September brought exciting news to the Reno-Sparks area…we finally have Uber! If you don’t know what Uber is, click here.
It is official! The State of Nevada has finally approved ride sharing companies. We are all thrilled, especially because we have been stuck using two main taxi companies in town that have rude drivers and charge ridiculous rates. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve experienced a few nice cab rides in town but I’ve also experienced some real doozies. My favorite experience was the time the cab driver yelled at me about politics on the drive home because when he asked what I did for a living, I told him the truth that I produced a political talk show. Huge mistake! Then when he finally dropped me off the fair was $50 and he felt he deserved a big tip for driving me across town. The drive took 15 minutes!
Reno is a tourist town. We want visitors to feel comfortable here and have a good time. Every time I take a taxi in Reno I pray that they take better care of the tourists than they do locals. Recently I went to a wine event in downtown Reno. I didn’t want to drive so I hired an Uber vehicle to drop me off and a taxi to take me home. Uber is going to take all the business away from cab companies if they don’t get it together. The ride sharing service is also going to be a big benefit to local tourism, especially when we are targeting millennial generation travelers.
My initial experience with Uber was fantastic. Uber Driver, Spencer, picked us up in a nice clean vehicle. He was friendly and easy to talk to on the short drive downtown. He dropped us off right where we requested and he was grateful when we paid the fare and added a tip.
On the way home that night we decided to take a cab since there were so many in downtown. We had two rude taxi drivers stop to pick us up. Each driver did the same thing. They wouldn’t open the door until we said where we were going. Once we told them we were going to a neighborhood about two miles away they refused to pick us up. It was unbelievable. Finally we walked another block and found another driver to pick us up. We didn’t tell him where we were going until we got into the taxi. This driver was nice but we were so frustrated by the experience that it didn’t really matter. That was the night I really became a big fan of Uber.
If the taxi companies want to compete and not lose business to Uber they need to change their business model. Here are a few things for starters…
1. Get an App! Everyone has one!
2. Make customer service a priority.
3. Institute a new policy that drivers must pick up customers no matter where their requested destination.
4. Invest in the product. To compete with Uber taxi companies will need to buy new vehicles that are more energy efficient.
5. Encourage your drivers to be ambassadors for Reno-Sparks and to be welcoming to customers.
Uber will add a new dynamic to the Reno-Sparks transportation scene. Taxi companies will need to adapt and find a new way to position their company or they will lose lots of customers. The service won’t be everyone, and some will still feel safer taking a traditional taxi, but it will definitely make everyone reconsider the business model.
Have you used Uber yet? Please share your story in the comments.