Just as individuals are choosing Uber or Lyft to save money, so are companies looking to the ride-share providers to save on black car service.
Uber and Lyft offer their own versions of black car services for a lower price, but at the expense of some important services and guarantees. With ride-sharing businesses, you may not always know what—or whom—you are getting.
First, some background information on executive black car service, including the new ride-sharing options.
Professional black car service providers
Executive transportation is a private conveyance, several steps above the average taxi or ride-sharing service. Rides are scheduled in advance through a dispatcher. A trained and vetted professional who is aware of the “ins and outs” of the city does the driving, usually wearing a professional uniform. The vehicle is of a certain class, kept clean and well-maintained, inside and out. Your business is generally assigned a representative who is your point of contact should a problem arise.
“A real black car service features professional, polite, well-groomed and well-trained chauffeurs who go out of their way to make sure you have the safest and most comfortable ride possible. Furthermore, chauffeurs know the city, have access to all the most up-to-date information and conditions, and are able to consistently get you to your destination on time.”
– Dave Cottrell
Uber started as an app to request premium black cars in a few metropolitan areas. While today Uber has become known and used primarily as a taxi cab alternative, Uber Black is the premium service option that uses professional drivers or chauffeurs driving luxury vehicles. Drivers must have commercial registration, insurance and airport registration. They must drive newer, high-end sedans or SUVs, like Audi, Mercedes Benz E class or Lexus GX or LX, with a black interior and exterior. The service is currently available in big cities like New York City, Los Angeles and Miami.
Lyft Lux is Lyft’s black car service for what the website describes as “passengers who want to pay a little more for a nicer ride” It’s available in most major cities like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Miami and Las Vegas. Similar to Uber Black, drivers are required to have a newer, luxury model sedan or SUV such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz or Range Rover that’s black with a leather or leather-like interior.
The downside to ride-share apps for executive black car service
Law firms and corporations have become accustomed to employees using Uber or Lyft in place of a taxi, and some may even encourage it. Ride-share services can be a legitimate way to save on some ground transportation costs; however, it’s important for businesses to understand the potential risks and concerns, particularly for ongoing black car service.
One of the primary factors to remember is that neither Uber nor Lyft insure passengers or passengers’ belongings in case of an accident or theft. Considering that executives and attorneys are carrying mission-critical and confidential information, on paper and/or in electronic format, potential risk and loss goes far beyond the replacement cost of say a laptop computer.
Lack of consistency can be an issue. Executives accustomed to having black car service at their disposal are also accustomed to a certain kind of driver, someone they know they can trust. With ride-sharing, they really have no way of knowing who the driver will be or if they can get the same driver every trip.
While all ride-sharing services do require their drivers to have proof of identification, automobile insurance and a valid driver’s license, Uber and Lyft do not perform the same, extensive background checks as professional black car / livery / limousine businesses.
Other black car service considerations
When looking at Uber or Lyft for black car service, it’s important to note the following:
- Neither Uber nor Lyft are regulated or licensed in many cities.
- Rides may be canceled without notice and service may be unreliable, especially during big events or at busy times. One of the huge benefits of traditional black car is knowing that your booking will be honored, no matter what time it is or any other circumstances.
- Additional surcharges may be tacked on in some instances.
- They are known to increase prices during peak, prime-time hours, resulting in a trip cost that could be significantly more than you expect, whereas black car companies offer fixed rates—no bump-up in price because the big game is in town that night.
- Limited or no liability in the event of theft, loss or other damages, and options to file complaints and have them addressed in a timely fashion are limited.
- They don’t have or they poorly monitor their standards for the vehicle’s interior and exterior cleanliness, and the appearance and demeanor of the driver.
But perhaps the most important consideration to remember is this:
When you turn to ride-share apps for black car service, you are not truly dealing with a business entity that you can hold accountable—you are dealing with a large and diverse group of independent contractors. Uber and Lyft are simply technology platforms that connect drivers with riders. They offer no underlying foundation or framework for a critical facility spend category in many corporations and law firms.
The savings may look attractive and the luxury models and other trappings may look the same, but over time, those savings may not add-up. The potential risk may not be worth it. Businesses and law firms must consider security, privacy and safety—not only of key personnel, but of confidential business information as those ride times are often used to conduct important business.
The best black car companies have stepped up their game by creating and using back-end technologies that enable:
- Limo ride reservation via apps, phone, email or website and payment through the app or a corporate summary payment.
- The black car driver to know when your plane is landing or if it is delayed.
- Sending a message with the name and arrival time of the driver.
Black car firms can also weave in the preferences of each executive or guest, such as requesting a specific driver or a certain type of coffee or bottled water waiting for them in the car. Riders can specify certain routes, with real-time input from the driver about weather and traffic patterns. Along with individual executive rider preferences, the black car companies also handle company preferences, such as required billing information.
We’re not in the black car / chauffeured limousine service, but we do know how critical that service is to some of our clients. With our spend management expertise, they don’t have to choose between professional black car services or ride-sharing apps like Uber Black to save money. By monitoring the billing data on what they spend on black car service and comparing it to data we have about the marketplace for similar-sized companies, we know if they’re getting a good deal or not.
Our mission is to obtain the best pricing and terms for you from only reliable, qualified vendors, and we negotiate a program that works for your financial objectives and budget. That way, you can use the best black car service for your needs, without cutting quality, safety and reliability—or harming your bottom line.