In an analog world, the process of hiring a driver looks somewhat like this: you ask your friend or driver of your friend for a driver, they don’t get back on time because people often forget about requests, you follow-up, and then they may use CRB Direct to do a background check and then if you are lucky you have a driver. There are several problems with this process: first of all, it is hard to find suitable drivers, it is inefficient, and then it is very difficult to background check and verify.
We highly depend on our drivers for the safety of our family and ourselves. A good and loyal driver often saves you money on car-handling than one who does not care. Hence, hiring a good driver is quite a high stake job and this is where Driverbd.com, an online platform that helps to find verified, well-trained drivers, comes in.
“The idea of Driverbd originally came from Muhammad Shahin bhai, founder, and CEO of pbazaar.com,” says Lutfi Chowdhury, CEO of DriverBD, "the platform was created two years ago but we have formally launched it in October this year.” Muhammad Shahin and Lutfi Chowdhury are partners in the company.
One of the key components of the platform is the profiles of the drivers. Team Driverbd has been collecting and verifying data and putting together polished profiles of drivers for the last two years.
“Currently we have around 5000 driver profiles with original licenses,” says Lutfi Chowdhury. Driverbd not only helps its users to find verified drivers, it also trains drivers on mannerism and basic etiquette before joining any house.
How it works
Hiring a driver from Driverbd is quite simple. The process looks something like this: you go to Driverbd.com and check out the profiles. Then if you find someone suitable you can submit requests to Driverbd along with your requirements such as 1. years of experience and type of car 2. drivers' residence 3. home district preference etc. The platform does not allow direct communication with drivers yet.
Based on your requirements Driverbd team then screens eligible drivers and call them to inform about the vacancy and confirm their availability. If they are available or want to switch from current jobs, team Driverbd solicits them.
“We find and select 3-4 members from our platform and send the names back to our client,” says Lutfi. “Then, we set up an interview with the drivers based on the client’s preference. Client interview the drivers, take a driving test, if he/she wants, and choose one. Then we go through a few of formalities before closing the deal,” he adds.
Currently, the startup offers two packages: standard and professional. The standard package costs BDT 5000.00 and Pro package costs BDT 10,000.00. It doesn’t charge anything to drivers.
With standard package, you get driver's CV, interview, test drive, and detail personal information. With pro package, you get all of the standard package services and then you get present and permanent address verification and Police clearance certificate of the drivers. Driverbd provides training on the basic manner and etiquette and gives two sets of uniforms to all of its drivers, which, as Lutfi claims, makes drivers disciplined and give them a sense of prestige.
Driverbd charge only once, you get to pay the entire fee at once when you decide to receive the service. “We don't charge anything to our drivers,” says Lutfi, “ and we charge the owner only once. Even then if a driver leaves the job within 3 months, we give a free-of-cost substitution.”
The startup maintains a meticulous process when it comes to profiling drivers which start with inviting the potential driver to its office. Then the team Driverbd interview, test skills, and collect details personal information. In order to maintain a regular pool of drivers, the startup maintains a good relationship with the drivers' associations.
The state of the union
“For the last 2 years we have been creating drivers profiles,” says Lutfi, “today we have 5,000 profiles and contact information of almost 80,000 drivers.”
Driverbd is now a team of 4 members. For now, the service is only available in Dhaka. “We are at the very early stage now, says Lutfi, “we have just launched a beta site of which we plan to launch an upgradation soon.”
The response, however, is great said Lutfi. In the first month of its operation, the startup has supplied 25 drivers without doing any marketing.
“We are not investing a penny in marketing, although we will very soon,” says Lutfi, “the good thing for us is that Driverbd website has been there for more than 2 years now and it receives a certain number of the users every day.”
“People think they win if they manage to pay drivers low wage,” says Lutfi, “but we don't realize that it brings about a host of problems like theft by drivers, careless driving, lack of ownership and more.”
Salary of a driver is not much. Moreover, unlike many jobs they seldom get a pay rise every year. On the other hand, a driver is responsible for one of the most important jobs in a family, they take care of the safety of a family. Despite the fact, it is often a challenge for the startup to convince people to pay well to their drivers.
Educating and training drivers is another challenge the startup is facing now. “It is often hard to convince drivers about the benefits they can get from us,” says Lutfi.
While Driverbd does all the background check and keeps track of a driver, it does not yet take responsibility of mishandling of drivers they provide. “We don’t take further responsibilities yet, but we do plan to in the future as we better understand the process”, says Lutfi, once asked about whether they take responsibility for the wrongdoing of their drivers.
The business of Driverbd is a lot like security service providing businesses but a little complex in nature. “The market for drivers is not small in Bangladesh,” says Lutfi. Although the number is often hard to come by , but it is growing adds Lutfi.”
Driverbd is in the process of launching a mobile app and revamping its website. The startup plans to create 20,000 profiles of drivers by 2017.
“Team Driverbd always works hard to ensure timely quality service for its users,” says Lutfi “it is incredibly important for us to maintain a certain level of service standard, says Lutfi. “It took us 2 years to build the existing database because we wanted to build something solid. Our priority will always be providing the best service possible,” he adds.
Interview by Ruhul Kader, Transcription by Rahatil Rahat