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How to start a taxi business

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by Startacus Admin

Are you looking to start a UK business that has the potential to really go places? Are you ready to get on the move with a new startup venture? Got the drive to be a business success? Then setting up your on taxi firm could well be the right move for you.

It’s a business model that has a long and varied history with the first horse-drawn for-hirehackney carriage services appearing in London and Paris in the early 1600’s. Obviously we have come a long way since those days with the humble carriage service transforming into a global multi-multi-multi billion pound industry with all manner of “for hire” transport services.

It’s an industry which has seen steady growth throughout the recession but that certainly doesn't mean that setting up your own UK taxi/car hire firm will be easy. Hopefully this quick guide will help steer you in the right direction… but don’t worry we won't charge a fare!How to start a taxi firm

Types of Business

There are so many different types of ‘for hire’ transportation around these days that it would take us all day (and cause much much confusion) to take you through the ins and outs of each particular type. So in order to save our little heads from near certain overdrive, we will be looking solely at taxis (hackney cabs and the like) and private hire vehicles.

Although these two businesses might seem like largely comparable business models there are in fact significant distinctions which need to be drawn.

Private Hire Vehicles - Private hire vehicles are taxis that you have to book in advance of your journey. There are normally part of a fleet of vehicles and operate out of a central office where bookings are made and dispatched via a radio circuit. A private hire vehicle may not pick up passengers from the street who have not expressly booked the vehicle.

Hackney Cabs - These are also known asHackney carriage taxis or more commonly ‘black taxis’ and are able to accept fares from people on the street when a journey has not been booked. This type of taxi service is found mostly in the central areas of large cities. Legislation and regulation of these taxis is incredibly strict with fares being set by local councils and the numbers of drivers in operation tightly restricted. Hackney cab drivers are essentially self-employed and this can be a really great way of running your own small business entirely independently with a relatively straightforward business model - and there is always the option of setting up your own firm, further down the line.

Market Research

The chances are that if you live in an area which has a large enough population to allow for the existence of black cabs, your market research will be fairly straightforward. Generally before you begin, you might like to consider some of the following:

  • Do you know how many black cabs there are in your area?
  • How many licences will your council be issuing?
  • What is the level of fares which is set by your local council?
  • What times are busiest for black taxis in your area? Are these times in which you are willing to work?
  • Are there taxi ranks within your area which may become a source of customers?More generally, if you are setting up a taxi firm, you might also want to consider some of these:
  • Is the number of people using taxis in your area seasonal in any way…for example in the case of areas with a large university student population? How is this seasonality likely to impact on your business?
  • How many taxi firms are there operating in your area? Which are the largest? How much do they charge and will you be able to match or undercut this?
  • Will your taxi firm have an office that accepts walk-in trade? Where will this be located? Does this area have enough footfall to support this part of the business?
  • Are there any businesses within the area that use taxi services on a contract basis? Would you attempt to tender for any of these?

Remember that your market research is about assessing whether or not there is room for your services in the marketplace, but also about ensuring that you are confident in your ability to deliver a profit from the business that you select. If, after your research, you decide that starting your own hire taxi firm or hackney cab is something that you are willing to pursue, then there are some rules and regulations which it would be wise to get your head around at this stage…

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Published on: 9th March 2014

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