by Daniel Im
“How long have you been driving for?”
Anytime I’m in a Taxi, this is typically one of my go-to questions. It also inevitably turns into an opportunity for the cab driver to share their personal story with me (this is one of the 5 BLESS steps in missional living). Last time I asked this question, the driver opened up the internal world of the taxi industry, and gave me insight into how and why companies like Uber and Lyft are gaining so much ground.
“It costs $300,000 to buy a permit to drive a cab in this city…”
I couldn’t believe my ears when the cab driver told me how it cost to drive a cab in Edmonton (Canada). As I continued to pry into the industry, he continued…
“A limited number of permits are issued once every few years, and when they are, it’s a complete lottery. Here’s the catch though, in order to enter that lottery, you need to have already been driving a cab for a couple of years, which is why I’m leasing this cab from someone else. If you’re lucky enough to have your name drawn, then it’ll cost you less than a $1000 to buy the license through the city. Once you get that license, you can either use it yourself, lease it out to someone else, or you can sell it for $300,000 – that’s the going rate these days.”
If I was talking to a lawyer, doctor or a dentist and they told me that it was going to cost them $300,000 to buy someone else’s practice, I wouldn’t even blink. All you would have to do is crunch the numbers and it would make sense. However, how does it make sense for a cab driver to dish out $300,000 to buy a permit, when they might only make a couple hundred dollars a day, plus the cost of maintenance and fuel?
I was beginning to understand why companies like Uber and Lyft were gaining so much ground in the transportation industry, and why taxi drivers and unions were trying so hard to prevent them from coming into their cities.
It’s basic math. Once Uber or Lyft comes into a city, you can say bye bye to that $300,000 price tag for a permit. The whole industry gets flipped on its head.
Here’s a quote from a Washington Post article on the topic:
“We will send this message to every country, every government, that Uber is not welcome,” said Mac Urata, the London-based head of surface transportation for the International Transport Workers Federation. “They have no place to hide. Everywhere they go, we will fight them, shame them, and get them out of business.”
As a result, the taxi industry is fighting for its life by using these tactics:
- Fear:“You can’t trust Uber!” According to this Washington Post article, “If an Uber driver does something terrible, such as rape a passenger, the company’s terms of service state clearly that it doesn’t guarantee the safety of its riders.”
- Empathy: “How can I feed my family if you’re taking away my customers?”
- Counter-attack: “Fine, we’ll just unionize and develop our own app to provide a safe alternative to Uber and Lyft”
All the while, Uber and Lyft continue to gain ground because of these tactics:
- Ease of use: They’re a couple of clicks away, the pickups are fast, and the payment is easy.
- Customization: You can choose the type of car you’d like to be picked up in.
- User-centric: The user is in control, since you can leave feedback and also split your fare easily.
- Viral:Everyone’s doing it.
Do you realize that the same thing is happening in the church world?
There are some churches who are trying to get back to the “good ‘ol days” when church attendance was expected. They are trying to get back to a position of power and authority in culture, but sadly, that boat has already sailed. The West is becoming increasingly post-Christian – just look at cities like New York, Vancouver, Montreal, or London for example. It’s only a matter of time until the same thing happens in your city.
What can church leaders learn from Uber and Lyft?
- Ease of use: Make it easy for people to find your church, get into community, serve, and give. Also, make sure you have a mobile responsive website, since most people will visit your church’s website before they ever visit your church – and the majority of them will do it on their phones.
- Customization: You need to provide different avenues for people to grow in their relationship with God. At church, in community, and
- User-centric: At first glance, “user-centric” sounds bad. After all, the church doesn’t ultimately exist for the individual. So that’s why my point here is to be aware of how individuals best learn. When teaching, don’t just use monologue, use different techniques according to how different people learn. If you aren’t aware of VARK, then look it up.
- Viral: What would it look like to create a viral movement in your city? Where everyone knows about your church because your church was obsessed with blessing and giving?
What else would you add to the list?