Ideas for crisis management for the cab industry
Ideas for optimal development, innovation and change for the cab industry during and beyond the crisis:
In our first project, we developed ideas and suggestions for the cab industry in the context of the current Corona crisis. This was triggered by the already very early dramatic loss of rides and the accompanying existential threat for many - especially small - cab companies. Parallel to our idea development, the first ideas have already been brought on the path of implementation - which is a confirmation of our data. Therefore, we want to make this data freely available to the cab industry throughout Germany and also worldwide.
The current Corona crisis is hitting the industry at a time when it is already undergoing fundamental change. This crisis and the change must now be actively and strategically shaped with a view to the future.
During the crisis, the industry has a set of measures at its disposal. For example, passenger compartments can be shielded, innovative disinfection can be carried out beyond the normal level, new technologies can be used, primarily cashless payment can be used, and visible and perceived security can be increased. In addition, various other measures have been identified that can help the industry now and in the future.
As far as possible, the new or expanded tasks and services should gradually be embedded in the existing service portals.
In future, the taxi industry should see itself as an "all-round service provider" serving a much broader range of activities.
The order of the day is to start preparations for new business areas now (!) in order to be able to develop them.
The industry must show itself with the alternatives and new possibilities in the crisis: Communication is extremely important... The biggest taxi companies should unite (e.g. "Taxi United against Corona") and agree on standards.
The period of the critical phase of the epidemic for the taxi industry seems like a rather long-lasting phase to adjust to. The impact will be longer lasting as we are still at the beginning of the crisis and we are not going back to normal so quickly. Even if the impact on the taxi industry may not be as great as currently assumed. Especially if the currently emerging opportunities are used.
In principle, the ideas developed can be transferred to the international taxi industry - even if this applies conditionally to some countries, as different structures prevail there.
We have worked out the following questions in detail:
- The current situation of the German taxi industry - especially with regard to the Corona pandemic
- Measures that the taxi industry can take to ensure the safe transport of passengers
- Tasks that the taxi industry as a whole can take on during the crisis
- Possible new business areas that the taxi industry in Germany can build up, which are also lucrative beyond the period of the crisis
- Period of the critical phase of the epidemic for the taxi industry in Germany
- Optimal communication strategy of the taxi industry to communicate its finally realized measures and innovations
- Ideas that can also be applied to the international taxi industry and what, if any, the differences are
The current Corona crisis is already hitting the industry in a fundamental shift, which we highlight below.
Losses and existential fears
On the one hand, competition has already increased sharply in recent months. On the other hand, the Corona pandemic is currently having an ever greater impact. Both factors in combination are causing lasting economic damage within the core business, which the industry is finding difficult to contain.
Both passengers and taxi drivers currently have understandable fears. A massive decline in passenger numbers - resulting in major revenue losses - is already having the first existential consequences and is leading to much frustration and resentment in the industry. The reasons for this are manifold:
- no more tourists
- no more concerts
- cancelled fairs
- no business trips: hardly any trips to the airport or train station
- general fear of the population to go out of the house
In many cases, especially for small businesses or entrepreneurs, the pure existential fear takes hold. Due to the lack of reserves, many small taxi companies could probably have to file for insolvency within a very short period of time, unless compensation can be provided - initially by the state.
The slump in business is clearly noticeable and will continue for some time - see 5..
It is possible that we are dealing with a more stable situation in the rural regions than in the cities, due to the non-existing or hardly existing alternatives in mobility.
Established and situational thinking
The industry itself has been too focused on conservation in its thinking in recent years and months, and has paid too little attention to necessary innovation.
There is no overarching body capable of coordinating within the industry. Each company or group pursues its own agenda in order to secure a share of the market as best it can.
In particular, the uncertainty with regard to the coming weeks is currently causing a kind of shock paralysis and is paralysing the industry's ability to act for future-oriented thinking. This blocks the view of the existing opportunities to emerge stronger from the crisis - see "Potential" below.
Thus, there are already positive trends in Hamburg, which support our statements. The local taxi industry offers since 16.03.2020 a Purchasing service for risk groups on. The first cooperative ventures - described below - are also already being established and are already cushioning the sales losses to some extent.
Nevertheless, the perception of the industry is almost exclusively focused on the current problem. It would be advantageous to direct the perception now also to the desired future and to work towards it - see 4...
