It seems a lot of cab companies where caught off-guard by Uber. They’re now losing riders to Uber. Yes, some drivers are doing OK. They’ve got a job. But it’s harder for the companies to thrive. (And the cabbie protests haven’t seemed to have worked well at preventing Uber from doing well.) This may be headed your direction in the home improvement industry–it may be in your backyard already.
Amazon, Google, and others are stepping into the space, and they are not doing it to protect your margins. In the home improvement world, if you want to buy yourself a job, the world may not change much. If you want to grow a successful company, though, things may get harder, not easier.
Google’s foray seems to be an add-on to AdWords. I’m more intrigued by how Amazon is diving in. They are providing price transparency, and guaranteeing purchases. Those concepts aren’t foreign to companies that know how to build value and deliver on it. Those concept should be terrifying for companies that don’t build value and can’t deliver on it. With price transparency, if all you’re competing on is price you’re going to hurt even more. If you have poor quality—broadly defined, and primarily from the customer’s perspective, and thus incorporating customer service, and whether you showed up on time or tracked dog poop on the carpet—you risk a world of hurt. And if you want to compete against those who’d like a big slice of the juicy part of your margin, you’ll have to do even better wowing customers and figuring out how to retain them and get referrals.
In other words, if you want to thrive, it’s going to be even more important to pay attention to the business, not just the blower door. And you’re better off learning how to surf today than waiting until the tidal wave is bearing down on you.