After working for Bluely, Lyon’s first all-electric station-based carsharing service, (discontinued in 2020), what drove you to join Leo&Go?
When I was hired at Bluely in 2014, the company was looking for someone with managerial experience who could put the proper procedures in place to improve the service and achieve profitability. I come from a logistics background and while moving goods and moving people around are two different things, both require a high level of organization and robust processes. It was at Bluey that I discovered my passion for the carsharing industry and so I was interested when Vulog approached me to join the Leo&Go team as the Operations Manager.
I decided to join Leo&Go for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I was intrigued by the idea that the company is not just a carsharing operator, but a laboratory to discover how to make shared mobility profitable and the best ways to work with local actors and businesses. I also like the fact that we have a lot of autonomy within our roles and we have the opportunity to build a service from the ground up. The cherry on top is that the company is based in Lyon, the city I was born and raised in and know like the back of my hand.
Is there a “typical Mehdi day” and what would it look like?
For me, every day is different and a lot of what I do is dependent on client usage. This is part of the charm of the role, it is regularly changing! However, two main KPIs really drive what I do on a daily basis. They are ensuring that vehicles are available and that they are located in the right place. I check vehicle availability and placement first thing every morning.
Going above and beyond for our customers is also a big part of my role. I am always communicating with clients, which is very important. Maintaining direct contact with the users builds trust and loyalty, and they will be more likely to let us know when there is a problem with a vehicle. Finally, I also spend time making sure that the cars are clean and deciding which damaged vehicles require reparation.
How have you seen the Leo&Go offer evolve over the last year and a half?
When we first started, we covered a much smaller territory, mainly Lyon and Villeurbanne, but we have since greatly expanded to the surrounding area. We originally started as a purely free-floating service but now also offer a popular free-floating with a pre-booking option as well as a station-based scheduled booking option. Our brand new Leo+ service with its fleet of Teslas is an example of the latter option. We are also moving more and more into the B2B space, which requires a different approach from B2C.
Another aspect that has evolved a lot is the management of our agents. Our agents are responsible for many different tasks, from repositioning the cars to refueling or recharging them to performing minor repairs. It is critical that we recruit polyvalent agents and that we train them well. Equally important is figuring out how to evenly distribute tasks among agents and how to move them from vehicle to vehicle in the most efficient and sustainable way possible. This is where having the right digital tools comes in handy!
In what areas of operations do you think Leo&Go performs especially well and what remains your biggest challenges?
We are extremely strong in ensuring that we have a maximum number of vehicles available at all times. Our availability rate is above 96%, which is really high! A big part of achieving this level is negotiating with local repair shops to guarantee that they prioritize repairing our vehicles.
One main challenge is repositioning our vehicles. As I was born and raised in Lyon, we leverage greatly my knowledge of the city to know which zones require more vehicles and when. I am excited that we are currently working closely with Vulog’s tech team to enhance a smart and predictive tool to help us in this regard.
Adding electric vehicles to our fleet has also posed some new challenges. While they can be quite advantageous – they are cleaner and quieter – they also take longer to charge than thermal vehicles and the charging station networks are also much less developed than gas stations. We don’t want to lose time charging and so we are developing partnerships with charging station operators that allow us to have dedicated windows of time during which we can charge our vehicles.
Based on your experience so far, what’s one piece of advice you have for shared mobility operators for 2023?
Maintaining a close relationship with clients makes all the difference. I literally rerouted by daily jog so that I could run to a customer who had called for support one day! After all, it’s much easier to keep a customer satisfied than to recuperate an unhappy one who you have lost. Listening to their feedback so that we can better evolve our service and keeping the cars clean goes a long way.
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