Today, bike sharing is ubiquitous in most major North American cities. As places like Chicago and New York continue to grow as hubs for both business and living, traditional means of transportation like cars have become less and less viable. Not only has traffic become an issue, but the emissions from cars are also irreparably damaging the environment. There are often options for some form of public transit, but the scheduling, availability, and cost can be prohibitive.
People are increasingly choosing bike sharing for its flexibility, affordability, and environmental sustainability. In addition, physical activity is welcomed by many over sitting in a car or on a bus.
Motivate LLC was founded in 2010 with the mission to revolutionize the landscape of our cities by making bikes as a means of transportation more widely accessible. “It's really about sustainable living in urban environments,” says Matthew Parker, Motivate’s CEO.
The urban operations and logistics company is based in Manhattan, New York, and employs over 1,000 people in large cities across the U.S. Motivate services anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 bikes depending on the season, and riders took over 33 million trips on Motivate-operated bikes in 2019. In New York alone, Parker says Motivate averages 85,000 rides per day, and services a total of 20,000 bikes.
The workforce of Motivate’s largest business, supporting bike sharing systems, is largely focused on two major operations: maintenance and repair of bikes and bike stations, and balancing the system by positioning bikes to ensure both bikes and station docks are available when and where riders need them. Bike maintenance and repair happens both in the field and at the company’s various depots. Motivate is also leveraging its expertise developed in bike share operations into other urban logistics businesses, such as supporting e-bike last-mile delivery services and maintaining urban street hygiene.
“My employees in the field repair bikes, including swapping batteries used on our e-bike fleet, and moving bikes to handle large amounts of traffic at high demand locations like Penn Station and Grand Central Station,” says Joe Desimone, Regional General Manager for New York and Jersey City. “We also do a lot of disinfecting to make sure that the bikes and stations are clean. Behind the scenes there is a lot happening. In New York, we have almost 500 people running the operation on a 24/7 basis.”
The nature of Motivate’s business means that its workforce is uniquely structured. “Our workforce is a combination of mobile and fixed employees. Approximately 60% of our workforce is mobile, and works outside of a fixed location,” says Parker.
One of the biggest challenges Motivate faces with regards to managing a highly mobile workforce is time tracking and productivity “Approximately 70% of our costs are associated with labor, so we really need to understand the hours and productivity of our workforce,” says Parker.
In addition, the seasonality of the industry causes some fluctuation in staffing levels throughout the year. Approximately half of Motivate’s workforce is either part-time or seasonal, and because of this, as well as turnover, the company onboards over 1,000 employees annually. “The volume of our recruiting places a lot of strain on the People team and the local managers who are responsible for training and onboarding new hires to their teams,” says Luis Almonte, Director of People Operations.
With high labor costs and a complex workforce structure, Motivate needs real-time data to ensure the company is operating as efficiently as possible. “As an operations and logistics company, everything we do is driven by the data we see in front of us,” says Desimone. “Data gives us the power to not only see what is happening, but also look for trends and do forecasting on anything from how many trips our riders will take, to how many people we’ll need to be able to support operations.”
Parker adds, “Relying on modern technology and the data it provides can really help us be more efficient with our labor.”
Motivate began its partnership with Ceridian in 2016, and is using Dayforce for payroll, benefits administration, workforce management, recruiting, and performance management. Prior to Dayforce, the company did not have a streamlined system for its HR processes. “We used to have a collection of multiple systems that didn’t speak to each other very well. What we needed was a one-stop shop for payroll, benefits, and workforce management that would give managers and our leadership team access to information they needed, when they needed it.” says Almonte.
Since implementing a unified solution for time and pay, Motivate has seen a 33% reduction in time to commit payroll. “Payroll used to be a manual, error-prone, three-day process. Since transitioning to Dayforce, we're able to run our payroll in just two days, and we're able to have all our information in one system,” says Almonte.
Motivate has also seen increased efficiencies in its recruiting and onboarding processes, which has allowed the company to double in size in the span of four years. “Having all of that recruiting, onboarding, and employee information in Dayforce has allowed us to hire thousands of people over the course of the last four years. It's allowed us to manage our headcount really precisely, and make my team more efficient,” says Almonte.
The biggest shift, however, that the Motivate team has seen since partnering with Ceridian is in managing its mobile workforce. “The vast majority of our workforce, especially during the peak biking season, spends nearly all of their time in the field. We have to make sure we have a clear, consistent process that allows employees to capture their time, and allows their managers to verify that it's accurate with geolocation,” says Almonte. “We're able to do that using the Dayforce mobile app.”
Not only has the mobile app allowed Motivate to better manage its employees in the field, but it’s also directly creating efficiencies in labor hours each day. “The ability to clock in and out on the Dayforce app as opposed to having those mobile employees come into the warehouse has enabled us to save 30 to 60 minutes per employee, per shift,” says Almonte.
Given the number of Motivate employees that are working each day, and how much travel time they are saving by being able to clock in directly from the field, Desimone says mobile clocking adds up to considerable labor cost savings for the company.
Parker also adds that Motivate’s workforce is already using their mobile devices for other areas of their jobs, and so adding the time tracking functionality just made sense from a productivity perspective. “It's seamless being able to do everything in one place,” he says. “The feedback we've gotten from our employees has been nothing but spectacular.”
Data is at the heart of everything Motivate does. Ensuring that it has timely and accurate data on its largest cost – its workforce – is crucial.
“It's very important for us to use data to determine what our labor models look like, and Dayforce is a really powerful tool for that,” says Parker. “We're able to use data to optimize how many people we need per shift, where our most productive shifts are, and then recalibrate our business model and our labor model based on that data.”
Almonte says that both Parker and Motivate’s CFO, Kenneth Ezeadichie, rely heavily on the data that Dayforce provides to analyze and make strategic decisions about budgeting, forecasting, and hiring. “We wouldn't be able to run our business using the systems we had in the past. The data that Dayforce provides our senior leadership team means that we’re able to run our labor costs as efficiently as possible with as little overhead as possible,” says Almonte.
Motivate tracks day to day profitability by incorporating labor cost data from Dayforce into its revenue streams. Parker says this helps the company understand whether it's hitting the correct margins or not and make adjustments in real-time as needed.
This data-driven approach to smart decision-making for the business has paid off for Motivate. “Having real-time access to Dayforce data has enabled us to reduce our labor spend by 4%, which is equivalent to approximately $1.2 million annualized,” says Parker.
Trying to form an accurate view into what the future of the bike sharing industry will look like is difficult. There are many external factors at play, and disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic mean that companies need to be prepared to reevaluate and adapt their operational agility. “This year alone, the market has gotten a lot more difficult because of COVID-19,” says Parker. “We were able to react very quickly however by analyzing demand and labor data and making adjustments as needed.”
Parker says that embracing modern technology has helped give Motivate a leg-up on the competition over the past four years, while also allowing them to adjust as the industry evolves. “Technology has helped our teams be more productive, make more informed decisions, and enabled our business to grow based on data analytics,” he says.
Almonte adds that when Motivate was looking for an HCM system, it was thinking about the long-term growth of both the partnership and the company. “We needed a system that was going to grow and change with our business,” he says. “Dayforce allows us to make more intelligent decisions because we have access to the information in a way that we didn't in the past. We would not have been able to grow at the pace we have over the last four years without Dayforce. We're really empowered to run our HR systems the way that we need to for Motivate.”