On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks to Michael from SHARE Mobility about commuter benefits.
Some Conversation Highlights:
Very simply, we work with big companies and help them understand what employees need help with commuting and commuter benefits. And we build turnkey transportation as a service program to help those companies get their employees to work. We work with a variety of different types of companies, but most of them are manufacturing, logistics or other organizations that have a large number of hourly workers. These are the individuals that are spending a large portion of their income on the commute or they’re relying on public transit to get there. And for so many jobs, about 86% of all companies in the US, there’s no bus as an option to get there, especially if you’re crossing a county line to get to work.
And so we help companies understand how transportation is actually a huge barrier to them filling their jobs. And that if you can tell somebody that you have transportation for employees, you can get more people to say yes to the job and you’ll retain those employees longer. It all happens on this software platform that we’ve built. It’s a proprietary, mobility as a service (commuter benefits), software platform and it allows us to open up really efficient transportation services in any part of the country. And we’re really good at working with companies that are in rural areas and have a workforce that’s coming from an urban area.
Listening time: 21 minutes
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Ryan McManus & Michael MartensFollow
Announcer: 00:00 This is Recruiting Daily’s Recruiting Live Podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three year old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
William Tincup: 00:34 Ladies and gentleman, this is William Tincup, and you are listening to the Recruiting Daily podcast. Today we have Ryan and Michael on from Share Mobility and our topic today is Commuter Benefits. I can’t wait to talk about this because I have this funny story, about a year ago, a friend of mine, he’s a recruiter in the Bay Area, called me and basically said, “I need to figure out synonyms for the word commute.” And the bit was he would get all the way through the process and get someone all the way to a yes and then the CO, you got to be two days in the office, whatever the bit was. And then they’d drop out of the process. And so I can’t wait to talk to y’all about all kinds of things commute related. Why don’t we do introductions first. Michael, why don’t you go first then Ryan and then one of you introduce Share Mobility.
Michael Martens: 01:29 Perfect. I’ll jump in because I’ll let Ryan, our founder, give the big message. But Michael Martins, based in Columbus, Ohio. I am Share Mobility’s chief growth Officer. I’ve been with the company a little over three and a half years.
Ryan McManus: 01:45 William, great to be here. My name is Ryan McManus, I’m the CEO and founder at Share Mobility. Like Michael, I’m in Columbus, Ohio and since 2016, I’ve been building this company and I think we’re going to transform the way that people commute and get to work.
William Tincup: 02:03 Let’s talk a little bit about Share Mobility so that everyone understands what it is and what it does.
Ryan McManus: 02:10 Very simply, we work with big companies and help them understand what employees need help with commuting. And we build turnkey transportation as a service program to help those companies get their employees to work. We work with a variety of different types of companies, but most of them are manufacturing, logistics or other organizations that have a large number of hourly workers. These are the individuals that are spending a large portion of their income on the commute or they’re relying on public transit to get there. And for so many jobs, about 86% of all companies in the US, there’s no bus as an option to get there, especially if you’re crossing a county line to get to work.
02:55 And so we help companies understand how transportation is actually a huge barrier to them filling their jobs. And that if you can tell somebody that you have transportation for employees, you can get more people to say yes to the job and you’ll retain those employees longer. It all happens on this software platform that we’ve built. It’s a proprietary, mobility as a service, software platform and it allows us to open up really efficient transportation services in any part of the country. And we’re really good at working with companies that are in rural areas and have a workforce that’s coming from an urban area.
William Tincup: 03:34 Oh, I thought this. I wrote down transportation as a service, but then you corrected it as, mobility as a service.
Ryan McManus: 03:41 Either one works. The reality is, the HR person that we’re talking to, doesn’t know or really care about either of those terms. What they should care about is that transportation is a way to fill jobs.
William Tincup: 03:55 Right. And especially so, the hourly workers, because years ago, I think it was Google or Apple, I can’t remember, but they were using buses to bus people. They were living in San Francisco proper, out to their complex, which was kind of seen as a perk. You don’t have to worry about Uber, you do anything with a car. The Bus is going to come by and you can just get on the bus and the buses were plush. I got on one at one point. I’m like, “Wow.” I picked the wrong profession evidently. But it was a nice experience. But I could see that on the high end. But y’all have tackled it, which is wonderful, is the kind of the inefficiency of talent at the hourly. Which again, there’s not a lot of applications, there’s not a lot of folks that focus on the hourly, as much as they do at corporate. I love what you’ve done, this is fantastic.
