I've heard from successful startup founders that if you haven't had to pivot, you're not doing it right.
ShuttleBee's mission is the same; we are committed to coordinating SAFE and convenient small-group transportation for kids.
How we go about accomplishing our goal is about to change.
From Gig to FT role
We started with a mission to pay above-market-rate for driving shuttlers, $25-$35 per hour over 1.5 hour segments. We've worked with amazing candidates who have this particular pocket of time to fill during the 2-4PM range: Home healthcare workers. Students. Parents. Foster parents. Retired and Semi-Retired.
We know that not everyone is looking for a FT role -- and we wanted to find those people to offer then regular, meaningful work.
But more and more, we're finding that the inconsistency in the schedule can hold our drivers back from greater opportunity, and that's not what we want to see happen.
Our strategy is still to offer above-market rates. We just shifting to focus on FT roles.
From Childhood Education Experience to CDL License Holder
Our product is over-engineered for safety: if there's a precaution, education or system we can put in place that will improve the safety of our work, we're all in for making that happen. It's been my job to seek out every system on the market to support our business, to develop the ones we couldn't find, and string them all together into one cohesive offering.
I'm never, ever one to say "no" to education, but when an insurance provider told us that they would require our drivers to have CDL's, I tool a giant step back.
I was not a fan of this particular brand of Kool-aid.
I personally find the CDL intimidating, and I wanted zero part in owing a bus. In retrospect, this sentiment might have even driven the "small" in our "small-group transportation" focus.
I was worried that the skill set needed to replace a fuel pump or use air breaks was too much of a departure from the skill set needed to kindly corral a pile of kindergartners on the playground.
I was worried that our best drivers would give up on us when after completing a complicated and time-intensive on-boarding process, if I asked them THEN to test for a CDL.
We're still using vans and non-CDL vehicles to transport children. I was worried that since none of the vehicles we intend to use actually require a CDL, if we'd be able to train people to pass the test on a vehicle they'd likely never drive again.
And once I got over myself, I realized how it's possible that Said Insurance Company was right.
Raising the bar. I'll work with a driver until the very end: until a safety concern arises, if parents request termination of the relationship, or if our driver decides to part ways. I don't force attrition, which means we have occasionally worked with drivers who have less commitment to the role than we'd ideally like to see. My thought is that the CDL licensing process will add another non-ShuttleBee layer to the credentialing process. Which in the end game -- once we learn to target the right candidates -- could help.
Creating opportunity. Offering free CDL training could offer a true benefit. Service-industry jobs are actually booming in many sectors, and in many cases, we'd be sending our drivers off in a better position than when they started with us.
Managing responsible growth. ShuttleBee is not about building volume fast, we'll only serve who we can safely serve on a responsible growth schedule. By raising our bar, we're encouraging team-training, mutual reliance and we're able to offer benefits to one individual performing full-time work that's not possible when we split the same work across three.
Our drivers will still have experience with children, but our focus is drifting from education experience to driving experience. To which, my daughter would likely have answered, "Duh, Mom."
Owning the Fleet.
I have the benefit of asking everyone about everything in our community, seeking advice from those wiser and more experienced than I. It was surprising in my early days to find that very rarely does anyone decline my request for their time.
When I spoke to an Uber exec here in Philly a few weeks ago about something mildly unrelated, I found her most inspirational advice to be the most ironic. "Embrace the Fleet," she said. And from my current vantage point, she is absolutely 100% right.