What do you need to start up a taxi business?

Premises that could be an office or your home. Some start a firm by taking the calls on a mobile and using radios between the cars to pass the jobs out. Trying to use mobiles to call between cars is not the best as you cannot press and talk.

Operators Licence from the Local licensing authority.
This is not for the radios .In most areas, if you were only operating hackneys, you would not need this, but for private hire, you do. At the moment ( 13.1.2007) there are some licensing authorities that interpret the law as ' although you may be operating in a certain area, you can have an operators licence for your private hire company from anywhere in the country, provided that the vehicles are also licence at the same authority.'
If true, that means that the local licensing authority would have no control over the company.
The cost of this licence varies according to what licensing authority you come under.

Radio Operators Licence from Ofcom. (direct link to apply on line)This is required to operate the radios. You do not need one if you are operating on a ' Radio Suppliers Hire Licence ' hiring the equipment from them, that is for a maximum of 12 months, after that you must move on to your own licence or if you are operating on a radio suppliers repeater or network. ( Not always the best thing as you want an instant answer from a driver as soon as you push the button). Some shared services you may have to wait to get a channel.

Radio Options:

Operating with a simplex channel ( vehicle to vehicle) without a basestation. £60 for 3 years on unprotected channels.

Basestation at your office operating a duplex channel with vehicle mounted radios .... from £75 depending on your location and how many vehicles you have with radios.

Extra Base station so you can operate from another location at times ... no extra charge

Telephone Interconnection ( Answering your telephone on a vehicle radio ) ..... no extra charge. This is normally only granted for out of hours use but is useful for those slack periods when you can save a lot by not employing an operator. Its also hard to drive and take jobs over the radio if they are coming every few minutes.

Talkthrough between Vehicles. ... no extra charge. For years many thought this was not allowed but talking vehicle to vehicle can be very useful on a small circuit and you have been able to do it for the last 30 years. you must remember to add this to your licence application when you apply for your licence. if you are already licenced, you only have to drop a letter to Ofcom saying you wish to add this to your licence.

Handportable given to the local pub to take jobs from. The handportable with be added to the number of vehicle sets you have to work out your licence charge. Some drivers like using a handportable as well as a vehicle set as it saves them sitting in their vehicle when its a bit slack. They can pop in home and still wait for a call. If you try to use a handportable instead of a vehicle mounted set, you'll be disappointed. They are low power and have a small aerial compared to a vehicle set and installation but they will normally work around your local town area and they are good to have if you want to take on extra drivers fast. They come in the office for a job and walk out with a handportable which will get them going until they can have a radio installed in their vehicle.

Planning Permission.
See our section on this.


Insurance
is a safe guard and the bare minimum must be public liability.


Telephone system



Operator
is needed to take telephone jobs and give jobs out over the radio.

Radio Basestation and aerial system .


Door Signs
for your vehicles. This is a form of free advertising as your cars will be traveling all around advertising your company. You might have local regulations that stop or regulate the use of these. Its best to get the drivers to use vinyl stick on signs so they are always on the vehicle. If they want to use their vehicle without looking like a taxi privately, they could always have some magnetic blank signs made up the same colour of their vehicle to cover your signs up.


Roof lights/ Top Signs
are not normally supplied by companies because of the expense. Its a good idea to have a stock of lettering and your telephone numbers so your new drivers can change their roof lights markings. another form of advertising.

Business Cards are good to hand out to customers so they ring you when they want a cab next time.


Business Plan of Action. Starting a new firm is hard and can be a 'back stabbing' job.
Say you are going to start a firm tomorrow.
Remember, tomorrow, only so many customers are going to use a taxi. The person next door is not going to start using a taxi just because you are starting a taxi company. If you were not starting a firm tomorrow, most will be ringing the firm they normally ring. If you start a taxi firm tomorrow, you are trying to take somebody's else's customers away and why should they ring you. You could advertise a better service but that is a reputation that's going to take time to build up. The only other thing and the simplest is lower fares but unless the taxi users know that and its worth ringing you because you are running so cheap, why ring you?
Some find that slot in the market where perhaps there is an area that is not really covered by anybody which makes it a lot easier to start, but just because you were left waiting last friday evening for half an hour, because the local taxi firms were too busy to pick you up, this is not a good plan to start a taxi firm, based on this fact that it appears there is a lack of vehicles in your area.


This leads us to
Customers and there's no point without them.


The final thing needed is Vehicles, Private or Hackneys, owned by you or owner drivers which all need a two way radio but there is no point in having these if you have no customers and if you have to many vehicles and not enough customers, the drivers wont stay long.