Andrew Pinnington the current CEO of Hailo has today made a statement aimed at the London Taxi Trade (Black Cabs). Hailo have handed back their private hire license and now want to concentrate on the London Taxi Trade.
Now before you stop reading this post in the belief that it will be full of negativity let me make my thoughts perfectly clear! This statement can only be good news for the London Taxi Trade, it is positive and to some extent enforces the fact that Hailo cannot compete against the like of Uber by using Private Hire drivers, it also proves that Hailo were better off when they originally only allowed Black Cabs on the app.
I want to try to take an objective view with regards to this announcement, but by the same token it is an emotive subject, as we know emotions among drivers were running extremely high when it was leaked that Hailo had applied for a Private Hire Operators License, drivers who had been friends for many years no longer speak because they disagreed over one of them remaining on Hailo.
Hailo’s “Back to Black” will give the trade an app that is already familiar to the travelling public, and an app that is already established, has a broad customer base, an app that has a presence around the World and an app with a catchy and simple name.
But, and you should know me by now, there is always a but! I agree that this is good news, but the question is can Hailo be trusted?
Past on the past history of Hailo how do we know that they can be trusted? Yes I watched the Youtube Video from Andrew Pinnington giving his personal assurances, but how long will he be in the position of CEO?
What happens if the Taxi Trade put their trust in Hailo once again and begin to build the business and more passengers start using Hailo. We can see that the use of apps to call for personal transportation is on the increase, we know that the younger generation are more tech savvy and use their personal communication devices to run their life, they are basically lazy and live in the belief that everything should either be delivered to them or come to them without them having to exert any energy.
So the fact is that fares from apps will increase, there is no doubt about that, in contrast street hails will obviously decrease, I am not saying that street hails will disappear as I am genuinely in the belief that there will always be those who prefer to walk out on the street and raise their arm to hail a Taxi, but as the evolution of the trade progresses it is inevitable that app hails will increase and street hails will decrease.
Now if the whole of the London taxi trade backs Hailo and once again builds their business for them as they did when Hailo first launched there may come a time when drivers rely more on the app for work than they do on the street hail to earn their living. This could lead the trade into a very dangerous situation.
Back when Hailo were in favour with the trade we started to see them trying to dictate to the drivers, they believed, incorrectly, that drivers needed them, so what would stop them from taking that stance again, especially if the app were to end up providing drivers with a substantial percentage of their earnings?
We know that certain private hire companies already dictate to their drivers what hours they can work, they penalise them for not working the busy periods, certain companies even remove a driver should their feedback become bad or their rating score drops below a certain figure. If London Taxi drivers come to rely on one prominent app they may well find themselves in a situation similar to that experienced by private hire drivers who rely on app based companies to supply them with work.
So once Hailo’s customer base is once again grown and the London taxi drivers are servicing the app, what is there to stop Hailo from raising the percentage that they take from the drivers for each job? Drivers have no input into the way in which Hailo is run, so the trade would have no input into any decision made by Hailo. Would drivers once again delete the app? Or would they have become so reliant on the work that the app provides them that they would be scared to rock the boat.
Hailo have in past removed drivers from the system who spoke out against their decisions, or who voiced an opinion in public about the way in which Hailo was being run, what is there to stop them from returning to this practice again? What if Hailo become dominant in the market place and you the driver becomes very reliant on the work they provide you, a customer makes a complaint and Hailo decide to deactivate you? What can you do? How will you earn your money?
We have to remember that Hailo’s CEO is ultimately answerable to the shareholders and not the taxi drivers who service the app. The shareholders interest in Hailo is profit and profit is the bottom line. If the CEO does not perform then as we have seen in the past they are removed and replaced with someone who will give the VC’s what they desire. So the CEO’s assurances, however genuine they may be, no matter how sincere or honest he may be, must be taken with a pinch of salt.
So should you go back on Hailo? That is not a decision that I am prepared to make for you. All London Taxi drivers are self employed and as such should consider themselves as small business men and woman, so the choice as to whether you go back on the app or not should be your own educated business decision. A decision based on whether it would be right for you to go back on Hailo as to how it will benefit you as a driver.
