The One Thing for Extraordinary Results

“The ONE THING” is about taking the shortest path to achieving extraordinary results. It is not just about getting stuff done and being more productive: It’s about having meaningful days; being motivated and happy; working on important things that make a difference and that have a real impact.

Finding the Shortest Path to a Big Goal

The lead domino

1. Identify your long term goal

This process is about achieving a long term goal as quickly as possible. But you need to have a goal in mind.

2. Identify your one year goal

Ask yourself: “What is the ONE THING I can do THIS YEAR such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary in achieving my long term goal?” That ONE THING is your goal for the year.

3. Identify your goal for THIS MONTH

“What is the ONE THING I can do THIS MONTH such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary in achieving my one year goal?” That ONE THING is your goal for the month.

4. Identify your goal for THIS WEEK

“What is the ONE THING I can do THIS WEEK such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary in achieving my one month goal?” That ONE THING is your goal for the week.

5. Identify your goal for this TODAY

“What is the ONE THING I can do TODAY such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary in achieving my one week goal?” That ONE THING is your goal for today.

6. Work on TODAY’s goal for the first 4 hours of your day

Spend the FIRST HALF of your day working on your ONE THING. No interruptions, no distractions, no emails, no phone calls, no meetings. Just laser focused work on your most important task. Your morning is spent on your most important thing. The afternoon is left for emails, phone calls, and meetings. By working on your ONE THING first, you are sure it will get done. Things left for later have a chance of not getting done.

Meaningful Days

This process is not just about getting stuff done and being more productive: It’s about having meaningful days; being motivated and happy; working on important things that have a real impact and that truly make a difference.

Since I’ve started to use this process I’m more engaged at work, more motivated, less stressed out, and happier. I get to devote uninterrupted time to important meaningful projects that will have a huge impact. If I “run out of time” during my day, it’s the unimportant things that get dropped.

The Productive vs The Unproductive Day

Do you ever feel like you’ve been SUPER busy all day, yet didn’t get anything accomplished? Those are the days where you DID NOT work on your one most important thing.

The difference between a PRODUCTIVE day and an UNPRODUCTIVE day is how much time you spend on your ONE THING. If you work on your ONE THING first, your day is already productive and rewarding by the time lunch rolls around. It doesn’t matter what happens the rest of your day.

The Myth of Multitasking

It is a myth that you get more done by doing many things at the same time. If you want huge success, you need to be very narrowly focused. If you try to do two things at once you won’t do either well. Chasing too many rabbits leads to catching none.

“Do fewer things for more effect
instead of doing more things with side effects”

Multitasking is a form of self distraction. When switching between two tasks, there is always a reorientation phase, and that’s wasted time.

tot_interruptions

The 80 / 20 rule

Not all things matter equally. Not all tasks are created equal. You need to focus on those that matter most and that produce the biggest results: If 20% of you activities result in 80% of your results, then you should be spending more of your time on those activities.

tot_8020

The Importance of Only ONE Thing

There can only be one most important thing. Many things may be important, but only one can be the most important. Not a few things… Not two things… ONE THING!

What is my ONE THING?

If today you (or your company) don’t know what your ONE THING is, then your ONE THING is to figure that out.

Family, Friends, and Life Outside of Work

Following this process means spending a large amount of time focused on a single often “work” related goal. That usually means less time for your family, friends, and other priorities. It is very important to ensure you are spending quality time with your family and friends during your evenings, weekends, and vacations.

“Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called  work, family, health, friends and integrity. And you’re keeping all of these in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls – family, health, friends and integrity – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.”

Chaos!

Following this process tends to cause some chaos. Since you have less time to do “maintenance” work, you will tend to experience a messy desk, a messy email inbox, etc… Either clean it up in the afternoon, or live with it. Those are the costs of narrow focus and great results.

“It’s not that we have too little time to do the things we need to do, it’s that we feel we need to do too many things in the time we have.”

