Marketing in the Taxi Industry    2001 Bentley Azure Cab    
Free, Proven, Reliable tips for you from Experienced Taxi Operators. How to market your services, cover your back and succeed in For-Hire Driving!
For a free printed copy of these ideas, call 760-345-4347 or e-mail us at fred@taxicabelectronics.com or snail mail us at PO Box 12492, Palm Desert, CA 92255-2492.
Fred Stock,  www.TaxiCabElectronics.Com  760-345-4347  NO OBLIGATION! Send me a pix of your completed cab and company info - I'll put you on our "client photos" gallery free! You are hereby granted the right to print these ideas out for your own use. Please do not distribute them otherwise. Thanks!

We had a lengthy conversation with a client the other day and made some notes as we went along. It was certainly not the first!  It all had to do with making MONEY in the taxicab business. Looking at the scribbles later on, I decided to do this project to share some of these ideas with our many friends working daily in the industry. Some of these ideas will not be new to you, others may. If you can derive some good from them, our goal will have been met. Of course, if you are successful  in marketing your services, the rest of the story is to deliver quality; clean cab, pleasant smile, safe operation, fair prices. That goes without saying (though that idea never stopped me from saying anything!) We're addressing these notes to folks with whom we have done business in the past, or people who have spoken with us on one occasion or another, and of course, NEW FRIENDS here on the web. Grab what grabs you, and feel free to call 760-345-4347 or e-mail fred@taxicabelectronics.com or even write (gasp!) to PO Box 12492, Palm Desert, CA 92255-2492,  with comments and more ideas. What works for you?  Thanks for taking a look.

It would seem that the goal of most businesses is to make a living, but many of us appear to be treading water because we take more time waiting for business than promoting it. Here are some basics you are probably already applying.

(1) Business cards, attractively printed on one side, with your phone numbers in large print, your name as you want to be remembered by your clients, and the Cab Company Name as it appears on your car or toplight. The back of the card should be a receipt with blanks for date, time of day, amount of the fare, and your driver's signature or initials. GIVE A CARD TO EVERY CLIENT as you thank them for using your service.  You can create cards very inexpensively with your desktop printer and computer, and with some thought, you can have a very good looking card. Use Avery 8364 or equivalent blanks and you'll probably find your word processor like MS Word already has templates for that project built-in! Remember that your business cards are "the door to your store." Think less about being 'cute" and more about functionality. Put your cards everywhere. The ASB bulletin Board at the city college, and the fast food counter downtown. Don't forget to stop by the hotel and motel operations in your area, too. They may allow you to have a stack of business cards at the check in or service counter, or the consierge desk, in return for quick service and short response time for thier clients. "This is our best cab company!" That's a great line from the hotel counter guy to your next fare! Give every client a business card yourself, too!

(2) Personal Contact with those who use taxi services everyday. Press the flesh, as they say, and leave your cards (several) with every bar tender, restaurant cashier, hospital front desk receptionist, hotel concierge, and police desk in your area. When you walk in, offer them a piece of scotch tape to stick your card to their phone or register. Here are a couple you may not have thought about; rest homes and elderly support centers, senior centers, card centers for seniors. Some areas have day-care centers for Alzheimer patients (etc.) who need regular transportation almost daily.  Urgent Care Centers are a good drop spot too! Many bellmen and concierge at hotels will be happy to know you are nearby and ready to appear quickly when they call.  Another good place to drop off a business card or two is the local fire station. They respond to smashed cars and accidents and may be able to funnel business your way when the people are stuck at the scene without transportation. Leave cards at the tire store too - people leave their cars there. Don't forget College dorms, frat houses, sororities, student unions, ASB bulletin boards, student apartment complexes in the laundry rooms. Commercial Laundromats too!

