When the Tube workers went on strike, my mate Tess told me about the correspondence her production company received from two cab companies.
The first said: “We suggest you book as far in advance as possible during the strike, as we will be very busy. We also recommend you factor in extra time for us to collect you and to reach your destination.”
The second? “Cabs on sale! Half price fares for everyone who recommends our service to a disgruntled Tube traveller. Discounts for shares – it’ll be a squash, but let’s keep London moving.”
Whose service do you reckon Tess was more inclined to use?
It lead to a discussion about how negativity has no place in business these days. Nor is there room for a sense of entitlement, as London cabbies learned when striking against competitors taking ‘their’ business.
The ‘Uber’ app they were griping about is extremely popular in cities worldwide, and deservedly so. Upon requesting a cab, you’re immediately given the GPS location and estimated time of arrival of the nearest driver. You can read what that driver’s previous occupants thought of their journey, allowing you to check credentials in advance of making your booking. This kind of social proof is so incredibly powerful when it comes to purchasing decisions and its influence is increasing all the time.
On the day of the black cab strike, Uber registrations went up 40%.
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I think black cabs are great and would be very sad to see them disappear from the town I love. They’ve been hit hard by the miracle of GPS, which has greatly diminished the value of The Knowledge drivers need to learn to earn their license. This license is very expensive and it’s understandable cabbies want it to offer them a degree of protection from competitors.
Late at night they can be hard to find, plus I’ve had drivers refuse my fare, even accelerating off without an explanation when, presumably, I’m not going their way. They are pricier than Uber and only accept cash whereas Uber is cashless.
If Uber offer me a better service, I’m going to use them without apology, and if black cabs want Uber to lose influence, they need to be better than them. Perhaps black cabs will release a whizz bang booking app of their own (their current one is left wanting). Maybe they’ll make more effort to have a better presence late at night. Either way, the new kid on the block will shake things up and force betterment all round.
And you know who the real winner in all this is, don’t you?
Have you ever perceived your competitors to be gaining ground over you? What have you done about it? If you’ve had an experience that’s forced you to rethink your offering, or seen a small business fail due to negativity or entitlement, I’d love to read about it.