E-News - Valuable Lessons to Be Learned from the Mistakes of Others

Valuable Lessons to Be Learned from the Mistakes of Others

#1 Ford Motor Company.
Henry Ford, in the early days of automated vehicles, dominated the auto industry. At one time, he was so far ahead in his field that he was quoted as saying, “If I asked my customer what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse.’”

For Ford, the trouble didn’t come until his stubbornness and refusal to accommodate was revealed: He thought his way was the only way and told his customer they could have any color car they wanted, “as long as it’s black.” Chevrolet, Dodge, and Chrysler subsequently came out with white and red automobiles, and after Ford took that major bump in the road, he never again regained domination of the market.

#2 Polaroid.
At one time, Polaroid was known as “the camera people.” So common was the brand that people often said, “Let’s get a Polaroid,” in lieu of “Let’s take a picture.” In the 1980s, Polaroid beat Kodak to the punch with an instant camera patent, but adaptation with the changing technology and trends never clicked for them, and they failed to anticipate digital revolution in photography.

Lack of innovation and poor marketing management, as the inability and unwillingness to distance themselves from their instant camera roots caused the company to fail. While the name is still around, it was the only thing that was purchased after the company filed bankruptcy and was dissolved.

#3 Montgomery Ward.
Have you shopped in this superstore lately? Probably not. Montgomery Ward began as an innovator in 1872, offering products via mail order to customers in hard-to-reach places, acting as the Amazon of its day. Even with stiff competition from Sears Roebuck and others, they held their own through much of the first half of the twentieth century.

Unfortunately, they failed to innovate, to follow in their successful competitors footsteps and carry their business from downtown into the shopping malls, and sales began to decline. Montgomery Ward was in business for more than 125 years, and its origins would indicate a natural fit for the e-tail business of today, but sadly, all the future had in store for them was a slow death, because they did not adapt to technology fast enough, and they finally closed their doors in 2001. Today, only Wards exist, part of what was once a household name.

#4 Blockbuster Video.
When videocassette recorders began to show up in homes, the industry of video rentals boomed. For the first time, families could watch and re-watch Hollywood blockbusters from the comfort of their own sofas, enjoying a big bowl of buttery popcorn that didn’t cost a week’s salary. Thus, Blockbuster was born. Fast-forward to the DVD revolution, and they weathered the change from VHS all right, but over time, they lost track of what people really wanted.

While the Blockbuster big-wigs spent hours in boardrooms, plotting out ways for renters to keep movies out for longer, the entire video rental market revolutionized. All of the sudden, consumers were able to access movies instantly, without even a drive to the store. Everything—from new releases to entire series of television shows to classics—could be streamed directly to their TVs and other devices via pay-per-view, DVR, and Netflix. No one wants to rewind to the time when they had to worry about late fees or out-of-stock DVDs. Blockbuster filed bankruptcy in 2012 and was acquired by Dish Network. Since then, they have closed hundreds of stores, and it is doubtful that they will find a way to recover in the wake of on-demand, instant entertainment.

What are you doing different than your competition? Why?

How can you stay ahead of them?

What are you doing different to serve your customer? Why?

How can you gain more customers?

Carry On!

Greg McAfee
Greg McAfee
HVAC Business Consultant