Looking to expand your taxi business in 2022? Well, we’ve got great news. There’s always a new market to explore! Take a look at some of these potentially lucrative market niches and get ahead of the competition. Developing a specialist taxi offering is a tried and tested way to expand and grow your business.

While we’re telling you all about the potential for expansion make sure to consider your taxi insurance cover while you’re at it. It’s no good growing your business if you leave it unprotected. Give the helpful team at Taxi Insurer a call to discuss your changing needs.    

 

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Taxi specialisms worth investigating today

As an expanding business you’ll be wondering whether you’re doing all you can to maximise your growth and profit. Whether you’re running a single hackney carriage, or a whole fleet of PHVs, there’s always room for improvement. Take a look at these potentially money-spinning specialisms and see which could be right for you. But remember, robust taxi insurance is a must to protect yourself financially, whatever the size of your business.

Patient transport

It’s well known that public services in areas like healthcare are under considerable strain. So, when people need to travel to or from hospital or a medical appointment then they’ll need to rely on either a friend, family or your taxi service for help. Every area has its own set of hospitals, health centres or GP surgeries that could easily provide you with plenty of regular business.

A worthwhile but also lucrative source of business is that of so-called ‘non-emergency patient transport services’ (NEPTS). This is where you provide a service for people who need extra support when travelling to or from hospital or medical appointments. For example, they might struggle to walk or need extra support during their journey. Around £460m is spent on NEPTS every year by the NHS, with many non-specialist services such as taxis and PHVs involved. 

Social care

Social care is a big issue in the UK, and has been for many years. Whether through age, illness, or disability many people need help with day-to-day issues. There is funding available to meet transport costs such as getting around to appointments, social activities or shopping. And that’s where your taxi service can be a vital lifeline.

Talk to the local authority, local retirement homes or care providers and see if they would be interested in forming a relationship with your taxi service. What a sense of fulfilment you’ll get from helping people in need.

Wheelchair users and others with disabilities

Figures from the Department for Transport highlight that 86% of local authorities in cities across England have less than one wheelchair accessible taxi per 1,000 people. While only 58% of licensed taxis in the UK are wheelchair-accessible, with the vast majority located in metropolitan areas. By operating an accessible taxi service, you can help serve this large, unmet need and boost your profits.

We all know having valid taxi insurance is a legal requirement. But did you know there are also strict accessibility laws to tackle the discrimination some wheelchair users experience? If you breach these laws, you could find yourself facing a hefty fine of up to £1,000, which could put a serious dent in your cash flow.

As well as following the legal rules, you should also do all you can to make sure your passengers have a safe and pleasant trip. We’ve got some top tips on how to ensure your passengers have a safe journey elsewhere on our blog.

School transport

Another group often in need of a specialist taxi are school children. Whether taking children to and from school or college, travelling to sports matches, or class trips, taxis and minibuses are often a vital means of transport.

Unfortunately, many schools simply can’t rely on public transport which can be unreliable, complicated and expensive for groups of children. So many schools and local education authorities prefer to work with a private taxi company instead.

Be aware that if you get a local authority contract for such work then you’ll need public liability taxi insurance to protect yourself and your business if there’s an accident.

If your taxi business includes minibuses, check out our safety advice for transporting children.

Airport, ferry and cruise transfers

Another way to expand your business is to target specific transport hubs or routes. The local train or bus station has always been a lucrative market, but what about those travelling even further afield? For example, could you offer a transfer service to a local airport, ferry port, or cruise terminal?

Such regular routes can be real money-spinners with customers also more likely to book you for their return trip, too. Another positive is they are normally booked well in advance, giving you more control over your work schedule.

Be sure to build in any additional costs into your fare. For example, the majority of British airports ask you to pay drop-off zone fees if you want to drop your passengers in front of the airport terminals. However, if you’re a frequent user then it’s worth looking to see if there are any discounts available or concessions for taxi drivers.

Executive transfers and chauffeur service

If you think you could offer a high-class service for business people or VIPs then this is an excellent market to tap into. As well as impeccable driving skills, and a courteous manner you’ll also need a luxury vehicle to match. If you’re in need of some pointers then read our invaluable guide to running a luxury taxi or limo fleet.

From targeting the right markets and winning customers to maintaining those high standards, and protecting your high-class vehicles we’ve got you covered. It’s not just about having the right taxi insurance, but it helps!

Corporate accounts

Businesses use taxis for a whole range of purposes, from getting staff and visitors to and from their premises to corporate meetings and big conferences. If you can get these jobs, you’re guaranteed a fairly regular income, but they are competitive.

