From Street Hails to e-Hails: Taxi Companies Need to get their Own App like Uber, or Perish
If you have been following the rise of Uber, Sidecar, lyft or any other ridesharing or e-hailing platforms, you might have noticed that the fundamentals of interaction between the passengers and the taxicab drivers have undergone a drastic change in many cities across the world or are on the verge of changing in the near future.
So how do the contours of the new interaction play out? You just press a button and the nearest taxi driver is dispatched with a cab at your service. Elegant, right? But before we go into the specifics of this mobile taxi booking solution, its pretty much clear that this application has completely disrupted the traditional taxi cab businesses or so to say the surface transportation industry by reinventing the experience.
No matter how the recent fights between the taxi drivers/medallion owners and Uber play out, one thing is amply clear that the taxi associations and taxi service companies need to embrace the technology as soon as possible and adapt to the new system. Here’s the first post we did for taxicab service companies who wanted to get Uber and Lyft Clones with extended features and own branding where we briefly covered that the real enemy is- zero technology innovation in the past 40 years or so. A lot of signals in this direction have already started emerging. One such example that brings out this stark reality is that of an auction of 50 new medallions at Chicago where a minimum bid was set at $360,000. In the past the value of these medallions had gone upto a million dollars so the amount set for auctions was pretty realistic. The event turned out to be a dud with no takers apparent for the auction even after huge efforts on publicity.This clearly points to the eroding value of the medallions.
Overview of an Uber like application:
In the past, hailing a cab was a nightmare that either made you wave your hand in the air until you could hail a cab irrespective of the weather or you ended up calling a taxi dispatch service company (if you had their number) that would generally ask you to wait 20 minutes or more until a cab arrived.
Services like Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and many others which have followed suit aim to transform this annoying experience into a pleasant one. Mobile based cab hailing has introduced a sudden but required change. The taxi ordering app is aided by an easy integration with Google maps that helps you find the nearest car, establish the meeting points and endpoints for the driver and the passenger with minimal interaction between the driver and the passenger. Both parties also have access to a fair rating system ensuring an element of certainty and trust. Automatic payments close the loop making the earlier system of tips and passengers fumbling with receipts a thing of the past.
If we have to micro-analyze the benefits or lets say pros of this taxi mobile application and how it leads to a smooth and seamless user experience we will have to understand its essential attributes such as:
Security : An Uber like taxi app helps track every car as well as every driver in real time.
Routing : GPS based system and Google Maps integration with the driver and passenger apps ensures optimal timing.
Reputation: Ensures real time meritocracy with instant reviews and ratings of entire customer experience and services.
Certainty: It transforms the sloppy execution of cab services into an organized experience with a real time tracker available to the driver.
In a way this app serves as an integrating solution or a much more efficient marketplace bridging the supply and demand. The solution which seems so obvious in retrospect has revolutionized the taxi cab industry because of its holistic treatment of the entire taxi booking & traveling experience. Rather than dealing with one part of using a technology layer for a single aspect like dispatch or payment Uber chose to think big and redefine the complete experience.
What does this Uber like smartphone App mean for taxi cab companies and local taxi corporations?
No doubt the ride sharing platforms are disrupting one market after another but the taxi companies and councils can still co-exist with these platforms if they play their cards right. Taxi, limo companies and associations can thrive by using the technology that more efficiently locates customers and offers many additional benefits to grow their business.To illustrate a few, cab companies get a chance to keep their cars on road at all times by having a much more clearer picture of the demand and supply in their area backed by the data captured by the technology.This demand data also gives them confidence to take trips to far flung areas which they otherwise might not have taken.
With the e-hailing applications making the entire process of hailing a taxi seamless, the bottom line, i.e., demand for taxi services is also increasing in the cities where the transformed behavior has already been reinforced. Similar increase in demand can be expected in other cities where the new way of hailing the taxis is expected to become a norm in the coming years. This also implies that there are a lot of markets in many countries still to be captured and local taxi companies can get a first mover advantage at these places by getting a cab app / e-hailing solution. At other places where ride sharing platforms are already becoming popular, cab service companies can get back the traffic armed by a taxi mobile application like uber for the customers who have already adopted the solution by leveraging their deeper knowledge of the area.
Since many local taxi business owners and city associations have relations with the local populace that are much more established as compared to the new Uber like solutions this offers an additional advantage to them. It’s a fair assumption to make that these lost semi-loyal connections which have started using the much more efficient newer technology can be regained if only these companies and city councils develop their own branded white label taxi apps. So the City Councils can develop a single city based branded taxi e-hail app. In the current scenario embracing this change becomes not only useful but relevant too. This app will also help councils gather passenger travel data from time to time thereby generating huge revenues through improved taxi services in underserved areas.
Considering the loyalty factor from a different perspective, there are lessons to be learnt for the relatively new entrants as well. They can compete with the aggregation solutions by introducing a points system where the customers get rewarded for taking up more trips with their cab service. Its essential to provide the passengers with a good reason to travel with a taxi company even when many other similar services are available.This will ensure a square deal for a taxi company increasing loyalty amongst existing customers as well as encouraging passive users to opt for their cab service over various other transport options available.
All in all, benefits of taxi app for a cab company cannot be overstated. It’s high time to redefine your business model keeping customer experience at the center.The traditional cabbies need to revamp their services making hailing a cab more faster, easier and convenient job for the riders. A smartphone app for taxi booking is a perfect solution that regards customer experience at every touch point. The best part is the end user of this app is benefited to a great extent that makes it easier to hail the entire universe of cabs right on their phones. By using a rideshare app within a few clicks the passenger gets to hail a perfect car, track its journey via GPS, get on board within few minutes and hop out once the destination is reached with the app automatically charging the card. On the other hand, the cab companies to get to earn higher revenues with loyal drivers getting good business and serving constantly even during non- peak hours thus stabilizing the supply base.
How to get started with your own Taxi Service App like Lyft, Uber or Sidecar?
Let’s say you are convinced by the benefits of investing in a custom app like uber for your taxi fleet. What next?
Any online/mobile taxi booking solution typically consists of an android or iOS driver app, Android and iPhone passenger app and a taxicab management panel. You might also require a website and a call center based dispatching system as well. Things which you need to consider are what are the taxi options you have in your fleet – Limousines, SUV’s, Sedans and budget options. Accordingly, your business fundamentals whether the bookings are generally immediate hails or future bookings will be decided which impacts the flow. In addition, you would need to decide the pricing options depending on what your competitors are charging. Finally, do you provide only hailing service or point-to-point service or both? Uber and Lyft does both and Sidecar just does point to point as examples.
Prophesying this Uber like world whereby every city is going to have city based apps and every local taxi company will need a taxi solution to provide services like uber and stay relevant, we at Click Labs have developed a mobile taxi booking and dispatch solution, TaxiHawk, which can be customized to your specific needs. Since we already have created the IP which is being used by many taxi companies as I write we have brought down the prices considerably and can promise you that you won’t need tens of thousands of dollars to own this solution.