MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When you’re told you can’t do something, don’t you just want to do it even more? That’s true for Chey Eisenman, whose career as a cabbie started out as a joke.
Even if you’ve never crawled in her backseat, you may know her twitter handle: @cheycab.
When she’s not driving her clients from point A to point B, she’s tweeting about her experiences behind the wheel. She probably spends more on washes, tire cleaner and air freshener in a month than you do on your own appearance.
“These old cop cars aren’t sexy, so they have to be clean,” Eisenman said. “The cotton candy air freshener seems to please the most people.”
It’s just one tip she has learned since starting in 2009. With an unproven record, she got stuck with a crummy cab. She had never driven commercially before, in fact, her background was in business.
“I got laid off from my IT job,” Eisenman said.
It was the middle of the recession, at first, she fell back on her waitressing gig.
“Until I was naughty and ate a piece of sushi in the wait station,” she said.
Unemployed from both jobs, she started interviewing, but worried about finding something permanent, so she made a list of in-between jobs.
“I put cab driving on the list as a joke and people reacted very strongly against me driving a cab, like, ‘why would you drive a cab? Who drives a cab?’ So of course, that peaked my interest,” Eisenman said.
Which meant she was all in, after finding, licensing and registering her car with a St. Paul fleet. She printed up business cards and came up with the nickname Chey Cab.
“I found right away that driving a cab, I was seeing an entirely different side of the community than I even knew existed,” she said.
That’s how @cheycab on twitter started.
Even though she’s never tweeted soliciting business, it has helped her grow. It also calms her mom’s fears, who knows driving a cab comes with a dangerous side.
“I sort of feel obligated to tweet at least once a day so my mother doesn’t worry,” Eisenman said.
Being on call to customers 24/7 can also impact a girls social life.
“This business has not been good for dating, dieting and drinking,” she said. “I do significantly less of all three. More than one guy has accused me of loving my customers more than them and in many cases, I say, ‘Yep, I do.'”
Loyal customers is how she gets by, even during slow periods. She’s built her base by providing the little things, responding directly to customers, she also offers them a choice of music on their ride.
“Customers have two options — they can use my aux cable or can plug in their own device,” she said. “I think I have, like, 5,000 songs on my iPad.”
She thinks it helps people connect. Just don’t take her sweet personality to mean you can stiff her out of a fare. She’s tracked people’s family down or takes personal items as collateral.
Her biggest fare was $400.
While the career started as a joke, she now takes it very seriously.
Just know, if you’re not a regular customer and end up in her cab through Airport Taxi’s booking system, you’re free game to tweet about.
But she keeps loyal customers’ secrets close to the vest.