Providing an enhanced corporate account is a great way to get you to the top of the list of preferred providers. Businesses love to know that no matter how large or small, as a corporate account holder they’re your top priority.

So, speak to businesses in your area to see if they’d be interested in setting up a corporate account with you. And you don’t have to offer a discounted rate for repeat business. Other incentives you could offer include monthly billing, 30-day credit, priority contact telephone line, access to an online booking portal, and detailed invoicing. Anything to take the hassle out of managing costs and staff expenses will get their attention.

Wedding cars and special events

While weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays aren’t everyday occurrences, they can be very lucrative. And once you’ve helped out a bride and groom on their wedding day you’ll be surprised at how much work can end up coming your way.

Attending a local wedding fair can help you meet potential customers. While having your card displayed in local florists and bridal shops can soon drum up business.

From transporting fun-loving stags and hens to ferrying the lucky couple to their wedding reception, there’s plenty of scope for taxi work. Approach wedding venues and planners in your patch and ask to be a trusted supplier.

Delivery service

Whether you work in an urban or a rural market, courier services can be a great specialism to offer your customers. Delivering parcels and important documents for people who need to get them somewhere fast can be a real moneymaker. But how about if someone needs medication collected, a takeaway picked up, or shopping delivered?

With online services and ‘click and collect’ now so popular this isn’t a difficult market for your taxi firm to get into. Who says you need to pick up a passenger to make money? Although your amazing small talk skills might not be as necessary!

 

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Setting up a specialist taxi service

We’ve got lots of tips on how to grow and expand your taxi businesses fleet. And expanding into new specialist areas is just one of them. But to get it right you’ll need to follow these key steps:

  1. Conduct market research.
  2. Research costs and equipment.
  3. Check licensing and regulatory requirements.
  4. Get the right insurance.
  5. Research pricing.
  6. Find customers.

Keep reading to find out more.

  1. Conduct market research

Before making any changes to your business, the first step you need to take is to find out if it’s a specialist service required in your area. Questions to ask yourself include the following:

  • Is there enough customer demand? For example, if you’re looking to start an airport transfer service, are there enough people travelling through the airport in need of a taxi? If you’re in a remote area then there might be fewer passengers. Although this might also mean you could get a monopoly on airport transfers in your local area. Talking to customers and other businesses on the phone and in-person is vital here.
  • Are you within a reasonable driving distance? There might not be a point travelling well out of your way to a ferry terminal on a regular basis. Or if it’s on the other side of a busy area will you be happy with the extra travelling time? With the growth in online mapping and route planning services, it’s never been easier to investigate your local area and work out travel times.
  • Are there potential partnerships available? From hotels, conference centres and popular tourist attractions to schools and retirement homes, all might need help transporting people quickly and safely. Make a call and see if they might be interested. Or at least what the process is for partnering up.
  • Are there competitors already in the market? You don’t want to spend a lot of time on your idea only to discover that someone else has already taken the lion’s share of the market. While this shows there is a clear demand, if you want your share then it will take more work than if the market is underserved. A quick online search is usually enough to discover what specialist services are currently available in your area.

All of this market research will help you build an effective business strategy for your new service.

  1. Research costs and equipment

If you’re already in the taxi game, you might think setting up a specialist offering wouldn’t add too much to your costs. While that might be so, it isn’t certain. You’ll still need to know exactly how much money to set aside for costs and equipment.

Wise financial planning is at the heart of any successful business venture so it’s always important to find out the costs first. So, what are the key components you'll include in your budgeting?

As we all know, the primary expenditure when setting up a taxi business will be your vehicle. While you might already have a vehicle for your general taxi business, is it suitable for your new venture?

For example, if you’re looking to provide airport shuttle services or school transport then you’ll probably need to consider a minibus. Which could range from just a few thousand pounds for a second hand one to tens of thousands for a new top-of-the-range model.

