This interview is part of a new Market Movers series powered by Zoba.
Name: Emma Angelova
Position: Fleet Operations Manager at Dott
Dott Operations: Responsible for Dott’s London fleet of around 1,800 e-bikes and 1,500 e-scooters as part of Transport for London’s (TfL) trial.
Background: It is safe to say Angelova is an expert in operations. Starting as an Operations Support Team Lead at Deliveroo eight years ago, she made her move into micromobility four years ago by joining Jump Bike’s launch team as Operations Lead. In 2020, equipped with plenty of ideas as to how a team should be run, she joined the Dutch operator Dott. Two years on and she’s helped build a 25-strong operations team from scratch and runs one of the largest fleets in the country.
Zag Daily: What would you say are some of the key ways to run a profitable operation?
EA: “I think profitability is a combination of how you treat and develop your team and what decisions you make in terms of day to day strategy. So how are you going to operate your vehicles? Where are they going to be positioned? What is your availability rate? We spend a lot of time refining these two topics because for us, this combination works. Importantly though, this is only made possible because we run our entire operations model in-house.”
Zag Daily: What specifically are the advantages of running operations in-house?
EA: “Control is the most important thing when you run operations because we then have direct visibility of our people and how they perform. While using third party providers to manage fleets is cheaper, for me running things in-house is the best way as we care for each other, we invest in the team, we’re like family. Our employee turnover is really low which is hard to achieve, especially in a role where the ground team’s work is quite repetitive. But we always make them feel part of the bigger picture and explain the results of their work.
“Building engaged and highly skilled mechanics improves the maintenance of the vehicles and their lifespan, which boosts profitability as well. All our staff start as drivers and now many of them are team leads, managing our day and night shifts. The night shifts are where the magic happens because there is little traffic at night so the vehicles can be moved a lot more easily and faster. So the whole system gets refreshed at a time when everyone else is sleeping. The majority of the team are preparing at night because most of our rides peak in the morning. So we develop our people to a point where I can close my eyes and rely on that person to drive the shift successfully, meaning the vehicles are topped up every single night. This ensures we always capture that extra ride the next morning.”
Zag Daily: Can you walk me through what one person would do on a night shift?
EA: “We have different tasks for team members. They are divided between those responsible for battery swapping which support vehicle availability and ensure batteries are fully charged, and rebalancers who make sure that all the busy bay hot spots are stocked with e-scooters and e-bikes. We also have Lost Missions. If an e-scooter or e-bike has disappeared or hasn’t got any GPS we send one person to try and find it.”
Zag Daily: So one person’s job is to travel the city at night to hunt down vehicles?
EA: “Yes, it’s not an easy task but one of our drivers is brilliant at finding vehicles – we call him Inspector Gadget. What some of our users don’t understand is that these vehicles are for shared use and they take them home. So we came up with a process, obviously we can’t go knocking on people’s doors at 3am so our day shift driver posts a little note through the user’s post box letting them know that the vehicle is for shared use and asking them to leave it back on the street close to a parking bay. We’ve never had any issues with anyone so far.”
Zag Daily: Are the night shift team set a utilisation target that they have to hit each day?
EA: “Individual teams don’t have targets but the availability has to be above 90% on our 3,000+ vehicles at all times. Our staff make this a reality but what is also helping is our new back-end system we have built in-house. When our team opens an app they’ll be able to see from which parking bay they need to pick up vehicles, how many vehicles to collect and where they need to be deployed. This saves a lot of time, as before we had to analyse the data to identify hotspots and create tasks manually for drivers. Now everything is generated on the portal and it all happens automatically.”
Zag Daily: It seems like you are running a tight ship in London. Given Transport for London’s decision to open up a new tender for the capital, do you feel well positioned for the procurement process?
EA: “Yes, it’s a big moment but I think a real advantage for us is that we’ve already been operating in London and we have data to support some of the statements that we plan to make on the tender. I was part of the team that won London for the first time and I’m pretty confident that with the team we have, the in-house software we have supporting them, and the high operating standards we hold ourselves to, we have a winning formula to run the scheme for a second time.”