The company's emphasis is on the dispatch, mobile data, and credit/debit card markets of the taxi industry. In aggregate, these markets are believed to represent potential sales in excess of $119 million as of March 1999. Within these markets, City Taxi will focus on the more lucrative credit/debit card segment. This segment, when introduced into any area has started out slow, but over a three-year period has increased by 20% each year in Maryland and Virginia, and by 25-35% in New York each year.
The company believes that the major future trend in the industry will be complete credit card access for consumers. The International Taxi Livery Association (ITLA) forecasts a very steady growth for the taxi industry in the next four years.
Market Size Statistics:
|Estimated number of U.S. establishments||6,431|
|Number of people employed in this industry||49,005|
|Total annual sales in this industry||$1.34 million|
|Average employees per establishment||12|
|Average sales per establishment||$.3 million|
Customers and Target Markets
City Taxi's focus will be on the credit card market with target customers in the low to mid income range in the Metropolitan San Francisco area. The target customers are motivated to use our services over that of competitors because of the convenience and quality associated with our services.
Customer Buying Criteria
We believe our customers choose our cab service based on the following criteria:
Market 1-Taxi Cabs
This category covers establishments engaged primarily in furnishing passenger transportation by automobiles not operated on regular schedules or between fixed terminals. Taxi cab fleet owners and organizations are included, regardless of whether drivers are hired, rent their cabs, or are otherwise compensated.
In 1990, U.S. consumers spent an estimated $3.17 billion on taxis. That year, approximately 32,600 were employed in the industry as owners, managers, drivers, dispatchers, or mechanics. Since the mid- 1970's, when a trend toward independent contracting among drivers developed, three out of every four drivers became independent contractors licensed through, and renting their vehicles from, the taxi companies. Overall, the U.S. taxi industry consisted of 205,300 vehicles in 1993. Of these, 170,800 were licensed taxis and 16,600 were hired cars, also referred to as executive sedans or liveries. The remainder was minibuses or vans, many of which were wheelchair-accessible for transporting the elderly and disabled.
Organization and Structure
Most taxi companies followed a similar organizational pattern. Managers, sometimes the company owners' ran the business, hired drivers, and performed other administrative duties. Dispatchers took calls and assigned cabs to passenger locations. The position of dispatcher once represented a promotion awarded to experienced cab drivers, whose familiarity with the city best qualified them for the job. However, the increase in computer-based dispatching in the early 1990's prompted cab companies to favor computer skills over specialized knowledge of local geography when filing the dispatcher position.
Regulation of the U.S. taxi industry varied from city to city. While almost all cities had some form of licensing requirements, larger urban areas had the strictest regulations. San Francisco regulations focused on fares charged to customers, with rates assigned to designated zones of the city.
In 1998, 6,342 taxi fleets, consisting of 144,000 cars, were operating in the United States. On a national level, in the early 1990's, taxi's made approximately 2 billion passenger trips a year. Most taxi fleets were small, family-owned businesses or individual partnerships; only 5% were corporations. Almost all operated within a single municipality, and more than half of all taxi companies had fewer than 10 vehicles. In rural areas, companies tended to be extremely small, with 1 to 3 cars available for customers. In cities of 100,000 people, the average fleet size was 20 cars. In urban centers of 200,000 or more people, cab companies retained hundreds of cars and carried more passengers than the multitude of smaller companies combined.
Research and Technology
Although the taxi cab industry was not regarded as demanding in a high degree of technology, several innovations have changed the way businesses operate. Computerized dispatching--in which cabs were tracked by computer and dispatch instructions appeared only to the cab assigned to a call--allowed more efficient assignment of cabs to passengers. Computerization also helped remedy the problem of "fare stealing," in which one driver intercepts a message meant for another and picks up the first driver's fare.
Another development likely to change the industry's focus involved its use of certain radio frequencies. In the late 1980's and early 1990's, with investment in cellular and digital communications skyrocketing, taxi cab companies found themselves in possession of a valuable asset in the form of the broadcast frequencies granted them by the Federal Communications Commission. During this time, the FCC, allowing them only two frequencies in any one area, heavily restricted the cellular telephone industry's use of the airwaves. By the mid-1990's, some cab-related services, such as New Jersey's dispatcher Fleet Call, were in a strong position to become players in the burgeoning telecommunications industry.
Due to increasing decentralization in the industry, few national taxi corporations were in operation in the early 1990's. A few companies, however, many of which were owned by larger holding corporations, had operations that reached beyond the local. Figure 1 shows the industry leaders in the San Francisco area and their share of the market.
Figure 1 Breakdown of Market Share in San Francisco.
Taxi top display is a market from which City Taxi can gain a substantial amount of revenue. This has been shown to be a viable means of advertising for a number of companies and it is used widely. Figure 2 shows the growth in the taxi top display market segment from 1993.
Competitive threats come from existing taxi cab companies in the San Francisco area. Their weaknesses are, however, that they do not have the credit/debit card payment option, and some still use the radio dispatch system. Transportation, Inc. has computer-aided dispatch but no credit card processing capabilities. Capital Cab, Yellow Cab, and Diamond Cab all have radio dispatch with selected drivers accepting credit cards. However, these drivers do not offer in-car processing, approval must be given at the home office.
Taxi Cabs. City Taxi's competitors include existing taxi cab companies that have been operating in the San Francisco area. Specifically, competitors include:
City Taxi's competitive advantage is our cutting edge technology which is unique to the taxi industry in San Francisco. The GPS will enable City Taxi to provide timely service by giving an accurate ETA. The credit/debit card feature will give our customers convenience and privacy during the transaction period.
Maintenance and Repair Services. City Taxi's competitors include the above mentioned companies and general maintenance and repair shops in the area. Some of these operations do not have the capacity to handle a large amount of vehicles. While others may have the capacity, their operations are run in a primitive manner, and City Taxi intends to capitalize on that.
City Taxi's competitive advantages include the availability of space, operations management, and skilled employees.