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Starting a taxi or PHV business (part 1)

 

Shocked, but in recovery

The year from March 2020 to March 2021 was possibly the worst era in modern times to be working in the taxi trade. COVID 19 hit us hard. Drivers suffered above average illness and mortality rates. And then the industry collapsed with little of no trade at all for ten months. There wasn’t enough support for drivers or firms and, unfortunately, many have fallen by the wayside.

But now things are looking up. So, is it a good time to start a taxi business?

A business with a future?

IndividualGiven the shake-out that’s happened in the industry, we think there is actually LESS competition than before the pandemic. Arguably there are opportunities to rapidly grow a taxi firm as society opens up and gets back on the road to work, parties, clubs, events and holidays.

There were over 291,000 licensed taxis and private hire vehicles in 2019. We’d bet that number is significantly less today. A positive, fresh, well-run firm can become established in this market.

Not all taxis are the same

There are two types of vehicles people think of as taxis.

  • Taxis are really hackney carriages (known as black cabs in London but in all major towns and cities) and can be hailed on the street.
  • Private hire vehicles (PHVs) tend to be part of a branded fleet and must be booked in advance.
Hackney cabs

Generally speaking, hackney carriages are more regulated than PHVs. Local councils license their numbers and fares. The way fares are charged is fixed. Local authorities restrict the number of black cabs in their domain. Black cab drivers are tested for their competence and knowledge of the local area. When you add all this up it’s easy to see that becoming and staying a black cab or hackney driver is perhaps more complicated and difficult than being a PHV driver.

Private hire firm

PHVs (also known as minicabs by the public) operate out of an office which takes advance bookings. They can’t be hailed or stopped on the street, nor can they roam the streets looking for work.

This post is the first in a series on starting a taxi or private hire business; more will follow.


For an overview of new and used vehicles to help you take advantage of Steps 3 and 4 of the government roadmap all 01525 717695 or email us.

Is your taxi ready to rumble?

 

What is Step 3?

It’s likely that, from 17th May, the government will ease some restrictions on how the public can meet and see friends and family. This is known as ‘Step 3’ of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, and should allow people to decide for themselves on the appropriate level of risk for their circumstances.

The Taxi Shop’s Sales Director, Josh Rhynas:

“Things are slowly getting back to normal and we are hearing positive noises from our many contacts across the UK taxi trade. Lots of people are reviewing the vehicles they use for taxi and private hire work, and planning ahead. 

“The situation is an odd one in some ways. On the one hand, it is devastating to hear about taxi drivers and firms who have thrown in the towel during the last year. On the other, the opportunity is there for those that want to grow their business. The irony is that the firms that are still standing have less competition than 12 months ago.”

Are we at the end of lockdown?

Not yet. Everyone from drivers to fares must stick to the Hands/Face/Space guidance so that we can all get back the freedoms we crave.

Although Step 3 is not the comprehensive opening up of society that everyone wants, it is a definite, positive step. Josh Rhynas:

“We hope that from the 17th May most businesses in all but the highest risk sectors will be able to reopen. The good news is that indoor hospitality be in this group. Also, there won’t be a curfew, so people will be out and about for longer. We are certain this is a gamechanger for our trade as people will start to travel further and more often for nights out and visits.” 

Indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas and children’s play areas, hotels, hostels and B&Bs and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes are all set to reopen. And the government will also allow some larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues to go ahead, in some cases with crowds of up to 10,000 people in attendance.

It is not the end of the pandemic. But it is the beginning of the end.


For an overview of new and used vehicles to help you take advantage of Steps 3 and 4 of the government roadmap all 01525 717695 or email us.

A year of lockdown for the taxi trade

 

Why another survey?

Our first survey of the taxi trade in June 2020, just three months into Lockdown #1, revealed the shockwaves hitting the industry. Now a full year after the country first closed down, how is life for the tens of thousands of men and women that drive private hire vehicles or taxis for a living?  We asked four questions.

Has your income been affected by the lockdown?

1. Compared to this time last year has your income been affected by the lockdowns

Are you concerned about catching Coronavirus from passengers?

2. Are you concerned about catching coronavirus from passengers

Do you think passengers are anxious about using cabs?

3. Do you think passengers are anxious about using cabs coronavirus risk

What financial support have you had?

4. What financial support have you had 2
Our survey with PHTM shows that almost 97% of taxi drivers’ incomes has been slashed—and 75% have little or no income at all.

