Travellers have many choices for transportation to and from airports in major cities. Depending on their preference, they can choose public transportation, taxi services, rental cars or limousines. The family minivan could be your opportunity to break into this fast-paced, busy market. Besides serving as the family's mode of transportation, it can generate income for the family as a vehicle for getting travellers where they need to go.
Determine the extent of the services you plan to offer. Decide if you will be simply a pickup and drop-off service or if you are willing to make additional trips for passengers, such as being their personal driver for a number of hours or for the day. Consult with taxi drivers and dispatchers about the business aspects of a taxi service.
Apply for a chauffeur's license. Michigan, for example, requires a chauffeur's license for those who "operate a motor vehicle as a carrier of passengers or as a common or contract carrier of property." Licenses in Michigan cost £22 to £32 and require a written test. In your state this license may be called another name, such as taxi driver's license or transport license. Contact a representative from your department of motor vehicles or secretary of state. Fees and renewal requirements vary by state.
Study the chauffeur's guide or passenger transport guide provided by your Department of Motor Vehicles. Take the written test. If you don't have a current driver's license, you may also be required to take a driving test.
Register your business with the secretary of state. You may also have to register with city authorities, depending on your location. Fees vary from state to state and from city to city. They can be as low as £16 or as high as £650. Check with your state government on renewal frequency and whether fees have to be paid annually or are one-time fees.
Apply for a license from the airport in which you will operate. Request an application from its administrative offices. Sign an agreement with airport officials before you just start showing up to pick people up.
Get the minivan inspected to make sure it is fit for transporting people. Perform a diagnostic check on the engine to ensure that it can take the wear and tear of additional use.
Wash and wax the van. Shampoo the interior carpets or a hire an auto detailing service to do it for you.
Give your van a dual purpose by turning it into a mobile billboard as well as a transport taxi. Buy a car sign with your business name and contact number to place on each side of the door. In the book "Supersize Your Small Business Profits!" Frank T. Kasunic writes, "Signs are, without question, your most effective and least expensive way to advertise your business. Signs advertise your business to the mobile public 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and they never call in sick or take a vacation." Shop around for printers of car door magnets or vinyl signs. Compare rates and samples of previous work.
Get a dedicated phone line for your taxi service. Digital phone services can issue you an easy-to-remember toll-free number and have all calls forwarded to your cell phone for as little as £6.40 a month. Shop around for deals.
Keep a regular schedule. Show up at the airport at peak travel times if possible. Drive carefully and get the passengers to their destinations in a timely manner in order to get back to pick up the next fare.
- Your Michigan Chauffeur License
- "Supersize Your Small Business Profits!: How to Survive the Current Recession"; Frank T. Kasunic; 2009.
- "Taxi!: Urban Economies and the Social and Transport Impacts of the Taxicab"; James Cooper; 2010.