In a changing and challenging taxi market, one firm is looking to the future and hoping to make the step up to become the UK’s biggest and most driver ethical industry booking app.
The nationwide taxi app, cab:app, are looking to make their platform a ‘one stop shop’ for cab drivers. The app would place the driver at the centre of its business, providing them with a full suite of services via the app and one point of contact if there is ever a problem.
It is thought that by bringing together multiple services on one app, working life will be made easier for cabbies. By bringing thousands of drivers together, individual cabbies’ costs would likely reduce as the platform acts as a buying club negotiating the best deals on cab drivers’ behalfs.
Derek Stewart, Founder of cab:app, said: “Well first and most importantly, our business model is all about helping and supporting drivers so everything starts from the centre and works out, as without motivated drivers there is no great service for passengers and there is no taxi supply chain.
“Drivers pay the wages of everyone involved in the taxi industry including trade orgs, garages, vehicle manufacturers, insurance companies and card providers like cab:app – so we need to make sure drivers come first.”
Stewart continued: “On the new national booking app there are several USPs that help everyone on the taxi journey. For drivers, there will be no booking commission (in perpetuity) for all passengers they sign up or hear about cab:app via word of mouth. If the passenger books via the app and pays cash we make nothing and if they pay by card we just charge the card fees.
“So imagine in London alone, 20,000 taxi drivers will do over 50 million journeys per year so if every driver tells their passengers about the new app then those jobs will come back free of any driver commission. If you expand this nationally to over 300 million journeys then drivers across the country will benefit from word of mouth, so if a driver in London gets me to download the app and I then travel to Glasgow to visit family, that local taxi driver in Glasgow will also get the booking commission free as a fellow driver introduced me to cab:app.”
cab:app already has over 12,000 taxi drivers registered on the platform and processes card payments in 59 towns and cities. This alone places them ahead of the pack when it comes to making the next move towards a fast-growing national taxi booking app.
As trust in some taxi booking apps begins to waver amongst some cabbies, cap:app recently changed its company constitution by adding clauses to their articles of association. Importantly no private hire vehicles will ever be permitted to use the cab:app platform and all driver-initiated bookings promoted to passengers will be 0% commission in perpetuity.
But what about the passenger in all this? What do they get from the platform that is different from other apps?
Stewart said: “From a passenger’s perspective, they will now be able to book a black cab or licensed taxi from one app anywhere they go across the UK and Ireland – so it will be much more convenient.
“So cab:app will focus on promoting the app directly to corporate and business account customers, as well as travel affiliate partners where there is a need for taxis e.g. airlines, train companies, hotels, bars, restaurants, events, conferences, etc.
“We will charge drivers 10% booking commission to win and service this type of work and as part of this we will also re-distribute a 2% share to help other sectors. So for corporate accounts we will donate 2% to their favourite charity and for the hospitality sector we will return 2% cash back, as both sectors need help and support to get back on their feet post COVID.”
So what’s next? How will cab:app make that leap forwards as they aim to become the UK’s biggest taxi booking platform?
Stewart said: “We have spent the last 6 months engaging with drivers and trade orgs on our future plans with surveys, emails, podcasts, zoom calls and 1:1 meetings, so have received lots of great feedback and ideas. We’ve now completed the design and specification for the new national app, so we are ready to kick off as soon as we have sufficient funding in place as this is a pretty big project.
“We have secured around £125,000 from existing shareholders and this will be matched by the Future Fund, a government initiative to help companies invest in growth during COVID. This means we already have the £250,000 we need to complete and launch the new booking platform.
“We’re doing this via crowd funding as many drivers have expressed interest in being a shareholder and we would love nothing more than having thousands of taxi drivers as partners/shareholders in the next phase of cab:app. However, we appreciate how difficult it is financially for everyone involved in the taxi trade so we have set the
minimum investment at £100 so it’s hopefully within reach for any driver that wants to get actively involved.”
The crowd funder launched yesterday and will be open to everyone including drivers, garages, trade organisations, manufacturers, insurance companies, accountants, media companies and family/friends of the taxi community that are supportive of a new driver friendly app.
After this period cab:app aim to open up the opportunity to other investors to kick-start its expansion plans across the UK and Ireland.