Is TaxiMap right for your cab company?
What it is & Who it’s for….
Well, it seems we’re getting registrations from all kinds of people who have all kinds of uses for our system. So, I thought I’d write a quick post detailing some of the uses our members have found for the TaxiMap system….
What is TaxiMap… What is it’s reason for being?
We started out with a simple observation: The Internet knows where you are, it knows where you’re going and it knows the route. With all this info it shouldn’t be too difficult to work out how much it would cost to get from where you are now to where you want to be.
From this, one thing is clear – it’s about the traveller, not the means. TaxiMap’s primary goal is to get people from A to B by providing the best info available. This can be routing, timing or, most frequently, pricing. And therefore our emphasis is really on the map system as a neat way of calculating taxi journey price estimates. The booking and dispatch systems are an added bonus. In fact, we do not intend these to be a replacement for more robust booking and dispatch applications (e.g. Cordic/Taximate), rather a means of managing bookings made via the TaxiMap web site plug-in.
Having the TaxiMap plug-in on your website is a marketing/sales tool, rather than a business management application. It provides a competitive advantage over a static web site with price tables and lists, or those with a long booking/quote form. It engages the traveller and provides useful tangible information that gives them confidence in the your ability to continue their journey professionally and efficiently. It increases the chances a visitor to you web site will make a booking with you, and not your competitor.
What it isn’t
While there’s a great deal of flexibility in the system provided through the settings available in configuration, it’s important to note the system is not designed to be a 100% accurate fixed pricing system. There are so many factors we can’t account for such as traffic, road works, weather, availability, etc. and these require, we believe, human interaction.
Therefore the system should be considered a lead generating tool or, at best, a price estimation or quotation system. A controller or administrator is always required to confirm the price and the booking.
So, who is it for… who should sign up?
Short answer: Anyone looking to provide pre-booked transportation by road. (See our previous post on coach, removal and limo companies…)
However, we’ve been thinking recently about the types of people that already do sign up, what their expectations are and how they use the system. As you’d expect they fall in to 2 main categories: Companies and independent drivers.
Most frequently, and probably currently the most successful implementations, have been those providing primarily or solely airport transfers – for example see http://www.heathrow-taxi-services.co.uk/ – On the flip-side, however, most failed implementations have resulted from the wrong expectations of the system.
The independent driver should expect to generate more leads from his web site (or TaxiMap directory listing). He will receive notifications of bookings by SMS text message to his mobile, and full details by email. He’ll still need to confirm the booking with the customer one way or another. For this we are planning a driver-side mobile phone application which will interact with our system.
For larger companies, again, it’s the leads the system generates. A controller can receive notifications and use the system to send confirmations, but TaxiMap is not designed to replace an existing booking and dispatch system… in fact we’re looking at working with other companies to make integration of TaxiMap generated bookings with exiting systems even easier.
We’ve tried to make the system as easy to use as possible. In fact, out of the box, it only needs you to specify a price per mile to work, but this delivers the least accuracy in terms of pricing. To provide much greater accuracy there are a whole host of configuration options that need to be considered and understood. At this point in time we hold our hands up and say the documentation and help available is not complete, and that’s part of the reason the system is still labelled as ‘beta’ (or testing). The other reason is we’re still taking feedback, suggestions and input from those who are using it. And this has resulted in the following requirement: You are either fairly technical or you are willing to use trial and error to figure out what works best for you. It’s also useful to have some idea of how to integrate the system with your website (or at least know someone who does).
Don’t let this put you off though, there are plenty of resources available. There’s the forum and the wiki, and we’re always happy to respond to emails and even chat to our users where necessary. We’re also planning some tutorial videos and writing help documentation…. Just remember how TaxiMap fits in as a component of your larger business – as a marketing and sales tool with some added bells & whistles.