At Wonolo, you can be just about anything – event staffer, warehouse assistant, delivery driver…the list goes on. That extends to all Wonolo employees, executives included, as we each perform a job as a Wonoloer each quarter.
Never before had I really had the chance to try a product or service at any of my previous employers, other than my stint in e-commerce. Let’s be honest – if you’re looking at campaigns about shoes all day, you can only have so much will power before finally springing for a pair.
But short of that, there was no logical way for me to try out the products of other past employers, such as enterprise-class supply chain management software. As a marketer, it admittedly was a bit of a challenge being farther removed from the product that you’re trying to push. You have your own perceptions of what the whole experience is like, but how do you know that you’re right?
So, when I found out about this aspect of the Wonolo culture, I was beyond excited. Finally, a chance to be up close and personal with the product that I’m marketing! For being in a business that’s oriented around people, it’s absolutely essential to understand what makes our Wonoloers and business owners tick. No more assumptions. Instead, we operate on real, on-the-scene feedback about what it’s like to be a Wonoloer and how business owners are leveraging our offering.
I was looking to hit the ground running when I started at Wonolo, so a few days before my start date, I had time to pick up a job as a Wonoloer. I decided to go for a delivery driver job for one of our meal delivery service customers. Now being the city dweller that I am, I’ve had my share of food delivered to my home. But the convenience is something that I had long taken for granted. I never really thought about how the food got there or who was actually delivering it.
That radically changed after my experience as a Wonoloer. I was impressed with the business’ behind-the-scenes operation. As the dinner shift ramped up, there was a steady stable of drivers eagerly waiting to pick up a delivery route. The shift manager was all about optimization, as he worked to strike the right balance of orders going out the door. Orders needed to be geographically close enough so that they could be delivered within a guaranteed time window. At the same time, there needed to be sufficient order volume going out with every driver so that there wasn’t time wasted driving back and forth to pick up more orders.
In the meantime, as each driver waited for a sufficient number of orders to come in to comprise a route, there was a great sense of camaraderie among the drivers, many of whom were regulars, including quite a few Wonoloers. As a newcomer, the fellow drivers made me immediately feel welcome and even took the time to pass on a few tips on how to be successful at the job.
Besides the chance to chat with Wonoloers and the Insider look at the business operation, which spoke to my MBA nerd tendencies, my delivery experience was educational on a number of other fronts. For starters, I had the opportunity to see parts of San Francisco that were entirely new to me. I love exploring cities, and the experience showed that I had gotten complacent with branching out of my happy San Francisco bubble. I thought I knew the city like the back of my hand, and well, turns out, I didn’t. The mystical oracle of Google Maps saved me a number of times. (On that note, pro tip for any delivery jobs: Make sure you have a car charger for your phone! My phone was 100% charged at the start of the shift and made it into the dreaded less than 20% zone by the end.)
I also appreciated the chance to see what it’s actually like to be a delivery driver. As I mentioned earlier, I had previously given little thought to the hurdles of actually getting food from Point A to Point B. Lucky for me, my delivery route was in the quieter parts of the city, where parking wasn’t really an issue. But I can only imagine the stress of trying to find parking in the busier parts when people are eagerly awaiting their food. No one wants to deal with a “hangry” customer. Now I get one of the reasons why there are so many double-parked cars around…
I loved our customer’s view on their delivery drivers: They were an extension of the brand, serving as ambassadors as the face of the company. One delivery driver took that to heart, and given that it was Valentine’s Day, she included a lollipop in the orders for regular customers that she knew. Though I wasn’t armed with candy, I did have my cheerful demeanor to offer at the front door as I delivered the food. In fact, the moment of the food handoff was one that left a lasting impression on me, as some people greeted me with the same cheerfulness and others not so much. Lesson learned: With all of the ins and outs of trying to get food across the city in a timely manner, being a delivery driver isn’t easy, and a smile on both sides of the transaction at the front door goes a long way.
These takeaways from my shift were highly impactful for me, leaving me with a deep appreciation for the work that our Wonoloers do and an excitement around the transformative power of our on-demand model for addressing peaks in demand. This valuable perspective brought a new level of passion to the marketing work that I was about to start at Wonolo later that week. Imagine that same level of mission-driven passion spread throughout a whole company – it’s an incredible energy to be around. That reason, among others, is why this commitment to being out there doing Wonoloer jobs is so central to our company’s culture.