New Zebra Cabs service constitutes fresh investment in metered taxi industry.
SA Taxi, South Africa’s only independent financer of minibus taxis and one of the country’s few certified developmental credit providers, is now revolutionising the metered – or point to point – taxi industry. By including the metered industry in its portfolio through the establishment of the Zebra Cabs brand, SA Taxi is increasing its investment in local transportation in order to create new entrepreneurs.
Zebra is applying to the metered industry SA Taxi’s innovative and very successful minibus taxi business model. It is giving owner-driver entrepreneurs the means to purchase a metered taxi and supporting them in running the small business that arises from such a purchase.
Zebra Cabs leverages SA Taxi’s long-standing relationships with vehicle manufacturers to provide drivers, on a rental or financed basis, with a new vehicle that meets the safety and luxury standards that are now the norm in the global point to point taxi industry. Each vehicle is customised with leather seats and road-mapping systems. Booking apps and mechanisms for handling multiple payment methods, including cash, card, online, and mobile payments, are available.
These advanced facilities enable owner-drivers to interface with multiple booking platforms, including Uber – thereby expanding their reach into the local market and, therefore, their earning potential.
Drivers have the option of an incubation period, which typically runs for a period of six months. In this time, Zebra Cabs puts aside a sufficient proportion of the rental monies to provide financial assistance to the driver in the form of a deposit. This encourages the driver to work towards owning the vehicle rather than being trapped in the kind of endless lease agreements that are currently the case for most in the industry. Specifically, the incubation period empowers drivers to establish a small business that can sustain them and their families.
Additional significant investment by Zebra is designed to empower the industry not only to adapt to the disruption being caused by new and global entrants but also to actively grow. Such investment includes the cost and intellectual property involved in developing apps for the drivers as well as for corporate customers and consumer passengers. Zebra will also establish a driver training academy, for which Seta accreditation will be sought. The academy will equip drivers with customer service skills as well as the knowledge and tools to ensure that they that can start and sustain a small business.
To grow the market for existing and new entrepreneurs equipped in these ways, Zebra Cabs is putting together a dedicated marketing team that will create consumer awareness of the Zebra brand and also develop corporate accounts that drivers can service.
Zebra has begun operations in Gauteng with the acquisition of Cabs for Women, many of whose drivers have not been able to afford the deposit with which to buy their own vehicles. The brand therefore kicks off with empowerment of women.
It will expand into the rest of South Africa city by city.
“The metered taxi industry hasn’t changed the way it operates for decades,” says SA Taxi executive and head of Zebra Cabs, Ana Bonanni. “There are even some companies that still communicate with their drivers using two-way radios.
“So, the industry has been extremely vulnerable to disruption from any offering that provides the agility and responsiveness of digital customer service that the market now takes for granted.
“The industry has also been weakened by the lack of a national brand. Travelers want to know that they’ll get the same experience wherever they are in the country. And they want an experience of at least the same standard as they will get in top tourist destinations.
“Being able to deliver such an experience calls for a standardisation of vehicle and driver quality that is possible only through an investment of time and resources that are focused on improving the industry at large and not just an individual taxi service.
“We believe that Zebra Cabs will shift the metered taxi industry into a more professional space in which Zebra drivers and driver-owners will thrive. In doing so, it will lay the groundwork for the development of an entirely new group of entrepreneurs who will make an ongoing contribution to the economy and create an industry capable of long-term growth.”
Zebra Cabs plans to have 3 000 metered taxi entrepreneurs on the road and in its books by 2020.