Taxi drivers attend seminar on ‘Managing My Business’   | THE DAILY HERALD

Taxi drivers attend the seminar on “Managing My Taxi Business.”

 MARIGOT–St. Martin United Taxi Association (SMUTA) organised its first seminar titled “Managing My Taxi Business” at the Fantastic Hotel, Concordia, just recently, to inform drivers about the many aspects of managing their profession.

A number of stakeholders were invited to give input and answer questions. They included President of Fédération de Tres Petites Entreprises (FTPE) Jeanne Rogers-Vanterpool, President of the Chamber of Commerce (CCISM) Angèle Dormoy, Luciana Raspail from the Chamber of Commerce, Director of Transportation for the Collectivité Marie-Line Hughes-Richards, Grégoire Dumel representing St. Martin Tourism Office, and a representative from Caisse General de Securité Sociale (CGSS).

“As an association we’ve noticed taxi drivers were lacking information about running a business and various procedures they have to follow, particularly after Hurricane Irma,” explained SMUTA President Romeo Piper. “When there was aid available some drivers had no clue on how to fill and submit the documents required. To obtain it. Some of them didn’t keep the documents or threw them away.

“We’ve also noticed taxi drivers are not treating their job as a business. The taxi profession is an independent business on the French side so it’s something personal to them but they don’t see it as a small business. They treat it more like a hobby. There are many things they can do, have to do, to regulate their business but also there is useful information that can help them in their work.

“The session we had on financial planning will help them to manage their financial resources. The Tourism Office was there to talk about hospitality and how important it is to be a tourism ambassador for the island where first impressions really count. FTPE has been working very hard on getting insurance for taxi drivers – particularly loss of income and business interruption insurance after Irma. If they had this in place before Irma they would not be suffering so much now.”

Taxi drivers were given an update by the Tourism Office on which hotels and restaurants are open, or when they are due to open, as well as information on activities and shopping. Piper added that hospitality courses to be run in conjunction with the tourism office are also planned, but the main training programmes are organised with the Chamber of Commerce.

“The drivers pay a yearly fee for these courses. We are also discussing with the Chamber about upgrading from a ‘B licence’ to a ‘D licence,’” Piper continued. “Taxi drivers are allowed on the French side to have up to 15 passengers but only if you have a ‘D license.’ A lot of them don’t have that licence, and it’s very expensive, it costs 4,000 euros. So, we are trying to see with the Chamber, with our contributions, to see if we can get half of the amount paid towards that licence.”

SMUTA has 41 members. About 10 more persons joined during the seminar and the association hopes more will.

“What’s important for taxi drivers to know is that by being part of a body they have a voice through us. Government doesn’t respond to individuals, only to a body,” Piper concluded.

Source: The Daily Herald