What Business Owners Can Learn From Taxi Drivers
(This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur)
Want to be a successful taxi driver?
It’s a competitive business. It’s impossible to raise your fares. There’s long hours and it’s very, very hard work. Your customers can be tough, moody, impatient and sometimes downright unfriendly. You’re expected to be an expert at your job and possess a wealth of information. You are criticized and analyzed, and rarely receive a thank you. You’re regulated by the government. You have high costs.
It is not easy being a taxi driver. I should know. I have all of these same problems, and so does just about every business owner I meet. I have friends that run pizza shops, clients that manufacturer tubes and partners who sell hardware. They all have the same problems. But I know how you can succeed.
You will make sure your taxi is spotless, that you always have enough gas and that your repairs are up to date. The cab will not smell of cigarette smoke, sweat or beer. In fact, it won’t smell of anything at all. There will be no evidence of past customers in the back seat — no stains, tears or missing seatbelts. The taxi will be cool in the summer and warm in the winter. You will have a bottle of water for each customer. You will be clean and dressed appropriately. You will be courteous, respectful and helpful. You will treat each customer like they’re special. Your place of business will be respectable and professional.
You will be expert in what you do. You will learn the language of your customer so that you can communicate effectively. You won’t ask your out-of-town passenger for directions because you will understand that your customer assumes that you know how to do what you’re being paid to do. You will not use profanity, scream and shout at other drivers, talk on the phone to your girlfriend or comment on the economy or the president.
You will not drive or conduct yourself recklessly or endanger your customer. You will do what you do so that your customer can do what he or she does — be it talk on the phone, paperwork, checking their messages or nap. You will converse when your customer wants to converse. You will operate your business with the best interests of the customer in mind.
You will make the best use of technology and equip yourself with reliable GPS software so that you can get to and from your destination quickly. You will have a mobile phone in case customers need to call or text you. You will offer your customers choices for payment — cash or credit card, and for those customers who want to pay by credit card you will utilize a mobile payment application to do this, also ensuring that passengers receive a receipt emailed to them. Your use of technology will not only increase the convenience of the customer but make you more productive and therefore profitable.
You will be ethical. You will not take a roundabout route when a more direct one is better for the customer. You will not overcharge. You will not take advantage of your customer’s ignorance — of course.
You will do something extra. As you drive maybe you’ll ask if your customer would like a restaurant recommendation or some advice about the destination. You may point out interesting sites if the customer wishes. You will help with your passenger’s bags. Most importantly when you reach your destination you will do something that most taxi drivers don’t: say thank you. Offer your business card and your services if they’re further needed. And thank them again. You will demonstrate your competitive edge by always doing more than expected.
This is how to be a successful taxi driver. Don’t want to drive a cab? That’s OK. It’s also how to be a successful entrepreneur.