If you work in the taxi industry, you will no doubt be concerned over the drop-off in passenger demand arising from the Coronavirus crisis. Workplaces, schools, social and recreational centres, shops, pubs, restaurants and other local businesses are closing to help prevent the spread of Covid -19 in what can only be described as the greatest emergency of our time.
We all need to rally together to support our communities during this challenging period. Taxi fleets are in a position to help. As we’ve seen in recent severe weather events, taxis can often step in to support the public over and beyond their day-to-day service – and the same is true here. Not all heroes wear capes – sometimes they drive cabs.
So, what can your taxi fleet do to help your community, whilst finding ways to keep your drivers working during the Covid-19 crisis?
For some people travel is absolutely essential during this crisis. Healthcare workers are at the frontline, working in challenging ad-hoc circumstances. Many will be pulled into work in different locations depending on demand and many will have difficulties commuting due to fatigue, irregular working hours and restricted public transport.
Taxis can provide safe and responsible direct routes home for these individuals. Approach your health service, and other local and regional medical institutions, with an emergency contract to bring medical staff to and from work during this critical period. iCabbi’s Business Solution will allow hospital administrators to easily manage the transport needs of their employees.
Your existing business account work will most likely be greatly reduced due to organisations opting for remote working. But what can you do to help support these customers in rolling-out and maintaining remote working strategies during the crisis?
Companies may need transport to help employees bring hardware like printers or computer screens home with them, or maybe they need laptops to be delivered to employees or brought for repair. While many companies are set up to work on the cloud, there are still some areas of business that require paperwork, such as signing legal contracts or cheques. And where some meetings are absolutely critical and must take place in person, businesses will be looking for modes of transport with the lowest possible contact. Talk to your business account customers about what they need and let them know that you can be a conduit for them in a variety of ways and be open to their needs.
The more people stay in, the more goods they need to have delivered to their homes. This is putting massive operational pressure on delivery functions, which results in delays for customers. Your fleet is perfectly positioned to help with this, across a number of different areas, and it is a great option for drivers who want zero contact with passengers during this time but would still like to help.
1. Supermarket deliveries
Try and order a food shop online right now and you will undoubtedly be given a warning sign to let you know that there are big delays on receiving orders due to huge demand and operational pressures to supply it. Taxis can help to ease the pressure.
Contact the regional management of supermarket chains to offer your fleet’s assistance to increase the supply of delivery transportation. Think about how you can make this model work for both the retail outlet and your drivers, for example, an agreed shift rather than trip fee, or a flat fee per delivery.
2. Fast food deliveries
Take-aways are in demand as more and more people go into social isolation. Can you create partnerships with local take-aways to bridge the vehicle supply-gap in the short-term?
Of course, this may also be a good time to enter into a long term relationship by giving your customer-base an ‘all-n-one’ order-delivery service allowing them to choose from a range of local take-away options in one place. Caboodle is a new app for taxi fleets to do just that – coming soon to the iCabbi Marketplace.
3. Pharmaceutical deliveries
Older people and people with underlying health conditions need to be especially careful about community contact and are being advised to remain at home. These are the same people who regularly need to have prescriptions filled and frequently purchase medical and pharmaceutical supplies. Can your fleet support these transactions by providing a pharmaceutical courier service charged at a special Covid-19 discount to help support the vulnerable?
4. Other local businesses
What else might people want to have delivered? Local businesses may not have even considered providing a delivery option yet to help keep their customers stocked up, so why not call around and see if they want to use your fleet and then promote their delivery option through social media and other marketing channels? Pet shops and specialist health food stores jump to mind.
Support Charity Initiatives
Taxi companies have long known the importance of community spirit and supporting local charities and organisations. The Covid-19 crisis is a time for people to go the extra mile and to think about protecting the most vulnerable amongst us.
While there are some opportunities to help keep your drivers earning during this period, there will no doubt be a shortage in bookings and lots of idle time for drivers. Consider asking them to give some time for free, or subsidising some of their trips, to support fleet based charity initiatives. Aside from genuinely wishing to make a contribution at this time, the goodwill generated by any gestures your fleet can make will stand to you in the future.
Contact local charities and community resources and ask how you could help. Meals on wheels, deliveries, offering a mobile library service and free trips for volunteers are just some of the many ways that taxis can help.
Your taxi fleet can also help to prompt charity from others. For example, share on social media that you’re there to support charity initiatives with either discounted or free fares. Suggest that maybe there are businesses who would like to donate supplies, which you’re happy to help deliver. Or maybe they would like to provide free transport for customers who heavily-depend on their services? Or sponsor free transport for Covid-19 volunteers. Ask the public how you can mobilise your fleet to help them, and see what requests come in.
We’ve already heard some great stories of iCabbi taxi customer fleets helping their communities by giving free trips to pensioners, doing delivery runs and offering free fares to healthcare workers. Drivers really can make a difference, and we’d love to hear what you and your fleet are doing to help your communities. Share your story with me by emailing Sinead@icabbi.com. We would love to share it with the wider taxi community.
If you can’t do business, you may as well do good.
Be Safe and Responsible
All of the services listed above require you and your drivers to put the interest of public health and safety first. This means adhering to the guidelines set out by your national health service as well as the World Health Organisation. Specific to the taxi industry you can reduce contact and transmission with:
- ‘leave-at-the-door drop-offs’
- regular disinfecting of cars
- hand sanitisation for every person entering the vehicle
- discouraging cash payments
- discouraging full-capacity passenger carrying (single passenger-use is best, and they should sit in the back seat).
Be sure to let your customers know what precautions you are taking to protect customers and drivers.
More Help for your taxi fleet during Covid-19
We understand that these are uncertain times but we can all work together to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. iCabbi is committed to helping our customers during this challenging period and has set up a Coronavirus Resource Hub.