Over the past year the coronavirus pandemic has significantly reduced the demand for taxis across the globe. UK based fleets have reported volume reductions of around 80% as traditional revenue streams have dried up through lack of socialising and nightlife, no tourism and school closures.
Fleets have needed to be innovative, creative and inspiring in order to keep their heads above water and give their drivers the means to earn an income, albeit reduced, throughout the pandemic. We have seen taxi and private hire companies supporting communities by helping vulnerable residents attend medical appointments and Covid vaccinations as well as delivering supermarket essentials as delivery slots have become hard to come by.
There is a debate to be had over the future of courier work and what role this might have in the industry going forward. Many companies have turned to parcel deliveries and even takeaway deliveries to keep fleets moving. There are, of course, many consideration regarding this type of work. For example, how viable is this work in terms of profitability when you consider the increased insurance premiums for the driver? If the focus has been on takeaway, how will that correlate in the future when pubs, clubs and restaurants open again, meaning drivers will be busy with their core work at the same time that takeaways are traditionally busy?
It is easy to see why this kind of work has been very useful during rolling lockdowns and restrictions as a means to ensuring that drivers and companies are continuing to make money, however, there is a question mark over how this might work going forward. Some fleets are looking to introduce a kind of hybrid model in which traditional taxi business remains the core of business with courier considered an "add-on" to try and reduce downtime for drivers.
Evidently there is a demand for this and companies are seeing parcel deliveries as a segway into different revenue streams to de-risk their businesses. Many dispatch providers are looking to support fleets in managing this kind of work; some are offering additional features available to bolt onto your existing system or third-party delivery platforms that integrate with your existing dispatch.
For many years we have offered seamless parcel delivery functionality as part of a client's existing Sherlock system and during the pandemic, nearly half of our fleets have taken advantage of this. Our courier service is designed to automatically capture relevant information regarding contacts at pick-up and drop-off locations, with the ability to include additional information such as signatures on proof of delivery emails. The driver app also has a stop & wait function to deliver multiple parcels as part of a route. All features are available across all booking channels - web and mobile included - and at no additional cost to our customers.
Regardless of what the future holds and whether courier work is a temporary stopgap for your business or a secondary revenue stream that you want to build on post-Covid, we are here to support you with innovative new features at no extra cost to your business.
Written by Mike Tobin, Business Unit Director, Sherlock Taxi
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