We’re thrilled to speak with Eugene Brown, Community Outreach Director for Northern Virginia Checker Cab. As ride sharing grows as a competitor, learn how this taxi company is reaching out to the community.
Tell us about your business.
I am the Community Outreach Director for Northern Virginia Checker Cab. I develop partnerships, with both the Public and Private sector, in order to create transportation funding for: Youth, Disabled, Homeless, Veterans & Elderly. When I am not creating these relationships, I am a driver also. Therefore, there are times I get the opportunity to transport those I am advocating for.
What does a typical day look like?
It depends on my schedule. As Community Outreach Director, I will attend meetings/functions that were already scheduled. As a driver, I am an independent contractor, so I can start and finish at my leisure. Due to that flexibility, I am able to create a better work/life balance.
How many miles do you drive in a typical week?
My miles vary, but I average anywhere from 70-120 miles a day.
Where do you drive as part of your job?
As Community Outreach Director, I drive to meetings/functions throughout the county. However, as a driver, it is open ended. Due to certain partnerships being developed, I primarily focus on driving on the western part of our county. Not only do I get to build a relationship with the passengers in my targeted area, I am also able to inform them with information that may be beneficial to them.
What’s changed since you started using Mile IQ?
Prior to Mile IQ, I had no evidence to support the miles I drive. I would have to rely on my “Daily Manifest”. On this form, you enter the mileage for the start/finish of your shift. There is no way to truly calculate the miles for each fare, without a high percentage of human error. With Mile IQ, the data gathered is more than enough information to support my manifest.
The monthly report, which is generated in PDF format, is amazing! Mile IQ may be the solution many cab drivers are looking for but don’t know exist. I don’t mind being the guinea pig.
What other apps do you recommend to other small business owners?
Due to the nature of our industry, the apps we use are specific to our industry. However, I am always in favor of personal/business/leadership development apps. Improving oneself and your business is a great way to improve on the services rendered to the customer.
What’s the biggest challenge you face running your business?
In most cases, there is a negative perception about cab industry and it’s relationship with its passengers. With the addition of ride sharing businesses like Uber and Lyft, cab companies are seeing the rise in competition and decline in ridership. It is more apparent in major cities.
I believe there is still a chance to build community relationships in sub-urban areas. That is how we address the challenge. We concentrate on the groups that receive support/assistance from the public sector. i.e. Youth, Disabled, Elderly, Homeless, Veterans.
Due to regulations imposed by the Public sector, there are obstacles that the ride-sharing businesses have to overcome, in order to provide support to these groups. As Community Outreach Director, my goal is to show that we are more than just a cab company, that is why I created an initiative called, “We Care About the Basics 4 U or We CAB 4 U”, which is a Public-Private Partnership that provides support to the groups mentioned.
What do you enjoy the most about the kind of work you do?
The passengers! Although I will meet many for about 5-15 minutes, many are quite open to discuss personal things with me. I truly can say I experience, “taxicab confessions”. Being able to lend an ear, then give honest feedback is rewarding for me and appreciated by the passenger.
What tip would you share with other business owners?
Know your market and your competition. Sometimes, your competition can be an asset. Knowing your market and how your business can fill a void is paramount, especially if you are the one introducing the problem and have the solution.
If you want to scale as a business, get feedback from the client, as well as the employee. Their time/money isn’t as invested in the business as you are. They see the business from a different set of lenses. Through their input, you will be able to improve on your strengths and recognizing your weaknesses. Remember, there is no “I” in Team, but we need “U” to create Us.
Where can people learn more about your business?
MileIQ’s blog does not constitute professional tax advice. You should contact your own tax professional to discuss your situation.