Ryan McManus: 04:56 Thanks. Things like the Google bus have been around for a decade or more. They slowed down a little bit during COVID, but they’re back up and running. But for companies in Middle America, they had never even thought about how to do this. Google Benefits, they’ve got two full-time mobility managers on staff, or at least they used to. And it takes a lot of resources to manage a plush charter bus program for your employees. We make that a really simple turnkey service, so that the HR person doesn’t have to become an expert on transportation to help their employees.
William Tincup: 05:32 Michael, it’s like the concept of transportation provided.
Michael Martens: 05:38 Absolutely. And it’s funny you mentioned the Google bus, William, it’s something Ryan and I have talked about and what we’re helping these companies with the hourly workforce really do through that turnkey model, is implement their own version right size, where they want go. One of the unique things about the software platform that we’ve built, is we get really granular with the companies. We map and visualize where their workforce is currently coming from. We look at population density data, we look at socioeconomic data, to really help them laser focus in where their recruitment efforts are. And it helps them recruit from distances they were not able to unlock previously.
06:20 We have some routes that are 60 to 90 minutes long. They’ve been able to open up those markets by providing just that right, mobility as a benefit. Taking away that commute for that hourly employee, putting that financial savings back into their pocket. With what we see with the CPI right now, it’s up 9.1%. It’s costing those families an additional roughly $500 a month. But our average riders across the country are saving a little over $5,000 a year. And if you’re earning 15, 16, $17 an hour, that is a significant financial savings. Yeah, that’s what Ryan and I do. We really help educate these companies on the absolute benefit of the commuter benefits, introducing mobility.
William Tincup: 07:07 Let’s talk a little bit about the roots, Ryan. Obviously, population density, you’re looking at where the people are, because it’s interesting that the parallel to hunger and food. We make enough food in the world to feed everybody, but the food isn’t necessarily where the people are. We have poverty, we have people that die of starvation, et cetera, because we have a logistics problem. It’s a big problem, people die, so I get it. You’re solving a different logistics problem. There’s talent over here and in the next county, let’s say, the town next over. You have talent over here, jobs over here. And so you’re bridging the gap. I want to get into the roots part and kind of how you help visualize that for the HR leader or whomever you’re dealing with. Take us into that part, first.
Ryan McManus: 08:07 The problem you just pointed out is called a spatial mismatch. And it’s that the people aren’t where the jobs are and where the jobs are being created, they don’t have enough people. We see this time and time again where you have very large facilities and tax abated real estate that’s outside of the county, where the employees are living. And with almost no exception in the US, anytime you cross a county line, there’s no public transit that follows you there. There’s very few exceptions of this and it’s based on how public transit is funded and the funding getting distributed to the county level and then requiring local subsidy to fill the gap in the budget. Well, there’s just not enough dollars and they never want to see it cross the county line.
08:52 What we do is we start by having the company provide us their employee address data. This data gets fed into our software and we help the HR team map and visualize where their employees live. We overlay socioeconomic data, income data and density to show them, where do you already have a large number of employees coming from where there are more employees that you could find. And we can predict which employees are likely to need transportation. And it’s based on who’s spending 20% or more of their income on the commute. And that data and we call it a commuter analysis, that’s what we use to convince the companies that they have a problem and then to communicate with their leadership team, why if solving this problem is going to help them fill their jobs. The routes get built by our software.
09:50 We have virtual bus stops that are dynamically created to be a quarter mile or less than where employees live. The employees are meeting up with their coworkers at a bus stop that’s in their neighborhood and the time they’re choosing for the van is based on when they need to arrive to work. And so, one of the big innovations of our software is that we get the rides to be booked and scheduled in advance. And we have workers booking months of transportation. And because we know all of that demand in advance, we can build hyper efficient routes.