Whether buying a vehicle outright or leasing on a monthly or yearly basis, you’ll need to think long and hard to make sure it meets your needs. Just as with any addition to your taxi fleet you’ll need to consider:

  • Price – You never want to overextend yourself in any new venture. In the heady excitement of new business plans, always keep an eye on the bottom line.
  • Reliability – If you’re trying to attract new business then you need to be on the road as much as possible. Being put out of action due to maintenance issues is a big no-no.
  • Road tax – Yes, there’s no getting away from taxes. But it’s still worth considering. In general, more power means more emissions, and that means it’s likely to be more expensive to tax.
  • Emissions – With the growth in Clean Air Zones in the UK, older, more polluting vehicles are being squeezed out. Is now the time to invest in a new electric vehicle? 
  • Fuel economy – You don’t want the boost to your earnings to be wiped out by a vehicle offering poor fuel economy.
  • Luggage space – Whether space for plenty of shopping bags, suitcases or a wheelchair, make sure it has plenty of room and storage space. From backpacks and ski equipment to pushchairs and musical instruments, you’ll need to make space for luggage.
  • Comfort – Depending on the market you’re targeting you might need to take the levels of comfort and seating arrangements into account. A more comfortable ride or a vehicle that can be set up in different ways could have a positive impact on your earning potential.
  • Interior design – If your target market is school transport, then think about a vehicle with sturdy design and hard-wearing fabrics and carpets. Whereas leather seats and luxury finishes are more suitable for the corporate executive types.

Essentially, when considering what vehicle to go for, let the needs of your target audience inform your decision.

Apart from the vehicle itself, what other costs do you need to consider? Well, you should budget for:

  • Administrative costs – Expanding your business into new areas may well require some extra admin. Whether additional licence requirements or permits you’ll need to take these into account.
  • Marketing – Even if you’ve already got a website, business cards and flyers, if you’re adding a new specialism then you’ll need to add this to all your materials. And that will cost.
  • Payment options – You might see this as the perfect opportunity to invest in new payment options for those no longer wanting to use cash. Wondering why contactless card readers are increasingly becoming a must-have for taxi drivers? Here’s why!
  • Vehicle extras – Depending on the market you’re looking at, you may require certain additional features. For example, booster or child seats to transport children safely. Or you might need to adapt your vehicle to cater for travellers with disabilities.
  • Insurance – Could your new venture have an effect on your taxi insurance premiums? Give your provider a call to make sure your business, vehicles, drivers and passengers are appropriately covered in case of accident, injury or damage.
  • Fleet management software – Managing a fleet can be tricky, this software offers a range of functions including invoicing and finance, customer data, booking and dispatch, and vehicle tracking.
  • Customer apps – Wondering why you should have an app for your taxi business? When you’re looking to offer a specialist taxi service then customers will often be looking for that little bit extra. A customer app is a great way to do this. From booking taxis in advance, estimating journey times, and tracking how long before their taxi arrives, a well-designed app will show you care.
  1. Check licensing and regulatory requirements

Depending on the taxi specialism there can be a whole raft of licensing and regulatory requirements you need to follow. Your first port of call is to speak to your local licensing authority to find out what you need.

For example, a driver working privately for a parent or picking up a child as part of their normal work might not need a Disclosure and Barring Service check. However, a driver working regularly for a school will need one.

And if you think you’re going to be driving a minibus then it might be worth checking what kind of licence you need before making the investment.

  1. Get the right insurance

Changes to your business could have an impact on your exposure to certain risks. So could have an impact on the level of taxi insurance you need. For example, if you’re taking charge of expensive parcels or important documents then would you be covered in the case of an accident, damage or theft? Such issues aren’t always straightforward.

  1. Research pricing

It’s vital to get this step right. We all know that charging too much will risk sending potential customers straight to your competitors. But setting your price too low, you’ll run the risk of losing money and be unable to recoup your initial set up costs, too. Particularly if you’re looking to get into the competitive wedding or luxury market, this will take some very careful thought. Fortunately, if you’ve done the right market research then you should have a good idea of the right price.

  1. Find customers

There’s a vast array of places to find customers for your next taxi specialism. Depending on the market and demographic you’re looking to focus on this could range from school bulletins and supermarket notice boards to social media pages and business groups. If you think creatively almost anywhere could be a ready source of new customers.

At the beginning you’ll probably have to do most of the legwork to get customers. But it’s also possible to get customers to come to you. Effective marketing to let people know about the new services and routes you offer is the key. Here are some quick tips:

  • Get online – A website, app and social media presence are all great ways to showcase your business and help bookings. Provided you’ve added the right functionality.
  • Print flyers and business cards – Getting your booking and contact details out there is vital to business. They’re also useful for connecting with potential partners.
  • Set up a rewards system – It’s great to get new customers, but it’s also important to ensure both new and old customers keep coming back.

 

Protecting your business with taxi insurance

Boosting your business through a specialist taxi offering can be highly rewarding but also challenging. And that’s where the helpful team at Taxi Insurer comes in.

While you can never rule out risks such as road accidents, damage and theft you can protect yourself and your investment with taxi insurance tailored to your specific needs and budget. Interest-free payment plans are also available to make your insurance more manageable.

Get 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.

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