For most people looking to become a taxi driver, the common thinking is that you need to apply to your local council for any training required, licences you will need and the fees you have to pay to operate as a taxi.
Things differ though when you become a minicab driver instead. While you will have the fees involved, there’s different elements surrounding the legalities in the way you’re permitted to operate. As one example, when you look at a minicab and a taxi, the one difference you’ll notice is on the roof of the cab. A taxi has a roof light on it. This is used to identify your availability for hire, and customers use this to find someone available for hire.
Private hire cabs, (minicabs) don’t have roof lights.
This is because a minicab has no use for a taxi roof sign. Whether they’re available for hire or on a hire makes no difference.
Only a taxi can be flagged down in the street. A minicab driver can’t pick up random passengers in the street. That will affect the earnings you make.
Taxi drivers can earn more as they can pickup anyone needing transport, whereas a minicab driver has to rely on customers calling and booking their travel arrangements in advance.
For venues, such as nightclubs, theatres, rail stations and restaurants, it’s common to see a taxi driver park somewhere that’s in visual sight of potential customers, increasing their chances of getting a hire.
As a minicab driver, you couldn’t use this form of generating business. You’d need to work with the venues, and arrange for business cards, flyers, or window posters to display your service, and hope that customers use the number to call you for a booking. They won’t be able to walk outside, flag you down, and expect you to take them wherever they’re going.
Effectively, a minicab driver will have higher advertising costs, than a taxi driver would as the taxi roof sign is all the advertising the driver needs to generate business.
There is also a skills difference between a minicab driver and a taxi driver.
A taxi driver is on the meter and the local authority regulates their fares. They can’t alter the fares at their discretion.
A minicab driver has flexibility in fares, as there’s no meter legally required. Quite often, the rates are charged at a fixed fare rate, and not based per mile, although that can differ between different private hire cab firms.
A taxi driver will have knowledge of the area and will take the fastest route possible. The sooner they can drop a hire off and get paid, the faster they can get their roof light back on, ready to pick up their next passenger.
A minicab driver will work to appointments and this is usually going to be with established regular customers. This needs organisational skills to manage time between hires, ensuring that you can be at the destination at the pre-booked time.
People skills are more important to a minicab driver as opposed to a taxi driver, as repeat business is crucial for the private firm. A taxi driver provides a service when it’s needed, whereas a minicab driver continues to provide that service. The continued repeat business is crucial for minicabs, as it will lower the advertising costs, while keeping the telephone ringing with bookings.
While taxis can be booked in advance through a central booking office, a taxi driver can earn from both pre-booked hires and filling the gaps with street pick-ups. A minicab driver doesn’t have that advantage, and relies on customers finding them, rather than them finding passengers.