10:30 The employees themselves, on average, save $5,000 a year versus the cost of driving. You’re in Arlington, so they run a Via service there, with Arlington, that’s an instant on demand model, it’s exactly like Uber and it requires vehicles and drivers to be out waiting for work. Well, we can produce 30% more rides at the same cost, because of the scheduling advantage of our software. And so it’s a fundamental shift in on demand transportation where people are able to depend on something in advance. Uber, you can’t depend that, that vehicle’s going to be available for you in the morning. You can’t depend that it’s going to get you there on time. And in rural areas, you absolutely can’t depend that there’s going to be a vehicle waiting for you there at the end of your shift.
William Tincup: 11:26 That’s right.
Ryan McManus: 11:27 We handle all of that.
William Tincup: 11:28 I love that. And Michael, we’ve talked about it from a candidate perspective. This is a great way to recruit talent. But it’s also, I would assume that when you’re talking to the business, when you’re talking to the C-suite and above, this is also a retention strategy for the employees that they already have. Because in hourly work, it’s all a game kind of turnover and churn, of attrition. How do we keep the folks that we have? This is also how do we recruit them? Check, got that. But it’s also how do we keep them? Do I have that right?
Michael Martens: 12:06 Without a doubt. This is absolutely not just a tool for filling jobs. It is a monster retention tool. The manufacturing logistics companies that we work with see 30, 40, 50, 60% turnover. If you’re at 50% turnover, that means every two years, it’s a completely new set of faces. And the cost of recruiting, the cost of training and onboarding and that productivity ramp up, all are, they’re either direct costs or indirect costs that they can see on a P&L. And part of our process and that information gathering that Ryan was talking about, we get that anonymous data, but then we also survey the workforce. Mapping and understanding where the workforce is coming from is kind of relatively new for our HR partners. But understanding the commuting behavior. We ask how do you get to work? We’re able to break down from the employers, 75% drive by themselves, 15% carpool, 5% take public transit.
13:08 And then we start to talk to them about, if your company offered this, would you sign up? We ask direct questions, William, about if you took this, would you stay at this job longer? Would you refer friends and family? We’re really building that, filling up open jobs and that retention use case out of the gate. And I can tell you from the numerous companies we have programs with and we’ve done these surveys, there is a high percentage that stay at jobs longer. And also they become the recruitment tool for those companies by referring friends and family because I’m sure they have a friend that might not have a reliable vehicle or might not want to commute that far, and if they can take that pain point away, this becomes a monster retention tool, on top of helping them fill their open jobs.
William Tincup: 13:56 I love to say, it makes so much sense, but y’all have done this for a while so you’ve run into some walls, I would only understand. Ryan, what objections do people give you?
Ryan McManus: 14:12 Well, it starts with we’ve never heard of this, we’ve never done this before.
Michael Martens: 14:17 It’s not budgeted.
Ryan McManus: 14:19 … and who needs it. Well really consistently, everybody knows that they have a transportation problem, but the HR departments often don’t collect the data on it. And some of that is for good reason. They’re not allowed to know who owns a car or not. And so they also don’t really track the turnover as it relates to transportation. They don’t understand what commuter benefits are. They don’t necessarily know who might need it. And then the third is really, this is a cost they don’t cover today. This is not an expense. And that’s where I think we have to help them understand that they’re already paying for the commute, it’s just happening inefficiently, individually and post tax. And so they’re already paying for it, its just they don’t see it as a line item.
William Tincup: 15:11 Right. I would assume that, Michael, that they probably see it as an operations issue, not an HR issue.
Michael Martens: 15:19 Yeah. There is a little bit of where does that responsibility fall into, who owns this problem? But where we found success is really working with both the operations and the HR side. The operations are the ones that feel the pain of being 20, 30% open on jobs that turnover a lack of productivity, because the ops are really the team that has that KPIs that they need to drive to and HR helps them recruiting. A lot of our conversations that we have, William, we bring HR and ops in and we kind of talk bluntly like, “Hey, this is a problem you both share, but we can help solve it.”
