How Rideshare Mechanic helps TNCs improve operations

Author photoBy Michele Washburn

Note: this article is intended for TNC leaders involved in operations. After reading this, these individuals will understand why many TNC companies choose to participate in Rideshare Mechanic’s partner program. 

There are a lot of things that Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) do that drivers may not understand or appreciate. Some of the things that TNCs need to have in order to succeed are:

1. Balance Supply and Demand

TNCs must achieve and maintain the right balance in supply of drivers and demand from riders. TNCs are in a unique position to serve two different customers who have very different personas; this is extremely challenging!

  • If there are disproportionately more drivers than riders, drivers earn less money and get frustrated.
  • If there are disproportionately more riders than drivers, riders have to wait longer for a ride and get frustrated.

2. Expanding Network

TNCs must have an expanding network of service to create value for both drivers and riders

  • Metcalfe’s Law states that “a network’s value is proportional to the square of the number of nodes in the network”. In this case, a “node” depends on the context- for a social network, a node can be the number of people who join that network. For a bus system, a node is the number of bus stops. Each additional node increases the inherent value of a network exponentially. Network effects typically account for 70% of the value of digitally-related companies. Just imagine if Facebook had all of the features it has today, but only 10% of the # of users it has today… the company’s value would drop to about only 1% of what it is today! The same holds true TNCs. The value of Uber and Lyft is that a rider can use the service anywhere in the country, and even overseas- this makes it valuable for a rider to download the app and rely on it, helping the company’s users grow exponentially. Contrast that to downloading an app for a local transportation company that is only available to riders in your city… the value would be much less.

3. Profitable per-unit economics

  • The per-unit economics becomes extremely important for TNCs, especially when they want to scale their operations. If the economics of a company are unsustainable when the company is small, the problem only exaggerates when the company scales up. Many companies operate with a mindset that as long as they can expand into new markets, the money will take care of itself. What we often see, especially with new TNCs, is that they want to become attractive to new users, so they boast more affordable rides to riders, and more take-home pay to drivers. However, in an attempt to excite both the driver and rider with their generous policies, the company can get squeezed at both ends and head down a path that will make the business unsustainable and constantly operating in the red.

How can Rideshare Mechanic help? 

In this section, we will cover the benefits that Rideshare Mechanic can provide and how they relate to the objectives of TNCs. On the surface, Rideshare Mechanic is a virtual alternative to other mechanic shops that provide vehicle inspections. However, when we dig a bit deeper and really consider all the areas that Rideshare Mechanic can support, one will start to realize all the areas in which we can help TNCs improve their overall operations. 

Similar to Transportation Network Companies who must serve two primary customers (the driver and the rider), Rideshare Mechanic serves two customers as well: the driver, and the TNC. The benefits to the driver of using our service are quite obvious to most people who learn about our service, and those benefits are covered in a previous article. 

This article focuses on the benefits that Rideshare Mechanic provides to its TNC partners, which may be less obvious to those who are not directly involved in onboarding operations. At a high level, when companies partner with Rideshare Mechanic, they can achieve the following outcomes:

  • Increased efficiency and reduced cost in driver onboarding and operations
  • Increased driver activation rates 
  • Shortened onboarding lifecycle
  • Lowered driver acquisition cost
  • Enhanced driver experience
  • Higher driver retention

Rideshare Mechanic has accomplished the above outcomes for a number of TNCs, including  Non Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) and kids transportation.

Now before we go any further, for those who may not be familiar with who we are, let’s cover that first real quick: Rideshare Mechanic is a virtual mechanic that conducts vehicle inspections. Using video chat technology and our unique inspection process, we are able to inspect all the points on the state-mandated vehicle inspection.

