Are you struggling to recruit taxi drivers post-Covid? If so, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Taxi drivers are not returning to work as quickly as the economy is picking up. The result is that while (thankfully) passenger demand is increasing, you may not always have enough supply to meet it. So how can you get more drivers working for your taxi fleet?

Driver recruitment starts with driver retention

If you treat your drivers well then they’ll do the recruiting for you!  As you know, drivers often move around between firms. They move because they’re unhappy working for one company, for whatever reason, and they hear that working for the company down the road is better. Drivers talk. So, you want to be on the good side of that talk! You want your drivers to be happy so that other drivers want a bit of what they have and are enticed to come over to your firm. 

Investing in driver retention is therefore an investment in driver recruitment and growth. Here are some areas to think about. Can you improve on or try any of these?

Driver Loyalty

  • Treat  drivers with respect and dignity. It costs nothing to be friendly and polite. 
  • Show your drivers you care by supporting them with driver safety initiatives. Let them know what proactive measures you take to protect them, for example, blacklisting passengers who have threatened drivers. Do you advise on or subsidise driver panic buttons? What did you do for your drivers during Covid, and how will you continue to support them now? Safety is a major reason why driver numbers are down across the taxi industry. You can only expect to get these drivers to return to you if you are treating their safety seriously. And this goes for recruitment too…… a driver who wants to get back to work following Covid may choose to switch firms based on how he was or was not treated during the pandemic. 
  • Be transparent about how you dispatch your jobs to drivers. Complaints about dispatch bias or ‘bending the book’ are common. Head these off by explaining how you dispatch a certain way and why. 

Help your drivers earn

  • Give them work. This might sound like a stupid point but it’s important to have enough work to keep all your drivers satisfied. If they find they are constantly waiting around for jobs then they’re likely to look to other companies whose work is more plentiful. It’s a balancing act really. Be sure not to recruit too many new drivers at a time unless you’re confident you have enough passenger demand to carry the increased fleet size – otherwise you’ll find the investment you put into your recruitment campaign is lost by drivers leaking out of the business at the same rate as they are coming in. 
  • Offer flexible terms that are fairly reflected in your driver rent charges.
  • Help drivers optimise their earnings by giving them insights about when is a good time to work, and in what zones. Insights about the earnings they could have made, but gave up by rejecting a job, also help drivers to better understand and optimise their earning potential.  
  • Make sure drivers can still get tips! Cash is on the way out, as you know, which means less ‘keep the change’ for your drivers. Set tipping up on your passenger app and help nudge people in the right direction with a default tip. 
  • And once they’ve earned their money, give it to them! Enable simple and frequent driver payment mechanisms.

Make their job as easy as possible 

  • Use reliable technology, with no down time, that makes it as easy as possible for drivers to accept and complete bookings. 
  • Give them good passengers! There are lots of parts of delivering the taxi service that are out of your drivers’ hands – like the customer service they get when they phone your taxi company, or their experience using your passenger app. If passengers get into your drivers’ cars complaining about your company this in turn will lead to negative driver experiences and them complaining too! So, keeping your passengers happy helps keep your drivers happy too. 

Driver perks and incentives 

  • Offer driver incentives such as discounts in local shops, or a discount of their rent for hitting certain targets. 
  • Go one step further and create a formal driver loyalty scheme.

Be a good brand

  • Strive for great customer service. Be known as a reliable and professional service. 
  • Don’t let one bad egg spoil your fleet. Set expectations of the professionalism of your drivers. Those that appreciate being professional will be glad you set standards and that they’re part of this standard… those that don’t may be better off working elsewhere and your fleet will be all the better for it too!
  • Be active in your community. Drivers buy into your brand as much as your passengers do. So, if you are a good, honest local company supporting your hometown or city and taking pride in your local roots that is a good thing! Drivers will be proud to be part of your company too. We saw lots of taxi companies really elevate their role in the community during Covid. Goodwill generated by charitable gestures and community championing keeps both your drivers and passengers loyal to your company. 
  • Engage with your drivers on social media. They’re part of your business so show them you value them and care about what they have to say.

From Driver Retention to Driver Recruitment

So, how do you turn retention into recruitment? You’ve got two options here and you really need both. The first is the ‘word of mouth’ approach we discussed above. Let your happy and loyal drivers serve as a magnet to attract new drivers to your fleet. 

The second is promotion. Actively setting up campaigns to attract enquiries and sign-ups from new drivers. Think about what you’re selling – all of the same benefits you currently offer to your existing drivers which are keeping them satisfied working for your fleet. Promote these benefits when advertising for new  drivers. Share details about what they could earn and share testimonials from existing drivers. Finally, factor targeting into how you promote benefits. Think about who, what, when, where and why. Break your target driver groups into different categories and come up with a plan to go after each group with the right channel, timing and most of all the relevant benefits and appropriate messaging for them.