The current crisis and the industry's entrenchment strategies in combination are not very conducive to solution-oriented action. The situation can be compared to a supertanker that is heavy and inflexible - and currently needs a lot of information for a future strategy.
Up to now and also at present (see above), there has been little creativity with regard to possible or necessary changes. New ideas from competitors have been tried to be prevented - or copied half-heartedly.
Planning and strategy
The industry must now rethink all the more and orient itself towards new possibilities, some of which have been outlined here. There is no alternative if we want to survive in the future and use the crisis as an opportunity.
To the industry's credit, it should be said that it already has a lot more in the pipeline that is not yet known to the outside world - and was only revealed to us in the course of the discussions regarding our results. This confirmed the connectivity of our ideas and concepts, which we developed as "outsiders" - one of the strengths of our type of optimal idea development / ideation.
As already indicated, there is a certain potential in the industry to implement necessary changes. The massive of the industry, which has also been described, must now be overcome in order to implement the feasible new opportunities as quickly as possible.
There is more to the industry than meets the eye from the outside.
There is a huge opportunity for the taxi industry to take on new tasks in the current crisis. This would enhance the image of the sector and give it an "innovative touch" - see 3 and 4. The taxi industry, as a supporter of the whole population in a massive crisis, will lead to a sustainable improvement of its image.
It should be emphasised that, despite the decline in passenger transport described above, demand for conventional individual transport appears to be generally stable.
Overall, the demand for taxi journeys may fluctuate through different phases: The pandemic may even lead to an increase in the number of taxi journeys over the entire duration of the pandemic.
Taxi driving could also regain importance, e.g. by the fact that, compared to other mobility providers, the trust of taxi passengers in the old familiar prevails again.
Individual transport options may be more and more in demand, as they suggest more safety from the virus than, for example, public transport. However, this requires the further development of measures and innovations described here: see 2 "Perceived safety".
Currently, there is an oversupply of taxis - especially in Berlin. Due to the new players on the market - such as Uber or Moia - the overall supply has expanded in recent months. The crisis could lead to a market adjustment of overcapacities in the industry. The revenue per taxi (or vehicle) could improve significantly as a result of this shakeout after the crisis.
In a crisis, a set of measures is available. For example, passenger compartments can be shielded, innovative disinfection can be carried out beyond the normal level, new technologies can be used, cashless payment can be used, visible and perceived security can be increased and other measures can be taken.
Shield passenger compartments from the driver
- This minimizes the risk of infecting the driver, who in turn could infect other passengers.
- To compare with the old English taxis where there was a window between the passenger and the driver.
- New vehicles could already be equipped with this shielding.
- A retrofit kit could be developed that you can install yourself and that any company can easily build with standard components according to instructions.
- Issuing respirators to passengers that can be retained.
- The wearing of protective masks by taxi drivers.
- Use of covers for headrests (as in trains or airplanes), which are changed after each journey.
- Post the required codes of conduct and tips for passengers in the passenger compartment.
Regular disinfection after each trip
- Document the disinfection via checklists.
- Distribute a video showing a driver disinfecting.
- Define disinfection as a mandatory standard in fallow.
- Disinfect the passenger seating area after the ride.
- Another option would be to cover the passenger seats with a film, which could be replaced after each journey.
- Sealing the vehicle is another option: each passenger redeems a seal guaranteeing that the vehicle has been previously disinfected.
Evaluation of new technologies previously tested
- Use of air filters or air cleaners.
- Ensure sufficient fresh air supply.
- Check suitability of ozone lamps, disinfection lamps, UV lamps, etc. .
- Technical components as a fundamental central element - also for the future: Innovative hygiene / disinfection technology.
No use of cash
- Only allow payments via app and card terminal.
- Enable payment prior to travel via online portal (see below).
- Paying with Bitcoin and Co. (Stablecoin).
Measures for visible and perceived safety.
- The taxi driver could wear gloves.
- The driver only gets out of the vehicle in emergency situations and does not help to hold the door open etc..
- Provide "safe transportation" in the event of a crisis: Safer than bus and train.
- Guarantee that no infected persons are transported in "normal taxis". This increases the perceived safety. Only certain taxis should take on the transport of infected persons. These could be, for example, taxis that have the aforementioned separation between front and rear seats built in and cover seats with foil (see above). Alternatively: install hard plastic benches like at bus stops. These can be disinfected extremely easily.
- Don't let the passenger sit in the front anymore.
- Ban on group transportation (ride sharing).
