--Groucho Marx, "A Night in Casablanca"
Uber Technologies, Inc. said that within three years, the company intends to expand its services to include a fleet of food-delivery drones called, UberEats.
Instead of having your Domino's Deluxe Pizza brought to the house or apartment by a friendly delivery person, that box, wafting with the smell of your favorite toppings, would sail through the air, landing at your doorstep, hot and ready to eat.
While UberEats already has a ground delivery service, the announced timeline calls for a drone service to be in place by 2021, according to the original Uber posting on its website.
Several big tech companies, including Amazon and Uber, are keeping a George Jetson future in front of hungry investors and media. Over $3.5 billion has been invested in food and grocery delivery services in 2018. As a result, Instacart, Inc., Postmates, Inc., and DoorDash, which delivers Wendy's hamburgers and other menu items, are vying for ways to carve out positions in this emerging market.
In the meantime
This past summer, I made a business trip from Kalamazoo, Michigan, to Minneapolis, by way of Detroit, that resembles an obstacle course. During each segment, I became increasingly dependent on others to help get me to my destination safely and on time by delivering exceptional service:
Amtrak Station in Kalamazoo
When my train was posted late, Tod, the Amtrak station manager, offered to find a ground transportation service at Dearborn Station, about 30 minutes from Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Of course, there's nothing unusual about a late Amtrak train. But, unfortunately, that happens more than it should.
What was different on that Thursday in June was Tod's effort to ensure we didn't miss our flight to Detroit.
Amtrak Station in Dearborn to Detroit Metro
Eddie, our polite and knowledgeable driver, navigated heavy congestion and construction between the train station and the airport. All for a reasonable fee.
Delta in Terminal A
As it turns out, my dash to the gate was unnecessary. Delta 23 was running a little behind, and boarding had yet to begin. Then Delta announced that the scanning system for reading boarding passes was down. So all 167 passengers on this oversold flight would have to be boarded manually through a backup plan.
Susan, the gate agent, called for boarding and began a tedious process of getting passengers onto the Boeing 737-900 plane. I asked how she felt about being alone at Gate 70 in Terminal A with a broken system. Her response: "You do what you have to do."
Within a reasonable amount of time, everyone was boarded, and Delta 23 nonstop to Minneapolis was safely on its way.
Hertz at Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport
I returned to Kalamazoo by renting a Hertz car at Detroit Metro Airport and driving two hours west on Interstate 94 to the Portage Road exit. Unfortunately, in my haste to fill out the rental agreement (gas, mileage, time) and get home, I left my mobile phone in the front seat.
Fortunately, when the associate manager, Michael, did the vehicle inspection, he found the phone and held it for me.
I am grateful to Tod, Eddie, Susan, and Michael for their spirit and quality service. Each acted as much out of who they were as what they were trained to do.
What happens next?
Who knows what will unfold when it comes to delivering products and services through various methods, including air. With technology and artificial intelligence advancing rapidly, the sky may be the limit.
Finding ways for any business to stand out from the competition is essential. One path to success is providing exceptional face-to-face customer service. Then, when necessary, give them the chicken.
Delivering what's promised daily is not easy, but that's the goal.
Your Domino's Ultimate Pepperoni Pizza will still arrive by car, truck, or SUV--delivered by a mortal being. However, when The Wall Street Journal contacted Uber about a flying drones program, the company removed that posting from its website.
Apparently, the air version of UberEats has been temporarily grounded.
(C) Bredholt & Co.