chase car and other business expenses.
Amanda said the customers’ savings potential comes from the chance to avoid the thousands of dollars in fines and legal fees they could incur with a driving under the influence conviction (not to mention the risks drivers pose to themselves and others while driving drunk). In addition, she said Pubfly solves the age old problem of having to leave your car somewhere when you choose to take a cab.
“A lot of the reason people drink and drive is because they don't want to leave their car and they're going to make that impulse decision,” she said.
According to Amanda, most of Pubfly’s clients are 30-something professionals who just want to relax, but who also know the risks and expense of a DUI and want to be careful.
“Most people are not completely wasted, they're just being responsible,” she said.
While most of Pubfly’s clients are Clark County residents, drivers will go to Portland to bring people back to Vancouver or to other communities like Battle Ground or Ridgefield.
Amanda said the company is considering expanding northward, but right now the couple is using this year to slowly build up the business and to learn how they might approach particular holidays like Cinco De Mayo or St. Patrick's Day.
Despite the Mirthfathalis commitment to Pubfly, the business continues to serve as a bit of a side project. Behrooz is an electrical engineer, while Amanda said she loves her day job as a hairstylist.
“That is my passion,” Amanda said, adding that her client network as a stylist has generated a number of repeat clients for Pubfly. “This designated driver company is a necessity.”