By Elena Tahora

Excellent service. Nice and clean car. Polite driver. All these make for an ideal taxi service company, that one business you’ve been wanting to have. Now the question is — how do you start your taxi business and keep it running?

That’s probably just one of the many questions that comes to mind when you’re seriously considering starting a taxi service business. Before you start to worry unnecessarily, here are some tips to keep in mind. These may not answer all your questions, but they’re guaranteed to help convince you that it’s time to give it a try.

1. See Who’s Out There

As in any investment, it is important to know the competition — and we’re not just talking about other taxi service companies in your area. Find out how many competitors are operating in your area. Check out their websites, ads, and social media accounts, or ask around for feedback about their services and rates. If you feel you’ve done enough research, find out what else you could offer to make passengers choose your company.

It is also wise for you to find out whether there’s a need for taxi service in your area. Or whether there is still room for one more. Your area may probably be too small to accommodate several companies, or worse, there is not much demand for taxis.

2. Figure Out the Ride

How many cars can you afford? Whatever your budget is, consider these when looking for vehicles for your fleet:

  • Clean and visually attractive (if you want to be an on-demand taxi service company)
  • In good condition
  • Luggage space
  • Already modified for taxi use (if available)

Choosing already-modified vehicles will be helpful because you will no longer need to buy taxi meters, paint, and signs.

3. Get Your Papers in Order

Business permits and good insurance coverage are your must-haves before you start operations because there will always be regulating bodies that will conduct inspections, sometimes randomly. Have these two ready — and updated — to avoid paying unnecessary fines.

Any business needs a permit to operate legally. Find out what the requirements are and secure a business license from the concerned government office in your area before. You will need a business license to identify your business, and for tax and accountability purposes.

Have your vehicles registered and insured. Insurance policies are expensive, but you must have them before you begin to operate. Check your agent or those who are already in the taxi business for referrals and other concerns.

4. Plan for Office Space

You should look for a property big enough to accommodate your cabs, and still have some space that would serve as your office. Consider proximity to your preferred service areas in choosing the property for your garage office.

You will need the office space to accommodate a few staff whose tasks will be to ensure that your taxi service is efficient.

5. Line Up Your Team

Hire people and choose them well. Get a handful of office staff and drivers. Remember that passenger safety and convenience should be your main considerations in choosing your future employees.

When hiring drivers, check whether they’re licensed professional drivers, ask for previous records, and do background checks if you have time. You might also want to consider hiring extra drivers, even on an as-needed basis, in case one of your full-time drivers is unavailable.

For your lean office staff, get people to act as dispatchers. This person should be efficient and ready to handle requests made through SMS facility, online accounts, and phone.

6. Spread the Word

Everything’s been set up and all you need to do now is get the word out. Start with traditional channels — newspaper ads, phone directory, pamphlets. Advertise your service but make sure to put something that will catch the reader’s attention. Coupons, perhaps? Or discounted fare on the first ride? Whatever won’t hurt your budget could work.

And of course, go online. Put up a website if you can and offer a service where people can book online. Go social. Create social media accounts — it’s cheap and it’s a sure way of getting an audience. When you’ve set up all these channels, always make sure to respond quickly.

7. Observe, Make Mistakes, Learn

Starting a business is never easy. You’re bound to commit mistakes, especially if this is your first business venture. Just be patient; give yourself time to observe the operations and introduce improvements as you go along.

Remember, these are just tips to get you started. The hard work comes later and your success depends largely on how determined you are to make your company big.