There were almost 300,000 licensed taxis and private hire vehicles operating in England as of March 2020. From being your own boss and dictating your hours to speaking with lots of different people every day, it’s easy to see the appeal of becoming a driver.
But as with any business venture, there are costs and rules you’ll need to be aware of. With our roads set to come back to life in the coming months as we emerge from lockdown, here are some key things to consider before getting behind the wheel.
Types of taxi work
Your first choice is whether to go it alone and create your own taxi firm or become a driver for a ride-sharing platform such as Uber. The rise of Uber has meant the industry has changed greatly from what it was even a decade ago – though it hasn’t been without controversy.
If you’d prefer to make your own way, you may find your local area has its own app for private taxi companies to join.
Researching your competition
Just like any business, it’s smart to research your competition before launching yourself to market. Find out who’s operating in your area and investigate their fees and general reputation. Having this knowledge up front will help you offer competitive pricing and a top notch service.
It’s worth looking into popular routes too – particularly if there’s a major train station or airport nearby.
Buying a vehicle
Choice of vehicle is key as it’s essentially your shop window. Your cab must be clean and visually attractive, with plenty of room for luggage and wheelchair access if possible. Choosing a pre-modified vehicle with a meter, sign and so on will save you some work too.
Given that your vehicle will become your livelihood, you’ll want to protect your prized asset. A robust GAP insurance package will give you peace of mind in case the worst happens, and your brand-new vehicle is written off.
Getting a taxi license
There are other papers to get in order before you hit the road, including your taxi license. His is usually issued by your local council and the cost can vary. If you’re found to be operating without a permit, you could face a hefty fine.
You may also need to pass medical, language and local area knowledge tests. Don’t forget to register your business for tax and accountability purposes too.
Marketing your business
With your vehicle and business set up, your future success will come down to how well you spread the word and attract customers. Traditional channels like newspapers and business cards left in key locations are a start, while offering an online booking service is becoming a must.
You could also speak to local businesses to see if they’d be interested in creating an account with you for staff and visitors. Schools, hospices and local authorities are also worth approaching to help you guarantee a relatively regular income.
Whether you’re thinking small or dreaming of a fleet of drivers and vehicles, get yourself in gear by following the taxi-based tips above.
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