Other Applications…

In your non-work life

The “One Thing process” can also be used at a smaller scale in your non-work life: What is the ONE thing you can do for your family that will have the most positive effect? What is the ONE thing you could do for your spouse that would make your relationship better? What is the ONE thing you could do for your parents or friends? What is the ONE thing you could change to improve your health? What is the ONE thing from a personal standpoint that would bring you the most happiness? Etc…

In your company

Your company should use this process to be laser focused on it’s most important, most impactful goal. And at a smaller scale, each department and each employee should have their long term goals with work backs to what their ONE THING for today is. If you have weekly status meetings, they should be used to help identify everyone’s ONE THING. Employee performance reviews should be about their ONE THING. Etc…

More About this Topic

If you like the One Thing as I’ve described it here, and want to learn more about it, then I highly recommend you purchase the book or visit the Official One Thing site

Why Businesses should help ex-employees find their next job

When an employee leaves, proactively help them find their next job. The faster they find a new job the less likely they are to get into a desperate situation and to do something that is against your best interest.

Firing someone sucks. Every situation is different, stressful, and unpleasant. For many small businesses, a decision to lay someone off often comes after weeks or months of deliberation, and after looking at all possible alternatives.

Even if you give a good severance package and a letter of reference, it’s sometimes not enough. I believe that a business’ responsibility to the employee isn’t done until they find their next job or career. When an employee leaves, the business should proactively help the ex-employee find their next job.

Here are some specific business reasons why it might be a good idea to go above and beyond to help an ex-employee land on their feet:

  • Build goodwill for future opportunities: Your past employees will have a more positive attitude towards you and your business if they feel that you genuinely did your best to help them. They are less likely to hold a grudge and more likely to help you in the future when an opportunity presents itself.
  • Strengthen relationships with current employees: Current employees will look to how you treat your past employees as an indication of how they will be treated when they leave.
  • Reduced risk of harm to the business: The faster a past employee finds a new job, the less likely they are to get into a desperate financial situation, and the less likely they are to do something for financial gain that is against your best interest, or that violates an NDA or non-compete.

If you are a business owner and are laying someone off, consider going the extra mile to help that employee find their next job — I think it will have long term benefits for your business.

Polyphasic Sleep for Jetlag

Most recommendations for recovering from Jet-lag involve avoiding sleep at your destination until night time. Here is an alternative: Polyphasic sleep to pro-actively catchup on the sleep you are about to miss.

The Plan

  1. Follow traditional best practices for avoiding Jet Lag.
  2. 20 minute naps every 4 hours: As soon as you land go on a dynamic “everyman” sleep schedule (20 minute nap every 4 hours) until night time and then either
    1. Sleep as long as you can (if you can); or
    2. if you cannot sleep, take another 20 minute nap and try sleeping again in another 4 hours.
  3. Repeat on the second day: When you wake up, record the time and plan on another 20 minute nap in 4 hours (and continue the cycle).
  4. Stop the nap schedule once you feel you are onto the local rhythm, but I recommend to stick with it for at least 2 days.
  5. Start on the plane: If you are on a really long flight with multiple connections, you can try starting your nap schedule early by napping at airports during connections or on the plane before you land.

Important: You are not trying to reduce sleep. You are trying to catch up on sleep you have already missed and future sleep you are about to miss. So don’t purposely stay up all night — if it’s night time and you can get an entire night’s sleep in, then go for it. But if it’s day time then be strict with your nap schedule.

Tips

  • Take wind down time into account. It usually takes me 15-20 minutes to fall asleep, so I usually schedule my nap 15 minutes earlier and set my alarm for 35 minutes.
  • It is ok if you don’t actually sleep. Lying in a comfy spot with your eyes closed for 20 minutes will refresh you enough to help push you through another 4 hours of awake.
  • Plan your day around your sleep schedule to make sure you can get your naps in
  • Carry ear plugs and a night mask (and an inflatable pillow?) to maximize your “anywhere / anytime” nap opportunities.
  • Use the website JetLagRooster.com to prep your sleep schedule even before you leave and get tips on how to adapt once you land (note: They do not have naps built into their schedule)

Related Posts

Incremental Learning Theory: How to Make Your Children Smarter

Children tend to view their intelligence in one of two ways: “I am smart at this” where they believe they have a fixed level of intelligence. And “I tried hard at this” where they believe their level of intelligence is flexible and influenced by hard work.

