If you approve of this idea, PLEASE HELP ELON SEE IT by retweeting this tweet!
Same proposal, better formatting here: remotedriver.home.blog
My name is Alex Chaney and I live 90 miles from Seattle, WA. Out here, and in much of the country, no one knows anything about Tesla, or else they only know the misleading tidbits from sensational media. This leaves them ignorant, dismissive, or hostile toward Tesla, when they would be loyal advocates if they only had the facts. I would like to propose two simple programs which could enlighten the public, in a uniquely customer-friendly way, benefiting Tesla's mission, public image, sales, and more, for extremely miniscule expenditure of resources. I'm sure that something along these lines has been considered in the past but I am confident that now is the time to act, for the reasons outlined below.
Remote Test Drives: Offering test drives in remote areas, via a single, Tesla-authorized representative, per 50 mile radius, who will house a Tesla and travel to the customer.
Benefits of Remote Test-Drive Program:
1) Convenience: The Remote Agent can travel directly to the customer, providing premium service unparalleled in the industry.
2) Better Test-Drive Experience: When I sought a test-drive from Tesla, I had to drive a long distance to a major city, find and pay for metered parking on busy streets, rush the visit to adhere to the meter, and drive the car on congested streets where I could not enjoy the car's performance or devote attention to its features. A remote drive would have the car delivered to the customer, let them test it in the area where they would be using it, and fully experience the vehicle's vaunted performance, on conveniently accessible roads/highways, all at their leisure.
3) Renown: This unique treatment will label Tesla as the only manufacturer/dealer to cater to the customer, granting a great deal of free, positive press and customer respect, as well as increasing the likelihood of a sale.
4) No Overhead: The Remote Driver houses the car and test drives are fed to them, through Tesla, by proximity. No infrastructure, logistics, or management required.
5) Massively Increase Sales Coverage: Tesla will be able to reach out to untold numbers of potential customers who are currently too far removed from dealerships to experience a test drive. These new customers will also cultivate further sales in the area.
6) Increase Tesla Network Coverage: Sales in these areas means customer-subsidized coverage for the robo-fleet in zones that otherwise would have little to no available Teslas.
7) Minimal Investment from Tesla: Tesla need only pay Remote Drivers for results. This could be a flat amount, per test-drive, with a bonus for sales. No need to bear the inherent inefficiencies of wages or salaries. Drivers can either use a Tesla vehicle they already have or lease one. No need to take any risk in granting a company vehicle.
8) Promote Upcoming Services: This service will model the convenience of the upcoming smart-summon and ride-share services to the customer and serve as a natural lead-in to discussing those features.
9) Optimal Product Placement: More rural homes are optimally located to benefit from the range advantage of a Tesla and Autopilot, as well as having garages to easily recharge them every night. These populations are primed for sales.
10) Valuable Data for the Neural Net: Tesla's neural net is hungry for data. Smaller towns and cities pose different situational challenges than big-city driving. Having more customers in these places will benefit the self-driving team.
11) Advance the Mission: Tesla's mission is to advance the adoption of sustainable energy everywhere and this will vastly accelerate the adoption of EVs. The increase in revenue will also accelerate Tesla's efforts.
In summary, this would be an extremely cost-effective and brand-emboldening way for Tesla to advance all of these goals across a wide swathe of the country (or world). If desired, renting of the vehicle for extended test-drives could also be included.
Active Promotion: When not engaged in Tesla-generated test-drives, Remote Drivers could visit high-traffic locations and events to make themselves available for well-informed vehicle tours and/or test-drives. It would act similar to an amplified customer referral program that reaches out, in a casual way (e.g. parked in a high-traffic area with something to indicate the car is available for touring and/or test-driving), to people who have not had contact with a Tesla product before; one where Tesla ensures that the promoter is knowledgeable, professional, and effective, and enables that professional to dedicate themselves to the task. Participation in ride-share services could further advertise the car and upcoming network.
