Published on October 1st, 2018 | by Paul Fosse0
My Experience Volunteering At Tampa Tesla Delivery Center [Update: More Photos]
October 1st, 2018 by Paul Fosse
After seeing Elon Musk’s reply to Ryan McCaffrey’s offer to help educate new owners during the big delivery push for the end of Q3, I headed over to the Tampa delivery center on Sunday, September 23rd.
They were just finishing their 5th delivery of the day and said they were done and didn’t need any help, but asked if I was available for the 28th, 29th, or 30th, since they already had 30 deliveries scheduled for the 30th. I said I was available on the 30th and would post how to volunteer to the local Facebook groups, that we would get owners to come on the days they are most needed.
I arrived there at 2:00 pm yesterday (September 30th) and it was flurry of activity. There were about 20 Tesla employees working hard to deliver the cars. There were about 4 deliveries scheduled every hour and there were about 7 owners helping educated the new owners. I checked in with the Tesla staff and their instructions were, “Take a red lanyard to identify yourself as a volunteer owner and just hang out and help where you can.”
I moved into to the crowd and asked some of the other volunteer owners how it was going. They replied it was a little slow — since there were so many owners, they took turns educating customers. They tried to use Model X and S owners to run the orientation of those cars, since the software for those cars is quite a bit different (at least until software version 9 comes out soon) than the software in the Model 3 that I am familiar with.
I found the people picking up cars fell into 3 basic groups. First, there were those picking up their second or third Tesla (I was surprised how common this was). I didn’t offer to help them at all, but instead asked them for tips. Second, there were those that were getting their first EV, but had studied the car extensively — they didn’t want any help. Most of these folks later did ask for a little help, since even if you had watched many YouTube videos on the Model 3, it is different when you sit in your car and have to figure everything out. Thirdly, there were the people who had never driven a Tesla and were pretty overwhelmed by the learning curve. I spent most of my time with these people.
While the future owners were waiting for their financing, paperwork, or their cars to be brought around, I would talk to them about how they planned on charging their cars. Most were going to use 110V charging or a local Supercharger for a few days until they could get a level 2 charger installed in their house. Everyone knew about the Tesla Supercharger network, but many didn’t know about the vast network of level 2 chargers around town and how to use Plugshare to find those chargers or how to check if they are reliable or likely to be broken or ICE’d. I helped them download and set up the Plugshare and Tesla apps.
Once they received their cars, the Tesla rep showed them a bit about the car and said they had 3 days to report any initial quality issues. Then the Tesla rep asked an owner if he was comfortable giving an orientation. If the owner said yes, the Tesla rep introduced the owner to the new buyer and said this owner has volunteered to help education new buyers. Worth noting is that several of the Tesla reps are new and don’t own Tesla cars, so they don’t have the deep knowledge of the car that the owners have.
I would start with a tour around the car and how to get in and out of the vehicle. Next, I would spend about 20 minutes explaining all the menus and what features had confused me initially. I tried to stop at each screen and see if they had questions. After showing the menus, I would help them pair their phones to the cars and show them how to use the Tesla app on the phone to remotely control their car. The new buyers were very appreciative of the owners taking their time to share their knowledge. Every Tesla employee I ran into showed great respect and appreciation for the owners and were careful not to criticize the owners. If we were doing something they didn’t agree with, they were very careful to correct us in the nicest possible way.
I left the delivery center at about 8pm with another owner (my wife had dropped me off) after the last delivery of the day was complete.
Overall, it was a great experience and it was yet another example of the Tesla community showing it comes together during tough times to accomplish goals that wouldn’t be possible with a company that had not built up such large amounts of goodwill with its customers. I spoke with several owners and employees about how I was already planning on coming back on December 31st, and we expect it to be a New Year’s Eve to remember!