Have you ever taken a step back from what you do to look at our industry as a whole? Try to view it objectively, as would someone outside our world, and what do you see? Recently, I reviewed the entire LCT subscriber file. I found company names that all said the words “transportation,” “limousine,” or the ever-popular one, “worldwide.” In our quest to “fit the suit,” we seem to be commoditizing ourselves by lack of brand, service, and product differentiation. After staring at 9,000 operators on our file for a few days, I could easily close my eyes and envision the color BLACK, a sea of SEDANS (black again), men in dark suits (um, that would be BLACK SUIT). And my head was spinning with the sameness of words used just in companies’ names, let alone their taglines. If I hear one more time that a company serves “500 cities worldwide,” I swear I will barf.
Stop for a minute and think about a prospective client or an existing one who is looking at you — at your website, your brochure, your business card. Then think about other service industries, such as the spa, hotel, or the restaurant business. Successful service businesses are ones that everyone simply MUST check out, because they offer…what is that lost word again?. Oh, yes. They are d I F F E r N T.
Ask yourself, “What is possible?” and not, “What is somebody else doing?” No one gets ahead by copying the status quo or imitating competitors. The concept of being unique or different is far more important today than it was 10 years ago. In the emerging era of over-communication and hyper-competition, people are overwhelmed by choice.
Let’s go back 40 years. In the 1968 Summer Olympics, a young man named Dick Fosbury revolutionized the high-jumping technique. Using an approach that became known as the Fosbury Flop, he won the gold medal by going over the bar back-first instead of head-first. He didn’t rely on the commonly used technique, as did all of his fellow competitors. By challenging assumptions, he raised the performance bar for everyone.
Creativity is your key to the future, my friend. All progress comes about as the result of finding better or different ways to do things and this requires the continual honing of your creative thinking skills. Simple ideas like having your chauffeurs say, “On behalf of ABCD, we hope your day is successful in every way,” rather than, “Good Morning,” is unique and what’s more, that one is free! Remember, when you are trying to attract new customers (or hold onto your existing ones), think about the end-user. Choosing among multiple options is always based on differences, implicit or explicit.
All progress and innovation is the result of finding new — often radically new — better or different ways to do things and solving customer’s problems, and this requires the continual honing of your creative thinking arts and skills. The benefits of functioning more creatively can be enormous. You can win customers and retain them by being…oh, that word again… d I F F E r N T.