Taxi driverA Wirral private hire driver of six years:

“The government has totally ditched drivers. Depending on the area you are badged, some of the local councils have tried to help. But where I am badged it’s been a disgrace. To date, all they have done is give drivers £100 towards their licence plate renewal last year.

“It will take at least a couple of good years work-wise for me to be able to replace the savings that I have had to use to get by over the past twelve months. I have not had any financial assistance such as the SEISS grants, basically being told to use what we have saved for retirement — and stuff the future.”

Our research reveals how the Covid crisis has meant real financial hardship, heartbreaking loss and painful mental health challenges for drivers who’ve had inadequate support.

  • 74.7% of drivers have an income that is ‘very low or zero’ compared to the same time last year. 21.9% says their income is ‘half what it was’.
  • 80.6% said they were ‘extremely’ or ‘quite’ worried about catching COVID-19 from passengers.
  • 62.5% said they thought passengers are anxious about using their cabs.

A North-west taxi driver:

“The local council has been disgraceful… I’ve received a £100 grant. We are approximately 80% down in takings, I have a young family to feed, and my wife is on furlough.”

Taxi drivers are the ‘unsung heroes’ of the current crisis, a 4th emergency service that has continued to support their local communities. They deserve more and better support.

A Brighton hackney cab driver:

“I’ve been a Hackney taxi owner/driver since 1988. When COVID-19 happened… lockdowns and pubs, clubs, restaurants and the rest of the business affected, the taxi trade is nearly non existent. Waiting two and three hours for a job is the norm for the whole of my daily work.”

Taxi driverThe majority of drivers are self-employed, so when there’s no work, there’s no income. Most people stopped using cabs very early in the crisis, and those that did were potentially spreading the virus. Drivers weren’t given enough information or protection to work safely and it led to high infection rates amongst drivers. In May last year the BBC reported, ‘Taxi drivers have among the highest death rate of coronavirus in the UK. Along with security guards, they are more likely to die with Covid-19 than any other occupation.’

While many drivers feel let down by their local authorities, some councils have stepped up and supported drivers.

A Durham private hire and hackney driver:

“I have been extremely grateful to the local authority for their support. Contractors, under the supplier relief scheme, have received a good percentage of the contract price even when it wasn’t operating. This was to ensure that enough drivers stayed in business to meet future contract requirements, I think that says a lot. The SEISS grants have been more than I thought any government would provide to the self employed and were very welcome. Durham County Council have paid all licenced drivers a one off £500 grant.

A picture not echoed by this East Sussex cabbie:

“I’ve been a taxi driver for three years in June. The SEISS grants have allowed my situation to be bearable. With this money, some small furlough for my wife and some help from my family, we have stayed on track. Mortgage payment breaks and tax bills strung out. At the moment I own a £25,000 cab which I use to deliver food (for Deliveroo) at £3.50 a journey. When you consider the cost of fuel, £2,000 insurance and also council licensing conditions, it’s not ideal.”

Solihull private hire badged driver:

“I feel disowned and ignored by the Local Authority. I estimate it will take me two years to recover financially once the crisis is over. The second lockdown was a killer. I had to get a bank loan which has meant extra stress.”

There are now tens of thousands of UK drivers who have received no financial support at all, unlike many other industries.

The trade will survive and thrive

There is a dark irony in that drivers and operators that do survive and get back out fast will pick up a lot of work. After lockdown we predict a booming cab trade. Why? Because the general public is tired of being stuck indoors, hungry to go out to pubs, clubs and events, and to go away on holiday. And with fewer drivers competing for fares, there may be good times ahead.

Full data tables

Question 1. Compared to this time last year, has your income been affected by the lockdowns?
Number Per cent
Income is down a little 8 2.78%
Income is half what it was 63 21.88%
Income is very low or zero 215 74.65%
No change to my income 2 0.69%

 

 

 

 

 

Question 2. Are you concerned about catching coronavirus from passengers?
Number Per cent
Extremely worried
129 44.79%
Quite worried 103 35.76%
Only a little worried 36 12.50%
Not worried 20 6.94%

 

 

 

 

 

Question 3. Do you think passengers are anxious about using cabs (coronavirus risk)?
Number Per cent
No 21 7.29%
Not sure 87 30.21%
Yes 180 62.50%

 

 

 

 

 

Question 4. What financial support have you had?
Number Per cent
Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) 13 4.51%
SEISS 189 65.63%
Taxi driver grant 19 6.60%
Universal Credit 25 8.68%
None 42 14.58%

 

 

 

 

 

*Data collected by online survey of taxi drivers, owners and operators in February 2021. 288 respondents. The Taxi Shop advisers are on hand with ‘bounceback’ offers to help you get working fast. Call 01525 717695 or email sales@thetaxishop.com to start your receover journey.

