OCT. LCT: The company plans to help operators ease the ride booking process for travelers.
The freedom and independence offered by transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber appeals to workers who want to work when they want to. The rise of on-demand service via an app offers flexible schedules to drivers who like the freedom of logging on when desired. A session at LCT-NLA Show East on Nov. 15, 2016 helped attendees better understand the gig economy, how to compete within it, and find good talent.
Hosted by LCT Publisher Sara Eastwood-Richardson, the session titled “Embracing New Rules of Engagement in the Gig Economy” featured panelists Richard Fertig, owner of Brilliant Transportation in New York; Rick Versace Jr., director of business development at A1A Airport & Limousine Service in Boca Raton, Fla.; Gary Bauer, CEO of Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation and iCARS, both based in San Francisco; and Nick Kokas, vice president at Brentwood’s Distinguished Executive Transportation in Macomb, Mich. The panelists offered some tips and approaches to looking for employees.
The shortage of reliable, skilled chauffeurs and employees has become so acute for some companies that panelists report situations in which an affiliate or company will say it has a vehicle for a job, but still must find a chauffeur available to drive.
One way the chauffeur work experience could be improved is through education and training, Fertig said. “The people interested in the gig economy want flexibility but even more than flexibility, they value learning. So if you’re educating, teaching, training, and giving them skills and benefits they can’t receive elsewhere, that gig may turn into a longer gig into a longer gig and then a full-time, valuable employee. So it’s time to think about it differently than, say five or 10 years ago, where you would go and train somebody in a specific role, then rinse and repeat.”
Job advertisements have migrated from the old-school newspaper classifieds and job banks to online forums and social media, requiring ways to pitch for desirable applicants. Applicant expectations should spur employers to think outside the box, Kokas said.
“What we need to do now, I believe, as an industry, is look at our drivers as we would a customer,” Kokas said. “We have to advertise what benefits we could provide to add to their lifestyle or be conducive to their lifestyle, for that matter.”
As a 24/7 industry, limousine services can offer the same flexibility that tech companies do. “In terms of getting these people, we’ll have to offer some type of compensation package, but I think we have the ability to advertise that we offer the flexibility, the compensation, and the lifestyle you would want while you’re either in a transition period, finding a new career, or perhaps making a full-time career out of this.”
Kokas cited statistics showing 43% of “gigsters” work in ground transportation such as TNCs. 46% of them have some type of college education or a completed degree. Those numbers far outpace the prior education rates of chauffeur applicants before the gig economy emerged.
“You can’t gauge how long they work anymore,” Kokas said. “It’s what did they get done? It’s really a different economy. Gigsters want — the key word that keeps coming up is flexibility, flexibility, flexibility. That’s usually at the top of the list of all the studies I have read. Number two is compensation. So it’s very interesting to see flexibility outpaced compensation.”
Versace urged operators to “get creative with the ads you’re posting.” For example, “post something on Facebook that says, ‘I’m an Uber driver. I made $500 today. And then, minus $60 for gasbucks, minus $120 for my wheels for the month, minus this and this, and at the bottom leave $25 or something like that. And underneath that ‘apply for a job at A1A Limo today.’” By contrasting the benefits of being a real chauffeur versus a TNC driver, operators can get the real word out.
Fertig cited a need for chauffeurs and employees to understand a company’s common vision and purpose. “Whether it’s a chauffeur, detailer, or reservationist, they need to understand they’re part of that experience your company is elevating the game for, and they need to understand they may have a very small role in it, but it’s critically important. So if, for example, the vehicle’s not clean or if the chauffeur is a college educated guy but he has no clue what he’s doing, that’s a failure.”
The mission of a chauffeured transportation service should be to “delight, excite, and facilitate, and anything that deviates from that is bad,” Fertig said. “So it may be obvious to us but if they don’t realize it, you’re putting your entire business, brand, service, and our industry into a potential problem. It goes back to education, learning, feeling like you’re part of something, [knowing] what the purpose is, and your role in that purpose.”
Along with accommodating a gig mentality, limousine services need to orient themselves more to the mindset of Millennials, workers now ages 35 and younger. The two are not always the same, with many Millennials interested in full time jobs or careers.
“It’s about praise, it’s about rewards, it’s about recognition, it’s about we do a daily stand-up at every department,” Bauer said. “They want to know what they’re doing right. They want to be communicated with. It’s very important. As much as you’ve got people walking on the phone with their heads all isolated from the world, they still want to know what they’re doing right and wrong.”
A generation accustomed to communicating and doing business via digital devices requires more effort to accommodate their attention spans, said Bauer, citing the high number of laptops and smartphones accidentally left behind on his Silicon Valley commuter motorcoaches. “It’s one of those thing where you just have to kind of keep up the excitement, and keep it going for them.” He later added, “Keep it current. Keep it fresh. It’s like a nightclub. How long does a nightclub last before, all of a sudden, they’re passé? They understand video games so make your technology like a video game. Make it something that will keep them intrigued.”
Along with flexibility, today’s employees also want to feel part of a wider company purpose, or gain a sense of ownership. “With the people I interview, they all really want to know ‘how much are you going to pay me and what equity do I get?’ They all see what’s happening with the Ubers and Lyfts of the world, and see that opportunity. They want to know ‘what piece of the pie do I have?’ You need to make them part of that big picture and feel like they’re part of the game. Let them know there is something here if they want that stability. At the end of the day, how long can a gig run? If they want a longer gig, they want to be allowed that stability.”
Kokas strongly recommended that any promises of stable pay and compensation follow all the labor rules, such as paying overtime and double overtime when it’s required. “It’s critical if you’ve got a long-term mindset to not skirt any rules. In California, you’re also supposed to paying for things like their cell phones. You have to make sure you’re above the board on everything. We also offer a discretionary gratuity that would be in addition to the pay. And then we also do performance-based bonuses as well.”
To watch the full session, click here.
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