Bellhops

Clock-in Strategies

How might we rethink our workforce clock-in strategy to address customer concerns with hourly rates?

Overview

About the project

Booking a move with Bellhops meant your movers and truck driver arrive separately (unlike conventional moving companies where the team arrives together in the moving truck). Because we operated with an hourly pricing model per Bellhop coupled with the likelihood of Bellhops not always arriving in unison, the question of when to “start the clock” came up frequently with contesting customers. “Why should I start paying for your services when only 1 out of 3 Bellhops is here?”

Team: product, engineering, operations, customer success, pricing team

Goals

Explore options for a fair clock-in policy:

  • Customers aren’t stuck paying an hourly rate when their full team isn’t present and working
  • Bellhops who show up on time aren’t penalized when a teammate is late to the job

Process

Understanding

Backend system configuration

I first partnered with engineering to understand the current ways in which our ordering and billing systems track, calculate, and reconcile the time-based cost and payout of a move. This input was important to consider before exploring the feasibility of one solution over another.

Ideation

User-centered approach

As the team began to ideate, we worked through various timeline scenarios referencing common pitfalls with arrival time. Taking a user-centric approach, in our case, was often two-dimensional: the demand-side (end-user/consumer) and the supply-side (labor/service-provider). As with any two-sided marketplace economy, the needs and wants of of each party were often competing and required a thoughtful compromise to ensuring success on both ends.

Explorations

We explored motivations, incentive and unfair penalties with each actor for each scenario—paying special attention to the nuance of our service (separate Bellhop arrivals, contracted truck drivers, etc.)


Outcomes

Successes:

  • Measured each solution on effort vs. impact in order to reach consensus on an MVP
  • Outlined what a separation of concerns between performance time-logs vs. compensation time-logs vs. billable hours might look like across 3 options
  • Coordinated clock-ins and clock-outs (foreman/team lead clock-in function only tracked for performance not coupled with start of billable time)
  • Partial team discount model (once move is completed, system reconciles the “partial team” portion of the job and issues % reimbursement
  • The ideal option would have been a too heavy lift for engineering, so we compromised and started with an option to retrain around a new clock-in policy requiring at least two BH be present before the clock starts = “functional team”
  • Introduced a “performance” time-log tracked on the backend used for measuring workforce timeliness while not affecting billable time logs—meaning one Bellhop is never penalized for a teammate arriving late and the customer is never charged for 1 Bellhop "standing around"

Challenges to overcome:

  • The clock-in functionality on our backend directly translated to billable time and compensation logic. There was no additional logic that accounted for discrepancies related to partial teams/late arrivals
  • Feasibility: the proposed solutions involved a bifurcation or decoupling our time-log logic which was going to a significant engineering effort that couldn’t be prioritized

Successful proof of concept:

  • This method proved to cut down on the expense of single-use, wasteful cardboard and is generally easier since no assembly or disassembly of boxes is required
  • Customers enjoyed the ease of use, environmentally-friendly aspect, and low-cost alternative to buying boxes
  • Bellhops (movers) were bought-in because bins stacked neatly eliminating the need to play “Tetris” with irregular boxes
  • Offered a novelty aspect to the experience = potential mnemonic value-add to the brand
  • Pursued partnership opportunities with IKEA who proposed a co-branded promotion and purchase discount—since our offering aligned with their sustainability initiative


Challenges to overcome:

  • Required truck drivers to store plastic containers on their trucks permanently occupying space between moves
  • Needed to explore solutions for reusing/returning the liner component (IKEA bags) since most customers didn’t see a use for keeping 20+ bags long-term
  • Determine the value of manufacturing Bellhops-branded bags vs. continuing to use IKEA-branded bags going forward


Read more on my Medium post Unbox Move Day