Article in brief
If commuting is a headache for many at your organisation, rolling out a carpooling program can be an effective solution. Although implementing such a program can be a daunting task. Due to the complexity of the planning, software and logistics required, many managers responsible for addressing their institution’s transportation demands don’t know where to start.
Should you find yourself in this position, there’s guidance available. We’ve provided you with the essential points you’ll need to check off your list when you start to implement your new carpooling program. But first, let’s talk a little more about what carpooling is, how it works, and the problems it can solve for organisations like yours.
The Evolution of Carpooling
Carpooling: Sharing car rides to accommodate more than one person at a time, eliminating the need for riders to drive themselves in separate vehicles.
The concept of carpooling first arose as an economic necessity back in World War II. The American government promoted it as a method of rationing fuel. Carpooling once again became popular in the 1970s, because of a similar scarcity of resources. It was at this time that the first“vanpools” were initiated for employees at Chrysler and 3M.
Carpooling frequency dipped as gas prices lowered, but it did stay active in the 90s among a particular group: college students. Because University campuses offered minimal parking options, students took to sharing rides to save themselves the hassle of finding parking spots.
A few years into the new millennium, technology began to change the carpooling game. GPS systems and smartphones became popular consumer products giving everyday people the basic tools to efficiently arrange their own ride-sharing plans. Tech entrepreneurs seized the opportunity by creating a variety of software for this purpose. This tech development continues today with the market now offering everything from ride-sharing apps for private car use through to carpool management platforms for enterprises - just like our very own Liftango.
Several different carpooling models exist. Some of them are business-friendly, and some are not.
Open vs Exclusive Networks
Perhaps the most common model is based on an open network, where every user in the system can potentially get matched with each other for rides. However, this can raise security concerns for organisations and institutions that want to provide a safe carpooling service among a common employee or student base. That’s why Liftango, for instance, creates trusted networks for each of our clients.
The open-network model also offers less efficiency since users likely have different destinations. Within private networks,carpoolers are typically all traveling to and from the same workplace, school or another same location.
Fixed vs Dynamic Ride-Matching
Inefficiency arises in another traditional model, where ride-matching is based on a pre-defined group, route or zip code. It is then up to the matched users to coordinate their journey and trip planning together. Compare that to dynamic ride-matching, like that of Liftango, which adapts to meet real-time demands and smartly arranges the most optimal routes.
Cost-Sharing vs No-Cost to Users
Many carpooling platforms have also adopted a cost-sharing model. They split costs with their users by charging fees. This setup is one of the most counterproductive for business purposes as it creates yet another obstacle to user uptake. Setting up carpooling is already hard without adding additional friction. Commuters are less likely to use a carpool program when they have to pay and enter their payment information into the system.
Liftango has pioneered a no-cost model for users instead, and even further incentivises participation by offering rewards for frequent carpooling. Rewards are funded by a portion of the client’s subscription fee - a small yet effective investment for keeping carpoolers active and engaged.
Why Does My Organisation Need Carpooling?
Organisations through Australia and beyond are facing a number of problems stemming from inefficient commuting:
- Local traffic congestion is making it hard for organisation members to reach the office (campus, etc.), as well as customers and other important visitors.
- On-site parking facilities don’t have the capacity to accommodate all commuters, but expansion requires hefty capital and real estate.
- Commuters with long travel times are experiencing higher rates of stress, as well as lower rates of productivity and job satisfaction.
- Carpooling provides a solution satisfying requirements for commute benefit ordinances or workplace travel plans.
A well-planned carpooling program can alleviate all of these problems with minimal expense and management. But to accomplish this, you’ll first need to have a clear idea of what’s required. So without further ado, let’s move on to the checklist of must-haves for a successful carpooling implementation.
The Essential Checklist
1. Find Your Champion
One of the first things to do is appoint your carpooling “champion” - the person who will be the face of the new program and will drive others to get onboard. Look for someone who can get along well with people and has the energy to generate excitement. It’s a big bonus if your champion is in a position where they’re already a familiar face to most of the departments within your organisation.
2. Nail Communication
In order for your carpooling program to attract and engage users, you need to be able to communicate its benefits, the problems it solves, and how it works. Coordinate with the right stakeholders on what needs to be highlighted in your internal messaging and how this will be executed. Ask: is this the most effective way to communicate these points and achieve our goals?
3. Establish Your Uptake Triggers
To build a healthy group of users, you will first need to identify triggers that will incentivise uptake. These are ideally benefits that address your users’ most significant pain points and will motivate them to convert to carpooling. Examples of powerful uptake triggers include exclusive parking, discounted parking in premium locations and ongoing monthly rewards. In fact, we recommend you make the hassle of parking on-site the main driver for uptake, by providing carpoolers with parking benefits thatSOV drivers don’t get.
4. Gamify Your System
Your program should have incentives not just for uptake, but also for continued usage. “Gamification” of your program can reward positive behavior in users when they reach certain milestones or achieve a specified amount of activity. Rewards can take the form of digital vouchers or other low-investment, high-gratification gifts.
5. Build Your Group of Advocates
Have a plan in place for identifying and cultivating program advocates once you’ve gained your first crop of users. Like your designated “champion”, these early adopters should have the personality and energy conducive to reinforcing your program’s messaging and converting more of their peers into users. Give them the information and tools they need to be effective evangelists.
6. Find Your Balance through Analysis
Your program’s initial run will likely reveal that some fine-tuning needs to be done when it comes to managing supply and demand. Review the data to ensure a healthy balance of available drivers and rider trip requests. Ideally, the software platform you choose should collect all relevant information and present analytics in a way that makes it easy to assess program health and performance.