Edition 17 – Disruption

On a cool Sunday morning in March, I flew into Los Angeles to take part in Alan Weiss’ Million Dollar Consulting Convention. I was looking forward to spending 3 days learning and spending time with some smart people from all over the world.

I was staying close to LAX, so headed straight for a cab. As I approached, there was no hello. No smile. When I mentioned I was heading to the hotels nearby, the driver informed me, discouragingly, there was a minimum fare of US $19. The journey was clearly too short — for him!

I didn’t care about the cost. I was tired from the 14 hour flight, I had a thumping headache and I was hoping for an early check in at the hotel.

I hopped inside the cab and the only way to describe it was filthy! Stained cloth seats. Dirt on the floor. The interior headlining was off colour. Horrible! However, the journey was short and I simply wanted to get to the hotel.

On two further occasions that day, I took a cab. Each time, same experience — from the (lack of) greeting to the appalling condition of the vehicle — and even left over cigarette smell.

Fast forward two days. It was the day before the convention. I decided to treat myself and head off to the Getty Centre in North Los Angeles. Van Gogh’s painting, Irises, was one of the exhibits and I wanted to see it “in the flesh”. But, how to get there?

Then I thought about Uber! It’s big in the US. It’s caused a stir in Australia recently. Surely, it couldn’t possibly be any worse than those revolting cabs?

With Uber, you download the app, upload your details (including your credit card), choose your style of travel (basic or luxury), book a trip and wait for the Uber to turn up.

Turn up it did — in less than 1 minute. The app already told me what type of car to look for, its registration details and the name of the driver.

I was greeted warmly and professionally. The car was clean. My driver, Maurice, was engaging and interesting. He asked me questions about Australia. He gave me tips on what to see in LA and why he loved the Getty Centre. Chalk and cheese is not enough of a difference to explain how vast the gulf was between an LA cab and my Uber experience with Maurice and his Toyota Corolla.

On the return journey, same thing! This time a lovely African American lady introduced me to Neo Soul Music as we headed back to the hotel in her Audi A3. Engaging personality. Immaculate vehicle.

2 identical forms of transport. 2 completely different experiences.

All the talk has been about Uber and how it has disrupted the taxi industry.

It has used technology. It has engaged owner drivers. It has set high standards. It has gone cashless in a nation where cash is still king.

All of this got me to thinking. Are you doing the same old, same old, in your business, and not even doing it very well? Or are you challenging the status quo? Daring to be different? Offering your customers a different experience — at a higher level of service?

In your business today, are you a cab, or are you an Uber?


This Week’s Tip

Disruption to an industry is not always about revolution. Often it can be evolution — just the same experience packaged differently.

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