If you’re an owner or driver of a taxi or ride service, you do not need a reminder regarding the effects of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft on your business and industry. At their essence, these ride-sharing services transport passengers from point A to point B. This, of course, is the same product that your taxi or ride service provides. The only difference is that Uber and Lyft have fought hard to classify themselves as “ride-sharing” businesses rather than as “taxi” businesses, a practice which allows companies like Uber and Lyft to avoid costly and restrictive industry regulations. This makes it difficult - but not impossible - for classic, industry-regulated taxi and ride sharing services to compete. In this article, we will outline some of the ways such companies stay competitive in today’s economy, and we will focus particularly on the strengths of mobile.
Ways classic taxi and ride sharing services can stay competitive
1. Advertise unique characteristics of deep driver experience
Ride-sharing services have some great features, but they are still lacking in some key areas that can make classic taxi and ride services stand out. One of these areas is that of driver experience and familiarity with the area. As a result of ride-sharing services using drivers who simply sign up via mobile and rely heavily on GPS, classic taxi and ride service companies have a comparative strength as their drivers typically have several years of experience driving for riders in the local area. Customers notice this too, as inexperienced drivers are unaware of typical traffic patterns or alternate routes that may result in a faster ride. Classic taxi and ride companies must be sure to advertise and take advantage of their unique differentiation in this area.
2. Allow mobile bookings
As the saying goes, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” This is particularly true with the near dominance ride-sharing services enjoy with mobile apps and mobile bookings. Using mobile to book a taxi is unarguably convenient, customers love it, and there is no reason that classic taxi and ride service companies cannot provide this convenience to their customers as well. A custom, branded mobile app for your classic taxi and ride service company can easily be built so that you can provide the convenience of apps like Uber and Lyft to your customer base. Features such as payments, driver tracking, and trip logs can be added to this application as well to enhance the user’s mobile experience.
3. Embrace surge pricing
Mobile-based bookings have helped ride-sharing services capitalize on high-demand periods, such as during a rain storm or immediately after a large sporting event or concert. Historically, when a large surge of people suddenly needed a taxi, pricing could not dynamically adjust in order to help supply (the amount of taxis available) better match demand (the amount of people who need a ride). “Surge pricing” is a feature that helps bridge this gap, as prices can automatically increase during peak times to attract more drivers and detract riders in order help make supply and demand better match. With a mobile app, your classic taxi and ride service business can position itself to compete on either side of this phenomenon. One option is to adopt surge pricing yourself to attract more of your drivers to work and collect fares during peak times. Another option is to offer the convenience of mobile to your customer base and avoid surge pricing, a common rider annoyance, to undercut ride-sharing applications and book more customers.
4. Network and integrate with local businesses
As described, classic taxi and ride service companies can have unique advantages over recent ride-sharing firms. One of these unique and competitive advantages is providing a familiar and consistent experience for local businesses. For example, rather than calling an Uber for guests ad hoc, many hotels prefer working with a local taxi company that can provide scheduled, dependable, and regular transport for their guests. The same goes for hospitals, doctor offices, and auto repair shops, where customers may require one-way or return transport. Classic taxi and ride services can develop relationships with these firms to win repeat business. Additionally, these taxi and ride service companies can provide local firms with easy, web-based ordering for single or repeat trips.
Ride-sharing is here to stay, but classic taxi and ride service companies are here to stay as well. Rather than fighting ride-sharing and lobbying for regulations on ride-sharing businesses, classic taxi and ride service companies can better invest their resources by adjusting their business models to include and take advantage of current trends in mobile technology.
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