Entity Learners: “I am smart at this”

“Entity” learners believe in a fixed level of intelligence: I.e.: “I am good at math; I am bad at english”.

They believe they have a fixed level of ability and there is very little they can do to change their results.  Since success or failure implies “smart” or “not-smart”, they will tend to avoid risk of failure.

Incremental Learners:
“I tried hard at this”

“Incremental” learners believe their level of intelligence is flexible and influenced by hard work. “I got it because I worked very hard at it” or “I should have tried harder”.

The learning is more important than the results. When faced with failure, they increase their efforts or change their tactics. Step by step they can move from novice to master.

Winning and Losing

Winning is still very important. But learning is more important than winning or losing.

“It would be easy to read about the studies on entity vs incremental theories of intelligence and come to the conclusion that a child should never win or lose. I don’t believe this is the case. If that child discovers any ambition to pursue excellence in a given field later in life, he or she may lack the toughness to handle inevitable obstacles. While a fixation on results is certainly unhealthy, short term goals can be useful development tools if they are balanced within a nurturing long-term philosophy. Too much sheltering from results can be stunting.”

Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning

Assume your child is playing high-school level soccer. Which is better? Winning against a kindergarden team or losing a close match against a university team? I would argue that playing against the stronger team (win or lose) will have much better long term benefits than winning against the kindergarden team. If you never lose then you are not challenging yourself enough.

If your child experiences a crushing defeat, don’t patronize them by saying that “it doesn’t matter if you win or lose”. Your child is feeling strong emotions that clearly matter to him. Your words will not resonate with his reality.  Instead acknowledge those feelings and focus on the learning: “I know you put a lot of effort into this and you wanted to win very badly. Not winning hurts a lot sometimes, but it can also help you get better.  Let’s learn from this — let’s train harder and get better for the next match. The best way to get better is to face strong opponents, and when you face strong opponents you will lose sometimes. But you will get better. And the better you get, the more you will win.”

“I have seen many people in diverse fields take some version of the (incremental learning) philosophy and transform it into an excuse for never putting themselves on the line or pretending not to care about results. They claim to be egoless, to care only about learning, but really this is an excuse to avoid confronting themselves.”

Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning

What Parents or Teachers can do

The language used by parents or teachers play a big role in a child’s view of their intelligence.

Language such as “You are really good at math, but bad at English” will tend to reinforce that intelligence is a fixed and unchangeable. Children will learn that they are good at math and bad at English. They will link their success and failure  to a predefined fixed level of ability. There is nothing they can do about it, so they will not try to get better.

Focus on the learning. Re-enforce that they can change their results with effort: “You are really doing good in math: Keep up the good work! You are struggling in english: Let’s study a little harder!”.

It is never too late

“It is clear that parents and teachers have an enormous responsibility in forming theories of intelligence of their students and children — and it is never too late. It is critical to realize that we can always evolve in our approaches to learning. Studies have shown that in just minutes, kids can be conditioned into having a healthy learning theory for a given situation.”

Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning

Resources

How I Plan my Week

This is an archive and record of how I used to plan my week back in November 2013. My ritual has changed since then, but the information is still relavent.

What is “Balance”

I don’t like the term “Work/Life” balance because it implies that there are only two areas of importance: Work and Life. The reality for most of us is that “Life” is actually composed of several important roles: Parenting, Homeownership, Friendships, Community, “Me” time, etc….

Most of us already spend at least half our waking hours at work. This does not leave much time for the other important areas in your life.

How I Plan My Week

Every weekend I go through the following ritual to plan the coming week. The goals are to ensure that important things get done, but also to ensure that some time is devoted to each of the roles you play.

1. I review my Personal Mission Statement

A personal mission statement gives you guidance and is a reminder of what is important to you.  If you don’t already have one, take some time to write one. Every week I review my mission statement and update it if necessary.

