There are many challenges to starting your own taxi company, but also many rewards. The flexibility, variety and opportunity to work on your own terms has attracted thousands of drivers to set up their own firms in the private hire industry. This means that if you want to not only survive but to thrive and grow, you will have to make your taxi company stand out among the competition, and to develop a model of working that can sustain you, and your drivers, for a lifetime.
If you’ve just recently created your own taxi firm or you’re just preparing to strike out on your own, this can be an intimidating prospect. However, there are a few key steps you can take to place yourself ahead of the pack and give you and your new firm the best possible prospects for future success.
Ensure your drivers are licensed
One of your first priorities in developing your marketing plan is to ensure that your drivers are fully licensed for all the services you intend to provide. Customers are repeatedly – and correctly – avoiding using unlicensed taxi services, so the ability for your drivers to showcase their credentials is an absolute essential in marketing your firm as a legitimate business.
Differentiate – Offer a range of services
On the subject of services, it’s worthwhile thinking about what you can offer to make yourself stand out from the pack. Can you offer minibus and limo services, mobility vehicles, or access to executive vehicles for business customers? Are you willing to offer round-the-clock pickup and satisfaction guarantees? Be realistic and don’t promise what you can’t deliver, but think about why a customer should choose you over a rival private hire, (that has maybe been established for a lot longer than you) and make sure you’re fully equipped to provide it.
Develop an online presence
Many small taxi firms are on tight profit margins, particularly during their early years. Marketing and advertising can be expensive, but it’s an investment you’ll need to make if anyone’s going to know who you are. A professional website is essential, ideally with an app or online booking form as well as a business telephone number so that customers can more easily reach out to you for a quote or a booking. Search engine optimisation is a vital tool in online marketing – for example if you offer private hire in Central London, you want your company to come up when a potential customer searches those terms on Google. The internet is highly competitive, but hiring an SEO professional can help you to rank highly for the most popular and relevant search terms in your area.
Build your corporate customers and accounts
Networking and word of mouth are hugely important in the private hire industry. You need to build up relationships with loyal customers that will convince them to choose you first for their future journeys. You should also make connections with other drivers, who may be willing to pass on work they can’t fulfil themselves if you can do the same for them. Popular venues such as pubs, bars and hotels also often have preferred taxi firms. Consider offering preferential rates to ensure a regular stream of business from these vital sources.
Build a recognisable brand
Thinking creatively about your personal brand is one of the best ways in which you can effectively market your taxi service. Think about the way your vehicle or vehicles will look, what your advertising is going to communicate and how your website will look and feel. There should be consistency across all of these channels so that customers instantly recognise you for who you are and what you do. Everything from colour scheme to your tagline feeds into this. If you’re not a naturally creative person, work with a marketing professional who can help you to develop your brand identity. The effort and investment you put in now could make all the difference to your career in the long-term.