Innovations in Platform-Led Upskilling: Gokada invests heavily in face-to-face, transformational training
Lagos, a city known for its traffic jams and congestion, is quickly becoming an active market for bike-hailing startups as they battle it out to meet customer demand. While regular okadas (motorcycle taxis) are not new to the city, they are famous for their reckless driving and poor safety standards. In response, a new influx of platforms focused on delivering a safer and more seamless motorcycle-taxi experience have begun to attract both customers and investors.
Screenshot from the Gokada website highlighting focus of safety
Gokada, one of the leading on-demand motorcycle hailing platforms in Lagos, raised $5.3 million in a Series A round in May 2019, having onboarded over 1,000 drivers and completed more than one million rides. As with its competitors, security and safety are top priorities for Gokada’s two-wheeled taxi business. In order to maintain their standards for safety and security, and to compete with increasing competition, the company invests heavily in training their drivers.
The value the company places on training was reiterated in their recent ten day shutdown of operations. One of the goals of the shutdown was to spend time retraining drivers.
“We’re closing shop to retrain our drivers on customer service, hygiene, driving, and navigation use,” wrote the CEO, Fahim Saleh, in mid-August 2019.
Before the shutdown we spoke to Ayodeji Adewunmi, ex-CEO of Gokada, about how Gokada approaches training within the organization:
“Training is a differentiating factor, we are happy to make the upfront investment. We understand that within the marketplace, drivers are really critical and whoever is going to win in the market will have over-invested in the drivers, so we are more than happy to make this type of investment." —Ayodeji Adewunmi, ex-CEO of Gokada
Screenshot from the Gokada website during the ten-day shutdown
At Gokada, training and upskilling is provided through two primary approaches—face-to-face training (what we call “Interpersonal” in the table) and in-app messages and notifications (what we call “In-Workflow Training Moments”). These “Upskilling Moments” are designed to reinforce lessons learned during in-person training, encourage drivers to meet their KPIs, and ensure that they continue to exhibit behaviors that represent the Gokada brand favorably.
See the snapshot of some of the content Gokada delivers through these two training approaches.
1 Gokada doesn’t split fare revenue with drivers, but instead charges a flat fee of around $8 per day to work on the platform.
Gokada recently partnered with a company based in Indonesia, the largest defensive driving academy in the world, to help them deliver world-class, face-to-face driver training at scale. This defensive driving academy provides ongoing support through ‘training of trainers’ (ToT) and on-the-ground observation of training. As a result of the partnership Gokada has been able to reduce the length of in-classroom and in-the-field training from seven days to three and, in turn, work towards its ambitious growth targets.
Gokada has also recently partnered with Wave Academies to develop and deliver ad-hoc refresher training focused on customer service.
“Today we have 1,000 drivers and are looking by the end of year to have 5,000 and in 24 months to have 50,000 trained drivers.”
—Ayodeji Adewunmi, ex-CEO Gokada
During the three-day onboarding training drivers develop a range of skills across four major modules: soft skills, defensive driving, using the Gokada app, and using Google maps. The training is designed to ensure that Gokada drivers deliver a “safe and customer friendly bike-hailing experience.” Training is reinforced through ad-hoc refresher training sessions and the in-app “training moments.”
1. Soft Skills
For platforms—such as Gokada—that rely on producers to meet customers in person and hence represent the face of the brand, soft skills are essential. At Gokada soft skills training focuses on communication and behavior, with plans to expand this to include grooming and etiquette best practices. The impact of soft skills training has been noted through a reduction in customer complaints and an increase in referrals.
“Soft skills training is focused on what makes a good customer experience and what are the requirements from a behavior standpoint.” —Ayodeji Adewunmi, ex-CEO at Gokada
2. Defensive Driving
Developed in partnership with the defensive driving academy, defensive driving training focuses heavily on traffic rules and safe driving practices. This is followed by an on-the-road practical training in which drivers have the opportunity to put training techniques into practice. An end-of-training assessment is then conducted to assess drivers’ skill development before they can become official Gokada Pilots.
3. Gokada App Training
This module focuses on what we call “platform proficiency”, that is, training that helps explain how to use the platform itself—in this case, the Gokada app. From information on how to register an account to ride request procedures and guides on how to check earnings, the training provides a 360°overview of the various applications of the driver app.
Screenshot from the Gokada app training manual
Every platform does some “platform proficiency” training to explain how to use the platform itself—how to open an account, link a bank account, navigate the app, etc. Gokada does this through their app training, and we don’t want to discount how important it is, but what we are really interested in is how platforms transfer general, transferable skills to their users. What we call transformational upskilling.
Gokada, through its soft skills and defensive driving training, is giving drivers portable skills that they could potentially take elsewhere. In doing so, not only does the Gokada platform, and its drivers, benefit through increased rides and revenue, but Gokada’s investment in training is contributing to the economy as a whole and “is the very definition of creating human capital—capital which can be deployed/invested/allocated in many different contexts within an economy.”
Success and return on investment in face-to-face training, specifically the defensive driving module, is measured through safety metrics:
“It (defensive driving training) has had a positive impact in terms of safety, with a reduction in incident rates and accident rates compared to the same reporting period last year.” —Ayodeji Adewunmi, ex-CEO at Gokada
But training at Gokada doesn’t just focus on enforcing its value proposition of security and safety. In tandem with investing in training to help reach its business objectives, Gokada is equally dedicated to investing in the long-term future of its drivers. Accordingly, in addition to its formal training initiatives, Gokada plans to offer drivers loans to help them further their education. This is an example of the broader scope of how Gokada supports its drivers’ upskilling needs.
“Gokada believes that drivers need a career trajectory towards transitioning out of being a driver to doing other things.” —Ayodeji Adewunmi, ex-CEO at Gokada