These days ask anyone, and they will tell you Uber is all the rage. At least, they will say that if they don’t work for the cab company. Talk to a cabbie about Uber, and you are liable to get slammed with a string of four-letter expletives that would make a Parris Island Drill Instructor blush.
And that’s not just happening here stateside. The shadow of Uber is being felt even across the pond in Jolly Ol’ England. According to the BBC, official figures show the number of people interested in becoming a London taxi driver continues to fall. Market watchdogs are saying this may signal the beginning of the end for the traditional London black cab, and, of course, everyone is blaming Uber.
Some experts are calling Uber the biggest challenge to the cab trade in at least three centuries. Yes, you read that right: THREE CENTURIES.
Clearly, this is something cabbies need to take seriously. But how can they? How can cabs compete with “new” and “price” and “convenience” and “control” – just some of the selling points repeated by stalwart Uber fans?
If they try leading with tradition, they are likely to quickly learn just how much of a non-starter that “benefit” is. Sure, Londoners and tourists love to see the “traditional” black cabs out there on the roads. But, there was a time when horseless carriages were new and interesting. People lamented the loss of elegant horse-drawn carts then too…and we all see how many of those are still around.
While it appears, Uber is on the rise this does not mean traditional cabs—either in the US or in the UK—are on the way out. The “old” must have someone devise a marketing and PR campaign that will maintain their current client base while showing potential customers why they are better than the new kid on the block.
To make this happen, cabbies will have to do something they haven’t had to do in the past. They will have to compete. Transitioning from a market monopoly to a highly competitive market overnight is a tough order, and it requires a very specific targeted PR campaign. The longer “traditional” cab companies complain, sue and argue, the harder that job will be.