If you are interested in becoming a taxi driver and know very little about the taxi trade or how to become a driver, then this article will be of great interest to you.
First of all you should not go into the taxi trade blindly; it is a bigger decision than you may think. It can be a very competitive business and it needs to be treated in a very professional manner. Of course you can do the job part time but if you are looking to make a good living, then you should be prepared to treat it as a business. Chances are if you do not treat it in this way, you will be likely to accumulate debt and fail.
Although you will be a self-employed driver, do not think this gives you the freedom to operate when you want. This can be a misconception with the self employed taxi driver, you could find yourself without a company to work for if you operate in this manner. Just like a sub contractor you will be expected to turn up for the job on time, and complete a full shift. You will possibly find the odd company who will give you freedom to operate in this way, but as I said before, if you do not operate in a professional manner then you will not last. Taxi companies who give their drivers this freedom will not be able to give a good service to the public. They will never know how many drivers they will have on shift at any one time so they wouldn’t be able to know if they are over booking when customers ring for advanced bookings, which would mean a very strong possibility of being late for customers. All this, is of great importance to you, if you work for a company who operate in this manner you and the company will not last the test of time, you will both find yourself in financial ruin before long.
Pick a company that has a good reputation and a good customer base, such as Price First Taxis. All Taxi companies in Torbay operate with their drivers on a self employed basis. All the work that comes into the company and given to drivers is paid for by the drivers on a commission basis, the driver will keep the full fare and pay the company a set amount for the job passed to him or her. You will normally also have weekly charges for your data and Radio.
Find out if the taxi company deal with account customers and supply a credit card facility to customers; this is very important, as you the driver will not be receiving payment at the time of the booking. You will need to know how and when you will receive payment for the account work. Some taxi companies still pay their drivers on a monthly or even quarterly basis for the account work done. This can be a real strain on your finances if they do a lot of account work. Price First Taxis have plenty of lucrative account customers but pay the driver on a weekly basis so this will not be a problem to the driver.
When possible it would be advisable if you haven’t been a taxi driver before to rent a vehicle, but it isn’t always possible as companies prefer owner drivers. It’s always worth trying though, as some drivers like to rent their vehicles out on opposite shifts, so make sure you enquire first.
I always advise to rent first when possible just in case it turns out, taxi work isn’t for you. Therefore you haven’t committed yourself to payments on a vehicle. If you do need to buy a taxi, you should always make sure the vehicle you pick is okay with the council and meets the guide lines set out. So give them a call first.
This is normally down to your own personal preference, but you should consider some things when making your choice. Fuel consumption is vital, this can really eat into your profits. Always make sure your choice of vehicle has low fuel consumption, this could save you thousands of pounds over the years. Dual fuel is becoming very popular with some drivers but you will have to consider boot space, as the extra tank does take up valuable room. You will still have to meet boot space guide lines set out by the Torbay council, although you could always overcome this problem by getting an estate car.
Customer comfort and possible damage to the interior are also very important considerations. You don’t need to go mad and get some flash car, just consider the basics, leg room and easy to clean seats. Leather seats are always a good choice but as I say you have to balance the benefits as opposed to the expense. If you get customers being sick or just making the interior dirty, you will want to be able wipe it down very quickly and efficiently, so you can carry on working.
It’s always best when possible to buy a new car because you will be doing very high mileage in a short space of time, so buying a used car with high millage is not really an option. The car might be relatively cheap but after it has done a few weeks as a taxi you may start getting problems. It is always very costly trying to keep a high millage car on the road.
Whichever choice you make, you should always make sure you purchase a car with a good warranty, and make sure the warranty covers taxis, I have known drivers to try and make a claim only to find out that they are not covered. Don’t bother getting a third party warranty as these are normally not worth the paper there written on. Always when possible get a manufactures warranty.
These days’ new cars come with very good warranties along with good breakdown cover. This is one of the many reasons a new car is a good idea. A lot of people are scared away from the expense of a new vehicle, but you can pick a new one up for as little as £50 - £60 per week. Fuel consumption is always higher on a used vehicle and with what you save in fuel costs on a new vehicle, this can at times pay for the new one.
I also advise purchasing the vehicle via HP payments over three or four years, never longer than this though, as again you need to consider the millage building up over this time. A lot of people do not realise, but when buying on HP over three or four years you are able to hand the car back half way through the term of the contract, whilst still sticking to the terms of the contract. You are not breaking the terms of the contract because you will find on the back of every HP agreement it clearly states that you have the right to hand the vehicle back after the halfway period, with no additional fees or getting black listed. This is always a nice safety net to have for various reasons, the car might not be up to the job and giving you trouble, you might not want to carry on being a taxi driver, personal circumstances change, etc. Whatever the reason it’s nice to know that you have a get out clause, and of course having a new car for half price is always good to.
Once you have your vehicle, you will need to get a taxi meter fitted, radio and data fitted. At Price First Taxis we will install your data but you will need to get your radio and meter professionally installed.
Insurance is also required, which of course needs to be for a taxi which needs to include public liability cover. This can be rather expensive but you should be able to transfer any no claims bonus that you may have on your private car to your taxi insurance, which should greatly reduce the total cost. If you have no bonus, your insurance can be between £1500 and £1800 per year, so it is important to go to a company that will allow the transfer of your no claims bonus.
If you intend to use your own vehicle you will need certain licences from Torbay Borough Council.
These consist of:
Annual Private Hire Licence £120.00
Criminal Record Bureau Check £70.00
Operator (Per Vehicle) £60.00
Vehicle Licence £175.00
Knowledge Test £50.00
New for 2013, Advanced Driving Test £79.66
You will also need to have a medical which is chargeable from your doctor. These charges may vary from £0.00 - £100 depending on your doctor.
In addition to the forms on the right of this article, you will need to get the Medical forms along with the CRB Forms from Torbay Council. Alternatively we do keep some in the Price First Office, if you would like to pop in.
The first thing you will need to do before all the rest is send off as quickly as possible, the CRB check as this tends to take anything between 3 to 8 weeks. Once these have been sent you will have time to get your medical, along with your knowledge test, so you will be ready for when the CRB comes back. You could also get your car ready for inspection from the council. Meter and radio fitted.
You can now see why we are always on the lookout for drivers as it’s not straight forward becoming a taxi driver. It’s not something that you can do over night, so you will have to be sure this job is for you, as it is not an easy process and rather costly.