Read the full interview at www.inpractise.com
Go-Jek, the SE-Asian Uber, is planning to raise up to $2bn to fight Grab in the ride-hailing wars. Drivers are the core unaccounted asset for all transportation platforms and building an efficient recruiting and retention machine for drivers is crucial for growth.
We interviewed the Former Head of Driver Retention & Loyalty at Grab and GET to discuss:
- Why driver earnings is the core KPI for all ride-hailing businesses
- How Grab approached recruiting drivers for GrabCar and GrabTaxi
- The importance of understanding the power of community to drivers
- How to use incentives and loyalty schemes to drive loyalty with the supply side
- Biggest lessons from recruiting and retaining drivers for Grab
What strategies did you use to recruit drivers at Grab?
The strategy that we used to recruit the driver is we have to go to the driver. Not inviting the driver to come to us because they have no idea what the application for taxi hailing is for. In Thailand, people are hailing at the roadside and bargain with the fair and stuff. The strategy that we use is, we go to the gas station. That time we go to the gas station because a lot of taxis are there. Sometimes they're not filling their gas, but they just stop for a quick break. Doing that, we don't need to find a place for a carpark for the driver to come to us. They already park there at the gas station. We are there. Then we prepare a training, a quick training method and materials for the driver. Before that, we need to have some old-fashioned way, like a piece of paper that we bring to the driver and show it to them, knocking on their window of the car and asking them if they would spend five minutes with us and recruit them. It's quite fun at that time.
Walk me through the process, so you approach the gas station, there are drivers there having a break, do you approach them and pitch to them the idea of Grab or how does that work?
What we do is, we go there at the gas station, we setup a tent, putting our Grab Taxi brand. At that time, it was called Grab Taxi. Before we rebranded to Grab. We setup a tent as our command center there. A mobile spot for recruiting. We have around four to five salespersons, they're not salespeople, they're not selling anything, but they're just selling the idea or recruiting a driver. They're bringing a sheet of our work, showing the driver and pitch to them in one or two minutes of that pitching of inviting them, to get their attention. If they're interested, you spend another three minutes, in total, five minutes, tell them the benefits of joining us. When you get their attention, we'll bring them to the tent and we start training, everything, like a flipchart, a flip board. We show them what the application looked like. Then we're asking them for the documents to recruit by taking the picture on the mobile phone and send the picture of the documents through some kind of line like WhatsApp chat program with the backend team at the office to put all of the information in the system. Then we need to show them the real-time, real job. We shoot the booking from the backend to the location. Specific note that this booking is for which driver, then that salesperson just accepts the job and then walks them through the process until the end. That's how we activate the non-Grab taxi driver to be a Grab taxi driver in one place. Then they are allowed to run on the street.
You actually show them how it could work right there, right then with the technology that you had. Which is quite impressive for the taxi driver, I assume.
That is correct. The maturity of the driver is quite engaged with this thing, they're quite excited. They didn't know that. They just have the phone, the phone that they have can do this. They can join by using their mobile phone that they have.
What was the biggest challenge recruiting drivers this way?
The characteristic of the driver is different. Let's say at that time we only had taxi driver, so the driver is non-tech people. Taxi driver in Thailand is non-tech people. Just before the time that Grab launched their service there. Some of them are farmers. They grow their crops and they have to wait for their crops to bear fruit. They come to the city and run the taxi. When the time comes, they just stop running, give the rental car back to the rental place and then go back and do their crops. That's most of the taxi driver are that type of person. The challenges are they're non-tech people. How would you explain technology to the non-tech people? That's the challenge that we have to overcome. What we do and it's more successful way is we visualize their benefits generated by the technology that we are introducing to them. That's how we engage them. They come to drive because they need some income. The people work for money. We need to show them how they can make money through the platform. That's the strategy that we use.
You focused on really the incremental earnings they can drive from the application, as well as being a taxi driver normally or would you pitch it to them as moving completely over to Grab?
Earning is one thing. The other thing is the kind of intangible concept, but something like safety and trackable because from time to time, we have news. We have a criminal on the street where they rob the taxi driver, which is the real news on the newspaper. People get scared and they want to protect themselves. We tell them that if they are running with us, then we are the platform who track everything, we know who is in your car, who will be in your car and if there's something that happens, then we can give information right away. They can inform us from the platform and then we can find help. That's something that we pitch them with the benefits that they would get, apart from earning. Earning attracts them the most.