Found Money In A Taxi
I am always amazed how universal the concepts of maximizing financial results are. Just when I think I’ve found a business where they may not apply – I’m pleasantly surprised.
And that’s exactly what happened during my cab ride from downtown Orlando to the airport recently.
I got in the cab, and as always, started chatting with the driver about general business – thinks like “is he busy these days”, “how long has he been driving”, and so on.
Very soon in the conversation the driver absolutely started talking about how he had moved there within the last few years from back east. And then he proudly began to tell me how much he loved driving, and how much more in control of his financial results he was now, compared to when he was working as an employee at one of the theme parks.
The first thing he went on to tell me was how he absolutely refuses to waste any of his time. For example, he told me how after he dropped me off at the airport he wasn’t going to wait around for a fare back from the airport. He explained how the time he spent waiting in line with all the other cabs for a fare meant he wasn’t earning enough for his time.
Rather, he explained, he would leave the airport and start heading back downtown. Based on his experiences and observations, he knew he would be able to pick up several fares in the same time he would have sat idle waiting for a return fare at the airport.
And he knew his numbers because he gave me the average fare he would make using his approach and how many such fares he expected. And then he compared that to the time he would have wasted waiting at the airport and the average fare from there.
At that point, I made the comment that he probably had his favorite hotels to go for pickups. That was true, he agreed. But then he floored me again when he said that, even when he received a call from certain hotels, he absolutely refused to make pickups there.
Naturally I assumed that he was referring to some of the nastier hotels where he didn’t want to risk an unpleasant fare. But he was quick to correct me. He explained that the ones he was talking about refusing to pickup from were some of the higher end hotels.
So I asked him to explain his reasoning.
He told me that, in his experience, some of the higher end hotels had arrangements with particular cab companies and particular drivers. This meant that these “chosen drivers” could come by the hotel whenever they wanted, and the hotel attendant would wave them to the front of the line even when there were other cabs already waiting to make a pickup from that hotel.
My driver said that many times in the past he had responded to a call for a pickup at such a hotel only to discover that by the time he got there the fare had already been scooped by one of the “chosen drivers” of that hotel. The result was that he would have wasted his time and gas plus the chance to earn other fares.
So, he summarized, even though the fares from some of those hotels could be rather large (i.e. often out to the airport), he had found that they simply weren’t a good use of his time.
By now I was impressed.
The cab driver was applying sound business principles to increase his financial results by doing two things that I always talk about:
1. He was considering his Return on Investment (ROI) taking into account not just his revenue, but how much time was required to be invested to earn that revenue (i.e. big fares from the airport, but not such a good ROI when he factored in the time spent waiting in the taxi queue); and
2. He was analyzing his customers objectively, and had the courage to realize that the “best” customers were actually among his worst ones (i.e. despite the potential of large fares from some of the high end hotels, the way they favored some cab drivers meant he wasn’t earning a solid return when he considered his ROI).
And then, I started asking him about his family.
And this is where he impressed me the most.
He talked about how much fun he had spending time with his family. And then he told me that his goal was to make a certain amount each week from driving his cab (he even told me what that amount was). Once he reached his goal he stopped working and spent the rest of the week relaxing and spending time with his wife and kids.
If he had to work 6 days to get there one week, he did. But usually he reached his target after 4 days (sometimes even within 3 days). Clearly he had determined the financial result he wanted from his business (and running a cab as an independent contractor is definitely a business). And he had found a way to use his business to serve his Dream Lifestyle.
Just about then, we arrived at the airport. He jumped out of the cab with me, grabbed my suitcase out of the back of the car and shook my hand. Then he jumped back in and raced away from the airport. Raced away to create a specific financial result that would serve him, and his Dream Lifestyle.
And I smiled in admiration at both the driver, and the way the fundamentals of creating specific financial results once again proved to be applicable – no matter what type of business you may be in.
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