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Food delivery startup Postmates has switched up its local operations, reducing its on-site staffing in certain markets and raising concerns amongst couriers that the company might be scaling back.
In an email sent to some couriers in May titled “Change is in the Air” and obtained by Business Insider, Postmates detailed how it will now rely on remote managers to oversee operations across some of its network of local cities. Every market will have a new community manager who in some cases will not actually be based anywhere near those markets according to the email.
In certain markets, like Pittsburgh and St. Louis, there will no longer be someone in the local office every day. Instead, community managers will oversee multiple cities and rely on video chat and “periodical visits” to the markets. The community manager serves as a local liaison for cities in which Postmates operates, training and mentoring couriers, and representing the company at local events.
A Postmates spokesperson told Business Insider that the changes do not mean the company is cutting back:
Change is good, at Postmates we even embrace it. For example: We constantly aim to improve operations for our customers and the fleet in the markets that we’re in. In this case we’ve rotated some of our community managers and increased the budgets for the markets in question. We also run several experiments and initiatives within the operations team at any moment in time.
Since the reporter asked, we do want to make it clear that there have been no structural layoffs or cost cuttings whatsoever! We also still operate offices in all of the cities mentioned in our email.
According to the email, a San Diego-based community manager will now oversee Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and Palm Springs. The former St. Louis community manager moved to the San Diego office and a new person based in Oklahoma City is now in charge of the St. Louis territory, among others.
The change has raised concerns from many of the couriers in private Facebook groups, one person fearing that it was an example of “deep cost-cutting at the expense of couriers”. For example, moving the operations out of the city means that couriers looking to refill supplies, like bags or expense cards, will now have to wait over a week before getting a replacement – a noticeable change from the expediency from before.
The changes come as the crop of richly-funded food-delivery startups that spread across the country in recent years are in the spotlight. In March, SpoonRocket shut down its operations. Munchery, another food delivery company, changed its business model in April, and DoorDash recently raised a new round of financing below its previous valuation.
Meanwhile, bigger companies such as Amazon, Google and Uber are making inroads into the food delivery business.