(3) Stickers! Some companies have stickers made up the size of return address labels, and stick them to Pay Phones, or on the cover of the telephone book in the phone booth. They offer them to cashiers everywhere. They put them on the counters of the 7-11's and Circle K type convenience stores.  Always ask permission, and offer the person with whom you are speaking your card as well.  Don't forget repair shops and mechanics, car dealerships, bail bondsmen, Police Departments, and the dispatcher at the parking lots, airports, train stations and bus terminals. You can make stickers very easily with your computer and sticker blanks from the business supply stores. Ask for Avery 8160 equivalents and use Microsoft Word to print them. Look for Label Printing options in your menu bar. {in Windows 7, with Office Word 2007 or newer, click "Mailings" tab, then "Labels", then "Options", then "Label Vendors", then "Avery US Letter", then select "8160" Good grief!!}

(4) Discounts in the Trade.  One industry we often forget is the towing industry. When Sam the Tow man shows up to tow a station-wagon full of children, he cannot put Mom, Dad and seven kids and the dog in the cab of the truck. He'll call you to help if you offer a discount to the family or to him if he includes that service in his charges. It is also a good idea to set up an agreement with tour and travel operators. Many times a tour company will have a small pickup bus that stops at particular locations, like senior centers for instance, to get the folks going to some airport to begin their cruise vacation.  The clients will not want to leave their car at the senior center parking lot for two or three weeks, but will be happy to have you carry them to the center and book the return run in advance. A small discount through the tour company, and you'll have double trips automatically. In my area, there is a Jeep Tour Company which sometimes sends a cab to pick up passengers before a scheduled tour. Otherwise, their jeep spends half the tour time just doing pickups and drop offs. They have also used a cab to take people home if a jeep should break down, or if the weather suddenly gets ugly. Be sure to let the golf pro at the local country club know you have enough room to carry golf clubs in the trunk too! And don't forget the tire shops that often keep the client's car for the day. Take them to work and return them to the tire shop after the work is done. Give them a business card when they get out! If they come out the office door and you're sitting there waiting for them, you're in line for a good tip, and you've made a friend. They think you're their chauffeur! It couldn't hurt!

(5) Exclusives; Some hotels, service companies, visitors' centers, set up "exclusives" with particular operators to guarantee they will have transportation quickly when they need it. This means they always call you, or if you have a fleet of cars, they may give their entire cab stand to your people. Sometimes this means an under-the-table gratuity for the greeter, bellman or valet supervisor, but in many cases, a personal contact is enough. Be sure to take the contact person a gift at Christmas and drop him off a cold drink when you pass by on a hot day. It couldn't hurt! It is also very important that you have plan B in place, in case your units are tied up across town. "We are swamped, Charlie, but you're a good customer. We'll send United Cab to get your people. We have an agreement with them. Thanks for the call."

(6) Networking! ... which brings us to the other side of the coin. Your competitor is not necessarily your enemy. He can be a business partner if you agree to cover each other's back. You may need to handshake on not stealing each other's clients, but when he's full and gets a call, he can relay it to you. You can do the same for him and both of you benefit. By NOT stealing his clients, the relationship of trust will continue. It's also a great idea to have other businesses that call on you, give you some of their business cards. Scratch each other's backs by recommending each other. The networking can be with restaurants, fast food places and even shopping malls. "Sure, I know a good place. Go to Santino's and ask for Vito. I'm Fred. Tell him I sent you, he'll take good care of you." Give them a business card when they get out, and put Vito's name in the corner with a ballpoint pen! It seems that the "gentlemen's clubs" have gotten this idea; lots of cabs carry those garish cards with the address and promotions. Maybe that's a clue. Why not get a number of different businesses into your personal network, carry their cards, maybe set up a small discount for the clients, and make sure each of those businesses have your cards on the counter for their customers too! "Where can I find a good Italian Restaurant in this town?" Just happen to have a discount card for you at the best place in town with that exact cuisine! Ask for Vito. (He's everywhere he's everywhere! Yikes!) Don't forget those little or big shops the visitors need in your town.. Where can I find... Radio Shack, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, a grocery, a good hardware store, a music store - I need guitar strings... etc. Become an expert on your area, and be sure every one of those places know you are at their service.

(7) Airline Backup. I know of one company that has every major airline at our regional airport as a client. They frequently have flights that are overbooked, and cannot carry their passengers at a specific time. They call our customer's cabs to make a speed run into the next airport up the line to get these folks on their way. The clients feel they are being treated "special" because they are not herded onto a bus. The cabby gives the airline a break on cost, and the airline gives the cabby lots of business. It's a great nitch in the business. Be sure to give them a business card when they get out!

