Competing against ride hailing apps like Uber
Ride hailing apps like Uber have disrupted and transformed the taxi industry over the past few years. Whilst change brings opportunity, many independent drivers and firms have been negatively impacted. However, remaining competitive against companies like Uber is far from impossible. In fact, issues with trust and reliability have seen many people ditching their apps, whilst smaller towns remained relatively untouched by the changes. Using insights from reports exploring Uber in New York and London, the following tips are suggested to be the most effective way to remain competitive as an independent driver or taxi firm.
One of the appeals of Uber is that it is easy because it is known. It has long been necessary for taxi firms to invest in memorable phone numbers and catchy branding. However, reaching customers is not easy, particularly when you operate in areas that attracts non-locals, such as cities or attractions popular with tourists. Marketing is important to build brand awareness so customers think of you before they reach for their app. Creating a website and positioning it well in Google is imperative, whilst deals with local pubs, restaurants and hotels will help further to reach non-locals. Essentially, you need to market yourself if you want people to book you, otherwise you’ll be relying on being hailed or waiting around stations and taxi ranks, losing out to people who will otherwise reach for their smartphone and open an app.
Reputation is important. Generally speaking, Uber is reliable in the areas it serves. Customers can quickly book a car and they can track progress. However, Uber is perhaps trusted less for the important trips, the airport and school runs, since bookings can get dropped or delayed through lack of local knowledge. Taxi firms have an opportunity to exploit this market gap, to charge a premium to be the dependable option. If someone books a car for a specific time, make sure you’re there. Build your banding around your reliability and make use of review platforms to demonstrate that you will do what you say you’ll do. By becoming known as the reliable option, you’ll build repeat custom and compete well in the market for important planned trips.
Uber provides upfront pricing and availability, which reduces the friction of booking and comparison. You shouldn’t rely on people to call for a quote. Ideally, you’ll have a website or even an app that calculates fares for travel. People will naturally shop for the lowest price, but you must take this opportunity to reinforce your added value – reliability, car quality, reputation, safety etc. Whilst this is harder for independent drivers who may not be able to invest in the required technical infrastructure, it’s certainly worth considering how you can make the booking and payment process easier so more people come to you rather than use ride hailing apps.