Do me a favor, type “Uber” into a google. 10 years ago the first search that appeared would be “denoting an outstanding or supreme example of a particular kind of person or thing.” It wouldn’t be pompous of you to remember that Uber once was only used in sentences as an adjective to describe an exaggeration. Now, your search is flooded with hits pertaining to the company, and probably the logo. If you glance closer you’ll notice something more ironic, Uber’s search results are Uber disdain.
“Uber Lays Off 3,500 Employees Over A Zoom Call—The Way In Which A Company Downsizes Its Staff Says A Lot About The Organization” – Forbes
“Uber offer for Grubhub fans worries over delivery fees charged to restaurants” – Reuters
“Uber’s Grubhub Play: A Desperate Bid To Save A Business Everyone Hates” – Forbes
With results like these, you have a better chance of catching an Uber in farmland USA than Uber does catching a break. Firing employees only to turn around and buy a company is tough to side with. Unfortunately, there financials don’t resonate with the optimism you’d hope for in a long-term investment either.
“Uber Says Covid-19 Has Made It Impossible to Predict Financial Results” – Barron’s
I know, for an article about how Uber can shape the future this is a grim way to start. Super heros are admired for their powers, but are taken down from their weaknesses. In order to configure a future of Uber’s capabilities we have to remain cognizant of its limits, specifically press and financials. Nevertheless, even with uberly negative press and financials that would make you turn away, Uber’s growth is undeniable and their presence is unquestionable. The only question we now have is how can a company with amazing growth, bad press (currently) and horrific financials create an impact beyond sharing rides and delivering meals?
Coronavirus has decimated industries, companies, and families. Cures are discussed nonstop as our only saving grace. Testing is demanded, but the execution and delivery of these kits falls short. Uber can take a stab at helping develop testing and materials, but the bread and butter doesn’t come with innovation, rather with delivering this innovation. A time when people aren’t leaving their homes, and seeking ways to get tested Uber has the capability to bridge that gap of providing the means to deliver tests to you all while you don’t have to risk going outside if you don’t want to. Ride shares numbers are clearly down, but that by no means signals that ride sharing at the moment can’t turn into test kit transportation. Fees can be associated, and while this most likely will garner more bad PR, it is better to pay and be safe than cheap out and be sorry.
Uber’s second opportunity to squash some of its bad PR and increase growth lies not as much on keeping cars on the street, but more so in the shop. Specifically, their shop. A company which has improved customer service in the transportation industry can do so in its neighboring industry: car repair. The same method in which you use an app to hail a ride, you can do so to hail a mechanic to service your vehicle. Flat tire and need help? Uber Towing. Oil Change? Oil Body Shop. Utilizing the same tech that tailors a customer’s experience in their ride sharing, you can tailor a repair experience. Simple windshield fluid addition can be just a click away, while more heavy duty repair can be selected in the app where Uber partners with body shop’s in the area to provide you with the closest recommendation to provide the repair you need. Uber isn’t simply a ride sharing service, it has the capability to transform the entire auto industry service from transportation to repair and even the car buying process. Ride sharing isn’t just the bread and butter, it’s also the entry point for Uber to change customer service and the details of the auto world.
Uber has capitalized on two things so far: connecting you to the place you want to be, and connecting you to your food (and on some days to cats and dogs), well at least it appears that way. The connection though isn’t directly on Uber. Cars don’t have Uber models, streets aren’t owned by the company, drivers are considered independent contractors, and food comes from the kitchen of the restaurant, not Uber. Simply put, Uber is the connection. When you see beyond the looking glass you notice Uber is the booking agency. They pair you with a driver and restaurant that are seeking to provide a service. What if this same simple process of tapping a screen to get a ride could be reused in other methods? Why have to go through the plethora of hotel booking sites when you can do it on an app.?Why have to determine which airline has the cheapest flights when you can do it on the same app? Why worry about where to place your bags when the same app that has booked your flight and given you a discount can do it for you?
People hate a plethora of things, two that are prevalent are waiting in line, and having to be patient. We will pay obscene amounts of money for someone to handle the tedious tasks of traveling, moving, finding information and much much more. So why not automate that in one place? Imagine opening Uber and being asked “What are you looking for today?” A flight can be booked and boarded all with typing “flight.” Type in “Movers” and you’ll have rates ready for the address you’re going to. “Train” can get you tickets, seats, and beverages saved before you even leave your house. We want simplicity in our lives first and foremost, and if you can get it to us easily with great service, then please have my money.
The technology they currently use within their app simply connects people to cars, or people to restaurants. They would have to go through the loops of obtaining the information from a plethora of sources, but if they can then you have the possibility of an app hosting “bookings” to any gig or tedious task you want. It’s not out of this realm to believe that when you want to take a flight, you can open the uber app, select a flight, pay for bags, book an Uber to the airport and then book an Uber to the hotel when the flight has landed. Earlier I mentioned car maintenance, it’s the same idea, just typing “flat tire” or “Oil change” can get you the nearest repair shops to get this done, just like by typing in the address you want right now gets you connected to someone who will take you there.
By focusing on being the connection between people and what they are currently looking for, Uber has the chance to spread its reach to anywhere people are looking to optimize the capability of finding help. This can also come at one of the worst times ever for the gig economy. When gig jobs are being slammed to the ground due to Virus concerns there will come a time, whether it be during or after the virus, that people will need to call someone to fix their toilet, repair their car, or remodel their home. Right now a lot of those people are either a) about to go out of business or b) rethinking their marketing since they aren’t being called right now. Out of this economic storm for the gig economy will come a rise and with Uber’s ability to connect people, they can spread their wings in the blue collar workforce to help get those gig economy workers get back on their feet, refocus their business, and provide them a place to get connected to people faster than they have before.
The future in Uber is still uncertain, since nobody does have a crystal ball. The present seems far from optimistic and positive for one of the fastest growing companies out there. Nevertheless, as long as Uber can survive from the bad PR (which they will), and make strides in their financials, Uber can come out of this Virus and this current recession/depression (as mentioned from all the “experts”) with a model to not only connect people to addresses but to connect people to their daily needs.
Credit to Aleks Gleyzer for helping with this post.
Thanks for reading,