Why buy a minibus taxi now?

 

Act now to reap maximum rewards

The phones have been hotting up here since the PM’s roadmap announcements last month. Speaking with our customers over the past week or so, the surge of enquiries we’re getting reflects the will of a general public desperate to get away on holidays or to big events. There is definitely light at the end of the tunnel and we’re getting unprecedented levels of calls from operators who want to buy a 9-seat minibus taxiFord Custom

We experienced a near 90% fall in sales during lockdown. But from June onwards—subject to Big Brother’s conditions being met—it will be a free-for-all as the UK general public drink in their new freedoms. The boom we have all been waiting for will hit. We now have little notice to get organised.

What are our Taxi/Private Hire Drivers and Operators saying to us right now? It is simply this: “I need vehicles!” Typically in this business, our customers buy minibuses on finance, and want their new vehicles delivered yesterday.

Supply chain challenges

But the Pandemic and Brexit have thrown spanners in the works for all the major manufacturers, including those we buy from. They are struggling to get their vehicles into the UK and this has created quite the backlog for delivery times on new vehicles.

The only advice we can give to our customers is to buckle up and get ready, now is the time to plan, project and invest. After what has been a really tough year, no one wants to be left out in the cold waiting for delivery of their new or used vehicle. You don’t want to miss out on bookings on Day One of the big kick-off.

Get ahead of the pack

We have just over three months until life as we know it returns to some form of normality and even less time to get additional or new vehicles plated and ready to go. Steep increases in public spending and holiday bookings will create huge demand for our trade as people need to get from A to B; and with demand comes the issue of supply.

Suitcases

The upturn that is inevitably coming is a brilliant opportunity for the trade to lap up this much needed business. But don’t miss the boat here! To benefit from what is to come you will all need to be able to meet that demand.

We will continue to create the most affordable, most cost-effective methods for our new and existing customers to purchase. In the wake of the recent great news about society opening up again we are here to work with you.

Price, service, delivery

The Taxi Shop continues to work closely with its supplying Manufacturers on fast delivery, we work hard to negotiate the best possible discounts for you, and indeed we are currently helping fourteen operators buy new minibus taxis on finance. Everyone is preparing for the boom that is to come. We as a trade have the absolute right to recuperate the losses that we have suffered these past 12 months.

To all of our good friends of 20-plus years in this business, and everyone in the taxi trade, get planning, get projecting and get investing. Good times lie ahead.

This is the second part of a post on the economic upturn. Read the first here.


To prepare for the upturn, call Josh on 01525 717695 or email josh@thetaxishop.com.

Surge in optimism as lockdown ends


Light at the end of the tunnel

After what has been a very turbulent 12 months in the taxi trade, the Prime Minister’s ‘roadmap’ announcement on 22nd February has unlocked a wave of optimism among the public. It’s reflected in the high level of enquiries we’re getting from PH and taxi drivers, which is climbing day-by-day, and especially in our eight- and nine-seat minibuses. The prospect of a buying boom seems very likely. 

The Taxi Trade has been dragged through unprecedented circumstances these past 12 months, the consequences of which will be felt for many more months to come. However, from the feedback of those in the trade, and the level of enquiries and actual sales that are starting to materialise, we are witnessing a growing increase in business for our owner driver and operator customers across the UK. 

Busy airport Concourse

Airport transfers booking boom

Just this morning I spoke with a PH operator who has seen airport bookings skyrocket since last week and is successfully securing committed bookings for airport transfers after June. Thus far, this operator has taken nearly 40 bookings—and all of them have paid deposits to him to secure these bookings. Deposits, however small, show commitment from your customers. After hearing this I felt it was a real positive sign that the general public are eager to binge this summer season on holidays galore. Lots of calls these last few days with operators needing to update vehicles. We are currently helping tens of operators buy a minibus taxi on finance

Furthermore, it was great to hear business coming to life across the board. Every major news outlet is reporting record numbers of new holiday bookings, internationally and domestically, with Tui reporting a 500% surge overnight after last Monday’s Lockdown Exit Plans. 

