2017 is off to a strong start and Shift ended last year on a high note. We announced a pilot partnership with Hertz, built an incredible new lending product, and continue to attract top-tier talent. We are excited for the year ahead and look forward to entering new markets and growing in the cities we are already in.
Yet in the rough and tumble world of startups, companies need to test and learn, and make changes based on their findings. In the first iteration of our test drive delivery model, we were using very knowledgeable experts to deliver test drives. Unfortunately, we also found that scaling these types of team members was difficult, and costly. And as we built more technology, it also became clear that roles that were necessary as we were just getting started didn’t make sense at our current stage.
Throughout Q3 and Q4 we tested our way to a transformative “Buyer Inside Sales” + “Car Enthusiast” sales model which solves some of these key scalability and cost challenges. In December, 100% of our sales in San Francisco were with this new sales model, and we are transitioning Los Angeles during the month of January. Making this happen was an effort across the company, involving great focus from both our technology and operations teams.
This new model helps ensure our most experienced sales professionals spend their time with customers (rather than driving or waiting for customers to show up at a retail location) and optimizes utilization of both our Inside Sales Reps and Car Enthusiasts. We are really excited about this transformation and believe that it will allow us to scale more quickly and efficiently, while ensuring that customers continue to receive the incredible test drive delivered to the doorstep experience.
These changes, while right for our business, do unfortunately have a cost. While some have been reassigned, including many to the Buyer Inside Sales role, approximately 10 percent of our workforce was recently let go. For those who are moving on, we are committed to helping ensure this transition is as successful as possible. As CEO, there is nothing harder than saying goodbye to great people. Every person at Shift has helped get us to where we are today, and we are very sorry to see them go.
This decision wasn’t easy. But I am confident it is the right one for Shift. In addition to helping us reach our business goals, these changes allow us to focus on our core technology investments and provide more value to our customers. As always, we remain committed to building a fantastic product that our users love. We’ve grown our engineering, product and design teams by a factor of three in the last year, and we are still growing quickly!
Two years ago, I started Shift in my apartment with a couple of friends. Since that time, we have built an incredible company, created a product consumers love, hired amazing people, and are now the leading car seller in the Bay Area. And our goal remains the same: to create an innovative and highly successful company that fundamentally changes the way people buy and sell cars. We could not be more bullish for 2017 and are excited for what lies ahead.