Focus your idea
For then, it is then much easier scale up. Gupta got AC Nielsen to survey customers and black-and-yellow taxi drivers across the city to understand the market. After that, he met with Accenture to create a business plan.
Collect the funds
If you are starting a transport service, you will have to invest in buying and maintaining vehicles, and paying drivers, field engineers and back office staff. The government stopped issuing new permits in 1997, many drivers' permits have lapsed. A renewal costs between Rs 30,000 and Rs 1 lakh, and the transport office has almost 1,000 requests for licence renewals from private players.
Think about the worst-case scenario
You need to project the obstacles. "Sixty per cent of our drivers came in with dead permits. Between July 2006 and October 2006 our requests for permit renewal were lying with the RTO. This delayed our expansion process," says Sabnis.
Choose staff carefully
One of customers' main complaints of the yellow-and-black taxis is rude driver behaviour. So you must ensure that the customer feels at ease with the driver. Meru, for instance, hired less than one per cent of the 1,500 drivers that applied. All went through an interview and a psychometric test. The chosen ones were put through a five-day training programme.
Invest in technology
Advanced technology is essential for seamless functioning of round -the-clock businesses operating over large areas. Both Meru and Gold cabs are fitted with a global positioning system and a mobile communication device, which flashes the appointment time and the client location to the driver on a screen located within the vehicle.
This is key. You have to learn to do it consciously. Both Meru and Gold offer 24-hour -booking facilities and services. The Gold Cab service has also introduced a customer mile system, similar to frequent flyer miles, which entitles regular customers to fare reductions.
Treat your staff well
While Meru is focusing on expanding its fleet from 1,600 to 2,000 by 2008-end, it's also working on a health insurance scheme, driver family programmes and a school for drivers' children to woo applicants.