In December 2008, Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick, two serial entrepreneurs, were stood outside a web conference in Paris when they couldn’t find a cab. Frustrated that, in the age of smartphones there wasn’t a simple solution for this, the two decided to join forces and create one. Over ten years later, Uber is now valued at over $60billion dollars and has changed the face of the taxi industry as we know it.
The days of finding and booking cabs by phone, taxi rank or simply waving your arms frantically above your head are gradually disappearing. Conducting simple day-to-day tasks and transactions through our smartphones is no longer considered disruptive, it’s now the norm. So it’s more important than ever to develop an understanding of new technological movements and how they affect your business.
Developing an app for your taxi business is just one of the essentials you need nowadays, along with things like a fast-loading website and good taxi fleet insurance. Taxi Insurer can help you with the latter, comparing quotes to get you the best deal.
Let’s face it, Uber has unequivocally redefined the taxi industry. Customers are now used to the new way of hailing a cab. Launching the app, entering their destination, choosing their service and tracking and waiting for their ride. Two to three minutes later, a taxi pops up out of nowhere! It’s quick, easy and convenient and for many customers, there’s no going back from this model. Some of the benefits we’ve come to experience with taxi apps are:
Convenience - Probably the number one need taxi apps have answered is that of convenience. Instead of waiting to clear a busy landline just to book a ride or desperately searching for a taxi rank late at night (when you don’t know where the nearest one is) customers can now hail a cab directly on their smartphone.
Fitting in with our digital lifestyles - With so much of our lives now revolving around our smartphones, it makes sense that such a simple and relied upon service such as hailing a cab went ‘mobile’
Speed - Apps like Uber have made it easy to get a cab within minutes of booking due to their GPS technology. It’s also very easy for customers to see how far away their ride is with this same technology and push notification, meaning they no longer have to wait outside in the pouring rain just so they don’t miss their ride.
Easy payment - Uber has made it easy for passengers to pay for their ride through their mobile experience. No more fumbling for extra change or card machines breaking down for drivers.
Driver credibility - These apps have made it easier for customers to see who their driver is and to put a ‘face to a name’ before they get into the car. With some of the rating systems these apps have, customers can also be assured of the quality of their driver.
Safety - Some of these apps have made it easier for customers to report complaints or safety issues, helping to improve standards in the industry.
While it may seem like Uber and similar apps are dominating the marketplace, these disrupters currently only operate in a limited number of places (mainly major cities). That means there’s still an opportunity for traditional taxi companies to jump on the ‘Uber movement’.
To keep up, taxi fleets everywhere are adopting the ‘Uber approach’ by launching their own apps. This can work particularly well for cab companies that are more specialised or that cater directly to a specific region still untouched by Uber. It’s also where things can get challenging as it’s expensive for more independent companies to develop an app. Still, there’s a solution to this, which we’ll explore later on.
High development costs make it difficult for independent taxi fleets to launch their apps because it requires a lot of investment upfront. Furthermore, developing an app can be a long process from brainstorming features, to designing the app for usability and testing it before launching to the general public. This equates to time taken away from your team in the form of project management – time that could have been spent marketing to obtain more customers.
A white-label taxi app is like any other white-label good. Essentially, it’s a pre-packaged app sold by a development company that you can further customise and brand to suit your needs. Just think of it like a skeleton that you can add skin to (your brand look and feel). Usually, it costs an upfront fee to set up and then a monthly subscription to continue running the app. Onboarding, maintenance, and troubleshooting are usually all taken care of by the developer.
Often, taxi fleets are dependant on third-party services that deliver the bookings, whether that’s a call centre agent or partnering with one of the industry giants like Uber that wield the power when it comes to setting their own commissions. Having your own booking app means that you can essentially ‘cut out the middle man’ and pocket all the profit for yourself.
Protecting your margin and lower development costs ultimately mean you’ll be making a higher return on investment with a white-label app.
Developing an app from scratch could mean months of back and forth with your development team until you see a final product. With a white label taxi app, you’re basically getting a pre-packaged product that you further customise. You can usually make these changes over a few days and have your app up and running in no time.
