10 Essential Ways to Attract More Drivers and Grow Your Taxi Network

Eugene Suslo
Feb 14, 2014

taxidriver

You took a challenge and decided to build your taxi network. That’s a first step. As you probably expect there is a number of obstacles waiting for you on the way to success. And growing your drivers number is one of the few key elements to growth hacking. So here are 10 ways you can make a success story.

1. Go offline

You see, taxi drivers generally belong to a social group that doesn’t grasp new technologies so quickly. Besides they don’t spend that much time online (if any), as we do (working on the best dispatch software and apps of course), so sending emails or making online ad campaigns are not the best options. The good thing is that taxi drivers are probably more social than we are – they meet so many new people each day and they have so much time to talk about the new app they are using. Besides, drivers like to hang out with each other in between jobs or after a shift, it’s like a close society and it is a feeling of belonging to a small closed group, so they stick and listen to each other. Now that’s the time you come in with your brand new driver app. Talk to 100 drivers, sign them up and let them test the app, they will bring you 1000 new in few weeks. WORD OF MOUTH is the king. So again, go to the streets, arrange a presentation with snacks & drinks, talk to your regular drivers, ask everyone to distribute printed materials (yep, printed), in other words – get early adopters to help you out market and test your product.

2. Make it feel special

It’s all about being unique, like all those special offers you get in your mailbox, but in this case it should be a bit more true. Tell the drivers that they are lucky to be the first to try a new way of getting new customers. Explain the benefits – no radio talks, exact pick-up and drop-off locations, safe orders, customers from upper level society (those who own an expensive smartphone probably are), customer picture, phone number and name are available, GPS navigation etc. Make them feel trusted by allowing them to bring their friends to this “special” group of early adopters, people like to spread a word when it brings them value.

3. Start local

You might be planning for a global network, but it all starts locally, even Facebook did. Actually, the better your can specify your target audience at the start the more chances for success you have. Pick a distinguished vertical and start from it. Once you conquer one, get to the next vertical, but don’t spread like a gas in the atmosphere, try to keep it sustainable. Remember that taxi business is local, there are probably no taxi company that is operating in several cities at once. Luckily with a new technologies like TaxiStartup platform that is no longer the case – you can conquer as many cities as you like, as long as you go one at a time.

4. Be prepared before going public

If you connected 10 drivers in the million population city that won’t do the trick. No one waits for a taxi to get through all the traffic from the other part of the city. Besides at least 50% of your drivers will be offline at any given moment. So, before going public, make sure:
– you have attracted enough drivers for this city.
– at least 50% will be online when you launch.
– you are able to monitor orders in dispatch panel and provide support if needed.
– your marketing strategy can bring you constant sufficient amount of instant customers.
– you have a plan B – a set of actions to fix missing drivers or customers. Things go wrong all the time, it is just their nature, plan B is a necessity.
While this point will not bring you new drivers, it will make sure your current drivers are sticking with the service and spreading the word, rather then deleting the app since it doesn’t bring new leads.

5. What radio stations are they listening?

Find that out and buy an advertisement about attracting new drivers. Be specific, if you are planning on just giving a new source of bookings, then say it, do not scare independent drivers with “job offers”. Radio is believed to be a good way to target drivers, but you have to measure that as well. Making decisions based on data is a key element of staying competitive.

6. Target local taxi forums and blogs

If they exist there must be a group of taxi driver hanging out online. The key here is to target only local forums or blogs. You don’t want to go general forums for the whole country or region, cause there might be only few drivers from your target city and only small % will be reached by your message. So local city or even part of the city taxi forums and blogs. Do not directly advertise, they will ban you. Rather talk, share opinion and ask for help, while your profile should have a link to driver signup page in the description. It is also ok to create a new discussion with a title like “Saytaxi network, how to join, what are the benefits, why you should join now, let’s discuss it here”, it is not a direct ad, rather a call for discussion, but it drags you in by expressions like “join now”. If you do not have any local taxi blogs of forums, well, should I tell you about the benefits of being the first? ;)

7. Target POTDI – Points of Taxi Driver Interest

Every city has a number of spots favored by taxi drivers. That might be due to necessity or just a location with a plenty of “fish”. Like they need a gas – so they go to gas stations frequently, they need to have a quick lunch – fast food next to a taxi parking, oh, dedicated taxi parkings, trains stations, airports, etc. Do the homework, grab a bunch of flyers with attractive headline and a call to action and fill those places. Talk to the owners, ask them to help you, in most cases they will agree, otherwise ask them to register drivers on your behalf and pay royalty on each driver registration. Check which places convert better and bring you more drivers and limit your marketing efforts to only those places.

8. Popular news papers and vehicle related magazines

While it seems that newspapers are vanishing, there is still an audience that is keeping them buoyant and taxi drivers are a part of that audience. They have a free time and a newspaper is the most basic way to kill it. So don’t miss on that opportunity, but be careful to pick those that are actually read by the drivers. It is simple – ask them! It’s even easier with magazines – any taxi driver likes cars, and those magazines doing a good job printing a sweet pictures of all sorts of Mustangs and Ferraris. Again, don’t forget to measure the conversion of those adds (How? “Place a unique contact phone number!” Captain O.)

9. Hire some drivers as marketers

Ingeniously, isn’t it? Who can be the better marketers for the service if not an actual experts. I call it an “Orbit trick”, remember who is advertising all the benefits of a chewing gum on TV? Right, dentists, teeth experts. Why not hire a taxi experts to do the same? A taxi driver trusts another taxi driver much more than he trusts a dirty marketer (at least from my own experience). It doesn’t hurt to try.

10. Hack your way though. It is business, baby!

And finally, my personal favorite. I kept it till the end for the most patient and engaged of you. Business is cruel and tough, DO NOT be afraid of bold insolent moves. If it is not strictly forbidden, it is allowed (even if it is forbidden, but no one will find out – it is allowed). With that though in mind, what do you do with the business of dinosaurs already established taxi companies? That’s right, you still it. No mercy, it is a free market. All taxi drivers are getting the bookings some how, if it’s via a dispatch center, then there is a database of all drivers with their names and phone numbers, if you could only get your hands on that database, that is a direct link to your customers, we in TaxiStartup can help you out with sending SMS text messages to them all. Talking generally, think about a sneaky smart ways to get a hand on any info about drivers in your target city, probably dispatchers of your competitors have it, who knows ;).

These are just a few ways to get more drivers and grow your taxi network. They might be totally useless for some parts of our diversified world, but in any case grab some inspiration here and let’s speed up the evolution!

Regards,

Eugene Suslo