How do companies like Uber overcome failures
Crises come in all shapes and sizes. Some are a consequence of poor decisions, others emerge unexpectedly, with no or little human input, like a coronavirus pandemic. The difference between a strong business and a weak one is in the ability to overcome failures, whatever those are.
Here are some cases of ride-hailing companies overcoming giant crises and clearing their own mess. Just to remind you that hard times are not forever and are no good reason to give up. And, of course, to learn some handy tricks from.
Uber: how to make almost every mistake and still go strong
Lawsuits filed by taxi unions, executive errors, questionable company culture, issues with cybersecurity, and even the personality of Travis Kalanick (former CEO) — we could just write a complete blog post only about all the problems Uber has had down the road. However tough the competition is, Uber seems to be able to overcome any obstacles out there. How do they manage this?
Research is king for taxi companies
Uber having attracted enough reliable investments with a well-substantiated promise of high returns on investment is the most obvious reason why this company manages to deal with literally every crisis coming their way. But it’s not the only reason Uber grows its market share steadily even when times are rough.
The most important takeaway from Uber’s business model is that they know what they do and how they want to do it. This includes a thorough market and target audience research in the first place.
Based on such research, Uber knows that their long-lasting conflict with the unions and in some cases — with local governments doesn’t influence the app’s popularity. In public opinion, the convenience of the app weighs more than the controversial ethics of the company. This is what helps Uber stay afloat whatever happens. So do your research and know your customer — this is an important asset during any crisis period.
Don’t be fragile. Be versatile instead
Another essential property of Uber as a business is its flexibility. People don’t want to book a car? Give them a bike ride-sharing service, give them JUMP — an electric bike-share so that people could “go farther, faster, and have more fun!”. Do people want to get food from favorite restaurants at their doorstep? Launch Uber Eats! Self-driving cars fleet? Why not! By the way, is it time to disrupt aerial transportation yet? Because Uber Elevate works on aerial ridesharing right now.
Showing this kind of versatility is hard — it requires a lot of intellectual work and serious investments. However, in the long run, it makes a business more stable, simply because nowadays stability is a privilege of flexible companies ready to change and explore. None of the market leaders in ride-hailing is rigidly sticking to just one service type. Diversifying the business model is the new black, the new way to make sure the livelihood of your company.
Lyft: Be social
Lyft is your friend with a car, says the company’s website. A bold marketing strategy helps Lyft to appear an Uber but a way more fun and more socially responsible. A great share of social responsibility is what helps Lyft attract and motivate drivers, for example. Savings & retirement plans Lyft drivers get are a very nice bonus given the insecurity of being employed in the taxi industry.
The other good example of Lyft’s social involvement is its partnership with General Motors signed last year. Say what? You’ve read it right. As Lyft executives explain, collaboration with GM will contribute to creating a network of autonomous vehicles available on-demand. This will, in turn, make transportation more affordable and accessible. Expanding the use of electric vehicles is a way for Lyft to show they care about the environment, too.
Being social will not help you to overcome a serious business failure, let’s be clear. However, it will help you to create a supporters community and become an essential player in the local infrastructure. In crisis times, this is a very valuable asset.
Almeny by Kaiian: act local, act smart
Almeny is a project by one of Onde clients, Kaiian, in Saudi Arabia. In 2018, when women were finally allowed to drive vehicles in Saudi Arabia, the Kaiian team launched Almeny, an on-demand service for women to learn driving. According to the business plan, this is only the first step — the company is going to expand teaching services to a variety of domains.
Almeny became a game-changer, which did not exactly make things easier for the company. In the absence of legislation and adequate regulations, the startup decided to contribute to decision making and set a precedent for regulating on-demand learning in Saudi Arabia.
Another challenge was that the whole concept of an app to learn women how to drive was new and surprising for the public. Thanks to an effective and well-planned marketing strategy, the app managed to get a great number of loyal customers in the first month already.
The example of Almeny by Kaiian shows us how important it is to understand the local context, feel the social trends, and act upon them. Local companies are able to grasp the quick changes and use them to grow further. This is a precious takeaway for any launching ride-hailing company.
Didi. Rely on data. All kinds of data
Didi Chuxing is the company Uber didn’t manage to outperform in China. In addition to their further impressive track record, they’ve recently launched Didi AI Labs — a project to analyze data from various sources like video cameras, city sensors, GPS signals from Didi’s vehicles, and smart traffic lights. Al Labs is essential to Didi to understand the way traffic works, including every tiny twist and change occurring.
Such an analytical powerhouse is of course only possible thanks to the unique legislation as to personal information acquisition in China, and would not work in any country where personal data collection is restricted. It is though a very valuable point: strong companies rely on data to make decisions, no matter crisis or not, only hard data can give you meaningful insights into the market.
Failure or no failure, stick to your values
If there’s one ready-made takeaway from all these cases, it’s this: sticking to your brand values is the best move, however tough the times are. Of course, the company values should be based on a serious market, culture, and target audience research. Staying true to yourself and your company is a mainstay during any crisis, and powerful companies use it to survive.
Combined with a flexible approach to business, a deep understanding of the local context, and making data-driven decisions, having strong values will pilot you through almost any complicated situation.