Now is certainly a time in the business environment to be flexible. To be adaptable. To grab opportunity when others sit back and watch. And the airport shuttle guy in the airport in Mexico was the ultimate example of this. Here’s how the conversation went:
Me, looking for flight arrival information because we are waiting for passengers on another flight, approaching a man who is clearly affiliated with a shuttle service to take people to hotels: "Where could we find flight information?"
Him, determining that my needs don’t directly match his services, but realizing there may be an opportunity for a different business opportunity to occur: "Where would you like to fly to?"
Wow. In a span of about 2 seconds this man determined that although I wasn’t looking for his driving services I had created a market for him to provide other services and he immediately switched his business model to "I am now a travel agent"! It would have been interesting to see if I had carried that conversation farther how he would have met that set of needs.
As referenced by the "On being nimble versus visionary" blog entry, a financial manager made this comment in an email:
"We stand resolved that the ability to react is now more important than the ability to predict."
The service provider in Mexico certainly realized this. Without being able to predict what market needs might be walking off the airplane, he was ready to react and grab opportunity.
And this doesn’t have to be limited to small organizations (i.e. the Mexico shuttle service). Zappos.com has numerous stories of delivery exceptional customer service outside of their "core" competency of providing shoes. Here’s just one where people called customer service looking for the closest pizza delivery service!
Photo credit, Emery Way