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INDUSTRY EXPERT


it we will stumble along being pushed out of the way by more determined, better funded and importantly better led organisations. Organisations that have clear plans, know what they want and have teams of people capable of deliv- ering. This industry really does deserve better and will need better to grow and prosper in a post-Covid world. But hey if your ideal day out is a few chuckles at inept councillor stories and a free buffet – enjoy!


AND IF WE DON’T?


If your concern is that the company down the road is on Autocab and they will flood your town or city with promo codes and put you out of business revert to your plan (surely everyone has a plan about how they will handle new compe- tition?) – it’s not rocket science is it? BUT maybe just maybe a look at what business you are in: generating bookings at one end, to charge radio fees, subs and commission at the other, says you should be talking to lots of demand partners rather than relying on a sexy phone number such as 777777 or 888888. Maybe from a risk perspective do both.


Even if we don’t like stuff, surely it’s sensible to gauge whether it will become reality or not? Take EVs - nobody probably wants to spend more money upgrading their fleet just now, BUT they are coming - so where is our play? How can we be seen as part of the solution? Championing an improved charging infrastructure seems a better place to be focusing than trying to push the EV tide back. After all it is a highly publicised Government policy based on health bene- fits, so is the cab trade’s ‘unfair’ mantra really going to reverse that?


Worker status – do your drivers even want it? Has anyone actually asked them? If so, has anyone spoken to their MP? Why wait for legislation, shouldn’t the industry be using evidence, independently obtained evidence to steer the agenda? What agenda? Good question!


Talk (and it is mainly talk and sabre rattling) of judicial reviews about things that have been legally implemented based on: we don’t like them, they’re unfair (sic), carping and moaning about national strategies, always ready to say no (and sometimes yes one month and no the next) is not going to get you to any important tables, believe me.


I’d also add that not knowing what we really want collectively, as an industry is worse than our lack of professional engage- ment with things that are thrust upon us. Just for the record I am not talking about surveys such as …do you want to earn more money…and taking that as a mandate for policy devel- opment. What is needed to achieve a situation where this industry can grow and prosper, be respected and involved proactively in anything that is likely to adversely impact us? Whatever that body is and however it is formulated, without


AUGUST 2021


This industry needs to look at what has happened and what is likely to happen and think about the impact on its individual businesses and the industry generally in the next ten years if nothing is done to actually get organised and agree with one another about what good looks like. It will be hard work and the outcomes unpredictable and uncertain but who knows maybe there will be some meaningful victories on the way.


By this time next year hopefully this whole ghastly Covid busi- ness will be behind us, people will be travelling and flying again and we will once again sit at our desks and feel like there is a future. But that feeling will be short-lived unless the grow- ing, almost tsunami of challenges is not rationalised and where possible turned to our advantage or at best neutralised.


Likewise, the horizon needs to be scanned and every time kites begin to be flown, each time a new challenge arises they need to be taken seriously, triaged, and analysed for the impact; good, bad and neutral on this industry and a decision made as to how it will be tackled – oppose, align or embrace. In unison we need to have our agenda of issues that we are pushing to retain, amend or introduce. Without that we are impotent spectators and ultimately losers.


Businesses have value, real value but that has to be realised and talking about how well it was doing ten/twenty years ago, or the potential, when things settle down or get back to normal, won’t fund anyone’s retirement.


If we don’t come together as an industry and agree what we can agree on (even competitors in a single town have stuff they can agree on) and across the country the industry has much to agree on, and then actually do something mean- ingful about it, then in fifty years (probably sooner) people will be reading books about how a thriving industry was taken over whilst laughing at stories about how a licensing committee member didn’t know that private hire fares weren’t regulated and how a rank was successfully extend- ed from three to four spaces whilst they wondered what was going to be on the buffet table.


Dr Michael S. Galvin https://mobilityserviceslimited.com


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