We are Co-ops: How focusing on their members made Modo more resilient during COVID-19

Modo vehicleBy Samantha Lee

In this week’s edition of “We Are Co-ops”, we are excited to share the story of how our member Modo put their membership at the front and centre during COVID-19 and made their co-op more resilient. We spoke with Selena McLachlan, Director of Marketing and Communications, to learn more about Modo’s story and what they’ve been up to.

Co-operatives are formed to answer an unmet community need and Modo was no different. Back in 1997, Modo set out to offer affordable transportation. Since then, Modo has existed to make a difference in the lives of their members and the world around us, by connecting people with places in a way that’s affordable, convenient, inclusive, and sustainable.

During the current pandemic, Modo’s deep community roots and ties to their membership have been exemplified more than ever as they maintain service across BC while other international carshare companies such as Zipcar and ShareNow/Car2Go abruptly pulled out of the region.

“Modo is here to stay, just as we have been for the past 23 years,” said Selena McLachlan, Modo’s Director of Marketing & Communications. “We’re here for our members and community during good times and bad and will find innovative ways to regain a new sense of normalcy as the city slowly reopens.”

Like many other businesses, Modo had to pivot and quickly make significant operational changes to continue serving their members and adapt to the constantly evolving circumstances. They took a hard look at their situation: with vehicle usage substantially lower than average due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, what could the co-op do to still serve their membership’s reduced needs and address their safety concerns while keeping the business viable?

Instead of laying off staff as a quick way to cut expenses, Modo chose to put half of its fleet into storage, a choice that reduced a lot of fixed costs such as car insurance, parking, and maintenance. This approach enabled Modo to keep everyone on payroll, while maintaining enough supply of vehicles to meet member demand and offer even safer transportation by increasing fleet cleaning by 40 per cent.

“It’s been quite a pivot,” admits McLachlan. “Under normal circumstances, we encourage people to choose modes of transportation with a lower carbon footprint – walking, biking, public transit – and use cars as a last resort, especially for commuting. But under these extraordinary circumstances, we understand many still need a cost effective, reliable, and safe mode of transportation for essential travel like grocery shopping, getting to work, etc.”

In response to these member needs, Modo recently launched a temporary new Essential Transportation Program (ETP), which provides member-owners with a vehicle for their exclusive use, on a monthly basis, at the lowest possible rate. “It’s very rewarding to hear stories from individual members like Constance Barnes, who works in the DTES and relies on Modo to deliver masks, gloves, food, water, cleaning supplies and more; and business members like Federal Store who use us to deliver online groceries on a ‘pay-what-you-can’ model.” (Read more about Constance’s and Federal Store’s stories).

Keep in Touch

Stay in the loop with what Modo’s up to on their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! If you still haven’t tried Modo out for yourself, join online with promo code LOVECOOPS to get $50 in free drive time.