GREEN RIDE COLORADO is a well-known local award-winning leader in shuttle buses to and from Denver International Airport. For such a commodity service, people are constantly surprised at how they give a special experience of customer service and professionalism.
It all starts with the culture.
I had a chance to speak with Bob Flynn recently, who started Green Ride with Ray Schofield, and is a wonderful friend. He wanted to start this company because he was tired of working for bosses who treated employees like generic machines. And he really didn’t like being a manager in that environment.
So Ray and Bob went out and started their own company, to create the kind of employee culture that they would love.
Bob is also a bit of a greenie – he doesn’t own a car himself – so he was attracted to the idea of mass transportation as a way to be friendlier to the environment. And as you can see, that’s the core message of their services: By sharing rides to and from the airport, you’re saving money and reducing your footprint on the environment.
Bob is also a leadership junkie, devouring leading edge knowledge in this area. So he understands very well that what his customers experience comes directly from employees. The most important roles in the entire company are drivers and reservations agents, because those are the primary touchpoints for their customers.
So how does Green Ride find these fantastic employees? It’s incredibly simple: “I believe that almost everybody wants to do the right thing, and most often it’s management that forces it out of them.” The company hires primarily for attitude, and secondarily for the other job skills.
What’s the right attitude for this environment?
- Friendly, engaging, conversational
- Compassionate, respectful, trusting
- Helpful, wanting to set things right
- Takes responsibility for own actions, including screwups
Like all great companies, they promote stories which demonstrate how they live up to their values. When an employee accidentally put regular gas in a diesel engine, he immediately owned up to his mistake and it cost the company $300. If he had hoped for the best and continued to drive the bus, it would have ruined the engine, stranded customers, and destroyed their schedule for days.
Every time I’ve ridden a Green Ride shuttle, I’ve taken the opportunity to ask the driver about how they like their work. Unlike other companies, I’ve been shocked to see how much they love their job, respect their co-workers and support staff, and understand how the company works. You rarely see that with people in these roles in a 100-person company.
When I talked about Altruism versus Deep Values a few weeks ago, I pointed out that the best test is to see how a company trades off profit against its core goals. So it’s instructive to see how Bob talks about the role of making a profit.
He’s very clear that profit is a measurement tool which allows them to see how the company is performing. So they have to be very careful in expanding their territory (huge regulatory investments), purchasing $30,000 buses, and carefully designing route plans which optimize driving and get customers to the airport on time.
But all of those are just tools in creating a company which employs motivated, creative and productive people, and delivers extraordinary service for customers. In a highly competitive industry.
An example? Right now they’re working on how to offer medical insurance for employees. It’ll take a significant bite out of the financials, yet support employees and their families. So it’s a tough, tough issue – but I think that Bob, Ray and their team will find a solution which will make everyone happy.