People who live in towns and cities located in less urbanized areas know the inconvenience that comes from not having access to reliable transportation. Jennifer Hill, a Knox resident and mother of five, is hoping to solve that problem for her neighbors.
Hill started Quick’s Car Service about five months ago. It was an idea that was hatched as she contemplated what she could do to support her family after the local fabrication shop she was working at sold to new owner and moved out of state.
Her former job was located near the county jail and Hill said she watched inmates being released and, with no transportation, walked away down the side of the highway. It worried her, she said, and she hoped no one would be seriously hurt.
As a manager, she also knew that people lost their job because they did not have transportation to work.
“Living in Starke County most of my life, I knew transportation here was an issue,” Hill says.
Her solution was to start a business that operates just like a taxi. Those needing a ride can call for one and Hill said she will respond as quickly as possible. In most cases that is within 10 – 15 minutes, or possibly 45 minutes if there are other fares ahead of that call.
“First come, first-served, but it has been getting busier,” she says.
It is also possible to schedule a ride, although that is not required.
Quick’s Car Service charges a flat fee of $10 for travel within the Knox city limits. Outside of the city line, the fee is $10 plus $2 a mile. The same rates apply to the recently expanded service in Plymouth. Hill says she is open to passengers who want to go farther, such as the Chicago airports or to Indianapolis for doctor’s appointments.
“I might not be able to take someone to Tennessee,” Hill says. “But my motto is we don’t say no.”
Hill has a set of priorities in place to take care of her passengers.
“First and foremost is safety,” she says. “Safety for them and the driver.”
Other important elements in her service are reliability, punctuality, friendliness and understanding.
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“If you are calling for a taxi, you may be in a bad spot,” Hill says.
She can transport four passengers in a car or six passengers in the company’s van. She has no limitations on luggage. If it fits in the trunk or in the car, she can take it. With luggage, “if you can take it to the airport, I can take it in my vehicles,” Hill says.
Word about her business has spread quickly, helped by roadside signs, creating a presence on Google searches, on the recommendations from family and friends and the visibility of her vehicles driving around town or parked in front of her house on State Route 35.
Hill said she has the support of her children, who range in age from 9 to 26. She also has one granddaughter.
“They are pretty stoked about it,” Hill says. “I’ve gotten feedback from their friends who say, ‘Oh your mom is the taxi lady.’”
Hill faces some challenges in this service-related business. She takes calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“The unpredictability is the biggest challenge,” Hill says.
But an even bigger challenge was analyzing and organizing the business structure before launching her car service. Doing a market comparison of other taxi services was difficult as there was no other local service like hers in Knox. While most business plans rely on market comparisons and industry research, Hill had to simply make her way on her own, essentially taking a “jumping in and go” approach.
But there are rewards now.
“I call what I do an adventure,” she says. “Every day is an adventure. I never know where I am going to go, I never know who I am going to meet. I ask people to call me and invite me into their daily adventures. I like helping people.”
Quick’s Car Service can be reached at 574-249-3235.