Welcome to movmi’s Financial Fridays micro-webinar series. Every other month, movmi’s Venkatesh Gopal will be inviting an exceptional panel of experts to join a discussion on shared mobility operational financials and business models. In the series we will explore key financial aspects of a diverse range of business models from sharing to subscription and even integrating MaaS along the way. The goal is to get a deeper understanding of operational management, utilization, electric vehicles, customer loyalty, technology, insurance and much more.
For the third session of our Financial Fridays series, Venkatesh is joined by Kameale Terry, Co-Founder and CEO of ChargerHelp! and Nicholas Hill, an industry expert from the world of car sharing operations in North America. They discuss the importance of operational processes within shared mobility organizations, when you should take time to update and tweak these processes and why having a fully involved and goal oriented team can be the key to operational success.
Watch the micro-webinar below! Keep reading to learn more about each guest panelist and for a brief summary of our third Financial Fridays discussion!
FINANCIAL FRIDAYS: PRIORITIZING OPERATIONS WITH KAMEALE TERRY, NICHOLAS HILL & VENKATESH GOPAL
FINANCIAL FRIDAYS SESSION THREE: THE PANEL
Co-Founder and CEO – ChargerHelp!
Kameale is the Co-Founder and CEO of ChargerHelp, Inc. an app that enables on-demand repair of electric vehicle charging stations. As the former Director of Programs at EV Connect, an electric vehicle charge station network provider, Kameale structured and led teams to execute electric vehicle infrastructure projects and programs in the United States, Australia, and Canada for commercial and government entities. Her most notable projects include the Electrify America – Phase One Program, the Southern California Edison Charge Ready Pilot, and the New York Power Authority portfolio.
Prior to this role Kameale created, hired, and oversaw the Customer Experience Department at EV Connect, by partnering with the Southbay Workforce Investment Board to employ candidates from the local community. As a South Central Los Angeles native, Kameale believes that an equitable green economy can be achieved through impactful workforce development and realignment.
Industry Expert | (Former) Car sharing Operations in North America
Nick is a performance-oriented, experienced Segment Leader, with a broad-based experience developed via rapid advancement in a technology based start-up backed by Global Automotive OEM. Nick has experience in launching new ventures requiring public and private stakeholder development, negotiations, and support. He has leveraged his legal and external affairs acumen to act as corporate representative, expert witness, and subject matter expert. He is best recognized for best practices in managing matrix teams of 100+ internal and external employees across North America.
FINANCIAL FRIDAYS SESSION TWO: PRIORITIZING OPERATIONS IN SHARED MOBILITY
WHERE WOULD YOU PLACE OPERATIONS PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION IN TERMS OF PRIORITY WHEN IT COMES TO SHARED MOBILITY AND EV BUSINESSES?
As a company ChargerHelp! places operations planning and implementation as one of the highest priorities. Their business model is centered around infrastructure, project management, construction. Even though they are introducing technology and software, at the core they are builders. Managing this on an operational scale is critical.
However, depending on the service you are launching, operations planning’s level of importance might be lower. Generally speaking, product and technology should be more of a priority than operational planning. Operations may be the most important part of the service, but when it comes to the planning of the service, defining the product and technology are the first steps you must look at to get it off the ground. Once the service is up and running, taking a deeper look at the operations is then key to creating success and longevity via a feedback loop.
That being said, when it comes to EV planning, this cannot be the case. An example Nick Hill used is with his time at car2go when they were launching the first shared EV fleet in San Diego in 2011. In that instance, the city had promised 1,000 level 2 charging stations within their home area and at launch there were only around 24 available, for a fleet of 400 EV smart cars relying on this infrastructure. In this case, operational planning should have been at the highest priority level. Designing the technology around users is of prime importance. Once done right, operation planning needs to support that.
Same goes for charging stations which more often than not are overlooked from a connectivity standpoint. Being connected is vital for public EV chargers. There’s a lack of industry standards for how you measure cell phone signals. Most of the stations have SIM cards within them and when ChargerHelp! placed one (during their initial days) in New York State Park, no one realized that there was no service within that area. So when it comes to product, sometimes operational planning is vital for initial success.