Many white-label app packages also come with their own maintenance service for a monthly fee or even within the package itself. That means any troubleshooting or issues that you raise with the app provider will be dealt with by one of their trained specialists, making the upkeep of your app much less hassle.
While there’s been a huge drive to set up apps lately, this shouldn’t overshadow your efforts to also set up a website. We all use search engines like Google to find what we’re looking for and your chances of being discovered by them will be much higher if you have a website that properly ranks for your local area. Some of the benefits of having a website are:
Gives you an online presence - Customers expect a business to have a website these days – it has come to be the norm. In this digital world, your online presence is crucial in getting your name out there and driving custom.
Gives you credibility - Even a very basic website will make you seem much more credible in the eyes of your customers. It’s a trust signal that tells them ‘hey, I”m here and I’m a real professional company’.
Attracts potential customers - With SEO (search engine optimisation) you can tailor the content of your website to attract certain kinds of search queries. Those who are typing in questions and phrases such as ‘cabs in X location’ or ‘cab companies near me’ are bound to be people who could potentially become your customers.
Accessibility and reference point - By having a website with your company’s number, booking information and app download details, you’re making it a lot easier for those potential customers to find you and therefore they’re more likely to actually book your service.
Online promotions - Having a website gives you a place to advertise your promotions and let people know if you offer special services, like airport runs.
The great thing about setting up a website is that it’s becoming less expensive these days. It may still require a bit of an upfront investment if you decide to hire a local developer or SEO specialist.
For a monthly subscription fee, you get access to a platform on which you can build your own website using their simple tools and templates. The only drawback here is that it’s then up to you to maintain the website. That being said, that’s not overly difficult to do in most cases and you can always pay one of your more web-savvy office employees to maintain your site if you still don’t feel comfortable.
Once you have your app and website up and running, you may be asking yourself ‘how can I attract customers?’ Here are some online and offline ideas you can use to grow your customer base:
This may sound like a bit of an old-fashioned tactic but it’s one that can still pay off, particularly if you’re running a very localised business. Spread leaflets and flyers around local pubs, hotels, restaurants and any other businesses you feel are relevant to your target market and their needs. Perhaps supermarket runs for older customers would work well?
In the same vein as leaflets and flyers, bus shelter posters are another tried-and-tested marketing channel but a particularly clever one as they can feed directly into a customer pain points or need. Just think about all those chilly, rainy nights people spend waiting for a bus that feels like it’s never going to come! If they look up and see your sign, expect a booking in a flash.
The best place to advertise your taxi business? Right on your fleet of cars themselves, of course. Just think of it as free advertising, or just making better use of your most valuable business assets. Include your phone number, web address and an image of your app.
While only bought once a year, a calendar is something some people will look at daily. This means your fleet will be front of mind as they try to figure out travel times and arrangements. The more fun and creative you can get with the photos, even better. Don’t forget to have your number and app displayed on every sheet.
While social media may feel a little oversaturated at times, you can still gain some great traction by focusing your marketing efforts on the right platforms. The way to know which ones are best for you and your business? Think about your target customers and their demographics. Are they a bit older? Then Facebook’s probably a sure bet. Are they part of the young, millennial student crew? Chances are they’ll be on Instagram. Any of these platforms are a great place to promote discounts (such as for students), special offers and for times when bookings are set to get busier.
Facebook ads allow you to target customers in a specific location, so this is a great way of promoting your services to a particular town or area of the country.
There are different factors that go into making a taxi business successful. Having the right technological solutions, marketing strategies and taxi fleet insurance are just a few of these.
Hiring the right kind of drivers that are committed to going above and beyond for customers is another major part of the equation. So is the upkeep of your fleet of vehicles, determining the best price to charge and setting up the best taxi management system possible. We cover a few more tips and tricks for making your taxi business successful here.
If you’re going to put time and effort into promoting your taxi business and winning over customers, you’ll want to make sure you're protected if something goes wrong – especially if you have an entire fleet of taxis to manage.
That’s where taxi fleet insurance comes in, an ideal solution if your fleet is comprised of more than five vehicles.
Our friendly team can help you compare quotes for taxi fleet insurance today – what are you waiting for? Call us on 0121 506 2391 and find the cover that’s right for you.