Benefits of Active Promotion Program:
1) Inform the Public: Most people residing in outlying areas either know nothing about Tesla/EVs or know only the negative bias they get from sensational media. These people lack sufficient knowledge about Tesla and Tesla products to know that they are being misled. As a result, wide-spread negative bias is still building in the populace, even while proof to the contrary drives around in cities. First-hand experience with a Tesla product is the ultimate education. Making the product available for tour or test-drive, along with a knowledgeable agent to answer questions and provide valuable information, would have a positive, rippling effect on public awareness, understanding and opinion.
2) Pave the Way for Autonomy: One of the most important effects of this education would be to reduce public opposition to upcoming autonomous driving legislation. Tesla is positioned to revolutionize transportation with self-driving, but only if it's legal. Regulators may be moved by numbers but they can also be moved by large numbers of vocal tax-payers. Public opinion could play a significant role in determining when Tesla's aspirations can be realized. First-hand exposure to the product and a knowledgeable representative, prepared with relevant facts and comparisons, would spread insight across a disproportionately large area.
3) Positive Press: This customer-focused approach is certain to intrigue and impress customers, as well as generate a great deal more complimentary interest from news outlets. Tesla has expressed interest in educating the public but also a discomfort with traditional advertising. This program would be a disruptive new way to effectively inform customers, without the costs and unsavory connotations of advertising that Tesla wishes to avoid.
4) Massively Expand Sales Coverage: While remote test-drives would increase sales, active outreach will bring in customers who would never have known enough about a Tesla to be interested in a test-drive before. Thus, its impact on sales would be far greater than Remote Test-Drives alone.
5) Increase Ride-Share Coverage: The further improved sales in these areas will mean far more comprehensive fleet coverage, giving customers confidence that Tesla has them covered no matter where they go. It would also reach areas that Uber and Lyft have failed to service and replace many more ICVs.
6) Ride-Share Preview: Participation in ride-share services would naturally double as promotional education sessions on the drive and, frequently, impromptu test-drives afterward. It would also cement in the minds of ride-share customers how much nicer it is to ride in a Tesla, priming them to switch to Tesla's service.
7) Advance the Mission: Between reaching out to huge numbers of untapped customers and the inevitable press coverage, this active approach will be far more effective in advancing EV adoption and all of Tesla's efforts.
8) Minimal Risk for Tesla: Again, this would put no financial burden on Tesla. Drivers' promotional efforts would naturally induce sales. As such, Drivers could be compensated by bonuses, based on sales that use his/her referral code (which can be provided to those who show interest in purchasing, along with direction to the Tesla website). Tesla would only need compensate the Driver when they have directly generated profit for the company. The Driver, thus incentivized, would manage themselves, without the costly need for direct supervision. If the Driver is ineffective in making sales, Tesla loses nothing. If the Driver is effective, Tesla profits in so many ways.
9) Synergy with Remote Test-Drives: Active promotion would give a Remote Driver a way to work for Tesla anywhere from part-time to full-time, or beyond. It would produce more value from a single, talented agent and return more on any training investments that Tesla feels are warranted. It would also make leasing a Tesla more sensible for Drivers who don't already own one.
In summary, this manner of active promotion would be an extremely cost-effective and customer-friendly way for Tesla to promote its products, mission, and brand, while further setting itself apart from other auto manufacturers and dealerships. The adoption of both these practices together would produce a monumental degree of free, positive press and spark a revolutionary disruption of the vehicle sales industry that would greatly benefit Tesla, consumers, and the shift to sustainable energy.
Potential Concerns and Solutions:
A) How can Tesla trust an unsupervised agent to act professionally?
1) Driver could be put through same initial training as normal test-drivers, to set expectations.
