Wednesday, September 10, 2014

#EasyTaxiEverywhere: An Interview with Easy Taxi Global Executives Joon Chan and Daniel Torres

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Easy Taxi has been around for more than a year already yet it has not been as grandeur as its competition when it comes to promotional gimmicks, campaigns and event launches. In fact even its office located at the Angelus Plaza in Makati was as simple as it can possibly be.

Why? Because it concentrated more on making the taxi booking experience as convenient and seamless as possible so it has focused more of its funding on improving their services by offering better packages for its drivers. These involve training programs, recognitions and rewards for its taxi fleet to make them more informed and responsive of the needs of the commuters.

The company already operates in 37 countries making them the biggest taxi booking mobile app company in the world. For the month of August, it was reported that the Philippine operations were on top of all the other Easy Taxi operations globally. This clearly states that they are very much welcomed as a mobile app service by the Filipinos whose population is already getting more comfortable in using the new technology.

A visit at their office to interview two of their global executives namely Regional Managing Director (SEA) Joon Chan and CEO/Country Manager (Philippines) Daniel Torres, we learned more about Easy Taxi and their honorable goal - to offer safety and convenience in riding taxis - Easy Taxi Everywhere!

Daniel runs the operations in the Philippines and has been its CEO for six months. He makes sure they acquire and train drivers for Manila and Cebu. They find taxi cabs that will offer safety and convenience to their customers.

Joon's function is more like of a visionary and strategic role for the whole Southeast Asia. He makes sure that at the end of the day that their mission and vision are met. He's actually homeless right now since he is jumping form one country to another "I am homeless. I don't have a home anymore. I used to be based in Malaysia before I moved up to become the Regional Manager and now I just spend two weeks over here, two weeks over there, two weeks over there. That's it." He calls himself a nomad, of which in the Philippines they would call him an "NPA" which is short for "No Permanent Address."

Easy Taxi doesn't normally want to talk about their competition but "In any business that has a competition in a very competitive landscape, it's not about how we are better than the competition, I think the only way to win this is to keep focus in your business. How we can just do it the best we can....and the rest takes care of itself. I make no distinction on what they are doing or what we are doing here. I just want my team, I just want everyone here I want my drivers, I want our customers to know that we are doing our best, we are working the best we can, every single day, to be who we are.That's it. That's all we care about" says Joon.

Easy Taxi is here to change taxi drivers' lives. They are here to change how people utilize this mode of transportation. In the long run, they are here "to change how people get their things, the physical things on demand."

Joon said that they currently have the biggest when asked about the number of fleets they have in the Philippines. "We have also partnered up with the biggest fleets in both Manila and Cebu like R& E, the biggest and most recognized taxi fleet in Manila, and Sun Taxi, Juscar, WorldWide and Saregen which are all very recognized in Cebu as well" added Daniel.

However, it is not about the fleet partnerships that's important. "They can partner with fleets, we can partner with fleets but its really all about what we can achieve from these fleets. What we have successfully done is convince the fleets that we will be first. Our service does not make the public pay anything more than they should" says Joon.

Though they initially had a booking fee when they entered the country because they were just trying to match what was existing, they realized that it was not the right way to do it because "in the long term, our goal is to be the only way people get taxis - the most efficient way - and it doesn't work when there's an actual cost on top" says Joon. "It is not about quantity, we have more by the way, but its is also about how we work between partnerships. Are we aligned on a long-term goal between partnerships, not just for the quick buck." he added.

From what was also said, it was only in the Philippines where there was a booking fee added to the standard fare. True enough, other commuters may find that a bit off their budget especially when we know that there is already a flag-down rate of P40 added to our taxi fare. Does this mean that the Easy Taxi no booking fee promo that was extended until October 4 could be extended for a lifetime already (meaning no more booking fees) based from the statement of Joon? This would be something to look forward to.

For those commuters who are not tech-savvy or don't have the mobile app installed on their phones, they have spots in some malls that allow their staff to book Easy Taxi cabs for them especially now that they also partnered with MegaWorld, where there are concierge locations in Venice Piazza, Lucky Chinatown and Eastwood where commuters can ask for help in booking taxi cabs.

For issues of safety, Daniel said "We are very strict with our screening process. Part of our deal with (taxi) operators is to help us screen the best drivers. We screen drivers based on the length of time they have been working with the fleet, the criminal records, documents up-to-date, and that they have regular shift with the same car because one of the benefits that you get with  Easy Taxi is that when you as a passenger has been accepted by a driver, you can see all the information from the driver. You see a picture of his face, you see a name, phone number, the license plate (number), the car model, and you can also see the car (location) in real time."

I've also seen from their Facebook page that Easy Taxi has been recognizing taxi drivers that have returned items left by passengers. The act is a great motivation and incentive for our drivers to keep on doing the right thing as it will eventually become more heroic for them to be identified as honest drivers. We need more heroes out there who are doing little acts of heroism.

"Believe it or not, for every dollar we raise, 80 cents goes back to the driver." says Joon. The 80 percent of the funds are reinvested in the drivers phones and other equipment when they come aboard. Most of it are also spent on their sales force out there that are everyday talking to the drivers, building relationships and teaching them how to improve themselves. "The more you invest on your assets (the drivers), the better they become." adds Joon. "If you are an entrepreneur, would you invest on the things that makes sense to the business or would you invest on a nice chair?" he further adds when he mentioned about the Easy Taxi office containing only the basic and most economical necessities.

Easy Taxi also gets the best feedback from the local people. They get it from the people who requested for the Easy Taxi service, and from the drivers themselves. You can read all about the experiences from their Facebook page or from the tweets and status messages of the passengers.

"The question of where we are right now versus the rest is quite irrelevant because what matters is where we will be." says Joon feeling confident that there will soon be an "Easy Taxi Everywhere!"

"I think our vision is pretty clear. All we want to do is to improve the transportation system. Our entire focus is making sure people find a reliable and safe taxi ride. We want to make sure that a city as big as Manila and as complicated as it seem, we are gonna work really hard to make sure every single person and every single driver find a benefit in our service - says Daniel as his parting words

Joon on the other hand has recognized some of the shortcomings of the taxi booking app company and asked the users to be a little more forgiving when they find times that they could not hail a taxi using their app. "In any new company there are hiccups before it becomes perfect .... if you're patient with us, you're gonna make a lot of lives better in the future."

In my case I've also encountered several times when I find it impossible to get a taxi especially during the peak hours of the day or when it is raining so hard that all people seem to be struggling to find a cab, but I kept the mobile app, and soon enough there came the day when I finally had my first Easy Taxi experience.

I'm sure the rest of my bloggers friends would agree that the service provided by Easy taxi is very helpful for many. We are glad that there are visionary entrepreneurs out there that came up with the. I guess the proliferation of mobile apps has gone viral because of the popularity of affordable smartphones and Internet access. This is a sign that everyone is now going going to the path of digital and online transactions.

So what are you waiting for? Do not be left behind. Use technology to your advantage and book an Easy Taxi cab now!


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