My Taxi, Your Second Car

A while back I was in traffic behind a taxi cab and noticed a sign in his back window. It said “My Taxi, Your Second Car.” Where I live, out on the prairies in a relatively small city, most families have at least two cars and many have more. Although we have taxis, I always think of them as mainly for transportation to and from the airport, or if you get stranded somewhere and need a ride home. But when I saw that sign it got me thinking about how much I spend on my second vehicle, a gas-guzzling 3/4 ton truck. I wondered how much money I would save if I took that sign in the back window of the taxi to heart. How much would I save by owning one car and calling a taxi whenever either my wife or I needed a second ride?

It didn’t take me long to start thinking that some of my potential clients should consider a similar concept related to their technical writing needs.

My experience has been that many manufacturers, institutions and other organizations already have one or two people who manage the creation of their technical documentation. Sometimes these people are technical writers, sometimes they are technical people who can write reasonably well,and sometimes they are managers who find ways to get their technical writing done. The nature of technical documentation in a lot of organizations is that it comes in waves. For a significant length of time there just isn’t much to do. Then, suddenly, they are swamped with technical writing. Typically, the person in charge has to try to find the expertise and capacity to handle the surge of work. As a result, many of these companies don’t want to keep dedicated technical writers on staff. Often, there just isn’t enough work to keep them busy.

So I like to think of myself as that taxi driver. I provide the service so that the client doesn’t have to keep somebody on staff, paying them during the times when their expertise isn’t needed. And just like the idea of paying a taxi for occasional transportation, it takes a while to get used to the idea of bringing in a technical writer and paying their rates when a project needs documentation. But when you do the math, you can see cost savings and value are there.

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