Published on: June 17, 2015by Michael Sansolo
Competition is never pleasant. Sure, it makes us better, stronger and more ready for the future, but let’s be honest: most of us really like the status quo or change in nice, slow, digestible steps.
The reality is that competition is a fierce force, upsetting the status quo. It’s not always fair, it’s rarely pretty and overall, it’s a pain in the neck. But there’s only one way to win and that’s by fighting back.
Or as we like to quote from The Untouchables: "If they pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way.”
In other words, whining doesn’t work.
I got an interesting reminder of this from a cab driver named Aziz, who I found by chance in Chicago last week. Nearly from the moment I got into his cab, Aziz launched into his criticism and put downs of Uber. That’s no surprise. I think cabbies like traffic and speed cameras better than the internet-enabled ride service.
But this time there was a difference. In many ways, Aziz is the best cab driver I’ve had in a long time. Many times cab rides in cities like Chicago are an assault on the senses. The smells, the dirty seats, the heightened fear of reckless drivers and, of course, the opportunity to listen to the driver conduct a loud and lengthy phone call (and always in another language).
Aziz did none of those things. His cab was clean and despite his Uber speech, he was incredibly pleasant. In fact if every cab looked like his, I doubt Uber would be growing quite so fast.
As we talked, Aziz gave me numerous insights. In his calm way, he explained all the many steps a Chicago cab driver needs to pass in order to drive a medallion vehicle and honestly, all are important to me. (Things like, you know, safety.) And he explained that the company he drives for has strict guidelines on cleanliness and driver behavior.
Clearly Aziz and his team need to see The Untouchables to learn something about fighting back. Because while everything Aziz said was important, I would have known none of it without our conversation. Inside the cab there was no statement of principles explaining all those qualities Aziz was touting. And I had to look around hard to merely find the name of the cab company.
In other words, the Aziz and his cab have a good brand, but the brand was completely lost. Plus, the cab company should be working double time to address Uber’s strengths, by figuring out how to use apps, text and any other communication to make sure riders have no barrier to finding its cabs.
Which takes us back to bringing knives to gunfights. The challenges facing every type of business is growing nearly daily. Think of the coverage we’ve had here on MNB recently about coming growth of Aldi, Lidl, e-commerce and even now a CVS-fueled Target. And that’s just this week.
The reality is your status quo is changing right here, right now and you’ve got to gear up. You have to be more current, more flexible, more creative and more valuable than ever. And even that might not be enough.
Learn from Aziz. Do what you do best, make sure you are clearly articulating what that is and make sure your consumers get the message clearly. Don’t assume they know because the odds are they don’t.
Remember, it’s a gunfight.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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