Lyft started as a simple ridesharing company created by Logan Green and John Zimmer, a service of Zimride a company they founded in 2007. In the summer of 2012, they launched, focusing on linking drivers and passengers together via the Facebook Connect app.
Originally intended for ridesharing for longer trips, the company started to tune in to on-demand ridesharing for shorter trips within cities. Although similar to Zimride, Lyft connected drivers with passengers who were able to rate each other on a five-star scale, helping to establish reputations for all users who were taking advantage of the app.
What grew from strong roots, soon began to cause waves due to the regulatory demands in New York City. Due to these stringent regulations, Lyft decided to alter their business model in order to compete on the East Coast starting in July of 2014. At that time, all drivers had to be registered with the Taxi and Limousine Commission in order to be permitted to drive Lyft-branded cars in New York City.
Since then, the company has been evolving in both a reactionary and precautionary way. This week, the company gathered a crowd of hundreds of Lyft drivers as well as dozens of press in front of their headquarters to announce a list of new actions that were created to make life easier for its drivers. The list given included cheaper gas, lower car rental prices as well as a real-time payment system that will allow drivers to cash out and transfer Lyft ride payments at any given time.
Co-founder Zimmer stressed that they genuinely want to take care of their drivers, according to TechCrunch.
“It’s part of the origin story to treat people better,” he said. “We want to make sure we are the company that treats you better than anyone else.”
The company also revealed their new partnership with Hertz car rental service which would offer drivers a lower rate on car rental services who either find themselves without a car when they want to work or if their car is in the shop for repairs or breaks down.
Lyft cited that 60 million Americans over the age of 25 do not have a car. They also revealed that 20 percent of the applicants who want to work for Lyft do not have a car that would meet their standards in order to pick up passengers. The improvements to their plan was set up so ridesharing services plans would extend those lowered rental car rates to those who would like to drive for the ridesharing company but may not have a car at this time or one up to Lyft standards.
Another announcement they unleashed was that they struck a deal with Shell gas stations who would soon allow drivers to ear discounts on filling on at their pumps. As of right now, Shell has over 12,500 stations across the nation that are happy to service Lyft’s 100,000-plus active drivers. So far, there are not any specific details as to how the discount program will work.
Co-founder Zimmer shared with the crowd the bigger picture of the company as well. He told them that Lyft gives more than 1 million rides a week in over 150 cities throughout the U.S. and that they expect to have an influx with Chinese tourists using the Didi Kuaidi app, who now partners with Lyft to provide rides in each other’s countries.
He also elaborated more on Express Pay which will allow drivers to taking rides, receive updated earnings and then tap into the money when the driver wants to transfer it immediately to their bank account. As soon as a driver reaches $50 in earnings, they can transfer it. They are expecting this program to roll out next month, according to their VP of product, Tali Rappaport.
They stressed that all of the efforts they were putting into the company were tied to their original vision and story of the company, which is to treat people better. They have been on a constant mission from the beginning to improve the experience for both the driver and the customer. Another perk they rolled out to that effect this year was their partnership with Starbucks which helped passengers earn free coffee for the more they used Lyft.
With all of their efforts and good intentions, the company has still had problems in the customer service department, especially in comparison to their direct rival Uber. There has been no lack of complaints linked to their lack of a customer service number and formulaic email responses.
But compliments and complaints together seem to be igniting the company’s efforts. They recently opened up a customer service center in Nashville as well as an engineering office in Seattle in an attempt to resolve the conflicts.