Being a big success as a taxi driver is all about going that extra mile for your passengers.

That’s why we’ve got 21 tried-and-tested tips to make sure every fare you take keeps your business moving forward.

From people skills and safety checks to having the right taxi insurance and avoiding fare disputes, there’s enough here to keep everyone happy.

 

black taxi cab at night

1. Get to know your routes

 

Knowing your way around your patch and the most efficient way to get to popular destinations such as train stations, business parks, sports grounds and hotels are all part and parcel of a great ride. While a sat nav or other on-board navigation tool can be invaluable in some circumstances, it doesn’t help to become too reliant on them.

 

In some ways driving technology has revolutionised the way taxi drivers work. For example, having real-time traffic reports at your fingertips can prove invaluable when trying to avoid congestion. However, sometimes technology can break down, and when it comes to navigation it’s really hard to beat those little grey cells.

 

It’s important to remember there will always be more than one way to get to the passenger’s requested destination. However, unless the passenger wants you to take a particular route, Department for Transport guidelines state you must use the quickest available route.

 

Disputes can arise if a passenger feels a driver isn’t taking the ‘best’ route, particularly when there are problems with traffic. A good way to avoid this is to quickly discuss the route before you set off. That way you can both agree on the most sensible option. Even if they don’t know or are just happy to leave it up to you, there’s no harm in checking.

 

2. Conduct daily safety checks

 

If you own a taxi or PHV then you’ll know that maintaining optimum vehicle condition is an absolute must. From luxury cars used for VIP travel to mini-buses used for school trips, a daily safety check helps keep you and your passengers safe, protects your investment, and maintains your reputation in the local community.

 

Inspecting your vehicle both before and after your shift means you’ll always know it’s 100% safe and roadworthy. It also means you’ll be less likely to break down and be held responsible for damage or injury caused by poor vehicle condition.

 

Follow this 16-point car safety checklist to cover all bases:

 

  1. Brakes
    Are both hand and foot brakes working perfectly?
  2. Fuel/water/oil
    The levels of these three essentials need to be checked and topped up if necessary. It’s also worth checking the engine coolant levels, too.
  3. Steering and suspension
    Your taxi needs to handle smoothly and safely. Unusual noises need to be checked out.
  4. Tyre pressure and condition
    As well as pressure you must also check tyre tread depth and look for any signs of wear or damage.
  5. Wheels
    Watch out for any loose nuts and any wheel damage from curbing.
  6. Lights
    Both external and internal lights need to be in perfect working order.
  7. Mirrors
    Look for any cracks or damage and make sure they are correctly positioned for comfortable driving.
  8. Doors and windows
    All need to be operating smoothly.
  9. Seatbelts
    Every seat belt needs to be in perfect working order. Also check all seat mechanisms are operating correctly.
  10. Windscreen, wipers and washers
    A dirty, chipped or cracked windscreen is not only a safety hazard, it also looks terrible to customers. Also check the wiper blades are in good condition, and the washers are working and filled.
  11. Heating and ventilation systems
    For passengers to be comfortable in all weathers.
  12. Accessibility features
    Wheelchair ramps and grab handles need to be in perfect working order.
  13. Number plates
    Need to be clean, secure and undamaged.
  14. Paintwork and bodywork
    Scratches, dents and chips all need to be remedied before they get worse.
  15. First aid supplies and masks
    You never know when you might be called upon in an emergency.
  16. Cleanliness
    The exterior and interior need to be spotless. Vacuum the seats and floor, remove any litter and deal with any unpleasant odours.

3. Develop your people skills

 

Taxi drivers are known for being a talkative bunch. Indeed, knowing how to make conversations with passengers is a key skill for anyone working in this industry. But not every passenger you pick up will welcome a chatty cabbie.

 

Knowing when it pays to keep quiet is just as essential. For example, a busy business person on the way to an important meeting is less likely to be chatty than a tourist looking to get the local lowdown.

 

And even if they do look keen to talk then it’s probably best to steer clear of politics, religion or other controversial subjects. If you’re stuck for conversation then having the radio on low in the background can provide plenty of topics for conversation. And failing that, there’s always the national obsession with the weather.

 

Sometimes, no matter how much effort we put into our people skills, disputes can arise between drivers and passengers. Take a read of this recent The Taxi Insurer article on the rights of passengers in a taxi. By knowing the rules and rights in place for both taxi drivers and passengers, it might save you a headache in the future.

