There are various different ways of getting into the taxi trade. The easiest is to start working as an employee for a taxi company; the other end of the scale is owning your own vehicle or even starting your own company. Here are some of the main options:
- Apply for a job with a local taxi company. You may sometimes see firms advertising for drivers but don’t wait to see an advert – most companies have a turnover of drivers and will often be looking for more drivers, so just give them a ring or send in your CV and tell them you’re keen. You might get part-time, occasional or full-time work. Some owner-drivers of public hire taxis may also employ a second or third driver to work their cab or cabs when they’re not out driving themselves.
Whoever your employer is, often the main thing is getting your foot in the door. The hope is the more you turn up on time and do the job without any hassle, the more chance you have of getting more work as time goes on. You may earn tips as well as your wages, while fares collected all go to the taxi owner.
- Rent a car from a local taxi company. In London and some other big cities there are firms which specialise in renting out public hire taxis. Both here and in most other towns and cities local taxi companies rent cabs on a weekly basis, many of these being in the private hire trade. Renting a cab means you keep the fares you earn, in return for paying for the fuel you use plus a weekly fee for the use of the vehicle. Usually it includes insurance and access to the company’s advance booking service. This fee is often collected on a given day of the week, commonly known as ‘weigh-in’ day.
Renting is usually open to anyone, provided you meet the criteria as a driver. Your credit history won’t necessarily affect you, provided you make the required payment to the taxi company every week. If for any reason you miss a payment, don’t expect to be in the vehicle too long – taxi companies don’t want you building up arrears they might not get back and will just move the vehicle on to someone else.
- Buy your own cab. Owning your own cab means more responsibility in return for the chance to earn more and enjoy maximum freedom. Self-employment is very common in the UK taxi industry. Like renting, owning means you keep all fares and tips you earn. Assuming you need to borrow money to buy a vehicle – and sometimes to buy a license as well – you’ll have a monthly lease or hire purchase payment to make, plus your vehicle fuel, running and repair costs and specialist taxi insurance. You may or may not want to pay a separate fee to get business from a local taxi booking system.
Borrowing money to buy your own cab will mean having to pass a credit check with a finance company or you may be able to put together the money in partnership with close friends and family. Running your own vehicle brings a greater element of risk but, overall, you’re outgoings will usually be substantially less than if you rent a car from a taxi company. Most people who can get their own vehicle chose to do so, sooner or later, which is why there’s tens of thousands of taxi owner-drivers across the UK and Ireland.
- Start your own taxi company. This may sound like a distant dream but actually the taxi industry gives a much better chance of starting your own business than most other walks of life. Perhaps you start out simply as a self-employed taxi owner with one vehicle. You build up a regular customer base and maybe start to get ‘in’ with some local companies or organisations that will use your services regularly. Perhaps you take on a part-time driver to keep the vehicle working when you’re off duty. Then you manage to afford a second vehicle and employ a couple of people to keep it on the road, earning money.
Next thing you know, you have three or four people, as well as yourself, out there bringing in profits for your small business. As things build up you’re able advertise your business locally and win some healthy contract work. Now you can justify funding a few more vehicles. You might employ more drivers for these or even rent these out to people who want to get into the trade. Then you have other people covering your purchase costs, as well as delivering increased profits for your company. You’re well on your way!
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