- Organise fixed agreements of regular or recurring trips by marketing them (see communication).
- Build up the "regular driver" for regular customers: "The taxi driver I trust": responsible and "tested healthy" in the crisis.
- The drivers complete a "Corona test" and mark this with a sticker on the windscreen. Optionally, this is displayed transparently in the corresponding app of the respective association / company.
- It may be possible to handle critical passengers (suspected cases) in a special way.
- A fresh smell in the vehicle is important - possibly similar to a (dental) doctor's office.
- The vehicles still have to look inviting - like business class on an airplane.
- Optional: wear uniform uniforms, gloves.
No waiting times for passengers
- Reduce contact with other guests (each other) as much as possible.
- Direct pick-up at the airport and train station without queues e.g. by booking in advance.
- Enable direct door-to-door routes.
Conversations between driver and passenger
- A positive conversational approach.
- This may require training of the drivers.
- No negative media coverage (radio, broadcast) in the vehicle.
The necessary speed must now be shown in order to implement these measures one after the other as far as possible.
As far as possible, the new or extended tasks and services should gradually be embedded in the already existing service portal - see description under point 4.
In future, the taxi industry should see itself as an "all-round service provider" aiming for a much broader field of activity - see also 4.
- A central service is the safe transport of people.
- As described above, taxis can be retrofitted and take over special trips as "Corona free": This could become a special and standardized service of the taxi industry, which could be approved by the authorities.
- Particularly trustworthy taxi drivers who build up a close customer relationship (see 2.) should also be allowed to transport children in order to make it easier for parents to perform their (system-relevant) tasks / work if necessary - e.g. towards secure care facilities.
Contracts awarded to taxis by public authorities and subsidised by the government
- Local authorities or government institutions should use taxis as operational mobile units to maintain necessary logistics:
- e.g. transport files and documents for companies and authorities.
- E.g. safe driving of public authority employees or persons in the public service.
- Acceptance of secured individual transports if there is a suspicion of illness - see also 2. "special vehicles".
Pharmaceuticals & medical goods
- In cooperation with pharmacies and hospitals, the transport of medical goods should be expanded in order to enable or maintain the necessary distribution logistics.
- Similarly, the transport of urgent medicines should be undertaken.
Taxi rides support / replace ambulance transports
- The public institutions may very quickly reach their transport limits. The previously mentioned "special taxis" can transport sick people and deliver medicines.
- Furthermore, errands for high-risk patients can be taken over. Update - this idea has already been adapted: The Hamburg taxi industry offers since 16.03.2020 a Purchasing service for risk groups on.
Expand shopping service
- For people who no longer want to move out of the house.
- For people under quarantine.
- Checking out food in association with food retailers (LEH).
- Delivery services have already reached their limits. Taxis could offer shopping tours at a fixed price.
- A small example for the concrete implementation: The taxi business should be directly connected to the logistics of the grocery store. The orders that are already coming in should be picked by the food retailer. The taxi drivers then pick up the goods from the central warehouse (or possibly decentralized warehouses). The payment works in such a way that the LEH offers a product "Deliver by taxi". The customer can then add this to the shopping cart. This also enables contactless payment and delivery - see also 2. If coordination with the food retailer seems too complex for the time being, the taxi centres could offer customers standardised shopping baskets. When a customer uses the shopping service by phone, these shopping baskets are briefly presented to him. In addition, a list of shopping baskets could also be displayed on the website.
Transport of goods instead of persons
- Delivery of parcels and other consignments of goods.
- Increased acceptance of courier services.
- see 4. for further expansion.
Offer long distance travel
- Establish itself as an alternative to bus and rail in and around metropolitan areas.
- Offer cheaper rates for this.
4. possible new business areas that the taxi industry in Germany can develop, which are lucrative even beyond the crisis
The order of the day is to start preparations for new business areas now (!) in order to be able to tap into them.
In connection with the crisis tasks (see 3.), an innovative service portal is needed that offers the entire new services - online and via apps. As already mentioned, this can be built on top of the established portals.
- In the call center, employees need to be trained on the new services.
- Possibly the call centers also need to become proactive and call existing customers directly to market and sell the new / expanded services.
On this basis (see above), position as a micro-transporter - at its core for parcel transport and courier services:
- Offer flat rates for required transportation services that go beyond just passenger service.
- To act as a supplier to industry and commerce: To take over tasks that must or can be outsourced there (outsourcing).