(8) Free Publicity  Many small towns need your services and cannot find a cab locally. If you are covering Smalltown, even if your business is a few miles away in Mediumville, be sure to decorate your car and be a float in the Smalltown holiday parade - maybe carrying some minor celebrity or official, and be sure to show up with the car gleaming and polished at the local clambake in the little park behind the fire station. "Look Maudy, I didn't know we had a cab service here!!"  If you are just starting up, be sure to write or contact the local newspaper to shoot a picture of your cab and announce the grand opening. Every time you have an opportunity to get in front of the local TV camera or news-photographer, be there. Send us a copy! Show up at the Little League field, the high school football game and the Veteran's Day presentation too! You may soon make enough to sponsor a kid baseball or soccer team, Pop Warner football, Boys Club activity. Parents of the children will remember your name and use you! Be sure to give them a business card when they come up and say thank you! Let the world know you are out there. I remember a gag-ad where Santa Claus saw his image in a big mirror, and fainted saying, "I DO exist!"

(9) Deliveries! Drug Stores, Markets, Legal Offices, Sandwich Shops. You can make agreements with many businesses that offer things that can be delivered. You could pick up prescriptions and take them to the clients. You can carry groceries to the disabled or elderly. You can run sandwiches to the office building from the lunch-sandwich shop. I know of one operation where the local Starbucks has a cab delivering that nasty espresso coffee to the sleepy office staff every day. Put a business card in with the delivery too.! If you are confident and unafraid, you could be an on-call process server for the local barristers. If you are adventurous, (and 8 feet tall and bullet-proof,) you can be a part-time process server for the local attorney or court. (That can get dicey or downright dangerous, so think about it first.)

(10) Devices that make money for you along the road. We carry a huge line. Ad Carriers for signs on your roof. Oversize toplights with room for ads as well. Trunk Lid Signs. Inside the Cab you can post signs and advertising. The contracts on these ad carriers are frequently negotiated through an organization, either a cab owners association if several companies are involved, or through the advertising department is a single larger company is involved. The clients to approach of course are the same ones the TV ad people hit… car dealers, appliance, furniture, etc… and today,  a great market is the Native American Indian Casino ad departments. Your ads are made for application to the carriers like large bumper-stickers, on translucent plastic. These are generally made up by a local vinyl sign shop or advertising firms with that type of equipment in your area. It gives you more control with mock ups and layouts for your approval. You may discover these folks already have connections to advertising agencies that do nothing but sell ads, and might be delighted to have another medium to offer their clients. The local market determines the cost of ads. Some rooftop carriers are split in half for the ad space, and two ads are seen on each side, a total of four clients instead of two. Each client pays less and the cabbie makes more effort and more money. Local ad agencies may also be happy to use the ad carriers and trunk lid signs in conjunction with other advertising they are packaging. “We’ll give you two months in the local glossy magazine, an ROS in the radio station, and two months on the local taxi cabs for $___” … that type of thing. Think of it as an opportunity for the clients, not just for your pocketbook. It really IS!

(11) Website Advertising  Many people plan vacation trips and conventions on the web these days. Your presence on the web assures you of part of that pie. A simple, well designed, low cost website can produce business for your company if you integrate your "URL" web address (www.yourbiz.com) with the area convention and visitors' bureaus, local travel agencies, major destination centers like large hotels, convention centers, and golf clubs, and with local CITY sites. City and state governments, many smaller entities like counties and towns, have websites promoting the area and its businesses. You put a link on your site to their website, and they do the same for you. Talk to your local website developement company to produce a clean basic website. Let the world know you are out there! Oh, when you start looking for a web address (URL) try to get one which says your FUNCTION not just a cute name. There is a business nearby called "Carla's Pink Pig"... what is it that Carla does there? But "Every Pink Accessory On Earth" would tell you exactly! Same rule goes for your www.- - - address. When we started we used "FSELECTRONICS" for our website. Told you nothing about our stuff. Now we are "www.TaxiCabElectronics.com". Hey, YOU FOUND US, eh?

