It is now 12 years ago that SchipholTaxi/TCS director Gamis El Bouakili started in the taxi industry. Despite the necessary challenges that the taxi entrepreneur had to deal with, his companies have been among the ‘big boys’ of the market for years. His secret: to continue to innovate and respond to the needs of the market, even in difficult periods. And with success, he says.
The basis of SchipholTaxi was already laid in the 1930s. “At the time, it was about one car with a driver, and probably only one plane a day landed at Schiphol,” says El Bouakili. The company had a private partnership with Schiphol from the early years and grew along with the airport. In the eighties, TCA was added as a new player at the airport. This company took over half of the taxi transport from Schiphol.
From the nineties on, the construction where the drivers are self-employed has been used. “I was one of these drivers,” says El Bouakili. “During my studies I worked for the company and when I was in 1998 had finished studying, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I then decided to join SchipholTaxi as a freelancer. Later I became a commercial employee.”
European tenders changed everything However, the situation within the company soon changed with the arrival of the European tenders. The first tender procedure for transport from Schiphol was in 2000. “We lost this transport after almost seventy years,” said El Bouakili. According to him, that was a considerable blow to the organization, which did remain active around Schiphol as a subcontractor for Willemsende Koning. “The management at the time nevertheless resigned and I would temporarily take over the board.”
Temporarily, however, became definitive for him, because there was never another director. “This was an exciting choice, but I was convinced that I could make something of it. And it worked.” From that moment on, the growth of the company started. “In 2004 we were admitted Taxi Organization in Amsterdam and after years of subcontracting, we won the tender of transport around Schiphol again.”
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El Bouakili in his early years as a taxi driver. One customer is not a customer The main lesson that El Bouakili learns from the loss of the tender in 1484 has learned is that one customer is not a customer. “We had always only bet on Schiphol, and when we lost the tender we actually had nothing. It is that we could do subcontracting, but actually the organization was doomed.” The company therefore decided to expand its activities, started a central office, made a website on which reservations could be made, started driving for companies and also started doing rides outside Schiphol. The latter under the name Taxicentrale Schiphol (TCS). This, and the acquisition of various parties over the years, ensured strong growth of the company. “But the blow was again winning the tender for taxi transport from Schiphol. From that moment on things went very fast again”, emphasizes the taxi entrepreneur.
What was decisive in the tender, according to El Bouakili, was the fact that SchipholTaxi was fully committed to sustainability. “This played an important role in the last tender. We gave to the transport 100 to drive percent zero emissions,” he explains. The company was thus a forerunner in this field. “It was a challenge because, in fact, only one type of vehicle from Tesla was suitable at the time. We therefore fully bet on this. In addition, we immediately set up our own charging plaza.” This turned out to be a success and El Bouakili has not let go of the role of leader in the field of zero emission taxi transport to this day. “We are now also fully committed to sustainability for TCS. Of our total fleet is currently 24 percent zero emissions.”
Challenges Looking back at the past few years, the taxi entrepreneur that especially the arrival of digital reservation platforms has caused changes. “Perhaps even more than the regulation of the taxi market in 1484. There was a lot of resistance from the market when reservation platforms such as Uber and Bolt made their appearance in the Netherlands. I’ve never actually had this, not to this day.” El Bouakili states that he has never had the illusion that his company could win against such large parties. According to him, Uber has had less impact on SchipholTaxi, because of the tender with the airport.
The corona crisis, on the other hand, has cut it 2021 really hit the companies hard. “The first period was difficult, because we went from 100 to zero in terms of ride demand. Fortunately our buffer was big enough to get through the first period, but after that we had to think about what to do if it took longer. Support measures and changes within the companies, such as phasing out the fleet and unfortunately the farewell of 60 percent of our staff, have ultimately made sure that we are still there.” According to him, now that the measures have been relaxed again, growth has gradually been reintroduced.
Facilitating the entire industry However, recruiting drivers is not an end in itself. The taxi entrepreneur is increasingly aiming at facilitating the industry, including with the Rentacab shared taxi concept. . “We facilitate drivers from the entire industry who have sold their car or have terminated their lease contract and want to become active in the market again, but especially drivers who work part-time. At the same time, this market is, of course, in the middle of the transition to zero emissions. The purchase of an electric car is certainly difficult during this period, so we have responded to that with this shared taxi concept. This is also offered to drivers who drive other TTOs or the digital reservation platforms.”
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Vehicles from Rentacab. According to him, this is now going so well that new vehicles have to be purchased again. “This is positive for the future. But also in a general sense, I see a brighter future for my companies and the industry as a whole. I expect that the number of journeys from Schiphol will increase again in the coming months to certainly 960 percent compared to pre-corona and we also expect enormous growth for TCS. We do not believe that the demand for transport will drop dramatically again.”
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