- Establish cooperation with new 3D printing centers to deliver parts and components manufactured there.
- In addition to the cooperation with the food industry (see above), also build up a cooperation with retailers in general in order to deliver online goods flexibly and at short notice. Up to now, only delivery services and couriers have been able to do this, but they cannot cover the entire demand - and may also have downtime (illness, family, etc.).
- Increased and more effective transport of purchases - see also 3. in detail.
- The costs of an order can be kept low by means of effective processes that tie up the driver's time to a minimum:
- In the run-up, everything is handled via portal (also the payment processing). The driver only drives up, the goods are loaded into his trunk and unloaded there again at the recipient. As long as the Corona crisis continues, the loader and unloader disinfect. The driver remains in the vehicle and is therefore not exposed to any danger and cannot become a carrier himself.
- Trips could be strategically scheduled (via algorithm) to be on the path of the next passenger, if necessary.
- Increased and more effective adoption of restaurant delivery services along the same lines.
- Enable emergency transport of urgently needed items (see above).
- For example, parts could be transported from companies that need to get to another branch quickly.
- Daring idea: merger with courier companies: Here it could be profitable to transport people and goods in taxis at the same time. This would also require the algorithm already mentioned (see above).
Regular feeder services / commuter trips:
- For professionals and business people.
- Possibly also for school children in the above context.
- Such a service is particularly attractive and useful in city centres where there are few parking facilities.
- Bookable as monthly, weekly and annual package.
Categorization of the offer in Basic, Smart and Premium Service:
- Introduction of a premium service - e.g.: High-quality, prestigious limousines, beverage service, media, butler service.
- Optionally, perhaps also offer a board service - e.g.: Café + small snack on pre-order. A cooperation with local bakeries would be conceivable.
- Offering the opportunity to work in comfortable, large cars: WiFi, USB charging stations and table - creating a 'business class' feel with clients.
- In parallel, the basic service in the Dacia.
Transport service at times when there is no workload:
- This could be established between peak hours or at night.
- The necessary logistic system (software) would have to be integrated into the existing online portals - or connected to them.
- This can be used for inner-city micro-distribution - see also "Micro-transporters" above.
- Establishment or / and use of existing depots for the storage of transport goods - similar to packing station of the post office.
- Orders can be accepted at any time via an app.
- The driver collects the goods to be transported - if necessary also at new self-service terminals - and delivers them.
- The combination with passengers is only possible if they travel without luggage. This must be validated before the journey is allocated or the goods transported are taken on board.
The ideas presented so far can be the starting point for new and changed structures, which should and must be of greater duration:
- Based on the current situation, strategies should be developed for the future, for different crisis scenarios.
- There was no preparation for the current crisis. Therefore, there are currently hardly any usable structures in terms of active crisis management.
- The industry cannot continue to ignore the far-reaching changes ahead and continue to cling to the "golden years" of the past.
- The need to rethink change cannot be postponed any longer. Thus, the current situation can be used to shake things up and to gain new momentum.
The existing structures of the taxi industry must be used. These represent an advantage over competitors. This starting position should be used.
Looking beyond the crisis, passenger transport will change completely on a global scale:
- What runs today under taxi will no longer exist in this form: Either more far-reaching, more versatile and more complex through connected services - as partly outlined here. If the process of change in the industry does not take place, only a special service will remain as an attraction.
- So it's either get on an innovative path - starting in the crisis - or dig your own golden grave.
- The development of systems for CO2-neutral transport should definitely be taken part in - also with regard to the user fee. In this context, the topic of electric taxis should also be fundamentally addressed - and also be integrated into the topic of self-driving taxis, etc.
Be ready to offer for the post-crisis period: Group taxis and ridesharing:
- Offering collective journeys with several passengers via an app - also for partial routes. In conjunction with a timetable and displayed costs.
- Large shared taxis for colleagues living close together to get to work together rather than having to take the subway.
- Access and egress at any point (Note: Advantage over Moia).
- The route automatically adapts to the needs of all passengers (note: not bound to fixed routes, as with Moia).
- Cheaper rates than single transport.
- Positioning itself as part of a new mobility through this as well.
A long-lasting phase
The period seems like a rather long-lasting phase to adjust to. The effects will be of longer duration, as we are still at the beginning and we will not return to normality so quickly. Even if the impact on the taxi industry may not be as great as currently assumed.
In essence, it could be a total of 3 - 4 difficult months. Therefore, the implementation of the new ideas outlined here is necessary as soon as possible.
