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How Bolt has built a solid driver community in Ghana

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The year was 2017. A new entrant had quietly started operations in Ghana in a relatively new field. Ride-hailing had become mainstream in the Western world after going through unforeseen pains of rapid expansion, legal hurdles and eventually, acceptance as part of the urban transportation ecosystem.

Accra was going through its own unique experiences with ride-hailing apps when Bolt entered the scene. Having found success in several African cities at that point, Bolt sought to replicate the model in one of West Africa’s leading economies. Without an extensive public transport system across major cities, Ghana presented a golden opportunity to find a niche in the heart of the populace. While taxis and ‘trotros’ were the established go-to options, with defined routes and numbers in the thousands, the early adopters of ride-hailing services were left frustrated with either no rides available or longer wait times.

Today, Bolt has emerged as Ghana’s leading ride-hailing service. Thousands of rides crisscross eight major regional capitals in Ghana daily: Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast, Takoradi, Ho, Koforidua, Sunyani, and Tamale. However, it did not start this way. Understandably, uptake was slow. That was to be expected.

Go where the people are.

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Ghana has a mobile phone penetration of over 100%. Practically everyone had a phone when Bolt started. Coupled with the smartphone revolution of the last decade, where cheaper entry-level handsets made apps accessible to potential customers across classes, Bolt entered the market at just the right time. The simplicity of requesting a ride that would come to you and take you directly to your preferred location played a part. This was something new. The rides also came at a reasonable cost, comparable to what had become known in everyday language as “dropping”.

Thus, riders were able to get a ride in less than 10 minutes without having to stand by the side of the road. At the same time, drivers were able to park and get ride requests to come directly to them. This represented a win-win for both rider and the driver. And with that, Bolt was set on the path of growing in a new market.

Experience teaches us, however, that novelty is not enough to sustain a business. Five years later, Bolt has achieved success built on a solid strategy of competitive pricing and a user-friendly app. Ultimately, the company’s driver-focused efforts have led to massive recruitment and rapid expansion. The community of drivers has seen the mutual benefits of driving with Bolt, which has been reflected in the company’s bottom line.

Here is an overview of the policies that made the difference:

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  1. Driver incentives and rewards

One can’t downplay the role that motivation plays in motivating employees to excel. The same applies to our driver partners. Bolt offers drivers various incentives and rewards programmes such as bonuses for completing a set number of trips daily or weekly, or discounts on fuel. These incentives keep drivers motivated and engaged. For example, hardworking drivers across the country are regularly rewarded with prizes from household appliances to brand-new cars. This spirit of healthy competition has grown the driver pool, shortening customer wait times.

  1. Fair and transparent pricing

Bolt drivers make a decent income from their labour. The pricing model is made clear to them from the onset of the relationship. It is also easy to follow, ensuring that drivers can monitor their daily, weekly and monthly earnings. The company’s lower commission of 20% makes driving on Bolt attractive and offers upfront pricing, so drivers know exactly how much they will earn for each trip. Drivers also earn a commission of GHS 2 each time they accept a card trip, which many corporate clients have resorted to using, thus maximising the driver’s earnings.

  1. Driver support and training

The Bolt office regularly provides mandatory and voluntary comprehensive training for drivers. From customer service to safety and navigation, drivers can upgrade their skill set, giving them an advantage over competitor services. There are also 24/7 support channels for drivers, giving them a chance to get assistance with any issues or questions they may have. It also ensures that drivers have a voice and can relay their feedback to Bolt.

  1. Community building

Through various initiatives, such as driver meetups and events, drivers can expand their professional network within the Bolt community. This is similar to the cooperatives that taxi drivers had and continue to be a part of. Drivers can share their experiences and learn from one another. This improves the drivers’ customer service and locks in loyalty from riders for the whole community.

  1. Driver safety is key

Bolt introduced a panic button for drivers if they felt threatened in any way. This ensured that help would locate them. Security features like this make drivers feel more comfortable on trips, especially late at night. Additionally, Bolt is the only ride-hailing service that allows drivers to see the destination of a request before accepting it, giving them more control over where they go.

Everyone is going somewhere. Bolt just made it easier for everyone to do what they were already doing by prioritising the needs and well-being of its drivers. We continue to be intentional about creating a loyal and motivated driver community and we are not slowing down anytime soon.

By David Kotei Nikoi is the Country Manager for Bolt in Ghana.

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