Peer-to-peer car sharing startup Car Next Door has doubled its marketplace revenue, with 100 per cent year-on-year growth since 2015. With that growth rate comes a lot of new hires, training and systems to make sure the organisation can handle the fast progression, while maintaining its reputation and work culture. Car Next Door Chief Operating Officer Merryn Clancy explains how businesses can scale up, while minimising growing pains.
Car hire is very seasonal, so when we were planning for Car Next Door’s busy summer period we had to more than double one of our teams in four-months. When you hire so many new staff in such a short period of time, you need to get it right. First step is to really understand what you’re looking for in new team members. If you’re not getting the right candidates, you might need to go back to the job description and re-write it. We have a rigorous hiring process – first a phone screen, then an at-home test, interview, trial and finally meeting the team to make sure there is a cultural fit. It’s a big investment of time, but it’s worth it because hiring the wrong people is a huge setback.
With a fast-growing team, it’s important to get them up to speed quickly on your product or service and how you communicate with your customers. Just because you’re hiring a lot of people, it doesn’t mean you can compromise on their training. If you are hiring multiple people into the same role, or similar roles, get them started on the same date so you can do group induction and training. We made sure we had the right training systems in place to induct new people to the business. It’s critical that everyone understands what to do – not just the specifics of their role, but how it fits into the bigger team.
If you are hiring lots of new people into customer-facing roles you want to get on top of gaps in skills or knowledge quickly. That’s where a rigorous Quality Assurance program really kicks into gear. You should regularly be providing staff with feedback on specific interactions they’ve had with customers; what they’ve done well, and what needs improvement. If you’re doing it across a number of people, you should be able to identify trends, do group training or improve procedures and clarify policies so that you’re continuously improving your business and your team’s workflow.
Alongside a great team of people, it’s critical to make sure you have robust technology and systems to support the team and customers. As you grow, the tools you need may change – this is something we are constantly looking at. For example, rather than hiring more people to answer questions, we use data to identify the top issues our customers are contacting us about, then systematically work through the list to see how we can improve our product, so that customers never have this issue in the first place, and that we have a great tools that enable customers to self-service in our help centre. In the event we can’t avoid a customer having to contact us for that issue, we look at how we can improve our tools and processes for the team so that they can provide swift, efficient and friendly service, making that interaction as good as possible for the customer.
Specialised growth teams
Being a two-sided marketplace we need to keep both sides of our marketplace growing at roughly the same rate. Each quarter we set clear objectives about growth, and what key results we are aiming for. From there we have cross-functional teams working together to move growth initiatives and tests through from ideation to launch. Once we launch a test we make sure we come back and review the results, then decide what the next steps are, and what will have the most impact. Do we want to test another iteration of that same test, or do we move on to the next best idea? We report back monthly to the business on what projects have been delivered and how we are standing with our growth goals.
My role as Chief Operating Officer is to help make sure our day-to-day operations teams work as seamlessly as possible, whilst also ensuring that everyone across operations, customer service, marketing, communications and product are aware and engaged in our company goals, how we are going to work together to achieve that and clearing roadblocks as they come up. Basically making sure that we are all pulling in the same direction. It helps to have someone in this role, as it’s hard for busy team leaders and managers who are ‘in the trenches’ to have the time and headspace to take a high-level view.