Today’s guest post is written by Lisa Gerber

My first real job in the PR industry was working with downtown Seattle retailers assisting them with cooperative branding and marketing initiatives.

Right away, I noticed two types of business owners: The type who are passionate about their business and curious about how to apply new ideas to their models; and the victims, who blame outside sources for everything. They looked to their landlord and their neighborhood association to bring them traffic.

To the latter, I wish I could have said then, what I’m about to say now: You shouldn’t be in business. 

That same category of business owner takes a similar perspective with online tools for marketing. “I don’t have time to be on in front of the computer. It takes away from everything I else I need to be doing.” Or “My customer isn’t on Twitter.”

That’s one of the reasons I love Chicago Cabbie as much as I do. It’s frustrating to see lackluster businesses and much more fun to work with people who care.

David Lasker told me about @chicagocabbie when I was complaining this summer about how Chicago cabs notoriously make it a huge PITA to pay with a credit card. Even though they are required by law to accept them, they don’t like paying the fees, so they make it terribly inconvenient by claiming the machine is broken and taking forever to run it manually.

I was actually texting with David while waiting for my transaction to complete.

Chicago Cabbie is Rashid Temuri and has two pretty clear messages:

  • He provides excellent customer service.
  • He happily accepts credit cards.

Well, there’s a thought: By happily accepting credit cards he’s probably paying more in fees but he has an increased volume of sales.

Rashid explained to me that the cab business is very inconsistent and unpredictable (no different than any other business, he adds). So, he’s taken what control he can, and implemented a solid digital plan with a simple website as its hub.

  • Twitter: Customers can @ or DM him for an immediate pickup or to schedule. His tweets show his current location. Rashid starts every morning with a good morning and his location, offering to take you for a ride and pay with credit card. From time to time, he posts deals and shares traffic alerts. And he engages with customers.
  • iCal Invites: This is sweet. He sends an iCal invite when you schedule a pick-up.
  • Foursquare: Follow him on Foursquare to see where he is, he even provides restaurant and movie reviews during his off-time.
  • SMS Messaging: He texts confirmation and arrival. No need to actually have to talk on the phone. He took a friend of mine to the airport and was kind enough to thank me for the referral and confirm she was dropped off on time.
  • Square: Using Square and his iPad, Rashid processes your card super fast, emails you a receipt, and you’re out. Next time, I won’t have time to text a complaint to David!

Has it helped his business? He said he’s seen a 15 to 20 percent increase in revenue since he started in January 2011. However, in all honesty, he says, he doesn’t do it for the increase. He does it because he loves the community he has built. He loves the friendships and acquaintances he has gained.

I’d say that’s a decent increase in the first year. He might have to start thinking about making it scalable.

Have you taken a ride with the Chicago Cabbie? He seems to be the cabbie to the social media geeks.