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A natural fit: tires & restaurants?


One of the business stories in recent memory I've found useful to revisit regards the ride-sharing company Lyft. What intrigued me was a partnership agreement they signed with Starbucks. Why Starbucks? As the CEO of Lyft, John Zimmer, stated in Fast Company, "the two things almost every person needs in the morning are a cup of coffee and a ride to work." What I like about that comment is reflecting on the fact coffee and transportation are often used at the same time but are viewed as two separate activities. What Lyft began to propose with their idea is the value in exploring how they might become more intertwined.

Ever since hearing about Lyft and Starbucks, I've fallen back on it as an example of an unlikely partnership and opportunity to create value. Another one comes from this guy.

But instead of the mascot, I really mean this guy, André Michelin, who founded the Michelin Tyre Company in 1888.

As an early firm in the automobile industry, cars were still relatively rare in France and much of the the world and therefore presented great risk and opportunity. The company pondered how it might increase the number of cars on the road, so it could sell more tires, or raise the prestige of having and driving one for those who already did. The solution they arrived at was creating the Michelin Guide, which has gone on to become one of the most sought-after rankings a restaurant in the world might receive.

Rather than try to sell people on why they should buy more tires, Michelin established an urgency for spending more time in their cars. It gave owners a destination and purpose for getting out and visiting unfamiliar parts of their city, country or continent in the pursuit of great food and service. For those unfamiliar, a restaurant may receive up to 3 stars:

* "A very good restaurant in its category"

** "Excellent cooking, worth a detour"

*** "Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey"

Whether I am studying the aforementioned Lyft example or that of Michelin, I feel both of these are useful reminders of how one does business. Spend less time pushing your product and more time creating value for your customers and you're on your way.

Go Forth Boldly


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