(English) 5 Ways to Improve Your Taxi Company and Stay Competitive

Eugene Suslo
May 27, 2016

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I won’t make a discovery if I say that a taxi business is way too outdated. We carry powerful computers with 4 core processors in our pockets, yet we call an operator, hold on the line, use our names as IDs, and all that is just to get a taxi.

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Yes, all those taxi apps are booming, but most of them ignore a taxi company as a middleman and connect passenger with the driver directly. That’s not too good for the service level and from an administrative perspective, after all, drivers are meant to get people from A to B, not to handle office tasks – that’s what taxi company stuff is for. So the companies are not going anywhere, though now they would need to stay competitive like never before!

Let’s have a look what can be improved without many investments.

1. Work with committed drivers only

Your target as an owner is to keep the service level high. Which means your dispatchers should be pleasant and helpful, but most importantly your drivers should take the best care of your clients. How do you make sure they are treated the best way? It’s the same story with any employee, apart from the fact that drivers are working kind of remotely. And as of an office job, it is a known fact that a salary rise is not a good motivation tool.

Transferring that on to your drivers, you would say that a person working only for money is probably not that motivated. So the key is to actually work with guys who love what they do and don’t mind to get paid for it.

Taxi is a service business and there are lots of people who are glad to please other people, to be of a help to others. In fact, that’s one of the basic needs of human being. Now comes the tricky part. How do you find who is committed and who is not? How do you hire more committed guys? At the end, you need some kind of feedback tool. TaxiStartup has a system of ratings and reviews which helps not only see who your guys are but also keep up the service level – everyone wants to get a highly-rated driver.

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Your tool could be an online feedback system, but that would mostly reveal misbehaving drivers, as passengers would only make an effort to complain or leave a negative feedback. But a good one counts as much. Lining up, you need some kind of feedback tool between you and your customers.

2. Make sure your operators and drivers stay in touch

One of the most popular passengers’ complaints we hear quite often is that they’ve been told a taxi will be there in 3 minutes, where in fact it comes in only about 10.

In some situations, that’s the way for the drivers to be the first in the queue or to rush for more orders. Sometimes that is the result of bad communication between an operator and a driver. In any way that doesn’t play good towards your goal of a better service and in some cases can lead to missed flight, date, event. Whatever dispatch system you use, make sure it communicates the time correctly and doesn’t motivate drivers to enter fake arrival time to stay on the top of the queue.

For example, TaxiStartup solution estimates arrival time based on current traffic, driver’s and customer’s locations, and then clearly displays how long does it take for a driver to arrive.

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The operator knows every step of the order, timing, and locations, and is able to assist having the right information.

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3. Have a right tool for your operators

That is kind of an extension of the previous point with some deeper reasoning. From 50% to 70% of typical taxi company’s office staff are phone operators, which leaves quite a hole in your budget every month (by the way, if you still employ any IT guys, you should really think about a cloud dispatch solution, like TaxiStartup). Making their work as efficient as possible is a must. Yes, that’s well-communicated procedures, a proper training, but it won’t go far without the right dispatch tool. There are probably a few pages of detailed requirements for regular dispatch, but let’s focus on the essentials, that 20 % that make 80% of the job done.

As we talked, it should have an updated information about an order, it should be simple yet functional, creating an order should take only a few seconds, where the longest part is entering or picking up an address, which means it should be as efficient and sharp as technology allows. At TaxiStartup we tried several different engines until we were impressed by Google Autocomplete, improved with some localisation magic algorithms we turned it into a killing feature.

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You can take it as a role model and compare with your tool accordingly. Having a cloud dispatch also gives your operators such possibilities as working from home, or you can hire a remote dispatcher to save on office space and equipment. Besides, that means no infrastructure and IT staff expenses. That’s bold.

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4. Get online

These days we travel a lot. We travel inside the country, we travel outside. And the way you turn us to your customers is having your footprints online since we will google for a taxi (well, there is one more way, but I’ll share it later). So, make sure you have a web page with your phone and a possibility to order online since we hate roaming prices! A lot of our customers have been begging for an online booker, and we are pleased to offer that possibility via web desk. Web desk solution – is a website page where to order a taxi simply click a button. Place it on the web-site, and it will handle your online booking 24/7.

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Besides that, push your dispatch phone number to any partner website you can. Get your Facebook and Twitter profiles to stay social and get some Google ranking. Well, your marketing guys should already know about it.

The other way I mentioned is being connected to a global hailing app. TaxiStartup is all about it. Our apps, whether it is Saytaxi or your white labelled app, are global – they work in any place our solution is used. So a person coming from Canada can get your taxi in California with his “home” app. Love this modern world!

5. Local marketing is a key

Taxi is a local business, most of the times limited by a certain city. So all your returning customer base is from one location and you should fight for it locally. Typically we tend to stick with one taxi service if we like it, so your goal is to hook up your customers. Give them a reason to come back. Discounts works every time. Place stickers in your cabs offering a discount for the next ride. That is how we advise our customers to handle it – a sticker with a QR code to your passenger taxi app:

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Hotels, restaurants, bars and other public places will be glad to offer your services, since it’s an additional value for their customers. With TaxiStartup platform, they can have a web booking module for your cabs on their website at the reception, so getting a taxi is easier for them and therefore easier for you to sell them an idea. Distributing discount flyers is another way to go.

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And remember about conversion, choose the way you can track and see if it brings enough customers to cover the investments.

Overall, stay proactive, understand our customers and give them a service to like.

Comment with your suggestions and let’s evolve together!