What One Taxi Ride Taught Me About Running A Business
Sometimes, you pick up super important lessons in the most mundane situations.
Would you ever have guessed that a taxi ride could teach you a thing or two about business? Well, a recent taxi ride did indeed teach me something about business.
And it proved to be a valuable lesson. Or, more accurately, it reinforced my beliefs about running a business.
ONE INFURIATING TAXI RIDE. AND ONE RATHER LARGE FARE.
The taxi ride did not get off to a great start.
First, the driver faffed around for a few minutes – while the meter was running. I thought he was plugging in my address in the GPS. Wrong.
Add about $3 to the fare just for that. Thank you very much, sir.
The driver then took a route that no sane person (and indeed no taxi driver I’ve ever had) would take. Especially given my destination.
Add about an extra $10 to the fare.
The fare-squeezing tactics
Then, said driver did his darndest to milk every extra cent out of my already high fare (over $100).
- He consistently drove 5km/h to 30km/h below the speed limit.
- He rode the brakes the whole time (so the speed constantly fluctuated).
- He slowed for red lights so far back that they would have been green by the time he had gotten to them anyway (and thus wouldn’t need to slow down at all).
- He took off from red lights super slowly (my grandmother drives faster than he did).
The driver pretty much employed every trick in the book to squeeze the fare as much as humanly possible. Bar going the wrong way or getting “lost”.
And therein lies the problem with a fare structure based not only on distance but also time.
No wonder Uber has had such success disrupting the industry. It was ripe for it! At least with Uber, you know what your fare is before you get in the car.
Which brings me to what I learnt (or had reinforced) during my infuriating taxi ride home.
THE BUSINESS LESSONS
Now, I knew within five minutes of getting into that cab that the driver was going to squeeze the fare for all it was worth.
Did it make me feel good? Heck no! I was stewing the whole trip home (and now I’m writing a blog post about it!)
That is NOT how you want your clients to feel about your service.
And, is that how you want clients to remember you? Not for your quality work, but because you made them feel angry or ripped off? People remember how you make them feel – it won’t matter how good your work was.
Squeezing every cent is not a viable long-term proposition
Being sneaky and trying to maximise your profits without adding equivalent value for your client is not a winning strategy.
Your clients WILL see through it. And it won’t make them feel good.
Sure, you may get a large fee out of your client for that one project. But can you guarantee they’ll come back to you again and again and again? And what will they say about you to their friends?
Ask yourself: Are you building a business for the long-term or just some short-term profits?
Yes, you want to get paid what you’re worth. But you should factor your value into your pricing to start with. You should have no need of squeezing an extra dollar here or there.
Charging project fees is the way to goWhen you charge by the project, you’re charging for the VALUE of your work . Rather than charging only for your time. It’s always dangerous territory when you put a dollar value only on your time.
That’s why charging per project is much better for you – and your clients. You know you’re getting paid what you’re worth. Because you’re charging for the value of the work you deliver. But best of all, your client knows the full cost upfront – there’ll be no surprises.
If you’re a small business owner, you want to know your costs in advance so you can budget and plan your cash flow. Heck, you want to know that as an owner of any size business.
Sure, there’ll be some projects where you underquote. Just chalk it up to a learning experience. And try your best to make the project a stellar experience for your client – so they’ll come back to you for more!
BE HONEST AND COMMUNICATE
So what’s the ultimate lesson in all of this? I think it’s about honesty and communication.
I don’t know about you, but I always feel so much better if someone is honest with me. Especially if I know it was some hard news to deliver. My respect and appreciation for that person balloons.
I think we all, ultimately, value honesty and transparency. If someone levels with you, even if it’s something you’d rather not hear, at least you know exactly where you stand. And you know they respected you enough to tell the truth.
Early communication is one way you can show your clients you are honest and transparent. Set AND manage expectations. If there’s going to be a delay in the project, let your client know as soon as you know. If you have to go over budget (hey, it can happen), then talk to your client early.Always treat your clients the way you would want to be treated (yeah, that old chestnut!) Think about what you expect and appreciate in your business dealings, and then deliver the same – or better – for your clients.
Ok, that’s enough preaching from me 🙂