HOW IMPORTANT IS OPERATIONAL PLANNING WHEN IT APPLIES TO OTHER MORE TRADITIONAL SHARED MOBILITY SERVICES THAT DON’T NECESSARILY NEED AN EV INFRASTRUCTURE?
If you take free-floating car sharing in Vancouver as example, much of the infrastructure was in parking garages, same as Toronto and cities like D.C where there is a lot of off street parking. However, things that have worked in other cities, keyless access makes sense. Better customer experience, less lost keys, but without also including bluetooth low energy (BLE) or other ways to access these vehicles other than the GSM network, it won’t work in say, Vancouver. While you can copy and paste for the most part, there are certain instances when you do need experts for these cities so that keyless access can be locked and figured out before launch.
HOW CAN YOU DEVELOP AND DEVISE AN APPROPRIATE WORK FLOW FOR NEW PROVIDERS ENTERING THE FIELD?
Choosing a lane and sticking to it is important. With the (end user) feedback loop so many RFPs came out and expected network providers to be one stop shops, when they are really a software company without project managers, construction workers or electrical contractors. Either you are going to develop software, engineer a product or be a project management company – it’s almost impossible to do all three and well. ‘Staying in your lane’ will allow you to develop operational processes that are lean that you can tweak and change easily, because you aren’t focusing on so many other things.
The most important thing is to understand your customer, what makes your product or services unique and how you need to think differently about operational processes. Things shouldn’t be set in stone, if something is wrong, then processes need to be adjusted. Everyone on the team (at every stage) should be able to have their input in this.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE ONE BIGGEST OPERATIONAL CHALLENGE YOU HAVE FACED?
Many new software companies are able to utilize data so that they can tell car share providers where exactly they should distribute their fleet at any given point throughout the day. However, not many of them can explain how to do this on an operational level. For example, in Calgary, shared cars enter the city-center in the morning, move about the city throughout the day and leave to the suburbs in the evening. Even though the operator knows exactly where to put the cars, in reality getting 500 people to go and bring them back every day just isn’t feasible. Companies that can combine these two goals are what is necessary for proper fleet distribution management.
Another operational challenge for ChargerHelp! is recruiting and training people with little to no experience in clean technology, and giving them the tools required to be the best possible EV charging maintenance technicians. They are creating technology that will help bridge the knowledge gap. The hardest thing about this is to look at so many different skill sets and to decide which are the best skill sets for this industry. With level 2 charging stations you can just swap them out, but with DC fast chargers, you can’t just swap out, you need someone on the other end to do a Q&A with your network operator on the phone.
If you’re doing it right, you will never get to a point where it’s perfect and easy, there is always room for improvement and growth within the operational process.
HOW WOULD YOU BALANCE INCENTIVISING VS CREATING A NEW WORKFLOW?
If you see users struggling with a problem that there could be a solution for, it’s important to do that calculation, even if it’s a fixed rate resource. For example if the average hourly rate equals X, the extra hours spent on this problem is Y, that equals Z number of dollars per month that is being spent on not fixing this process that may actually reduce this number to zero. You need to be honest with yourself, and think both short term and long term to avoid these issues by developing a new process or workflow. Make sure you do assessments.
Shared mobility operations is all about your people. Knowing who you are hiring is important. Goal oriented people are come in motivated! Having a standard tracking system within your company to measure certain metrics/pain points can be useful when problem solving. ChargerHelp! has three metrics, how fast their operators are getting to site, how fast they are getting paid and the customer/net promoter score (NPS). When you hire goal oriented people, if there is a dip with any of these metrics, they will be self-motivated in figuring out how to fix this. On the back of this, having a hierarchy within your organization is key to managing a highly motivated team, especially a team of leaders and self-starters.
If you like our Financial Fridays webinar and would like to watch more, check out the previous episode here and our Multimodal Mondays series here.