I’m now a believer: There’s an app for everything. My epiphany came in the form of a little-known app called DropCar and since signing up three months ago, I’ve used my car fewer times than I have fingers, and having my car out of sight is also keeping it—and cars in general—out of mind. I find myself opting for public transit more and more often. Before DropCar, I would have been likely to use my car when I visit a client, navigating traffic in a new city and coughing an ever-increasing share of emissions into the air. No more.
So here’s how this brilliant business idea works—you download the app, choose monthly parking, and for one flat monthly fee have your own personal valet service up to 10 times at your beck and call. DropCar sends someone to pick up your car—wherever you are in NYC, and whenever you want—and that’s about it. They park it somewhere safe and store it until you want your car back. Now get this—not only do they always arrive on time, but they send you a text when they’re a few minutes away with the name and photo of the driver, and if you need the car parked for a short time nearby, they’ll do that, too.
DropCar was probably developed to compete against costly in-city garages, but the unintended consequence is real behavior change. For now, I’m going car-lite over car-less, but each day I don’t use my car I become less reliant on my wheels, so much so that I’m starting to think of joining all those millennials out there and jumping on the car-free bandwagon.
Part of our work at Arch Street Communications is helping public agencies and private companies advance programs that help reduce emissions to improve air quality, and one thing we know for certain: it’s not easy to get people to change the way they feel or act about certain things, like our love affair with our cars.
New ideas, like DropCar, challenge the status quo. The target market for a service like DropCar is clearly city-dwellers in transit-blessed locations. But air quality programs across the country can gain much from DropCar’s success in helping the market see a new behavior as having a higher value than their current one. It may just be the ideal air quality marketing equation: a system that allows you to store, not give up, your car, letting the customer hang onto that four-wheeled lifeline as they learn to swap driving alone for new behaviors that hand over rich rewards, like cleaner air and a healthier lifestyle.
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