In a recent issue of Taxi Tips, I mentioned that most of the taxi drivers I have encountered over the past year seem to be paying more attention to personal and vehicle appearance, seem to be acting in a more professional manner, and seem to be part of the reason why many people are starting to turn back to taxis after getting turned off by Uber and its current issues.
This is an important step, since one of the reasons Uber and Lyft achieved quick penetration into the taxi market was that many people simply did not like a lot of the taxi drivers they had been riding with. Since Uber and Lyft emerged, taxicab companies, and their drivers, found themselves having to overcome a certain public image that was less than flattering. One of the reasons was the way many cab drivers have acted historically.
Fairly or unfairly, cab drivers have, in some instances, helped to create an image that hurt themselves, and their industry. To win new customers and to bring back old ones, cab drivers first have to win their respect, and that starts by giving respect. Respect starts with always acting in a business-like manner, and always exhibiting business-like behavior.
Not sure what I mean? Let’s look at the following examples of taxi drivers having contact with the community. These examples are true to life, and, unfortunately, each of them happens quite often, even in your own city, and maybe even in your own company.
Example #1- The Inconsiderate Driver: A cab driver drops off a passenger at downtown building, but before he pulls away, another cab driver, driving in the opposite direction, stops alongside the first driver and starts a conversation. A line of cars starts to form behind each driver while everyone waits for the taxicabs to move. The cab drivers seem like they don’t notice the traffic jam they are creating as they talk. Finally, one of the cars behind the first cab starts beeping his horn. The taxi driver looks in his rearview mirror and waves his hand as if to say “Just a minute.” As time slips by, the cars being each cab start stacking up, and more of them start beeping at the two cab drivers. Finally, the two drivers end their conversation and drive away, but not before they pass face to face with many of the people who they forced to wait. Some of the these people shake their fists angrily and even yell at the cab drivers, who do some yelling of their own. Everyone then drives away.
So the question is: Do you think that this incident reflects positively or negatively on cab drivers? I don’t think that anyone would dispute that the cab drivers appeared to be very rude in front of a large group of people. Do you think that maybe these cab drivers should have realized that stopping to talk while blocking traffic was not a good idea?
Example #2- The Unhelpful Driver: A cab pulls into a grocery store parking lot to pick up a fare. While driving toward the store, the cab driver is talking on his cell phone. As he pulls up to the curb, an older woman waves at him, indicating that she is his fare. He pops the trunk but does not get out of his seat, and continues talking on the phone. The lady realizes that he is not getting out of his cab, so she starts to load her groceries into the trunk of the cab. The driver continues to talk on the phone. Meanwhile, other shoppers entering and leaving the store begin to notice what is going on. They yell at the driver to help the lady, pointing at her and gesturing with their hands to get off the phone. The driver just ignores them and keeps talking. Finally, the old lady finishes loading her bags, and helps herself into the back seat. Each person in the small crowd of customers on the curb looks angrily at the driver as he drives away, while the driver is still totally oblivious and is still talking on his cell phone.
The question: If you were one of those people at the store, what would you think of that cab driver? What would you think if you saw him treating your mother or your grandmother the same way? Would you ever call that cab company if you needed a ride? Would you ever call a cab at all after seeing that behavior? Finally, what is the point of these examples?
The point is that taxi drivers need to learn that their business is conducted in the public eye in a marked vehicle, with the name of the fleet on both sides of the car. People are watching as the driver conducts his or her business. Even if these people don’t use taxis, they may comment about what they witnessed to other people who use taxis all the time. What do you think that they will say about what they saw in the two examples above?
Will it be complimentary or will it be critical? Taxi drivers would like to be respected just like any other business owner, isn’t that right?
You want to be respected by your fellow taxi drivers, by your passengers, by the other members of the public that you encounter during the course of your day, isn’t that also correct?
If you want people to respect you as a taxi driver, then the 1st thing you need to realize is that you need to have respect for the community that you are a part of. You need to give people respect in order to get respect in return. Don’t expect people to respect you if you behave badly, and stopping traffic for a private conversation and not helping a little old lady with her groceries is VERY BAD behavior.
The opposite is also true. If you exhibit GOOD behavior, it will reflect on you, your company, and the entire cab industry in a positive manner.
Here are a few thoughts to remember: • You are a member of the business public. Everything you do in the public eye has the potential to HELP your business or to HURT your business. • Treating everyone with respect, both passengers and the public in general, has a direct bearing on your income. • The better the impression of taxi companies and taxi drivers in your community, the more money you will make. • Treat people the way you want to be treated- give respect and you will get respect.
Interested in becoming a driver for United Taxi? Contact our Driver Services department at (727)777-7777 for more information.
*Used with permission from J. M. Rubino Consulting.