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March 15, 2010

Public Relations: Taxis Must Get On The Bus Or Face Extinction

Public relations disaster imminent for the Taxi Industry.

Taxi drivers withdrew their services today because they weren't consulted on the roll-out of the latest phase of Johannesburg's Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT). (Like there hasn't been enough consultation? How long must the government kiss up to the taxi industry)?

This left thousands of commuters stranded.

It is becoming a public relations disaster for the taxi industry. They're making enemies left right and centre – customers, government and the police. It is just a matter of time before the whip is going to be cracked and the taxi industry is going to come off second best – even if it is through rubber bullets and jack boots. And, of course, a mass exodus of their traditional and can I add, reluctant customers.

Taxi drivers are becoming their own worst enemies because they're alienating their customers. Before BRT they could do what they wanted because there wasn't a viable alternative. So, customers had to put up with rude taxi drivers, unsafe taxis and long queues.

BRT has eroded that advantage. (This is probably why the taxi operators are resorting to delaying tactics). It is inevitable that BRT will become a serious player in the transport of commuters. The quicker the taxi industry realises this and embraces the change, the better it will be for it. Rather become a partner than an enemy.

The way it's carrying on now is only going to cost the taxi industry the hearts and minds of its customers. Many of its traditional customers are waiting for any opportunity to jump ship (or taxi) to a safer, cheaper and more viable option.

The taxi industry is giving its customers plenty of reasons to move. The primary reason is that it is affecting their back pockets. If workers don't pitch for work, they don't get paid in many instances. This has got to hurt.

If cool heads don't prevail and the taxi industry doesn't come to the party and participate, it could be the death knell for it. Because customers only stand for so much and will move if they're given a better alternative.

Taxi owners take note: Get on the bus or get ready to face extinction.

Business Generator, Jacques de Villiers is a motivational speaker specialising in sales, marketing and public relations.

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