Update, Dec 22: The new drop-off station is built, and our smart lock arrived last night, so we just need to get that installed and then we can open it up for business!
For the past two years, our drop-off program has been confined to a 2 hour window on Saturday mornings, during which our staff have stood outside our offices and swapped member’s buckets. We’ve never loved this approach — we’ve always wanted to offer more flexibility in both times and locations, but we didn’t feel we had much choice. Our office isn’t staffed at predictable hours, since we’re always out driving, so we couldn’t invite people to come by at other times. The drop-off program has always operated at a loss, so we couldn’t justify paying for additional staffing just for this program. And we worried that an unattended drop-off station would be too obvious of a target for vandalism or other mischief (this is Albuquerque, after all), and possibly become a nuisance to our neighbors.
However, we always planned to either build a shed or fence in an area for drop-offs. With both Christmas and New Years falling on Saturdays this year, we decided it was time to take action. So… over the next three weeks we’ll be fencing in an area for drop-offs, setting up a keypad and security camera, and working through questions of staffing and logistics. By Christmas Eve at the latest, we’ll be ready to start accepting unattended dropoffs 24/7.
What does this mean for our dropoff members?
Here’s how it will most likely work:
- Dec 18th will be our final staffed Saturday drop-off event.
- As soon as we’re ready (Christmas Eve at the latest) we’ll debut our new system, available 24/7.
- In the beginning, we’ll use a smart lock with one shared combination. We’ll update the combination periodically and will email it out to all current members.
- Down the road, we’ll likely switch to a more advanced access system, with custom pins or access fobs for each member, so we can better track how often everyone is coming. This might also allow us to switch from a per-month fee structure to a per-dropoff structure. We’ll send out a survey about this later on.
What does this mean for pay-as-you-go customers?
Every week, a handful of non-members use our pay-as-you-go option, paying $1/gallon to dump their own containers. Unfortunately, we can’t promise at this time that we’ll be able to keep this option going for long, though we will give it a try. However, this option currently brings in less than 0.5% of our revenue, and that percentage is trending downwards, so it’s getting harder and harder to justify support for it. We’re hoping that some of the pay-as-you-go customers will choose to switch to a regular dropoff membership, given the more flexible schedule. In any case, pay-as-you-go customers should email firstname.lastname@example.org to make sure you’re on our mailing list for relevant announcements.