 

taxi driver hands on steering wheel

Keep distractions to a minimum

Having a friendly chat with a customer is all part of offering a great service. However, as the driver, it’s important you’re always fully concentrating on the road ahead, rather than talking non-stop.

 

Whether you’re an avid fan of the radio or often use your mobile phone to keep in contact with base or as a sat nav, nothing should be allowed to distract you from the road.

 

5. Remember, the customer is king

 

Okay, perhaps that’s taking customer service a bit too far. But it’s still important to give your passengers as good an experience as possible. Customer service techniques are one of the best ways to ensure your taxi business is profitable. Here are just three top tips to get you started:

  • Welcome your passengers – A warm and friendly welcome always sets a positive tone for a trip.
  • Be helpful – Whether helping someone with their luggage or checking they haven’t forgotten something, there are lots of ways to provide a helping hand.
  • Be attuned to their needs – If it’s chilly out ask if the temperature is okay in the cab. In hot weather, perhaps keep some bottled water on hand to offer thirsty customers. It’s the little things that really show you care.

6. Count on cleanliness

 

No passenger will be happy getting into a messy cab. Take pride in your place of work and do your best to combat nasty niffs and suspicious stains. A quick clean up and a spray with a neutral air freshener after every fare can really make a difference.

 

And if you spend time and money keeping your taxi spotless, then how about your own appearance? Keeping yourself well-groomed and smart while on duty will relax passengers and make them feel like they’re using a reputable taxi service.

7. Brush up on those driving skills

 

Screeching to a halt or driving at breakneck speed won’t make any passenger want to come back for more. Yes, they want to get to their destination quickly but that doesn’t mean they want to feel like they’re on a rollercoaster ride. By driving smoothly and safely you’ll not only be more likely to pick up a tip but you’ll also make big savings on fuel.

 

With petrol and diesel costs rising every day it’s more important than ever to save on fuel if you want to stay profitable. To help you out, the team at The Taxi Insurer have compiled an article of how to become an eco-friendly taxi driver.

8. Stay healthy

 

All that time spent sitting in your taxi can spell disaster for your back and your waistline, leaving you tired and miserable at the end of a long day. So, being fit and healthy is very important. Why not download a fitness app to help you stay active and keep an eye on your diet? While keeping well hydrated and bringing your own healthy meals to work could add years to your working life. And make them much happier, too.

 

9. Be clear on rights of refusal

 

Driving your own cab is a great option for people looking for a high level of independence in their working life. As your own boss you can choose where, when and how you want to work. But that doesn’t mean you have it all your own way.

 

While taxi drivers are allowed to refuse a fare, that can only be if they have a ‘reasonable excuse’ or the passenger wants to travel outside of the area. Local authorities provide taxi licenses on the basis that you will provide a service to anyone who wants it. And this right of passengers to be carried is protected by law.

 

For example, just because you’re hoping for a more substantial fare doesn’t mean you can refuse a journey for being too short. This may be frustrating but it’s the only fair way to ensure that everyone can be assured of the service to which they’re entitled.

 

Taxi drivers face the possibility of a criminal conviction, a fine and even losing their taxi license if they’re found guilty of refusing a fare without reasonable excuse.

10. Accommodating those who need extra help

 

Managing passengers with disabilities is an important part of a taxi driver’s work. But you will sometimes need extra training or facilities to be able to do this. For example, you’ll need to think about where to store equipment like wheelchairs or crutches, and how to help someone into your car. You can find the obligations of taxi and PHV drivers transporting disabled passengers on the government website.

Just as you would want to feel safe and secure in any environment, so do passengers with disabilities. Wheelchair ramps and other accessibility features will go a long way to doing this. And hopefully lead to recommendations and repeat business from within the community.

 

It is most certainly against the law to refuse to take a passenger because they have a disability. However, this message has not always got through to taxi drivers. There are currently plans for the government to make the protection of disabled passengers even clearer when it comes to taxis.

11. Keeping younger passengers safe

 

Children up to 12 years old must use car seats. However, this isn’t the case in taxis if you don’t have one. Children aged three and over must travel in the back and use an adult seat belt. Under-3s must be seated next to an adult, rather than being carried.