Happy family

A couple of extracts from the BBC give us reason to look forward to what is to come: 

“The owner of UK-based holiday firms Hoseasons and Cottages.com said it sold a record 10,000 breaks.” 

and 

“Tui said its bookings for July-onwards had soared with Greece, Spain and Turkey the most popular destinations.”

Another couple of extracts from major UK media giants with jaw dropping statistics: 

“EasyJet reported a 337% surge in flight bookings and a 630% jump in holiday bookings for locations such as Alicante, Malaga, Palmo, Faro and Crete.” 

Beachgoers

and wait for it…

“Tour operator and airline Jet2 also reported a 1,000% increase in bookings in the 24 hours following the prime minister’s announcement. Popular destinations include Spain, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, with a notable spike in demand from July onwards”. 

Jet2’s Chief Executive, Steve Heapy, said: 

“The government’s announcement is the news [holidaymakers] have been longing for, and the continued surge in bookings shows how ready our customers are to get away to the sunshine on a real package holiday.”

This is part one of a two-part post. Read part two here


To prepare for the upturn, call Josh on 01525 717695 or email josh@thetaxishop.com.

Income opportunity for drivers

Over the last year many drivers have seen incomes slashed. Multi-service company UW offers the flexibility and freedom to build a significant income alongside taxi work. Here’s driver Gabriel Dwomoh on the benefits of a UW income:

“Working as a driver is hard,very stressful. UW gives me the chance to do my job whenever I need to. The money helps me pay for my mortgage and to go away on holiday.”

Watch drivers talk about their success with UW

Taxi driver Katie Nash has run a UW business part-time for a few years:

“The opportunity gives me enough income to live the life I want to live. Now, when I pop out for a drive, it’s just for fun!”

UW relies on a network of Partners who recommend UW to people in their community. In return, UW Partners get to be part of a British success story, earning money for every new customer they help switch to UW. Anyone who is organised and positive can do this work and the rewards are impressive.

Drivers like Paul Mackareth have joined UW with great success:

“The best thing about this business is the residual income. It means doing the job once, and getting paid over and over again, for something that might take an hour. I also make up to £300 for each customer I introduce. In my traditional job, if I wanted to earn £300 I would need to work two, 12-hour driving days.”

Your background, gender, accent and education don’t matter with UW. It’s not a sales job, you simply show how people could save money, and answer any questions. You will have full online training and be supported every step of the way by Mick Dickinson, himself a taxi trade supplier of seven years:

“When everything stopped in March last year I switched all my home services to UW and saved a fortune, £517 to be precise. I was impressed and joined UW as a Partner and I haven’t looked back. It’s flexible, I am my own boss, I work from home… and I make good money.”

Mick is currently looking for more drivers to join his team (see contact details below).

UW is an award-winning British company. With almost 700,000 customers it is growing every year and is listed on the FTSE stock exchange. They’re the only multi- service provider in the UK, and they could help families save money across everyday utilities.

Find out more and get in touch

Self-assessment and the taxi driver


Taxi driver self assessment guide

As a private hire or taxi driver HMRC requires you to report your income and—to minimise your tax liability—you’ll want to be able to show fuel and vehicle maintenance costs. It’s good idea to keep records of everything in a systematic way so you can find it all when the self assessment deadline looms.

The UK-based business advice website Start Up Donut has an excellent step-by-step guide to the self assessment tax return for all taxi, private hire and Uber drivers.

Three key tax steps for taxi drivers 

The self-assessment guide for taxi and private hire drivers will show you how to:

  • Register as self employed
  • Understand your expenses
  • Know your deadlines

The online submission deadline for your tax return next year will be 31 January 2022. Getting organised now means there will be no panic close to the deadline or, worse still, get a £100 fine for submitting your return late.


There is lots of useful business information and advice for drivers, owners and operators at the Start Up Donut.

How to buy a minibus taxi on finance

 

Buying a minibus taxi in the lockdown

“I was getting my feet under the table when the first lockdown hit and suddenly our whole office started working from home. Overnight, I had to develop a different way of working away from the banter of the office. It’s been new and different but I feel I have built better relationships with The Taxi Shop’s customers.”

68-plate Ford Custom

60 months repayments most popular

Stuart’s aim is to support drivers and owners in this difficult time. He helps them find the right vehicle for the type of work they do.

“Few drivers buy new or used vehicles with cash. Most people want to use finance to buy a minibus taxi, in other words put down a deposit and then spread the payments over time. There are various ‘terms’ available, and deposits can range from zero to £10,000, but the most common timeframe, or term, is 60 months which is five years.”

