There is a lot a small business owner can learn from a taxi driver. In many ways, taxis are business owners, the only difference is there office is mobile and contained within the walls of their vehicle. Taxis face the same difficulties of scaling their business and earning more income within the boundaries of the regulations they are subject to.
The taxi business is also one of the most, if not the absolute most, competitive business there is. Have you ever seen a lack of taxis? Exactly. Here are the lessons small business owners can take away from taxi drivers.
1. What can you do to stand out
There are a lot of things that taxi drivers cannot do. For example, unless they are a private taxi, their cab fares and regulated by the local council in which they operate. Unless they increase the number of hours they work, how are they supposed to make higher levels of income? The answer is simple: by providing the best possible experience when they do get a passenger.
This means they keep their taxi clean, odour free, and possibly a fresh bottle of water to offer to each passenger. They also keep the taxi warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The city can get extremely hot in the summer, and nothing is worse than piling into the back of a taxi when the air conditioning is broken.
So how does this apply for your business? Even if there are limitations on the amount you can charge, you can go above and beyond when it comes to customer service. If you sell products, make sure the packaging your product comes in screams quality. For an example of this, think about how Apple sells products.
2. Become an expert in your field
When you jump into a taxi, you should be able to give your destination and arrive there with little to no additional input. You don’t expect your taxi driver to need directions to a location within their own city. At the very least, you expect the driver to be able to find the fastest, most efficient route to that destination without consulting you.
You should apply the same thought process to your own company. Establish yourself as a leader in the field. If you were just starting out, look at some established businesses in your industry or doing and how they are reaching out to potential customers. Customers respond to authority and knowledge. If you educate yourself on the latest developments in your field, you will be able to get more customers and much more business.
3. Make it easy for customers to find you again
If you ride in a taxi that turns out to be the best experience you’ve ever had, chances are high that you will probably want to ride in that same taxi again. Best way taxi driver can keep your business is by hand you a business card with his number and hours of operation. If he did his job right and went above and beyond to make your experience one to remember, then you will be calling him back.
The same applies to your small business. If you do everything you can to ensure your customer has an outstanding experience shopping with your company or using your services, they will probably want to shop with you again. Make sure your website is easily accessible and easy to navigate. If you shipped the product, include a business card and a thank you letter with each package. make it easy for your customer to spread the word about your company.
4. Think about the customers you would like to have
It isn’t always about landing new customers. Sometimes, you will have a customer that you simply do not want to work with again. For taxi drivers, this may mean a passenger that is drunk, belligerent, or has forgotten the reason we take a shower. If the customer proves to be more trouble than they are worth, you don’t want their money. And if you seem to end up with that style of customer time and time again, evaluate how you are marketing yourself.
When you do you get a customer that makes you happy to serve them, think about what you did to attract the attention. Ask them to tell their friends about you. Pay attention to your own preferences when you were marketing yourself, and ensure that you were only getting in front of the type of person you would like to serve.
5. Be confident
Imagine for a moment that a taxi pulled alongside you, rolled down its window, and begin begging you to take a ride. Would you? Probably not. When it comes to marketing, desperation is the enemy. No matter how badly you might need new business, you need to come office calm, collected, and confident. Faking it till you make it can work, but there is a better way.
When you have a steady base of clients and are looking to expand, you send a silent message of confidence. On the other hand, if you were desperate to make ends meet, potential clients can pick up on that as well. Those that do realize you are desperate for business will use that to their advantage in negotiating rates and prices.
6. Do a little something extra
How would you enjoy it if a taxi driver offered restaurant recommendations or provided you with little known but interesting information about the locations you were passing? What if the driver stepped out of the vehicle and opened the door for you, and then offered to help you with your bags? Strictly speaking, neither of these activities is part of his job description, but taking the time to put it in that extra effort leaves a lasting impression.
You can do the same. Always say thank you to a customer, whether they make a purchase or not. If you don’t have what that customer is looking for, make recommendations for somewhere that does. And always, always be ethical when conducting business. By going slightly beyond what is required of you, you can generate much more business just by putting in the effort.
Most people do not think of taxi drivers as the epitome of business savvy. However, there is much a small business owner can learn from the humble taxi driver, regardless of what their company is. Next time you find struggling for business, go take a ride in a taxi and see what sort of ideas it shakes loose.
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