2) All the Driver's interactions with customers should happen in or near the vehicle. Tesla could acquire the Driver's assent for Tesla to access the vehicles' cameras (including interior) at any time, without warning, as a check-in. If this is not possible, Drivers could be tasked with maintaining an unbroken video or audio log for each outing and uploading it to a drop-site for Tesla to review at will. They could also be required to submit logs with the name and time-stamp of all customers they interact with. Any customer that uses the Driver's code can then be easily audited and the code being used by someone not in the logs would serve as a red flag. With the low density of Drivers and ease of reference, it would take very few people to monitor all Drivers.
3) Drivers could be required to display identifying information, and the means to contact Tesla, on their person or vehicle (perhaps on the MCU screen?), to give feedback on the quality of interactions. Alternatively, or additionally, anyone who enters the vehicle could be prompted (again, on the MCU screen?) to enter contact information into some sort of log so that Tesla could contact them for feedback, at random.
4) If desired, since Drivers will have their vehicle location tracked, Tesla could have someone periodically visit Drivers for covert inspection.
How can Tesla trust the Driver's presentation quality?
1) All the same means as above would serve for this purpose.
C) How can Tesla guard against the possibility of predatory sales tactics?
1) All the same means as above, with a focus on trustworthy recruits. I also think this should not be a big concern, since the product is so good that no falsehoods or deception are warranted. Honest facts will sell these cars!
2) Recruitment could avoid traditional job advertising and, instead, draw on a more organic process, such as offering the positions to customers who have been active in the referral program or otherwise shown passion for Tesla's mission/products. Such recruitment would give the program a wholesome air of upwelling support from customers, rather than that of people just looking to make a living. It would even lend an air of mystery, which would surely invoke further good press, while also encouraging normal customer referral efforts, in hopes of being inducted into Tesla's exclusive program.
D) How would insurance be handled?
1) The Driver could be directed to Tesla-approved insurance policies (hopefully Tesla's own, in the near future) and be compensated for a reasonable portion of the policy premium, either directly or by factoring into bonuses.
2) In the event of customer-induced damages, the deductible could be paid by Tesla or the eventuality of an average rate of incidents could simply be factored into bonuses.
E) How would the Driver and customers be kept safe?
1) Run Driver's driver's license and traffic history.
2) Background check on Driver.
3) Check customer driver's license and other normal measures for test-drives.
F) How should Remote Test-Drives be compensated?
1) Flat fee per drive, possibly dependent on distance from Driver's home or current location.
2) Bonus on sales (either flat or a percentage of profit margin), by referral code.
3) Optionally, discounts on Tesla products in place of sales bonus.
G) How should Active Promotion be compensated?
1) Flat or % sales bonus, by referral code, with optional product discounts.
2) Small, flat fee for each person who enters the vehicle, based on video/audio/contact log?
H) What models should be used?
1) Model 3 will be the most popular for now. It would make sense to start with that and pull another Driver in for each other model, as warranted.
J) What variants should be used?
1) Standard Range Plus, due to being the most popular and possessing nearly all features?
2) Performance, to be able to demo full acceleration? I believe this option would warrant significantly reducing Driver lease costs, since few Drivers would choose such an expensive vehicle for personal use.
These two programs combined would produce incredible results for very minor effort from Tesla. I hope that the points laid out here have made as much sense to you as they do to me. If a Tesla representative is reading this, I would like to volunteer as a candidate to pilot these programs around Elma, WA. I feel very passionately that the Model 3 is the greatest car in the world and I would love the opportunity to share with the public my knowledge of what makes it so unparalleled. I would also be happy to otherwise assist, however able, with refining and executing the programs. I have detailed ideas for improving the information given to customers during tours/test-drives, as many of the most vital points (e.g. affordability) were not mentioned in the test-drive that I experienced. I am currently in the process of ordering a Model 3 myself (hopefully before the tax incentive reduces). Knowing if Tesla is interested in taking advantage of these programs and what vehicle they would want used by a Remote Driver would be very valuable at this juncture.
Thank you very much for taking the time to consider this proposal. Please retweet, if you approve, so Elon can consider it:
If you are a Tesla representative, please private message or email me for further contact information.