So you want to start a taxi firm.
Site of the Office:
One thing that nobody ever thinks about is that if you are using press2talk, two way radios, in most cases, the office location where the Basestation is will determine the range you will get from the system. An office in a dip, surrounded by high buildings (very poor location) may only give you 3 –4 miles range whereas the same office high up on a hill top could give you 25 miles range!. If you are after ‘walk in customers’ you can not really think about the office being high up as customers will determine the position, but if you are going just for a base and you had a choice of one office up high and another in a poor location and they were going to cost the same, you must go for the good location one for superb radio performance.
If you are going to operate from home to get things ‘off the ground ’ there will be no option. Many people do this as a cheap start up but it can be very hard for the rest of the family if things go well as you are going to have to ‘live and breathe’ taxis for many months, to get things going. After that, many get an office somewhere, but this is a big step as while operating from home, the operator, perhaps your partner, can do other things around the house or keep an eye on the kids, but to suddenly have an office some distance away where they have got to go to and be there from 8 in the morning to late at night is very hard.
To help things you could still run from home in the slack periods, using an additional Basestation or you could have a ‘telephone interconnect unit’ that transfers the telephone calls to your two way radios in ‘out of hours’ slack times.
Planning for a taxi office needs special permission. Just because you have found a room that was used as an office before will not give you the right to operate a taxi business from there. Because under normal conditions there is a lot of vehicle movement from the office, you may only get planning if there is parking out side.
If you are going to operate from home with just your car coming back home, permission is normally given if you do not change a complete room over to an office. It can be classed as ‘message handling ‘ when in the corner of a room you have got a telephone and a Press2talk Radio Basestation and drivers don’t keep coming back to your home, in between jobs.
Planning for Aerials for your Basestation. Everything needs planning but because the planning departments would be swamped with applications for TV aerials, satellite dishes etc, things have been relaxed over the years. If you are going to operate in a commercial area such as a town or an industrial estate, permission should not be a problem ( unless they are in a conservation area) but to ask to put up a 20 foot pole with a 5 foot aerial on top of your house will not go down well. Ok, all around there could be larger CB aerials but the problem is that as soon as you ask for permission for something or ask if you need permission, we have found over the years that the planning department takes the easy option and tells you to apply.
You have the choice of operating with ‘Private Hire’ vehicles that can only operate by using pre booked jobs through your office, or you could run with ‘ Hackneys’ that can also pick up off the street. Hackneys would only be interested if there was a lack of ‘off street’ work and you had plenty of telephone work for them.
The other choice you have is to use ‘your’ vehicles or ‘owner drivers’ which come to the firm with a plated vehicle, ready to go or a combination of the two.
There are fors and against for both types. If you want to expand fast it is easier to do with ‘owner drivers’ and hiring radios as to take on a new driver will only cost you the price of a radio ( from £2.95pw) whereas if you are using your own vehicles, an extra one on the road will cost you the price of the vehicle, insurance, licencing plate and then you need a good ( licenced) driver that won’t smash up your car on the first day out.
It is not always a good thing to have ‘owner drivers’ and also some of your own cars on circuit. ‘Feeding’ is the term given to operators that give certain people the best jobs and in a lot of firms, ‘feeding’ the company cars goes on which upsets the ‘owner drivers’
In many areas there is a restriction of the number of plates the licensing authority can issue. Normally, ‘private hire’ plates are not restricted in numbers. Some areas have no restrictions on hackney plates so everybody goes for those and in some areas they have ‘deregulated’ and they only operate hackney plates with no restrictions.
There is always the threat of ‘deregulation, only unlimited hackney plates’ as the EEC want this, so in areas where plates have change hands for large amounts of money ( £20,000 – £40,000 ) because the numbers of plates have been restricted for many years, many plate holders are off loading them onto unsuspecting prospective taxi drivers (and getting a private hire plate) knowing that one day if they are deregulated, they will be worth nothing. They can then get one for nothing. You have been warned.
A good, careful driver is worth a lot to a vehicle owner.