In May of this year, a landmark court ruling legalised the ride-sharing app Uber. Taxi companies and the state government were quick to launch a revision of the legislation that governs the taxi industry to repair the loophole that allowed Uber to become legal. It has been an ongoing battle for the taxi industry ever since the disruptive tech-giant launched, and the fate of either party remains to be seen. However, disruption is inescapable. Like it or not, the taxi industry must adapt and it will take strong leadership for it
to survive.

Fighting against innovation

Disruption is nothing new; we’ve seen the radio industry disrupted by television and the music industry disrupted by music streaming sites. We are personally seeing it in the recruitment industry and have diversified our services in response. The radio, music and recruitment industry hasn’t disappeared — they were just forced to innovate in order to stay competitive.

When consumers are welcoming innovation, it is imperative for businesses to pay attention, no matter how much they may dislike the change. You must either keep up with the innovations of your competition, or offer a more appealing alternative.

Fighting against innovation only worsens your brand, leaving consumers with the perception that your business is archaic and not willing to listen to their needs. Businesses who are on the forefront of innovation are the winners in this market, where the next disruption is just around the corner.

Taxi companies have directed their efforts to have their competitor banned, rather than focusing on becoming better than their competitor.

Fighting the right opponent

Competing with Uber is no easy feat. Uber is a less-regulated entity than the taxi industry. Taxi companies have spent a lot of time fighting against Uber, releasing smear campaigns that suggest the service is less safe for passengers. The problem is that the taxi industry is not without its share of safety issues, with their treatment of passengers and their reliability often questioned. Consumer advocacy groups have studied the safety regulations of both services and debunked the idea that Uber is less safe. The research found that safety was comparable, but price and convenience was not, with Uber winning in both of these categories.

This rivalry is cut throat, however taxi companies have directed their efforts to have their competitor banned, rather than focusing on becoming better than their competitor.

If taxis want to stay relevant, their leaders need to direct the fight against the regulations that inhibit them from operating like Uber, and work with state governments to obtain uniformity in the regulations that should govern both the taxi and ride-share industry.

It’s business, notGame of Thrones

It will take a bold leader in the taxi industry to adapt to the changing world, rather than fight against it. Like most examples of industry disruption, there is room for both taxis and ride-share services. The introduction of Kindle did not stop some people from wanting paperbacks. The introduction of Foxtel did not stop cinemagoers. And so a forward-thinking leader will understand that our marketplace is full of consumers with different needs, and that there is room for all, provided businesses stay closely tuned to their core market. A good leader will identify their consumer’s desires before they become disgruntled demands, and will evolve accordingly.

Accepting and embracing change 

We are all biologically hardwired to dislike change. However, the best leaders understand change to be part of the natural cycle of business. For leaders, being on the forefront of change can be the key element that separates the wheat from the chaff. After all, the more adaptable a business is, the more likely it is to survive change, and this adaptability stems from a company’s leadership team. If change is not embraced, then it at least needs to be accepted.

Rather than scrambling for the throne, a strong leader will be able to see that an industry is not an empire where the competition needs to be stamped out. Rather, it is a free market where evolving to the needs of your customers is what cements success and longevity. If the taxi industry were to partner with the ride-share industry and the state government with the goal of fair regulations for all, then this issue will become a fair and healthy fight between competitors. It will take bold leaders to refocus the industry from its position of wanting Uber banned, and turn it towards how their own companies can evolve to compete.