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Saturday / June 22.
HomemilastwordAdapt… or Be Forced To

Adapt… or Be Forced To

Taxis have been part of our landscape for as long as I can remember.

I’d never questioned the concept of booking a taxi to get me to my destination. They’ve always delivered me in a roundabout way. I’ve paid the freight and moved on.

Along the way, I enjoyed chatting with drivers, listening to their grievances and their take on the world. They always had an opinion… that’s just the way it was.

Until Uber came along.

They need to adapt their ways to meet the market’s new expectations. If they don’t they’ll disappear

One day a mate came to our office. We were going to give him a lift to his hotel but he said he’d ‘Uber’ it instead and he jumped on the Uber phone app.

I was stumped at his confidence because our office is well off the main routes. Five minutes later his car turned up.

He wasn’t the first to show unbridled confidence in the app, so I tried it.

I put my details in, hit my destination, saw a rough price and accepted it. Within five minutes a car arrived. The driver was pleasant, the car clean and tidy, I was taken directly to my destination and there was no need to exchange cash or even show my credit card.

Since then I’ve always used Uber and I’ve always had good experiences. I rarely stop to consider a cab.

I don’t think the taxi industry took Uber as a threat in the early days but it wasn’t long before they realised this newcomer on the block was building up a loyal customer following. They started to protest Uber’s arrival. They tried to create fear among potential users via a ‘stranger danger’ media campaign. Then they focussed on the legality of the service and how unfair it was, given that taxi drivers are forced to pay so much for their licences. The taxi industry hasn’t given up the fight, but they’re not winning. And anyway, it’s too late. They need to adapt their ways to meet the market’s new expectations. If they don’t they’ll disappear.

Hotels are the same. Airbnb didn’t exist a few years ago and when it did arrive, like many people, I viewed its long-term viability with scepticism. After all, who’d have considered staying in a stranger’s home on an overseas trip? But we do now and the experience of settling into a local person’s home can turn a quick visit to an unknown destination into a totally immersive experience. Hotels will need to change if they want to remain relevant.

It’s the same for all businesses and eye care is no different. Eye care is going through another metamorphosis. Many groups are being challenged about how they operate. Their working processes are being questioned. Their future and possibly, their very existence, is being challenged.

No-one can afford to sit back and expect the way we did things yesterday will be the same tomorrow.

We need to adapt or be forced to. If we don’t we’ll become irrelevant.