The perfect storm of the rise in popularity of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft combined with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a one-two punch for taxi operators. Unfortunately, many taxi fleets are struggling to adapt and survive in this new reality. Taxi companies are strongly considering how they can optimize their business, regain market share and increase profitability while keeping their cars on the road. One important option is to reconsider what systems are used across the business and how updating, upgrading or changing those systems could help the operation stay afloat and compete.
Here at DDS Wireless we put our collective heads together to identify what top 5 things taxi operators should consider when planning a change in their taxi dispatch and operations technology. Keep these five key factors in mind as you consider the pros and cons of implementing a new system for your business.
- Upfront costs: Many taxi dispatch systems charge expensive setup or license fees before you can get started. Additionally, you may need to change or upgrade your in-vehicle hardware, which could be a substantial expense depending on the size of your fleet. Make sure to ask clear questions around what the upfront costs are and be sure to factor that into your decision. Understanding how your costs might change if your fleet size goes up and down is also critical to know.
- IT infrastructure and working remotely: Taxi dispatch systems used to require a big investment in IT-related hardware such as servers and in-vehicle tablets. This often involved a major budget investment as well as the time and training to maintain these systems on an ongoing basis. Now, with cloud-based software widely available, IT setup is much more straightforward. (News flash: server rooms are becoming a thing of the past!) An additional bonus with a cloud-based setup is your dispatchers can work remotely from anywhere. Understanding what the technical setup is for any new system is important to know if you’re considering making a change.
- Passenger experience: The harsh reality is, people don’t like making phone calls anymore. For taxi businesses to compete with Uber and Lyft, they have no choice but to offer a comparable user experience. Embracing this reality and having the right systems in place to connect your passenger directly with your driver will allow you to stay competitive as technology continues to advance. By offering a passenger app that allows for a “voiceless” ride request experience, you will likely see 70% of jobs going directly from your passengers to your drivers. Another important factor is your approach for taxi dispatch and if you’re able to send the quickest available cab as opposed to the one who might be closest as the crow flies.
- Driver experience: Many taxi drivers are not tech-savvy and may object to learning a new system or hardware. Understanding what the driver experience will be like is critical before you consider a new taxi dispatch or operations system. Getting your drivers on board will be easy if the system you choose has built-in features focused on the driver experience, such as accessing real-time data on completed trips and offering reporting and analytics. Get in the head of your drivers to understand their expectations and then make sure the system you choose is right for them too.
- Accepting Payments: Before you make any technology change, understanding the different ways you can accept payments is key. The passenger experience (see point 3 above) should ideally include the ability to make in-app payments. Additionally, it’s important to understand how account-based billing will work with any system you select. Will there still be manual processes involved? Wrapping your head around the different ways you can accept payments how that impacts reporting and reconciliation is important.
Keeping these five important factors in mind as you evaluate the taxi dispatch software options will allow you to make an informed, balanced decision that can help you get up and running quickly. Interested to learn more about how TaxiBook Cloud by DDS Wireless can help your taxi organization increase efficiency? Check it out here.