Now let’s dive a bit deeper into each one of the items mentioned above:

  • Improve onboarding operations: 
    • Every TNC has a defined onboarding process, and often there is a dedicated team to ensure that drivers have the guidance they need to successfully complete the onboarding process. The steps of an onboarding process may look something like the following: 
      • Step 1: Apply to be a driver and create a profile
      • Step 2: Input vehicle information
      • Step 3: Pass a background check
      • Step 4: Pass a driving record check
      • Step 5: Complete a vehicle inspection

TNCs that are in the NEMT or kids transportation space generally have more stringent onboarding steps, including drug test and fingerprints.

  • When it comes to the inspection, some TNCs are more involved than others. Sometimes the process that is set up at these companies require that they coordinate with various mechanic shops in the different areas in which they operate. Other TNCs simply put the burden on the driver and offer limited guidance when any issues arise. In order to compete in today’s competitive TNC market, companies must offer a positive experience to their drivers and help the process to become as seamless and efficient as possible, otherwise they have the risk of drivers dropping off and not completing the onboarding process. 

How Rideshare Mechanic improves driver onboarding operations:

1. Centralized communications and interactions

Because our operation is completely virtual, we can serve drivers all over the country with a centralized operations team. This means that if there is a question about a particular driver’s inspection form, the TNC’s onboarding team knows exactly how to reach Rideshare Mechanic, and our operations team can quickly look into the issue(s). In order to make this even more seamless, we even offer Slack integration as part of our partner program! This type of streamlined communication increases operational efficiency for driver onboarding and reduces overhead and potential inaccuracies that TNCs may experience with other means of vehicle inspections.

One of our clients described this benefit in the following manner:

“RideShare Mechanic not only helps Zum and our customers complete their vehicle inspections through the convenience of their own home, they also assist all of our applicants through their process from start to finish. Without RideShare Mechanic, Zum spent countless hours communicating with inspection vendors for all types of reasons, whereas RideShare Mechanic is a virtual one-stop-shop for all our drivers to have their vehicles inspected with quick, internal support.”

– Collin Mori, Zum Operations Manager

Also, in the three years that we have been in business, we have learned to scale our business and improve our internal processes. The result is that we have an extremely responsive and flexible business which we can scale to meet the demands of our clients. Because of this, TNCs will not need to worry about outgrowing our capacity. Whether you are onboarding a few dozen or a few thousand drivers per month, we can support you. 

2. Increased Driver Activation Rates

Rideshare drivers are required to complete a vehicle inspection; for the majority of rideshare drivers, this was the only step in the onboarding process which a driver could not complete from within his/her home. Driving to a mechanic and ensuring that the driver can get their car inspected during normal business hours can be quite a burden on the driver. On the contrary, Rideshare Mechanic’s virtual inspection process is convenient and quick, as drivers are able to complete their inspections from their driveways.

By removing the friction from the vehicle inspection process, more drivers are inclined to complete this step of the onboarding process and activate their driver accounts to start giving rides right away. My business partner, Jonnie, and I learned this from our personal experience of recruiting drivers for Lyft and Uber. At the time, we had certain privileges with Lyft, such as conducting mentor sessions for drivers (mentor session referred to a quick orientation session and car check). When we had the chance to inspect the vehicle on the spot during our recruiting process, our conversion rates (or driver activation rates) were significantly higher than when we could only recruit the driver but they still had to go to a mechanic shop to complete their inspection. 

The bottom line about driver activation is that the more friction there is in the onboarding process, the more likely it is that drivers will drop out before they ever have the chance to give rides and experience the platform. Rideshare Mechanic removes this friction and therefore increases activation rates. 

3. Shortened Onboarding Lifecycle 

There are a lot of factors involved when it comes to running an efficient TNC operation. In order to create responsiveness and resilience in the market, TNCs must be nimble in their tactics to increase ridership or onboard new drivers when needed. Oftentimes the vehicle inspection is the critical path item that slows down driver onboarding. When we remove the friction involved in the inspection, the driver onboarding lifecycle can be significantly reduced, which means that the TNC can be more responsive and more quickly ramp up supply of drivers when need be. Just imagine the impact it would have if a TNC could reduce its average driver onboarding from two weeks down to 3 days. Rideshare Mechanic’s virtual, 15-minute inspection enables this outcome.

