Today everyone wants access goods without the hassle of owning it. Carsharing promises just that: somebody else takes care of refuelling and cleaning. But how does it work? I talked to EcoService, a shared mobility infield operator for two carsharing services in Vancouver, to find out what happens behind the scene.
EcoService was founded in 2010 by three millennia: Jeremy, Henry and William. The three entrepreneurs were shown a waterless 100% biodegradable product to clean cars. They decided to give it a try figuring that there must be a market in a city like Vancouver that is all about sustainability. But the automotive cleaning industry is a veteran; not exactly open to new ideas.
So it’s no surprise that it took them a fair amount of time to convince Zipcar to let them run a small pilot. Initially, they were only allowed to clean seven cars: within four months Zipcar was not only convinced that the waterless cleaning met their cleanliness standards, but the guys also delivered on their promises of high quality and customer service. Today, 5 years later, EcoService takes care of about 2 – 2,500 vehicles a month and has grown from 3 to over 20 staff.
Will keeps calling EcoService “an infield operator” and I have to ask: aren’t they just washing cars? He shakes his head and explains that it is more complicated than that. He tells me me that his team are the eyes on the ground for the carsharing provider: they check exterior and interior for damage, collect parking tickets or lost items, refuel and even relocate vehicles for the operators. Not only should a good cleaning partner take care of all of that but should also have local knowledge of the city and its traffic patterns to optimize and increase efficiency of their staff and routing. EcoService has even developed an in-house with some pretty cool algorithms that helps with this task.
One of the biggest challenges of the cleaning industry is that it is labor intense. It’s not exactly sexy to clean cars, rain or shine, and be paid minimum wage. Which is why the detailing industry has a terrible retention rate. Yet happy and purpose driven employees translate directly into satisfied customers, says William. So the three founders decided to take a different approach to Human Resources, mimicking the models of tech companies. They don’t believe in minimum wage, offer full benefits and implement a creative reward and recognition system. They have ranking charts, contests and team experiences: anything from watershed tours to movie tickets, video game tournaments and BBQs. And EcoService’s approach has paid off, by now they can pick from the best people in the industry.
Will still sees EcoService as an early startup in a growing industry, carsharing but there is also an increased demand in concierge services. Who would not love to have their car cleaned while their working? But since EcoService likes to be the best at whatever they do, the focus is on keeping it simple. Will says the main goal is to help their clients win market share by taking the in-field logistic worries completely off their plate so they can focus on growing the business. EcoService is building a company around offering the customer the ultimate ultimate convenience for a reasonable price.