By Payal Gwalani
As all of us grew more comfortable with working from home as the global pandemic raged through 2021, the ride hailing industry was suffering badly. Many of the drivers who got onboard the new-age gig economy with the intention of having a flexible source of an additional income were already considering ‘throwing the keys’. Some others had already moved over to the food delivery services which were in a much higher demand.
Amid all the chaos, Singapore based ride-hailing firm TADA realised that the lack of contractual employment for drivers meant a lot of stress regarding job and financial security. In order to ease this stress, they came up with several ways to ensure that they can prove to be a reliable source of income for their drivers. The silver lining is that these initiatives have also helped the company experience a growth in ridership over the past year.
Empathy Towards Gig Workers
General Manager of TADA, Jonathan Chua tells AsiaBizToday of all the steps the company took for the well being of its drivers, and how it helped them grow. He believes that during the pandemic people started paying more attention to private-hire drivers and other gig economy workers, hailing them as frontliners. There was also a general sense of empathy towards them when it was understood how ‘commission’ could take a toll on their livelihoods.
While most drivers joined in to make a decent side income, they soon found out that the fares are getting lower while the cost of driving climbs up, he shares. “TADA has been a zero-commission platform for drivers since its inception, which we hope would help lighten the burden of private-hire drivers with regards to the rising driving costs. Another thing that most drivers value and recognise us for is that they are given the freedom to accept only the trips they want to take. All this makes them feel like driver-partners in the real sense,” he informs.
Additional Revenue Streams
Recently, the company also started a Driver-to-Rider Referral program which provides monetary incentives to drivers for introducing the service to passengers on board. Many of the drivers had been doing this voluntarily over the years, so the company devised a system to add $2 to their balance every time drivers referred a passenger to TADA. In order to add to the drivers’ revenue stream, the company also introduced on-demand delivery, corporate bookings and advance bookings.
“Whether it is before or during the pandemic times, we have never stopped exploring new services that could potentially be new additions to TADA’s envisaged mobility ecosystem, and more importantly, bring extra income to the driver-partners on our platform. To date, other than ride hailing, on-demand delivery, corporate service and wet market grocery delivery service have also been introduced,” tells Chua.
Keeping Drivers Happy
In order to better understand the needs and thoughts of the driver partners, the company also has an official Telegram channel. Riders can also chime in there to share their honest opinions and raise app-related issues. The chatroom which was started three years ago is very active even today. A special team keeps up with the conversations in the chatroom all the time and raises the relevant issues with the higher authorities.
He says that while introducing the service to their passengers, many drivers tell riders that without the ‘up to 20% commission’, fairer fares that meet both drivers and passengers’ expectations can happen when riding with TADA. He informs that many drivers have told the company over and over that they feel more relaxed when on TADA as they earn more money from each ride while having the freedom to reject rides they don’t want to take without worrying about being penalised. “We all love to meet more cheerful drivers and only when driver-partners feel happy and comfortable at driving, riders will have more TADA car rides. Happy Driver, Happy Rider!” explains Chua about the company’s focus on keeping the drivers happy.
Along with the services, the company is also working towards becoming a more sustainable business. It will soon be rolling out its first electric vehicles off the assembly line in Phnom Penh. The team is also in the process of of developing more exciting products towards the vision of making mobility fair, rewarding and sustainable.
“We are grateful for the trust our driver-partners have placed in us despite being a small player in the local ride-hailing market and also not commission-based. Drivers stay with us because they believe in the zero-commission model, and its benefits for the ride-hailing community (both drivers and riders) in the long run,” opines Chua. It’s perhaps this underlying benefit of their service that the company received the ride-hail service operator licence from LTA in 2020.