4. Lower driver cost of driver acquisition:

This item relates to item #2 above. Because Rideshare Mechanic can increase driver activation rates, more drivers in the funnel complete the TNC’s onboarding process; this means that more drivers who are at the top of the onboarding funnel actually make it to the bottom, becoming activated drivers. When there are fewer drop-offs during the onboarding process, the marketing dollars spent to recruit drivers can stretch among more drivers, effectively lowering the cost of acquisition of each driver. Simply put, higher conversion rate = lower acquisition cost.

5. Enhanced driver onboarding experience: 

Every company wants its customers to have a wonderful honeymoon period during the start of their business relationship. This becomes very important for rideshare drivers, as they will remember their onboarding experience vividly. By using Rideshare Mechanic, drivers no longer have to go to a mechanic shop and waste a lot of time to complete their inspection; they can complete their inspection over video chat under 15 minutes, from wherever their car is, with more flexibility than any mechanic we know of (we operate 7 days per week). This creates a very positive and memorable onboarding experience, which fosters a sense of appreciation and loyalty to the TNC. To read what our happy customers are saying, feel free to check out the 2,400+ reviews we have received on Google here: https://goo.gl/osZJBf

To add to the convenience factor, Rideshare Mechanic also provides safe vehicle inspections. During the COVID-19 pandemic, drivers can feel safe using our completely virtual, no-contact inspection service, which completely eliminates the chance of exposure to the virus. Also, because the driver doesn’t have to go anywhere, we also eliminate the risk of getting into an accident on their way to a mechanic shop.

6. Maintaining higher retention of active drivers on the platform

We’ve already discussed the importance of getting new drivers activated. The next step in driver supply is to retain the existing drivers and keep them active. Let’s keep in mind that these are drivers that have already been onboarded; the TNC has already invested resources to acquire them, so it would be in the company’s best interest to keep them active, and prevent the potential disruption in supply and demand from drivers who become inactive.

From my experience, many drivers will let their inspection lapse, resulting in suspension from the platform until they complete a new inspection. Again, this goes back to friction during the inspection process- it’s just not convenient to go to a local mechanic. The convenience of Rideshare Mechanic helps drivers more easily maintain their active status with an up-to-date vehicle inspection. 

Summarizing the value that Rideshare Mechanic offers to TNCs:

Hopefully after reading this article, it is clear that Rideshare Mechanic is much more than just a mechanic. Our service allows TNCs to improve their operations and reduce overhead, improve driver activation rates, lower cost of acquisition, provide a more positive experience to drivers, and maintain a more efficient network of drivers with higher retention. It is because of these reasons that eight TNCs have already partnered with us at the time of writing this article, and we are in active discussions with a few more.

The Rideshare Mechanic Partner Program

The benefits mentioned above are all achievable by simply directing drivers to use our service. However, the overwhelming value that some of our TNC clients received from using our service prompted us to put together a partner program to truly optimize the process. Our partner program is designed to take all the benefits that we offer a step further to add even more value. Some of the options available from our partner program that some of our partners have taken advantage of are:

  • Slack integration
  • Branded website
  • Branded inspection form
  • Exclusive calendar and operations team
  • Dedicated account manager
  • Direct integration into onboarding platform
  • Custom-developed onboarding workflow
  • Custom inspection process
  • More!

Those are only some of the items we can offer. Our goal is to truly understand the process and pain points of our customers so we can offer solutions that serve them. Hence, we conduct a thorough discovery workshop with every potential TNC partner before we make our recommendations of what would make the most sense.

If you’d like to learn more about our partner program, please e-mail us at partners@ridesharemechanic.com. We would love to connect and see how we may be able to collaborate. 

-Hamed Yazdi,Co-founder and Chief Growth Officer, www.ridesharemechanic.com