Taxi, Technology & Outsourcing

Taxi, Technology & Outsourcing

By Ejaz Shah  —  25th November 2020

Reminiscing about the old taxi offices

“One second King, Sierra pick up from 254 VPR let me know the destination, King head towards CT”

I remember sitting in the taxi booking office, yellow walls and a cloud of cigarette smoke hovering above the desk, phone receiver resting on the shoulder as the main dispatcher spoke to the drivers on the old two-way radio system. Two operators were busy on the phones scribbling the jobs down on a sheet of paper, all 3 of them had a cigarette in their mouth and they were all stressed. I didn’t understand what the dispatcher meant when he spoke to the drivers in short code but he was managing a fleet of over 50 cars and I marvelled at how even though they were all stressed out, they still managed to have a laugh.

King and Sierra were both drivers and Sierra was told to head to 254 Victoria Park Road to pick up and King being directed toward the Clock Tower, I know all the shortcodes now but back then, putting in an 8/10-hour shift was like hard labour, you were mentally and physically drained.

Years later,  I found myself working as a taxi driver and studying in Stafford.  It was the best job you could do while studying as you could pick the hours you did working for the largest company there. Here the driver code names were changed into numbers to make it easier and I remember this one time a driver came through on the radio..

Driver: “Car 84 hat in bush”

Dispatcher: Car 84 come again

Driver: “Car 84 hat in bush”

Dispatcher: Car 84 I don’t understand

Driver: “Car 84, Hat in bush, head in hat”

I nearly choked on my tea as the office burst into roars of laughter

Dispatcher: “Car 84 are you ok bud”

Driver; “Car 84 on my way back to the office need a break, I am ok”

Dispatcher; “Roger bud”

Now a driver had been assaulted but the way he reported it back had us all in tears. Car 84 could look after himself but if you picture the incident, he had to drag himself back to the car and report it, there was no mobile phones back then.

Taxi and Technology

This has all changed now, you might find the odd small company still using the old two-way radio system but nearly everyone has moved to computerised dispatching systems. The taxi industry has come a long way from where it used to be and there was a massive surge of drivers joining the trade once outsourcing became the new way of business for many leading industries who chose to move their business overseas. Back then you would struggle to find a company with over 500 cars, which is now the norm, the standard as you will find a lot of small companies are now merged into one large company.

Back around 1995 I was introduced to a family friend Ali, a computer geek, who would go around taxi offices and sell them an Excel spreadsheet that he had made. The idea was to get rid of all the paperwork and make sure everything was categorically organised and while he was rejected by quite a few companies, he did manage to sell quite a few too.

This wasn’t an original idea of Ali’s, he had seen a proper dispatch system doing it’s rounds and had mimicked it, not as advanced as the proper dispatch system but the concept was the same and you had to marvel at Ali’s hustle.

That then was the tip of the iceberg, for the taxi companies that refused Ali back then are now using a dispatch system.

Bookings are now taken on a computer, stored on a computer, dispatched to the driver via the computer to the driver’s mobile and the driver’s job history is stored on the computer. This automation of the taxi booking office allows taxi companies to now take more bookings whereas, in the past, they would refuse them when the sheet was full.

I would be lying if I said the assaults on taxi drivers had now calmed down with the introduction of technology – it hasn’t, however, offices are now able to track the location of their drivers and all drivers have an emergency button on the screen, once pressed it alerts the office and every single driver on shift so help does get their quicker than it used to!

Life for the back office has become a lot easier with an easily accessible record of all the jobs done. Accounts at the end of the month or even week are a lot easier to arrange, whereas before you would have to go through the whole paperwork just to find who did what job on a certain day.

Taxi, Technology and Outsourcing

Even though taxi and technology have been working hand in hand since the 90’s, outsourcing did not come into the picture until after 2010. Allthough outsourcing has been in the market since around the 80’s the taxi trade was very late to jump onto the bandwagon.

Even while I type this blog there are quite a few taxi companies that still treat outsourcing as an alien concept and something they refuse to indulge in, it reminds me of the times I would go around with Ali trying to sell his Excel Spreadsheet to various offices.

Similar to how technology helped the taxi industry move onto the next stage of transportation, outsourcing is also just that, a helping hand.

Majority of the large taxi firms are outsourcing either just the overflow of calls or having outsourced staff handling every aspect of the booking. It is not only more convenient for taxi companies to outsource, it is also a big money saver. If you have recently seen a local taxi company rapidly growing and advertising heavily, chances are they are outsourcing!

All three do work hand in hand though, without the combination of taxi and technology, outsourcing would not be possible, because of technology it is now possible to have a remote worker on the other side of the world answering calls and booking in jobs as well as dispatching!!!

So, what can be outsourced?

Putting it simply, every repetitive task can be outsourced, below I will list a few for a basic taxi office;

  • Operator/Dispatcher
    • From answering the call and taking a simple booking to recovering a job, modifying it and re-dispatching it back to the same driver.
    • Taking account bookings
  • Online bookings
    • Bookings from your website to bookings done on social media
  • Customer Service
    • Customer complaints through emails
    • Customer complaints through social media channels
    • Customer complaints over the phone
  • Bookkeeping
    • Driver accounts including driver base rents and refunds, vehicle MOT’s and driver licensing
    • Weekly staff wages
    • Promotions, advertising and software fee’s
    • Account job’s

By outsourcing the above listed jobs, a taxi company could save around 70% on wages, this money can then be put back into and invested in the company and its future growth.

Me and New Era OS

Having gone through manual taxi dispatching to computerised dispatching systems with call centre experience from the UK not to mention first-hand taxi driving experience I created New Era OS to help taxi companies grow to their full potential and reach heights which they once thought impossible. At New Era OS we can easily handle all the above tasks in a professional manner that the customer would never guess they were speaking to someone some 4000 miles away.

If you have had a bad experience with an oversea call centre or outsourcing is something you have never tried before, get in touch today and take advantage of the no setup fee with your first agent. We are so confident in what we do we do not ask for anything upfront, you really do not have anything to lose!! 

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