There’s been a small taxi driver who has been getting a lot of press today on everything from the Huffington Post, to NPR about his novel business idea. Since June, Recession Ride Taxi has been picking up riders and letting them pay what they want. No strings attached. They also have a small cooler in the car where patrons can grab a cold beverage – again, paying whatever they want. Oh, and they have punch cards. Every 7th ride is free.
So how is this working out? Eric Hagen, who is the taxi operator, says he’s never been shortchanged. Of course, people have had a lot of questions, but things have picked up considerably after a quiet couple of weeks. According to the article in the Burlington Free Press, Hagen used to work at the NY Stock exchange and that experience made him look for a different way to do business.
At first I thought it was just a cool and different business idea, and a little gimmicky. But Hagen insists that empowering the consumer to make a decision on cost has created a system that leaves customers feel valued and is profitable. I agree. But I think what this is really about is trust and the building of relationships. He trusts that if given quality service, customers will recognize this and compensate him fairly (interestingly enough, Chris Brogan had a similar experience recently). Eric is a Trust Agent. And trust scales. Trust spreads. And trust is based on relationships. With both parties vested in providing value to the other, I’d argue that this has the potential to create a much more loyal customer base. It creates evangelists, if only out of the initial curiousity.
Anyway, cool story, cool concept and I hope it works out for Eric. Well done.
So, do you think this is a sustainable business model? More importantly when was the last time a business melted your face with their service and earned your trust? I want to know. Show some love and leave a comment.