(12) Direct mailings  Probably the least effective is use of direct mailings, although in your local area it may work well. Remember the return on most direct mail campaigns is in the neighborhood of 0.3%. You can spend hundreds of dollars on postage and printing and make a ten or fifteen dollar sale, and consider the campaign successful. IN YOUR IMMEDIATE AREA, you may find the reminder that you exist and are there to serve your clients is worth the smaller investment in mailing. Be sure to put a business card in with anything you snail-mail! E-mail also works well if you already have a sizable data-base, but consider the high costs if you have to pay somebody else for that.

(13) Government Services One of our clients has contracted with the VA medical people in the neighboring town to bring vets in for their appointments, especially in cases where their medical procedure will render them temporarily unable to drive home. Another client says he has a contract with the Workman's Comp people to ferry clients about when necessary. He says he gets frequent calls from that office. Give them a business card when they exit your cab!

(14) Military Bases: If you are located near a military base, you may find there is a market with the base chaplain, base commissary, or base hospital. One client has a standing service with the base near his business; he picks up soldiers who have had a bit too much and delivers them safely back to base housing, and then returns to take them to retrieve their cars in the morning. The base commander said he was saving lives and embarrassment for his service. The base gets a discount for the GI's and the client gets a lot of business he normally would have missed. "Had too much? Call Charlie. He's your designated driver!" Give them a business card when they exit the taxi!

(15) Trade Outs  One customer has traded out some advertising space on the outside of his car, for a logo and phone number of the vinyl sign co, in exchange for his outside sign work. His signage is therefore free. Another client puts small 12"x12" ads across the back of his van and charges the advertisers $25.00 per month for the ad. Finally, a client is using those "vehicle wrap" screen ads on the back of his van for a local zoo and recreation facility. They pay him $45.00 per month, and they paid for the ad signs. He says it makes his car stand out like a lighthouse and he gets business because he put a picture of the car with the ads in the phone book! Be sure to check local sign laws before you do that... some places you can put your own company name on the car, but not anyone else's.

(15) Local Vehicle Manufacturers, Dealers, Outfitters and Distributors: We have a client whose area includes a major manufacturer of motor homes. He has an agreement with the company to provide transportation for customers who come into town to pick up their new coach and arrive by plane or bus. The manufacturer calls him to go get them when they show up. The client shows up shiny clean, offers them in-vehicle internet access, a cool soda in the summer and a hot chocolate from a thermos in the winter. Think about the situations in which a client cannot drive himself.

(16) Medical Non-Emergency Transport There may be federal money available under the Medicare program (or similar state arrangements) for vans equipped with handicapped facilities like wheel chair lifts. We are told the retrofitting is a sizable investment, but the van becomes a routine part of the transportation of the less fortunate or elderly for medical services. Contact the local Medicare offices. If there is a major hospital in your area, known for a specific treatment regime or whatever, you should make friends with the ER people and admitting staffs to be sure they know you are alive and well. A discounted rate for their clients may also bring in extra bookings. Give them a business card when they get out! Of course, when there is no immediate wheel chair business, you are still a taxi!

(17) Department of Social Services in many cities has a contract or an arrangement with Taxi and Shuttle services for transport of clients. This can be nearly a full time load in particular situations, or at least regular dependable business appointments. Your cabs will need to be shiny and spiffy but you probably do that anyway! Find them in the Government Pages of the telephone directory.

(18) Emergency Room at the local hospital sometimes had people arrive in the ambulance with an injured family member. These folks may need a cab to make the return trip.

(19) Match Books! Here's one I would not have believed would still work. One client invested in matchbooks. I thought that was over when the tobacco companies started catching it! He pays about 4¢ a piece for them, and drops a couple every place he goes. Leaves them in the restaurants and at the 7-11 counter. Gives them to bartenders and taxi clients, even if they don't smoke. Says it's paying off in spades! They dig around in the purse or coat pocket, and find his number! On the matchbook cover is a tear-off coupon for a 10% discount with coupon.

(20) Visiting Nurses and Doctors - Government Contracts One client has made contracts with the visiting nurses and doctors programs from the federal government. They send specialists to numerous retirement homes and assisted care facilities, and nursing homes in his area. They call him every time because he hustles and responds every time on time. And he treats the "guests' as royalty! Government contracts are great! Give them a business card when they get out! Is there an echo in here?