Expert help on choosing the right vehicle

When someone calls in Stuart finds out whether they are a private hire or hackney driver, where they work and what sort of vehicle they are after. If they want an 8-seater taxi on finance—one of the most common requests The Taxi Shop gets—then he’ll discuss whether they need wheelchair access for the vehicle.

“We know all our vehicles in great detail and can explain the features, benefits and all the options. People aren’t always sure about their local council’s requirements, so we often do some research, look up the regs for their authority, and call on our experience to make sure the vehicle specification is right.”

“Often, someone will call up and say, ‘I’m looking at the Vivaro and I’m a hackney driver.’ Now, we know that the latest Vivaro is a little smaller than earlier models, and we can recommend an alternative vehicle that may suit the requirement better, for example the Ford Custom Hackney.”

“If someone wants to go ahead and buy a taxi minibus on finance, then we offer a free credit checker service. We can introduce customers to a range of funders, including some that can help with lower credit scores.

The second and now the third lockdown have hurt the industry, but here at The Taxi Shop we’re still having lots of great conversations with drivers and operators.


To discuss buying a taxi minibus using finance using reputable auto lenders then please call 01525 717695 or email stuart@thetaxishop.com.

Major contract is a vote of confidence

 

30 vehicles over seven months

Each new vehicle will be fully wheelchair accessible comprising of an in-board hydraulic tail lift, tracking system, quick release seats and wheelchair anchorages to comply with the relevant local authority requirements. Our customer chose The Taxi Shop based on a consistent quality of the workmanship demonstrated over the two years since we took conversions in-house.

9

Expert conversions done in-house

Josh Rhynas, Sales Director at The Taxi Shop is overseeing the contract:

“This is a massive vote of confidence from a significant taxi firm. We listened carefully to what they wanted and delivered a specification that exceeded expectations. At our facilities the client met Ash Munford who leads the conversions and coachwork here as well as myself and we all hit it off from the start. It is all part of building a strong relationship which we have done and setting trust, reliability and confidence in stone as the foundations of this relationship.”

Overall winners in a competitive field

The vehicles, adapted for children and adults with disabilities, will also feature bespoke seat covers and our exclusive composite flooring that reduces road noise and maintains an even temperature through the seasons. It all adds up to a knockout package and that’s why the customer chose The Taxi Shop over alternative suppliers.

3

Rob Breuilly, The Taxi Shop’s founder and MD:

“This fantastic order goes to show that hard work, innovation and ongoing high quality workmanship does pay off. After what has been a very difficult period—one that some of our competitors have not survived—this order secures the future for The Taxi Shop. Customers, partners, suppliers and friends can be confident we will be supplying excellent vehicles and services for years to come.”

While the industry has faced difficulties The Taxi Shop has consistently supported its customers. The fact that we are surviving and thriving is testament to the loyalty and the dedication of a brilliant team.


Contact Josh Rhynas to discuss wheelchair accessible vehicles for your fleet: 01525 717695. You can also email sales@thetaxishop.com with any queries.

PH tests conclusive: a 99.85% reduction in dangerous organisms

 

Aseptic Plus+ tested and proven effective

Four areas of the private hire minibus were swabbed each day for six days, at the same time each day, once the vehicle had returned from its transport jobs.

In the first three days, swab samples were taken from the four areas within the vehicle’s interior with no treatment, and showed a Total Viable Count (TVC) of all living organisms (bacteria, yeast, fungi, mould). The TVC of the untreated areas over the three days averaged 7,641.66, which is classed as ‘Poor’ and, on each day, some TVC counts were classed as ‘Gross Soiling’, the worst of all categories.

Aseptic intro

Evidence shows massive reduction in organisms

After the Aseptic Plus+ unit and solution had been fitted and was in operation, a further three days of swabbing the same areas was conducted. On average, the Total Viable Count from the swabs taken from the same places, but now in an Aseptic-treated environment, scored 11.66 TVC. That is a 99.85% average reduction in TVC.

The vehicle tested had no additional cleaning whatsoever during this process.

Swab tests were analysed by Cavendish Laboratories, a UKAS accredited laboratory (international standard ISO/IEC 17025, Laboratory Testing Accreditation Number 1643).

Protect your drivers and fares

Drivers told us they and their passengers were anxious about working and using cabs. We’ve found the solution to this problem—now everyone can feel confident about working again.


The Taxi Shop advisers are on hand to answer your questions: 01525 717695. You can also email sales@thetaxishop.com with any queries.