 

12. Having the right taxi insurance

 

To be successful you’ll need to keep your business well protected. The Taxi Insurer has been helping taxi drivers find great insurance since 1974 and you’ll have to go a long way to get a better deal, just take a look at our 5-star reviews from our happy customers. To find out more visit our taxi insurance pages or call our fully trained customer service team today for a quote on 0121 506 2391.

 

13. Avoiding fare disputes

 

A fare dispute can be a nasty shock for all concerned at the end of a perfectly uneventful journey. Whether you’ve been slowed-down by peak traffic or are driving late at night, passengers are sometimes surprised by the cost. And while you’re entitled to be paid for your work, it’s much better to prevent such unwanted situations from happening in the first place. Follow some of these tips from The Taxi Insurer and keep these disputes to a minimum.

 

That said, in some situations, no matter how hard you try, a dispute is going to arise. Unfortunately passengers making off without payment (or bilking as it’s sometimes known) is a common problem for taxi drivers to have to deal with. For more guidance on what to do if someone fails to pay read our recent article on bilking.

 

14. Keep cool and enjoy the ride

 

Waiting an hour for a fare or being tortured by a backseat driver will test the patience of even the coolest cabby. But there’s really no point in getting hot under the collar about it. Much better to keep calm and carry on. Who knows, the next fare could be a dream!

 

15. Never ignore personal safety while driving

 

Taxi drivers are a particularly vulnerable part of the working population. Being alone with strangers, often in isolated places, at unsociable hours, and carrying cash. Unfortunately, every year far too many taxi drivers are victims of crime. Here’s a couple of things the police advise you to do in advance and when you’re out working.

 

  • Trust your instincts.
  • Keep cash to a minimum.
  • Ensure your controller or another driver knows where you are at all times.
  • De-escalate any confrontational situations if you can.
  • Call police immediately on 999 if you feel in immediate danger.
  • Keep your vehicle in great shape so it won’t let you down in an emergency.

 

And it’s not just your safety you’ll want to make sure of. How to ensure your passengers have a safe journey is perhaps the most important consideration of any driver. From finding the right taxi insurance to dealing with drunk passengers, there’s a lot you can do to make sure everyone gets home safe.

 

16. Safeguard your vulnerable passengers

 

As a taxi driver, ensuring your passengers safety has to be your number one priority. However, this isn’t just about driving safely and ensuring they have their seatbelt on. Your responsibilities can go far beyond that. Safeguarding your vulnerable passengers is so important, you might be the last chance to keep them safe from harm.

 

High Speed Training lists 10 safeguarding practices all taxi drivers should adopt to help keep vulnerable passengers safe.

 

17. Support passengers during Covid-19

 

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to create problems for everyone, it’s important you do what you can to make your taxi a Covid-safe area. From getting yourself vaccinated to installing a screen to shut off the passenger compartment, we’ve got plenty of ideas to keep everyone safe.

 

Bristol City Council has a particularly useful guide for supporting visually impaired taxi passengers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

covid masks on a steering wheel of a taxi

 

18. Install CCTV and telematics in your taxi

 

Modern telematics systems contain some really remarkable technology useful to taxi drivers. And if you have a CCTV system installed, too, then the two can be linked. This will give your taxi insurance provider the full picture if any incident occurs along the way. Hopefully saving you from unfair or unnecessary claims from passengers or other drivers.

 

19. Take four-legged friends along for the ride

 

The UK is a nation of animal lovers and not surprisingly many passengers would like to take their well-behaved pets with them if at all possible. Not all taxi drivers will allow this though, so you could corner a lucrative local market if you do. If you do decide to do this then think about investing in a seat cover and a doggy cleaning kit to ensure your taxi is kept free of lingering doggy whiffs.

 

That said, you must always allow a service dog to accompany a passenger unless you have an exemption certificate from your local licensing authority.

 

Show your ID and license

 

This probably goes without saying but you should have your taxi driver license on display at all times. Many passengers will want to be reassured that they’re using a properly licensed taxi driven by the right driver.

 

Just like having taxi insurance, documents and paperwork such as these keep both passengers and drivers safe.

 

Protecting your business with taxi insurance

 

Working as a taxi or PHV driver is a great business to get into, but you’ll always be looking for ways to make life that bit easier. Interest-free payment plans will make your taxi insurance more manageable alongside your other expenses.

 

The Taxi Insurer has spent many years working alongside our trusted panel of insurers, so you’ll be in safe hands – whatever the hurdles you encounter along your journey.

 

Get a quick quote for taxi cab insurance today and protect your business. 

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