Go Big or Go Home.
Guys, guys: We’ll never be “UBER for kids” but wouldn’t it be great if we could take on more work? Like, a lot more?
Based on our time in business, we might be eligible for the type of insurance that would allow us to book drivers using their own vehicles. Meaning potentially smaller carpools. Meaning more availability. Potentially better pricing, at least in theory. Meaning, we turning our fleet (yes, five vehicles can be considered a fleet) into an emergency response team to manage those rare situations where a driver can’t be where they need to be.
I’m excited about this, if you can’t already tell.
We’re looking for parents to submit the $199 annual fee for September 19-September-20 TO-DAY. We may limit enrollment for the year to our early participants while we get our footing.
Annual Fee offer closes January 15th. Either we’ll hit our goal, or we won’t.
I’m equally terrified, as the minimum policy premium is $50K. And could be more. And that’s in addition to four other types of insurance that are also staggering in cost, since we’re relatively new and relatively small.
Once we hit 251 families, we’ll look to bind the policy. Once that happens, we’ll reach out to you all and submit your payment, if you still plan to join us.
POINT OF CLARIFICATION: we’re going to accept your payment through a secured service PaySimple, but I’m not going to “approve” it, it won’t actually come out of your account at this time. It’s going to sit in limbo until the insurance is approved — likely until April or May.
I’m sure you have questions. Send them (below) so I can add them to our list!
Question: So, am I signing up for service?
Answer: You’re holding your spot for service. You’ll have a chance to finalize your answer if we’re approved for insurance. And since we’ll still need to limit what we offer next year (we turned away just under $800K worth of work last year), we’ll prioritize anyone who signs up inside our service area. If we can’t serve you, we won’t accept your fee. But once we all decide together to move forward, your fee won’t be refunded after that.
If you think you’re looking for routine service and you think you can get at least five children on-board to split the cost (or less and you’re willing to divide the cost), then I recommend signing up. (And of course, consider the source of that sage advice :)
Question: What is the cost of service?
Answer: We don’t know yet, but we are committed to two things: competitive pricing and competitive wages. We’re going to probably offer 2 tiers of service: “guaranteed” which is backed up by an on-call driver at a higher cost (probably for schools and organizations) and “trust and track your driver and pay for emergency pickups in their absence as needed”. Marketing on this needs some work, obv.
Question: Will my child still need to travel in a group?
Answer: We’ll still arrange carpools for routine pickups as a primary service, but you’ll have more flexibility on the days per week, locations, number of students, etc etc. based on what the group wants. Wednesdays only? Shouldn't be a problem, since we don’t have vehicle-and-capacity issues. We’ll be able to offer variations we can’t today.
Single pickups are akin to chauffeur service, I’m just not sure where we’ll land on this yet. We’re launching in-vehicle monitoring which might be optional for groups, but would be mandatory (and added into the cost) for solo trips.
Question: How will service differ than how it is today?
Answer: On the go-forward, you’ll have an exceptional driver who is well-vetted and well-trained and well-insured. You’ll have GPS access and access to telemetrics from driving behavior. We may include in-vehicle monitoring, we’re still evaluating. You’ll have the ability to request a new driver (with cause). All of these things will remain the same.
Here’s where things start to get different: You and your driver will co-manage the route. Your driver will check in an hour before the route to let you all know that they’re on the way, and they’ll turn on their GPS so that you’re sure they are. But all in all, you’ll manage the daily relationship with your driver — not ShuttleBee. And your driver will arrange substitutions for their days off, and manage any challenges directly. We’re here to manage anomalies: if your driver doesn’t show of if their vehicle doesn’t pass a pre-check, we may charge extra for emergency support — or, we maybe we offer a higher level of service at a higher cost that includes emergency support. We’re also here to monitor for safety, promote continued training, reward excellent performance. Details on this will be published before we submit your payment, and after we’re approved for insurance.
If you’re a current customer, let us know if you can help us with market research by asking you some questions on the topic.
Question: Why are we asking for annual fees so early, then potentially cutting off enrollment, basically, mid-January?
Answer: First, we need to have the $$$ to prepay insurance if we go down this path, which will be due in April. More importantly, we believe we may need more infrastructure to keep kids safe than what we have today, beyond what we’re able to manage with current revenue alone. Showing committed customers means that we are worthy of investment. Which we will begin actively seeking to support, if this goal is met.
We’ll begin enrollment again in October 2019, but we need to make sure we can manage the growth in front of us responsibly.
HopSkipDrive and Zum have raised $50MM to be the leaders in this space.
Food for thought.