On-demand parking service ZIRX is changing the way that it classifies its workers. The company is in the process of converting its parking attendants and dispatchers to employees. The company says that it expects to complete this process by the end of 2015.
With a mission of “reinventing what it means to own a car in the 21st century,” ZIRX wants to instill better quality control over its services. Company cofounder and vice president of operations Shmulik Fishman told VentureBeat that in order for ZIRX to scale to the next level, it needs to do what’s right for not only itself but also for its workers.
All of ZIRX’s dispatchers have already been reclassified as W-2 employees, but the company is starting the process for its garage attendants — they’ll be either part-time or full-time employees. Fishman says that the valets (the people who pick up your vehicle at specific locations and drop it off at a garage) will continue to be 1099 workers. “This line of work isn’t for everyone,” he said, which seemed to indicate that if valets want to be employees, they’ll have to go elsewhere. Likewise for those attendants who preferred to be contractors.
However, Fishman thinks that ZIRX has it right: “Overwhelmingly, agents enjoy what they’re doing and the status that they have.”
While this could be seen as following other on-demand companies who have moved away from a 1099 economy, Fishman said that it’s just the “best thing for our partners and us, allowing us to craft what they do everyday, and we can’t do that without this status.”
In order to park and return hundreds, if not thousands, of cars every day, ZIRX needs to have a well-oiled machine. In fact, there’s much more to it than simply parking your vehicle in ZIRX’s garages. The company sets policies on ensuring the cars remain in good condition, parking them in the right order to make it efficient to return them to their owners, servicing them, etc. It requires a lot of control and ownership, so it’s important to have the same people there every day to manage it, Fishman said.
“If you’re a 1099 [worker], we can’t tell you when to show up, can’t give you performance reviews, or tell you when to leave. We have to pay you hourly or some form of that. If you talk to the modern worker, they don’t like those things. We have to create a structure that works best for them and ZIRX.”
But with the W-2 status, the company can tell its parking attendant employees how to perform certain activities, how long it should take to get a car out of the lot, and more. In a way, it’s conceivable that ZIRX wants to instill a sense of ownership with their workers. “We’re discovering that attendants at large-scale parking facilities are a game-changer for ZIRX,” said Fishman. It’s about “delivering a magical customer experience.”
ZIRX is just the latest company in the on-demand space to convert its workers to employees. Others include Instacart, Sprig, Luxe, and Shyp. The move comes just 17 months after ZIRX’s founding and launch.
To date, ZIRX has raised $36.4 million in funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, Trinity Ventures, and several angel investors.