Forget the likes of Add Lee and the other private hire companies they are nothing compared to the enemies within that our trade now seems to have a dilemma with at the moment. The problem is that the money men have cometh and many within out trade see them as the hero’s who are going to save our trade, many are applauding them stating “they are winning back work from the PH trade” but are they? All that they have done is provided a means for the customer to electronically hail a taxi, you the drivers have won the work back, it is the drivers who have convinced the customer to use the app, it is the drivers who are providing the service, please do not applaud those behind the app for winning back the work but instead give yourself a pat on the back for winning back the work, but are you winning back the work for our trade? of for someone else to profiteer from your hard work?
The driver has done all of the legwork for the app in question, they, the money men have provided the app and have supplied the ability for the driver to sign up, the drivers then managed to get the app up the ratings in the app store, the drivers have convinced the customers to use the app and the drivers have supplied the customers with the excellent service that the customers are so pleased with.
If the app is winning back our work why should we be worried? well lets take a look at the facts!
Hailo state they have had 200,000 downloads of the app.
Hailo state they are growing at 40% per month.
Hailo state they have secured $3 million investment.
Another App coming into the market MyTaxi state they have 10 million euro investment from Mercedes Benz
Other will enter the market including a company who already have their equipment fitted into taxis but are keeping the true intentions quiet!
If Hailo’s claims are correct then if they have 200,000 downloads and 40% month on month growth that is quite worrying!
This means in the coming months their customer base will grow as follows:
April = 280,000
May = 392,000
June = 548,000
July = 768,000
August = 1,075,648
September = 1,505,907
October = 2,108,270
November = 2,951,578
December = 4,132,209
London’s population is about 3.5 million people, so this means that they have a very good Christmas to look forward to and we could end up having a very bleak future as within 4 years they could end up controlling our customer base and dictating to us how much we will pay to service the customers who are traditionally our customers, and who we the drivers have convinced to use their app! clever aren’t we! Big Business could end up controlling our work and customers.
So in essence what we are doing is taking our customers and giving them away to someone who is only interested in building up a business and then selling it off in 4 years for the highest price that they can get, the idea is to float the company raise a lot of money, pay of their investors and pocket a substantial amount of money from a business that you the driver has built up for them, we are then left in the hands of whoever the new owners may be and they will then obviously be looking to maximise the profit from their investment, and where will that profit come from? Yes you the driver will be their cash cow paying handsomely for the work that they will control and provide you.
Worst case scenario is that the floatation may well fail and not realise their expectations and they may be forced to then sell to the highest bidder who could well be one of the larger PH companies who could then do a number of things with us and our customer base. They could keep drivers on the app and call themselves a Taxi company, they could throw drivers off the app and utilise our customer base for their own PH drivers, whatever happens where will it leave us the working drivers? up shits creek without a paddle springs to mind. Would you feel comfortable accepting a job from Hailo if it’s new owners were Add Lee?
I know that an app is nothing without the drivers and many will say that if the worst does happen we could withdraw our service and the app would fail, there are two problems with this. once you have conditioned a customer into using an app rather than walking out onto the street and hailing a cab they will become comfortable with the convenience of using that app, if a PH company bought the app and our drivers withdrew their service they would merely send the customer a PH vehicle, this means the customer would get the same service but with a different vehicle. The other problem is that once customers are used to using apps and the street work declines would drivers be able to afford to withdraw their service from that app for fear of not earning enough money.
Lets look at another company, Verifone, they are in the business of processing credit cards on behalf of drivers, if this is their only intention for our trade then why did they not just fit a credit card terminal in the rear of the cab with a small screen in the front so that the driver can check that the card has gone through? why have they gone to such expense of having a rather large and expensive looking box of tricks in the front of the cab which is obviously some form of computer which must be GPS enabled. I am guessing here but I would imagine that every trip that a driver does is recorded by the Verifone system with geo located pick up and set down plus the metered fare between the two points, why do they need all of this information? they must have bigger plans for our trade than the are letting on at present.
So what is the problem? the drivers within this trade have always wanted something for nothing, they want to accept credit cards but don’t want to pay to have the facility to do so, they want to have apps that customers can book us through but they do not want to put up any of their won money to develop an app, basically through our own lack of foresight we are letting our trade and customer base be taken away from us until in the end we will be no different from a PH driver waiting for our next job from an app that we will pay dearly for.
We need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, rather than looking for short term gain we need to start to invest our own money into our own trade for our own future, we need to have our own app that is owned by drivers for drivers and paid for by drivers with loyal drivers working that app.
At present our future looks worrying and yet with the availability of new technology and its relatively cheap costs this should be an exciting and promising time for our trade but it needs to be orchestrated by the right people with the good of the trade at heart, not those from outside of our trade who’s sole interest is to make a quick buck in a short time and sod the consequences once they have departed.
We have already let most aspects of our trade be taken away from us due to the fact that we cannot unite, we have parasites earning their living off of the backs of cab drivers, never forget that every business that earns a living directly or indirectly gets their money because of you, the working taxi driver, every penny they earn comes through you passenger window or partition payment window.
I could have gone into this in a lot more detail but will allow you to think about this subject before I look at other aspects of this issue.
Be Lucky out there