Modern taxi companies need more than a switchboard and an operator. Recently, more vendors have begun offering all-inclusive suites of business software aimed at these organizations. This software can help taxi companies streamline processes, manage their fleets, cut costs and deliver a better experience for their customers.
We wrote this guide to help taxi companies better understand what this software can do for them. Here’s what we’ll cover:
Taxi dispatch software refers to all-inclusive software suites that assist with a wide range of processes involved with running a taxi company. These include:
Most taxi companies are able to do this work with a single platform.
However, it is also possible to use standalone or “best-of-breed” applications instead of an integrated suite. Each approach has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. For one, using different standalone applications can give you more flexibility in tailoring your system to fit your needs. However, you may end up spending considerably more, especially if there are any customizations or custom built integrations required to make that collection of software play nice together.
In general, integrated suites might have less functional depth, though having an “all-in-one” system has its own advantages too. Dealing with one vendor can result in fewer headaches. They can often end up being cheaper, though when it comes time to replace the system, you’ll have to do total overhaul.
One other major consideration to keep in mind is what sort of accounting system your company is using, and whether it will be able to integrate with the taxi dispatch software. While some suites might include accounting modules, many taxi companies will want to continue using their existing accounting system. If that’s the case, be sure to check if the software you are considering purchasing is able to integrate with your accounting system.
Taxi dispatch software is typically deployed one of two ways: cloud-based and on-premise.
Cloud-based software refers to software that can be accessed through a Web browser and is hosted on the software vendor’s servers. Cloud-based software is typically priced as a monthly subscription based on the total number of vehicles in your fleet.
On-premise software refers to software that is installed on the company’s own computers and servers. Typically on-premise software is sold as perpetual license, meaning the company pays one fee up front, usually based on the size of the company or number of vehicles in its fleet. Keep in mind that even with on-premise software, you might still have to pay annual fees for support, maintenance and upgrades.
Most modern taxi dispatch systems offer a wide range of features that can handle more than just simple dispatch activities. Below is a list of functionalities common in many taxi dispatch systems:
|Fleet maintenance||Tracks vehicle maintenance history and notifies users when vehicles are due for routine repairs. User inputs any accidents or damages incurred to maintain a thorough and accurate vehicle history.|
|Dispatch||The core component of most systems. Dispatch assists with receiving and processing customer requests and identifies which driver is closest to the requesting passenger.|
|Passenger app||Passenger-facing apps allow customers to hail a taxi from their smartphone, often providing GPS tracking and notifications for when the taxi is close.|
|Driver app||Driver-facing apps allow drivers to easily receive ride requests and communicate with passengers and the back office.|
|Customer relationship management||Keeps track of taxi companies’ corporate accounts and/or frequent passengers. Can assist with calculating bulk rates for larger accounts and managing customer preferences.|
|GPS tracking||Lets the back office track their taxis’ locations—usually with the assistance of smartphones or GPS tracking devices. Assists with directing the closest available taxi to the requesting passenger.|
|Accounting||While most taxi dispatch systems do not feature full-fledged accounting systems, many offer deep integrations with accounting platforms such as Xero or Quickbooks.|
Taxi software is typically priced through either a subscription or a perpetual license.
Subscription. Typically, subscription licenses are offered on a monthly basis, with pricing based on the number of vehicles in the your fleet. If you’re starting out with a smaller fleet, you can usually add more vehicles to the system later for incremental fees. Most vendors offer their software through a subscription.
Perpetual license. With a perpetual license, you pay an upfront fee, typically based on the current size of your fleet. There may be annual recurring costs for maintenance, support and other upgrades, though you typically won’t have to pay license fees for additional vehicles you add to your fleet.
The advantage of subscription pricing is that your costs will be predictable and stable over a long period of time. However, you may end up paying more in the long run than with a perpetual license.
The explosive popularity of ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, has put greater pressure on traditional taxi companies to improve. It’s no longer enough to just have a phone number customers can call to get a taxi—they want to know how long it will take for the taxi to arrive, who their driver is going to be and what the projected fare will be.
To step up your organization’s game, consider:
Passenger apps. Many vendors offer a customizable passenger app. You can add your organization’s branding and publish on the Android and/or iOS app stores. These are similar to the Lyft and Uber mobile apps in both design and function.
Text confirmations. If a mobile app doesn’t make sense in your market, but you still want to improve the customer experience, consider taxi software that offers text-message confirmations. After a customer requests a cab, they’ll automatically get a text saying when the driver is nearby and/or how long it will take for the driver to arrive.
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