Do you want to make a move to automation, but find you’re coming up against resistance? In its simplest sense, automation means managing more work automatically than your existing staff or cost base can handle.
Lots of taxi companies can be uncertain about moving to an automated system: it’s completely understandable. You may have heard stories through your network, or maybe you’re unsure about the costs. And as a business owner, you might be asking yourself why you need to move anyway – you may be perfectly happy with the system you have.
Andy Janes, Senior Project Manager at iCabbi, is sympathetic. “There’s the combination of the smaller the company, the more the limitation you have on cash flow and money to invest,” he acknowledges. “There’s also a fear of failure. You may think, ‘I’ve got 120 cars now. If I change and something goes wrong, I would be down to 80 or 90, and that could really impact on my business’.”
It’s smart to consider all the pros and cons of any move, but it’s also vital to look at the future benefits such a move could bring. Understanding and recognising what automation can help you to achieve is the first step in helping you to get buy-in from the other stakeholders in your business.
From your dispatch operators to drivers and your management team, we’ve outlined five compelling reasons to make the move.
1. Stabilise, reduce costs and free up resources
One of the most significant benefits an automated taxi system can bring is stability for small to medium-sized businesses. “Gaining some system stability and bringing in automation will reduce costings, and it’s all about money when you’re a company of that size,” says Frank Sims, Customer Success Manager at iCabbi.
In smaller businesses, automation frees up resources to focus on other areas. It’s not uncommon for company owners to feel trapped: many have risen through the ranks to get to where they are now, but often to the detriment of their work/life balance.
“A lot of business owners have had the opportunity to be able to back off a bit, look at the business from an external perspective, reassess what they need to do to make sure that it can move forward – which isn’t an opportunity they’ve necessarily had in the past,” Andy Janes says, of the benefits of automation.
Thanks to iCabbi stabilising your operation by freeing up resources, you’ll have time to step back and gain a more precise overview of your business. As Frank points out, “getting the right people to do the right jobs has always been a problem. You can have highly paid people looking after control, rather than developing the business.” Now, you can assess where your staff would be best placed.
2. Upskill and enable your dispatch operators
The staff who are likely to be the most affected by automation are your dispatch operators. But this doesn’t have to be a negative change. “” confirms Andy Janes.
“Previously, business owners relied very heavily on their dispatchers having local knowledge because they were manually dispatching. We’re not going to take away that knowledge from them – that’s still important – but we now need to put dispatchers in a new role whereby they're managing not only the system, but also the office, shifting the main focus away from managing all the drivers. They’re overseeing the system to make sure that there aren’t rogue jobs sitting on it.”
Because it’s cloud-based, it has built-in elasticity to handle any sudden spikes in business throughout the day without strain.
3. Everyone benefits from the positive impacts of automation
There can be scepticism from some business owners when changing systems. You may have already made a move to a partially automated system and only managed 8 percent automation. “It’s a hard barrier to get over because you’ll think this is more of a made-up selling point as opposed to reality,” acknowledges Andy Janes.
But within a week, you should have 30 percent automation. “Within 24 hours, we’ve had users hitting 14 or 16 percent automation, and then they start realising how iCabbi is going to benefit them,” Andy states.
“We had a customer in Edinburgh who installed the system,” says Frank Sims. “They thought that it was all too good to be true. That customer’s words were, ‘you proved me wrong’.”
And this result isn’t an isolated case either.
4. Your financial controller can focus on reducing costs
The single biggest recurring cost in any taxi business is staff. The single biggest benefit of automation is that your system never feels tired, has a bad day or gets sick – it’s there running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, making it an invaluable addition.
“For every single booking that a paid member of staff can take, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) can take three,” Frank points out.
As a result, it’s possible for you to reduce your administrative and dispatch staff numbers while still taking on additional drivers, therefore increasing profit margins. That’s music to your financial controller’s ears.
5. Your drivers will experience the benefits too
You may expect a lot of resistance from this quarter, but that’s not necessarily the case, as automation levels the playing field and removes favouritism.
To help allay potential driver complaints, when a company is transitioning to full automation, iCabbi will often run a pilot scheme whereby sponsors are asked to engage with the drivers they know will be constructive. By bringing drivers with the right attitude into the fold at an early stage, the quality of feedback is greater.
“The core thing drivers look at is that it’s not down to an individual to decide who’s getting a job, and that the system will treat them as fairly as the next driver,” points out Andy.
Another benefit to drivers is the ability to speak directly to the customer, which can save time. Being able to install a soft meter easily is also an attractive proposition, as traditional meter systems were quite costly to have fitted.
These benefits make automation fair for drivers, so everyone – including the customer, driver and controller back in the office – can see what is being charged for each job.
Grow your business fast
Want to expand your opportunities? Then get in touch. 90 percent of iCabbi’s customers have expanded their business within one year of implementing an automated solution. We help taxi companies around the globe achieve higher efficiency and profitability through our automated system. We can do the same for you! Discover the iCabbi product here.