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Robocalling Is Dead: The Future of Substitute Placement Is Not in Sub Calling

Red Rover

Insights | November 30, 2021

Hey! 2010 called. It wants its sub placement system back. 

Robocalling—where an absence management system reaches out to find subs via automated phone calls—is dead. Not only is robocalling an outdated form of communication, but recipients also find it annoying, ineffective, and slow.

What’s robocalling?

Robocalling is when a teacher absence management system dials an already-established list of available substitutes, usually in the early morning hours of a teacher's absence. When and if a substitute teacher answers the call, they’re greeted with an automated phone message that alerts them of the job opening. If no one picks up, the system moves on and dials the next person on the roster. This process continues until someone finally answers and accepts the job. 

Unfortunately, robocalling is no more efficient than manual substitute placement. 

This form of communication is old-school, ineffective, and outdated, especially as more people grow weary of spam calls. The average American received 28.4 spam calls a month in 2020, and more mobile phone users are installing spam blocking apps to prevent these types of calls altogether.

Disadvantages of Robocalling:
  • It contacts available substitute teachers during the early morning hours (who wants that?). 
  • It’s ineffective and wastes time. It calls each sub individually instead of reaching out to all available candidates at once. This can be very time-consuming since it can take numerous phone calls to finally reach an available sub who picks up and accepts the position. 
  • Calls often go unanswered. Many people won’t answer phone calls from unknown numbers, and robocalling can go through many unanswered calls before an available sub actually answers.

A recent survey found that only 17.7 percent of subs want to receive job alerts via robocall. Most prefer to be notified of available jobs through a convenient mobile app such as Red Rover’s or via text message:

  • Mobile phone app notification - 84.3 percent
  • Text message - 78.6 percent
  • Searching on a mobile app - 74.9 percent
  • Searching on a desktop or laptop computer - 44.6 percent
  • Automated phone call - 17.7 percent

“It’s the app! Red Rover’s FREE mobile app has been a game changer. It’s just intuitive. It’s how I find all my jobs!” —Jan Horetski, Richard B. Wilson Jr. K-8 School

Communicating with subs the right way will help boost your district’s fill rates.

Robocalling is ineffective and slow. As we continue to face a national sub shortage across the U.S., it’s critical to engage the modern sub the way they prefer to be reached. Additionally, mobile phone spam filters and unwanted call blockers may even block the incoming call, which makes communication with subs even more difficult. In fact, fill rates have been plummeting for years, partly because outdated substitute outreach methods can’t keep up. 

Substitutes prefer text message alerts or mobile notifications over a robocall by more than 4-to-1, and even though text messaging has been available for decades, outdated vendors that haven’t pivoted to modern tools can’t offer districts the technology they need. The same vendors also either require subs to pay for access to apps that will send them job alerts or offer less-than-stellar free versions that simply don’t meet the mark.

Popular gig economy employers such as DoorDash, Uber, Lyft, and Instacart don’t force employees to pay for apps that help them find jobs. It’s time school districts had access to the tools they deserve to start seriously competing for these quality gig workers and improving fill rates.

Learn how to reach qualified subs.

Districts deserve better. There’s no need to rely on an outdated, ineffective communication method, especially in the midst of a nationwide sub shortage that continues to get worse. Learn how modern substitute teacher solutions can help improve your district’s fill rates. Red Rover’s strategic approach to substitute management is different. Learn how Red Rover’s technology compares to your district’s current system.

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