(21) Return Trip Discount! This is so simple we may have missed it! Print up a card - either business card sized, or perhaps as big as a post card or a three-by-five. { We offer a discount card for Return Trip or for Next Trip on our website - use this link: http://www.taxicabelectronics.com/Accessories.htm?032313#DiscountCard } Or you can make your own! Your personal telephone number is emblazoned across it so they'll call you when they come back to town after a flight to Kreeble-land somewhere. Give them a 5 to 10% discount on the return ride. That's only Ten Dollars on a hundred-dollar ride, but that ride will be YOURS not someone else's. Put on the card blanks for 1) Their Name (SPELLED PROPERLY!!! - just ask them to spell it out for you, then pronounce it. The happiest sound to most ears is their own name!) 2) Date of the original; ride 3) The original fare value. 4) Number of passengers, 5) Your name printed clearly, and a place to initial it yourself. Hand it to them with a smile, saying, "This gets you back home with a ten percent discount! Give me a call, thank you!" Give them a business card when they get out, too!

(22) The Shuttle Company! Just spoke with a bloke who has an agreement with the shuttle company at the airport and train stations. You probably think of them as competition, and indeed they may be, but they also call a cab when they are swamped, or when they have a break down and no backup units in the area. You can also gather people from their return trip and drop them home if he's on a tight schedule. The bus company may also be glad to know you are there.

(23) Your Idea Goes HERE! e-mail us at Fred@TaxiCabElectronics.com. Your ideas are most important, and we solicit them. What works for you? Call, e-mail, write, or stand on top of your chimney and holler loudly in this direction, so we can share your successes with our clients! Thanks for taking the time to read this material. Your confidence and your business are always appreciated. Success to YOU! -Fred & Barbara Stock, Fred Stock Electronics, and on the web, www.TaxiCabElectronics.Com. (P.S.: send us your cab pictures for our client photographs pages - it's free!.)

 

CHECK LIST FOR CONTACTS AND BUSINESS CARDS

Bars and Nightclubs                       
Restaurants, Fast Food Joints (delivery services?)
Elder Care Center
Hotel Receptionist, Concierge
Police Department, Private Security Firms, 911 Dispatchers
Fire Stations, Emergency Room Desks
Alzheimer's Day Care Center
Rest Homes, Urgent Care Front Desks
Starbucks, Coffee Dan's etc., Coffee Shops Offering Wireless Internet Free.
Pay Phone Booths, Hotel Lobby "Business Centers"
Convenience Stores, Retail Outlets That Hire Retarded or Challenged Employees
Tow Truck Operators, Junk Yard Auto Grave Yard Desks
Train Station Desk, Airport Taxi Dispatcher
Bus Station Desk, Shuttle Dispatchers
Ambulance Service Dispatcher, Hospital Waiting Rooms, Clinics, Bloodmobiles
Auto Repair Shops, Mechanics, Tire Stores, Windshield Shops
Church Offices, Counseling Centers, Rehab Facilities
Golf Pro Shops, Tennis Court Operators, Skateboard Park Operators
Other Cab Drivers, Limo Services, Small Aircraft Services
Individual Airline Desks at the Airport
Baggage Claim at Airport, Rental Car Return Kiosk at Airport
Local Newspaper Office, Public Library
Drug Stores, Urgent Care Facilities, Hospital Emergency Rooms, Ambulance Dispatchers.
Bank Meeting Rooms, Club Meeting Halls
Markets, especially near elderly retirement areas.
Laundromats, Dry Cleaners
College or University Student Union, Bill-Poster boards
Public Swimming Pools, Club Houses
Fraternity Houses, Sorority Houses, Student Apartment Buildings
Sandwich Shoppes (for clients, also for deliveries!)
Legal Offices (carry papers to other offices) (Process serving if proper in your state.)
Libraries, Research Centers, Military Bases - Contact Base Security for Permission
Homeowners' Association Offices, Condominium business-offices.
Casino and Card Room Operations Office, Security Officers
Bail Bondsmen's Offices
Tour Operators Offices, Destination Operators Like Baseball Parks, Football Stadia, Large Conference Centers

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Updated 7/20/2013