The ground transportation industry is in the midst of a terrible identity crisis. It is obviously not the first time and certainly not the last time.
One of the factors that makes this particular time so challenging is that we have not hit dry land yet. Things change daily and the agile operation must learn to live by constantly tweaking and pivoting until the world becomes a stable environment.
A key component that will help survive these times is to restructure your vehicular makeup to give you control, coverage and containment.
That essentially means if you are, you can no longer be a one trick pony. For the record you can also no longer be a two-trick pony. What I am referring to is that if you run a fleet of employee piloted company owned vehicles, or you exclusively use owner-operators AKA sub-contractors you are a one trick pony. If your fleet make up includes company owned and owner ops you are a two-trick pony.
It is rough out there. We want to live, prosper and we have a lot of making up to do. It is going to take over a half dozen new concepts to have proper deployment of boots on the ground in a post pandemic society.
#1 Cross training. Although not vehicular based it is nonetheless a policy that all agencies should adopt. This is very similar to many fire and police departments that cross trained police and firemen to also be paramedic trained. It is good for staffing. It is great to break up an otherwise monotonous schedule. I want to take it a step further and cross train reservation agents to dispatchers, drivers to dispatchers and naturally vice versa. It can even be done to break up an 8-hour shift into two fours. It affords great scheduling flexibility and I really believe it is good for morale.
#2 Company owned vehicles. Always the primary mainstay of a provider. Likely always will be. Gives you control factors other methods can’t such as colors, options and signage. Don’t like it, want to phase out for liability fears? Engage your chauffeur into a drive to own program and get the best of both worlds.
#3 Owner Operators. Firstly, this always was and will be a great invention for numerous industries. Admission number one, exclusivity went out in the 90’s. It is gone, this is not your significant other, they can and will cheat on you. If you are not happy with that, pay more and commission less. Money talks.
#4 Sub Operators. The last few years this concept has gained in popularity. It isn’t any groundbreaking technology. It is simply a competitor who garners the majority of their revenue from your company. There are also many sub operators who have purchased additional vehicles because your supply was good and consistent. Often the sub company will in kind farm out work to you. It is good clean business.
#5 The Commuter Car. Is a relatively obscure concept but has great potential. You have “Joe the commuter” who lives in the right suburb and drives downtown to work and back 5 days per week. His car is newer, black, and high line. He has no issues adjusting his start and end time to work with you. This kind of automotive phenomenon is mathematically able to do 40 trips monthly during rush hour and I would not hesitate raising my commission if the start and stop point were always local to his home. A simple, novel approach to bolster the squad.
#6 Appdabblers. As the title says these are professional drivers who can best be described as internal combustion prostitutes. They will bring you lunch, take your dog to the vet, or you neighbor to the airport. This group is huge in numbers but they are ever increasingly becoming disillusioned with the Appnology warlords and enjoy part time legit respectable work. Many already have loose relationships with many agencies and there are numerous ways to pump up the volume.
#7 Tag Teams. Tag team drivers or teams are a neat under explored option. In trucking there are many husband-and-wife teams. Some are along for the ride, some actually drive in shifts. We have more and more providers who have tag teams where they can assign a car and get 2 shifts covered. This can be couples, roommates, and even neighbors.
#8 FRACTIONAL OWNERSHIP. This is the newest and most promising concept out there. It is basically the ground version of what NetJets does. It is also prevalent in the charter boat business and kinda-sorta an Airbnb with wheels. Do you work with a church and they ask for a referral for a new bus? There you go, buy it for them, run it, sign an exclusive, and hide the stripper pole on Sundays. Funeral homes, corporations, tax breaks, vehicle wrapping. The possibilities are limitless.
Tough times require tough people to make tough decisions.
You got this.