It’s time Black Cabs got Uber themselves
Traditional cab companies need to get Uber themselves, just as the airlines did with the arrival of budget carriers. Seeing new entrants as unfair competition isn’t going to help them in the long run. Black cabs are iconic and have been loved as a symbol of London for years so how can they thrive now that the market has changed?
What is needed is for black cab drivers (and not just the London variety – the same argument holds true in most major cities where there is a distinct licenced cab offer) to re-assert their premium position in the market and make passengers feel like they are getting good value again.
Two changes are needed:
– Better service
– Better payments
On better service:
– Keep the cab clean (perhaps even think about the smell from sweaty passengers as well)
– Be the best driver on the road – don’t rise to the challenges of cyclists or buses and be kind to the occasional muppet motorist
– Stay off your phone (I don’t want to be in and resent paying for a cab where you are not concentrating on getting me from A to B)
– Have your name and cab number on every receipt – stand by the service you offer. It makes it easier for people to track down that umbrella or house key they left in the back of your cab. And if you have offered good service gives someone a means of contacting you for that longer occasional journey to an airport! (at least until there is a centralised way to book a black cab online…rather than the fragmented current offer)
– Improve things for the traveller – perhaps stock free-city guides from your local tourist office (or sell them?)
– Let the passenger choose the music or guide conversations – don’t rush to talk about politics or the state of the nation or how bad the traffic has become
– And let’s leave it for you to decide if your personal hygiene / way you dress and present yourself gets you better tips or not. You probably don’t have to go as far as a cap, white gloves, jacket and tie…but when compared to many of your newer competition things could be improved (my favourite cabby has been one who wears a set of distinct summer shirts, made for him by his wife, and each shirt has a story!)
On better payments:
– Offer fixed pricing for longer journeys
– Cash is almost dead – I should be able to pay by card for every journey in any cab
– Fill in receipts don’t just hand over blanks!
It is not Uber for the black cab driver in London…unless they continue to moan and fail to recognise and respond to the competition in the way a premium offer must if it is to survive.