16 1 月 Doufu Care & Service — Taiwan’s First Private Accessible Transportation Service
“There’s a huge demand for the service. I see no reason why it wouldn’t work,” said Jeff Hsu, the founder of Doufu Care & Service. Doufu Care & Service was founded in 2009 to offer accessible transportation service. In 2016, the travel agency Doufu Holidays was born. Nevertheless, it has never been an easy ride.
Jeff went from a documentary director to a career in the accessibility service. After his grandmother fell and got injured, he realized the overall environment is not accessible enough for people with special needs. Jeff then bought a car on impulse, according to himself, to offer accessible transportation. Not until the official registration of the company did he realized Doufu is the first ever non-state-owned accessibility service provider in Taiwan. As a pioneer, the business had to overcome a range of obstacles to finally legalizing the career as a registered business and becoming an advisor for the government’s planning on the SOPs of the accessibility service delivery.
Jeff Hsu (Founder of Doufu Care & Service)
Industrialization of Accessibility Services
As the public service is not keeping up with the rapid population aging, the elderly may find it hard to go out and move around. That’s the reason why Jeff has been endeavoring to facilitate the industrialization of accessibility services.
“Doing so helps us understand what people really need,” Jeff said, “our service improvement comes from criticism.” People wouldn’t have much to complain about when they can get services from the government for free, while they’d have criticisms to make whenever there’s something unsatisfying if they do pay for the service. It is important to listen to what the customers have to say and adjust to their needs as their feedback is vital to improving the business.
The Rehabus (復康巴士), a paratransit service operated by the government, has been providing accessibility rides over the last 40 years, but what they fail to take into consideration is the need of vertical movement. There are hundreds of thousands of buildings without elevators in Taiwan. If people with disabilities are not moving downstairs, then the service for “horizontal movement” wouldn’t be able to help. Doufu’s customers has long been expressing their need of stair lifts/climbers, while statistics show that the equipment provided by the government is rented less than 60 times a year on average. However, rather than just offering a user manual, it requires training to correctly operate a stair lift/climber. At Doufu, the staff have to spend at least two months in training in how to use the equipment. Since Doufu started providing the service, there have been more than 60 requests received per month, proving that there’s actually a great demand.
Doufu sees the industrialization of the service a vital process for any kind of service to develop well. Without help, Jeff developed “Doufu 56 Steps（多扶56動）” from scratch, an SOP for the client o safely arrive at their destination starting from 20 meters away, (Now there are over 120 steps in total). “I didn’t expect to establish the first SOP for accessibility service delivery in Taiwan,” said Jeff.
Accessible Environment for Everyone to Enjoy Tourism Experiences
After 7 years, the turning point in Doufu’s operation came when Jeff started to feel something is missing, even though he was helping people out. He began attentively listening to what clients are talking about, trying to know more about what they need. Jeff then realized though the business had been focused on services for people with disabilities, the need of their caregivers was much ignored. That’s when he decided to give equal attention to both the caregiver and the care recipient. This later led to the founding of Doufu Holidays. Jeff made it clear to his staff that Doufu Holidays doesn’t just sell travel products or itineraries, what matters is the service itself. Whom will the clients travel with? Is everything in the trip accessible? The answers to these questions are key to Doufu’s success and product differentiation. Doufu Holidays is all about creating an accessible environment for everyone to participate in and enjoy tourism experiences.
It didn’t take too long for the real challenges to follow up. Doufu again managed to establish the first “Accessible Travel SOP for Elderly and Disabled Passengers.” To be able to bring electric wheelchairs on an airplane, Jeff had to submit the manual of each wheelchair model for the airline’s regulatory approval, and prove their capability in disassembling and reassembling the wheelchairs when traveling from one place to another. It was a lengthy process to get everything in place, but Doufu still managed to be the first company in Taiwan that meets all the requirements of different airlines. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Doufu was already able to bring the customers with special needs abroad. “Customers come to you when they’re reassured,” Jeff said. This again reflects Doufu’s way of connecting with their customers.
Although Doufu was able to bring the customers with special needs abroad, due to the outbreak of Covid-19, they have to refocus the business on domestic tourism. They started collaborating with local businesses on Wulai Old Street or accommodations in Yilan, with the intention to build an accessible environment. More options have also been provided for the customers to choose from, such as wine tasting and themed packages, so as to meet their individual needs. With Doufu’s help, people with disabilities and their families are treated with dignity and respect. It is Doufu’s mission to optimize the service as a pioneer in the industry.
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