15:59 It is kind of a little bit of that hot potato at a company, but through the data analysis, we’re able to perform, the survey data, we’re able to get. Ryan, myself and our team are able to articulate the value proposition, articulate the ROI, because from there, it obviously goes to finance to bless. But yeah, we’ve learned that quickly, as you said, kind of hitting that wall. We’ve learned we have to bring those decision makers and stakeholders into those conversations as early as possible because they both win when we’re able to fill jobs and help them retain their talent at a higher rate.
William Tincup: 16:33 Dumb question alert for both of you. Is tax credits for something like this, is that a thing?
Ryan McManus: 16:41 Yeah, we qualify as an IRS, pre-tax benefit and just like health insurance, up to $270 a month can be paid, pre-tax out of the employee’s paycheck for sheer mobility.
William Tincup: 16:56 Cool. I was also thinking from a state or federal level if there’s tax credits that the company could get for utilizing the service.
Ryan McManus: 17:07 Not yet, but we’re definitely working on it.
William Tincup: 17:09 All right. Because that would also be, if that were there, that’d also be an additional sell, an additional way to go in and just say, “Hey, by the way, you’re also going to save some money, this other way.”
Ryan McManus: 17:21 Totally. Most states will save about 50 cents per mile, that we can eliminate. To reduce commuting has a direct benefit to states and it’s one of the reasons why I think they should be creating some incentives for the companies that are doing this.
William Tincup: 17:38 Yeah, it totally makes sense. And you got me there because you said, “Listen, when we do this analysis, we find out that this person’s riding singly, this person’s riding… They live a block from each other and they’re both not carpooling. Maybe they don’t know that they both live that close to each other, et cetera.” But it just seems like, less cars on the road, seems like a good idea. Yeah, I love that. Again, when you’re working with larger companies, do you ever get into or talk to the benefits people or total rewards folks?
Ryan McManus: 18:21 Definitely.
William Tincup: 18:21 We do.
Ryan McManus: 18:22 Why don’t you touch on that?
Michael Martens: 18:24 Yeah, absolutely. Great question, William. Benefits, compensation, human resources, operation. We’re seeing more and more diversity, equity and inclusion. Sometimes it’s a little different by company in terms of maybe they were Google searching this or they’ve heard from, they’ve seen a article we’ve written. It’s sometimes a mix by company, but that’s kind of part of that coalition I was talking about earlier, trying to get all the decision makers and stakeholders in on some of the conversations. But sometimes it is different per company we work with, because of where that responsibility falls.
William Tincup: 19:06 A year from now, Ryan, if we’re having this phone call, what’s similar or different for both the category of mobility as a service, but also specifically, Share Mobility?
Ryan McManus: 19:20 Well, I hope a year from now we’re talking about how there’s really universal awareness of what commuter benefits are, with HR professionals in that we’re starting to get employees that are asking for transportation, when they’re going out and seeking their job. For us, from a technology perspective, we’re going to be going deeper into integrations with the HR and payroll systems so that companies are able to scale what we’re doing and take it across the country. Our objective is like Google, we were talking about earlier, Google only does this in the Bay Area. They don’t do it in Ann Arbor and other places. And so we want to be able to help companies replicate commuter benefits across the country and make it something that’s as common as health insurance in their company.
William Tincup: 20:09 I love it. Michael, any parting thoughts?
Michael Martens: 20:14 Yeah, I think to the next year, we’re ready to see continued growth. We’re active in about 15 states right now, but I think what Ryan and I are building here in the power of schedule transportation and just that positive impact to the companies, filling open jobs, helping retain their talent, and then at the state and local level, we’re reducing single occupancy vehicles, We’re helping CO2 emissions by pulling those vehicles off the road. There’s just a great kind of social mission behind what we’re doing as well. But yeah, excited to be on the podcast, William, and definitely thank you for the opportunity.
William Tincup: 20:58 100$. Guys, this is wonderful. I absolutely love what you’ve built and it’s not a solution searching for a problem. This is actually a real problem and I love that you’re tackling it and I wish you all the best.
Ryan McManus: 21:12 Thanks so much for having us.
William Tincup: 21:13 Absolutely.
Ryan McManus: 21:13 Great conversation.
William Tincup: 21:14 And thanks for everyone listening to the Recruiting Daily Podcast. Until next time.
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William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.