Taxis and private hire vehicles offer a valuable service to people who require transport to and from any number of places, including work, airports and parties.
Taxi services are particularly valuable to less mobile groups in the community, such as the elderly and disabled people.
It is therefore important that such services are efficiently provided, meet users’ needs and are appropriately priced. StartupSmart takes to the streets to see what’s required to start up in the industry.
What is it and who is it suited to?
Although taxi companies and car rental companies serve the same purpose, there are some significant differences. For example, taxis are able to pick up people off the street without a prior booking. They are also valued for their 24-hour availability.
Car rentals, on the other hand, generally require a prior booking when picking up passengers.
Secondly, many private hire drivers are self-employed, whereas taxi drivers usually work for a company, so if you want to work solo, consider becoming a private hire driver.
The Australian Taxi Drivers Association rightly points out that passengers are your only source of income, and the service provided is your only product. It’s therefore important to have good people skills.
Rules and regulations
The regulation of taxis generally encompasses quality and safety, as well as taxi numbers and fares. Across Australia, the nature of taxi markets, and the form and extent of regulation, varies significantly.
It’s therefore worth joining the Australian Taxi Industry Association, formed by state and territory-based associations to represent the industry on national issues.
Since its formation, the ATIA has been an effective voice articulating the industry’s position and working with the Federal Government and its agencies to find workable solutions to legislative, regulatory and policy matters.
The ATIA’s executive members meet regularly to discuss issues and opportunities, and hold an annual conference to brief the industry on progress and outcomes.
Items on the agenda for 2011/12 include changes to Australian road rules, taxation issues and environmentally sustainable transport.
Research and competition
With regard to private hire firms, most entrepreneurs tend to operate out of their homes, at least to begin with.
If you are able to afford business premises, make sure they are close to where your main customer base resides. Your operating centre should be easily accessible to customers who wish to walk in and make bookings, rather than call.
As trade heats up on Friday and Saturday nights, an office in a town centre – close to pubs and nightclubs – is a prime location to attract late night revelers, as well as passing customers during the day.