Over time, everyone adjusts to the situation. Therefore, it is important for the industry to establish the necessary routines within the framework of the new solutions and to offer an overall broader spectrum - as shown here in the core.
An initial improvement occurs when the following restrictions on passenger transport are lifted:
- Concert cancellations
- No Bundesliga in all sports
- No tourists
- No business travelers
- No trips to the restaurant
- and the like ...
Peak only in May
The effects could continue to be felt until the end of the year, although the peak could be passed by the end of May: The epidemic may even peak in May before leveling off relatively quickly.
Improvement from the end of June
From the end of June, there would then be a significant improvement in the general situation (with regard to the epidemic). The more intense effects could still be felt into the summer - August / September.
After that, the curve slowly flattens out and the old business comes back in stronger. In combination with the possible new business, a volume can be achieved over a period of perhaps 8 - 9 months that corresponds to the previous one, with further growth opportunities through the new ideas, innovations and possibilities.
We may be dealing with a wave-like progression. The effects can be significantly reduced via the measures. It is possible that we will have another wave of infections in the autumn.
6. the taxi industry's optimal communication strategy to communicate its ultimately implemented measures and innovations
The industry must show itself with the alternatives and new possibilities in the crisis: Communication is extremely important and significant. The largest taxi companies should unite (e.g. "Taxi United against Corona") and agree on standards. These must be clearly stated.
extolling one's own virtues
- Individual transportation.
- Quick and easy from A to B.
- No time-consuming bookings like with the train.
- The industry should present itself as a rock - and above all as a supporter of the population: supply routes are maintained and this is mainly due to the willingness of taxi drivers to continue working even during the crisis.
You have to massively communicate all the measures and innovations you take to the outside world:
- Collaboration with scientists.
- Experts must validate all measures beforehand and confirm their effectiveness and benefits in interviews / statements.
- Call and make an offer to society.
- Taxi ride becomes the safest public transport, safer than own vehicle
- Disinfection guarantee for every passenger.
- Regular testing of drivers for the virus
- Uniform with gloves, mask, every day fresh disinfected clothes
- Inform customers via newsletter or app about the possible cooperation with the food retail trade (LEH) that the taxi industry now delivers food - possibly even free of charge for the customer.
- Showing people clear solutions to everyday situations.
- Away from just driving.
- More points and details in the preceding points ...
In any case, via a direct telephone approach, in order to be able to place the new ideas as quickly as possible, e.g. in companies - see above: Call Center.
- Especially when a change is so obvious, it is easy to find arguments for the good idea.
- These ideas will also fall on open ears and possibly the taxi industry can even position itself as a saviour (see above).
Multimedia distribution via Facebook and Co.
- A social media campaign for all-German taxi companies.
- Viral marketing across all channels.
Public service media
- Radio advertising with offers of free rides - possibly via raffles or similar.
Public communication of the guild to the population about the measures
- Present the role of the guild for society and communicate new offers as a contribution to society.
- Issuing a quality promise for the vehicles.
- Grumble box phone when standards are not met (dirty, stuffy).
In / on the taxi itself:
- Stickers like Ryanair, but less intrusive.
- Inform and educate the guests in the taxis.
- The passenger can then inform himself during the journey if he wishes.
Image for all media
- Large parade through the city as a signal of readiness.
At bus stops
- E.g. to win new customers or to persuade them to switch.
- Billboard or on-screen advertising.
Basically adaptable abroad
In principle, the ideas developed can be transferred - even if this applies to some countries to a limited extent, as different structures prevail there. The essential core ideas can be adopted to a large extent - albeit in country-specific adaptations and in connection with local peculiarities and sensitivities. In addition, there are different legal regulations.
Differentiation between town and country
A differentiation must also be made as to whether the region in question is urban, peri-urban or rural, as the transport needs there are different. The transport idea of taxis is essentially city-based and works there because of the short distances - and thus in countries with large (main) cities. As a consequence, taxi transport is not suitable for countries with rugged settlements or low population density.
Feeder / commuter services work best between (inner) city and suburban areas - but also at rural level as a feeder to public transport or directly to the destination.
Somewhat delayed, the big change in the taxi industry is happening everywhere
All measures can be extended to the international taxi industry. Differences might exist in countries where Uber, Lyft, and others have already heavily displaced the taxi industry. However, the current circumstances should apply to these companies as well.