Should you decide to go back on Hailo I would ask you to consider one thing! And that is please do not put all of your eggs in one basket, and by that I mean do not service the Hailo app to the detriment of the other apps available for the Black Cab trade, we all know that a virtual monopoly is no good for anyone, especially us the drivers. If we have more than one app that we support it will keep Hailo not heir toes and not allow them to dominate our trade. We do not want to allow ourselves to fall into the trap of allowing one app company to monopolise our trade and ultimately make decisions for us that we have to adhere to as we have become reliant upon the work that they provide for us.
The ideal situation would have been for our trade to own and control its own app, one that we could run and use to the advantage of the trade and the drivers within. As our own app company would not have to make a profit for any VC’s or shareholders all of the profits could have been funnelled back into allowing our own company to run customer promotions which would not have been to the detriment of the driver. We could have offered discount codes and vouchers but the driver could still have been paid the metered fare as the promotions could have been funded from within the surplus made from driver charges. An ideal World!
Its a shame that the many attempts to launch and initiative have failed, its also a massive shame that the current radio circuits within our trade did not have the foresight to shape the business and streamline to compete in todays market place.
Below I have reproduced Hailo’s blog and provided a link the video for those who are not on Hailo’s email database.
Good luck with your decision as to whether you will, or will not, put your faith in Hailo again
Message from Andrew Pinnington, CEO of Hailo:
Since being in charge of Hailo from the beginning of the year, it’s become apparent to me that Hailo and the taxi trade need to be more united to build a stronger future together. To achieve this we have made the decision to resign our private hire licence and return to black cab only in London.
As a company founded by Cabbies, Hailo was made strong by its original connections to the taxi trade and we feel we’ve drifted too far from it. We have consulted extensively with the trade unions who have all backed our decision. We are doing this as its routed in a genuine belief that you, London’s black cab drivers, provide the public with a crucial service.
Together we need to start by exposing the two big pieces of misinformation about the taxi trade: that cabbies don’t like new technology, and that taxis are a dying trade.
Cabbies began using tech before companies like Uber even existed.
We see every single day a million reasons why taxis are here to stay. All cities need transport that doesn’t just give value for money, but one that provides exceptional service, safety, reliability and accessibility. We have to put a value on all of these things, not just a low price. Black cabs are a godsend for people who want to travel home at night safely; people that need a little extra help getting around, such as those with disabilities or mums and dads that need a bit more space for the kids; and businesses that want the most knowledgeable and speedy way to get from A – B. For all of these people, having a thriving sector of the industry that meets their needs is critical. If we allow price and market forces to be the only criteria, it just creates a race to the bottom on who can deliver the cheapest service.
Black cabs offer a safe, accessible, knowledgeable, opinionated, iconic, speedy and world-class service. Who else can match that?
With a joint belief in these benefits, this is why we are making this promise to you today so that, together, we can use tech to empower you to build a thriving 21st century black cab trade through innovation, data and cutting-edge apps.
With your world-class service and our unbeatable technology, together we can win.
At the heart of this is our commitment to go back to black –100% Hackney Carriage. No ifs, no buts, just taxis.
And to prove to you that we mean this, this is what we are committed to now and in the future:
- Hailo will be black cab only
- We will use technology to further reinvent a London icon
- We will Introduce new & improved ways of working with Hailo, including:
- A relaunched FastPay solution, giving you the ability to accept card payments from jobs off the street and those booked through Hailo
- Commission-free periods
- Capped commission structures – details of all of this will follow over the next few months.
- A boost to the Dedicated and Priority programmes, providing more work to our most committed drivers.
- We will stay rooted in our communities – as a British born company we care about the city in which we live in
- We won’t pick and mix on regulations. Rules are rules – they are there to protect the public interest. If we need new ones, we will work with you and regulators to create them.
- We’ll give drivers jobs coming in, jobs all day and jobs going home via an indispensable app
- Continue to make multi-million pound investments in marketing black cabs to get drivers more work
And here are our plans for the trade. We will:
- Campaign at every level of government, every day, not simply to protect your trade, but to help you build your future. We are working with politicians to make them listen to you.
- Continue to work in partnership with trade bodies
- Uphold the unique benefits of the Knowledge
- Have an aspirational vision for London to make all transport 100% accessible, safe, green and reliable – and lead the world on standards, professionalism, and values.
- Win back some of the biggest corporate accounts out there – like American Express, already signed up to our books
With your help we can make all of this happen.
Since we launched in 2011 we’ve raised over $100m investment and put over 10 million passengers on your back seats and will continue to do so today and tomorrow.
We look forward to working together with you on building a better future.