From weddings and special occasions to business travel for big corporate clients, there’s plenty of scope for a taxi firm to offer luxury or limo hire. If you want your business to have more high-end appeal, read our guide to getting your luxury taxi or limo fleet up and running.
We’ll take you through targeting the right markets, how to win customers, maintain those oh-so-high standards, stay on the right side of the law, and finally how to protect your high-class vehicles.
Having the right taxi insurance in place is a must-have, whether you’re behind the wheel of a Rolls Royce, a Mercedes or a Ford Galaxy!
Limousines and cars suitable for a luxury taxi service are a significant investment for any business owner. So, it's vital to keep on top of whether there’s enough local demand to support your service. And whether you’re competing successfully with any existing businesses in the area. Depending on the type of service you’re offering, customers might include:
The level of local demand will be largely influenced by the nature of your surrounding area and the size of the local population. If you’re in and around a large city like London, Birmingham or Manchester, demand for limos and luxury cars will generally be highest. But demand can also be affected by how close you are to such things as airports, large business premises, and colleges and universities.
You really need to think about whether there are particular niche markets in your area that you can’t afford to miss out on. For example, if you’re based close to an airport, then you should probably be offering an airport transfer service for business people. While if there’s a large student population nearby then you need to get your fair share of potentially lucrative end of term parties and balls.
But if there’s demand in your area, there’s probably already a level of local competition you’re having to consider. And perhaps even new competitors who are entering your market. Depending on the services you’re offering, you might already be competing not only with other specialist taxi businesses but also wedding car services, local taxi firms, classic car hire firms, or coach operators providing a luxury minibus service. When looking at current and potential competitors work out:
You'll want to make sure target customers will choose your taxi business rather than use other’s services. Speak to current and potential customers to find out what they want and whether the type of service you’re offering is as attractive as can be. Any market research you do now could have a big impact on the future success or failure of your business.
Are you charging the right price for a luxury or limo service? A very tricky but very important question indeed! You’ll obviously need to make sure you cover all of your operating costs and still leave a decent profit.
But you’ll still want to be broadly in line with your immediate competitors, unless you’re providing a service they simply can’t offer. For example, a vintage limousine or a particularly sought-after luxury car.
Unlike regular taxis, limousines and luxury cars are mostly hired for a fee based on the time they’re needed for, rather than the distance covered. So, they may be hired on an hourly, daily, or even weekly basis.
The fee will also depend on the size and prestige of the car provided and any additional services included. For example, a ‘small’ stretch limousine seating up to 8 passengers used for a straightforward pick up and drop off at a sporting event will cost less than a ‘Hummer-style’ limo hired for a wedding, that can seat up to 16 and is needed for photographs and so on.
Whatever the price you’re charging it’s worth considering whether to offer reduced rates for quieter periods. For example, a white, stretch limo popular at weddings could be offered on a discount for midweek nuptials. While chauffeur driven luxury cars beloved of corporate big-wigs may be offered for a lower rate at weekends.
Keeping up appearances
Offering the highest level of service just right for your target customers is a great way to stay ahead of the competition.
The types of cars you’ll want for your luxury or limo fleet will vary depending on the services you’re offering. For example, the traditional stretch limo might be popular with bridal parties or hen and stag groups but might not be appropriate for a serious businessperson who wants to make the right impact at a meeting.
When starting out you’ll probably be operating just one or two cars, however as your business takes off, you may look to expand your offering. We’ve got lots of advice on how to expand and grow your taxi businesses fleet if you’re unsure.
If you’re looking to make a significant investment in your business then you might consider some of these popular cars for next-level taxi services:
When choosing a new car for your taxi fleet there are plenty of matters you need to consider. But whatever type of vehicles you use they must, of course, be smart, clean and well maintained. Added extras like snacks and refreshments will up the luxury factor for clients, too.
When it comes to the luxury and limo service end of the taxi market customers are likely to have a very particular set of expectations when it comes to the level of service you offer.
For example, wedding couples may well expect your driver to wear a formal chauffeur's uniform and to help the bride and other passengers climb into and out of the car. While for an adult’s birthday party, or a stag and hen night hire, complimentary drinks are often expected and supplied. It’s often the little things that can make a difference between a good night out and a great night out!
A lot of skill and effort goes into being the ideal luxury car or limo driver. Putting safety first, punctuality, knowing the perfect route, anticipating the road ahead, smooth steering, and a focused and calm experience are all hallmarks of a great driver.
But there are also softer skills that need to be developed, too. You’ll want your drivers to be relaxed and quietly confident, knowing when to talk, joke or stay quiet, and when to show discretion and give the client some privacy. All-in-all you’ll want some pretty special people working alongside you!
If you invest in any of the luxury cars above then the registration and licensing regulations are just the same as for any other taxi. However, if you’re in the market for a stretch limo then there are some very important laws you need to be aware of. Not just for the safety of you and your passengers but also for the health of your business.
Small 8-passenger limousines need to have a Single Vehicle Approval (SVA) certification, or an Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) certification issued by the Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA) in order to be registered and licensed. This is to prove that the vehicle has been designed and constructed to modern safety and environmental standards before they can be used on public roads.
Large limousines capable of carrying 9 or more passengers need to have IVA or a Certificate of Initial Fitness (COIF) in order to be registered and used to carry paying passengers. In its guidance to operators of stretch limousines, VOSA warns that most vehicles of this size will require considerable expense for them to meet the COIF or IVA requirements.
And it’s not just the vehicle itself which needs to comply with the rules. For small limousines, unless the vehicle is being used in connection with a wedding or a funeral, you’ll need a Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) licence. However, for large limousines you’ll require a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operator’s licence granted by the traffic commissioner for your area.
If you don’t follow these rules then you can find yourself in some seriously hot water. For example, your limousine could be confiscated or even destroyed if you aren’t licensed or you aren’t properly insured. For other offences you can be prosecuted and fined. Remember ignorance of the law is not an excuse, don’t put your passengers and business at risk by operating illegally.
Like any other vehicle, luxury cars and limos have to be insured if they’re to be driven on UK roads. But sometimes the insurance market can feel like something of a minefield – if you don’t get the right advice.
When you’re talking about high-end, high-spec vehicles, insurance can be relatively costly. And if you haven’t spoken to the right people then the policy you choose might not even meet the requirements of your business.
Fortunately, it’s easy to find a wealth of helpful advice about insurance just right for your luxury car or limo service. Just give the team at Taxi Insurer a call and they’ll be able to answer all your queries in an instant.
Making the right decisions about what vehicles to buy and what markets to focus on are all a key part of success in the modern, competitive taxi industry. That’s why the specialist team at Taxi Insurer are always looking for ways to keep you one step ahead. For example, our low deposits and monthly payment plans are here to make your payments more manageable alongside other expenses.
Taxi insurance policyholders can also benefit from no claims bonus protection, a UK-based call centre, and a 24-hour claims management service.
Let us find you a quick quote for taxi insurance today.
Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.