My Personal Mission Statement

To find happiness, fulfillment, and value in living I will strive to:

  • Make a positive difference in the lives of others;
  • Spend more quality time with friends and family;
  • Simplify my life; work less; have more “perfect days”; and keep an open mind;
  • Do great things; strive for excellence; and inspire others.
  • Apologize sincerely when necessary.
  • Remember that life is short; be grateful; relax and enjoy the moment; Memento Mori.

2. I review my Roles

Achieving “balance in life” isn’t about getting a 50/50 balance between “work” and “life”.  You play many more than just 2 roles in life: Individual, Father, Husband, Friend, Employee, Homeowner, Artist, World Traveler, Adventurer, etc… You should try to devote some time to each of the roles you play.

Although they rarely change, every week I review my roles and occasionally I add a new role or remove a role that no longer applies.

My Roles

  • Individual
  • Father / Husband
  • Family Member (son, brother, cousin)
  • Friend
  • Employee / Entrepreneur
  • Homeowner

3. For each Role, I review my Long Term Goals

For each of my roles I try to define some long term goals. I review my goals weekly to make sure they are still important to me and that they align with my personal mission statement.

What are some big things that would make a tremendous difference if I could accomplish them? I try to make the goals as specific as possible and not too vague. Each week I want to try and get a little closer to reaching those goals.

Some of my Goals

  • Individual: Resume Painting; Climb Mt. Kilamanjaro; Visit the Pyramids of Giza.
  • Father / Husband: Weekly date night; 10 year anniversary trip; Build swing set;
  • Family: Help my father lose 50lbs; Family cottage trip; 
  • Friend: Help my friends identify and achieve their goals;
  • Homeowner: Renovate garage; Build a pool; 

4. I schedule time in my week for each Role

Every week I make an effort to spend some time on each role. I identify the most impactful thing I can do for each role and schedule time in my calendar to do it. Sometimes this is something that gets me closer to some big ambitious goal, other times it’s something simpler like buying flowers or a date night.

For each of my roles I choose 1 to 3 important priorities/tasks to work on that week.

5. I schedule time for Personal Renewal & Growth

In addition to spending time on each of my roles, I try to devote time each week to become better physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually:

  • Physical: Eat healthy, exercise, etc…
  • Mental: Read, learn, etc…
  • Social: Strengthen existing relationships, form new relationships, networking, etc…
  • Spiritual: Meditate, nature, music, religion, etc…

Related Posts

Reactive vs Proactive Language

Most of us tend to use REACTIVE language in our day to day lives: “I CAN’T do that because I MUST do this”. Changing to PROACTIVE language can have a profound effect on your life: “I DON’T WANT to do that because I WANT to do this”.

I NEED vs I WANT
I MUST vs I PREFER
I CAN’T vs I CHOOSE

Reactive Language

Most of us tend to use reactive language in our day to day lives: “I CAN’T do this because I MUST do that”. The reality of the situation is that you probably don’t have to do the second thing and probably CAN do the first thing.

Outside of being bound by the laws of physics, there are very few things in life that you HAVE to do or that you CAN’T do. So why do we use those words?

Using reactive language absolves you of responsibility but also makes you powerless: “I am not responsible. I am not able to choose my response. There is nothing I can do about it”.

WHAT YOU SAYWHAT YOU MEAN
I can’t do that.
I just don’t  have the time
Something external (limited time) is controlling me
If only my boss were more patientSomeone else’s behaviour is limiting my effectiveness
I have to do itCircumstances or other people are
forcing me to do what I do. I am not free to choose my own actions.
Examples of reactive language.

Proactive Language

Reactive LanguageProactive Language
I need…I want…
I must…I prefer…
I can’t…I choose…

This subtle change in language can make a huge positive impact in your life.

Examples

REACTIVE
“I wish I could take 6 months off and travel the world but I can’t because I have to work and I don’t have enough vacation.”

PROACTIVE #1
“Although I would love to take 6 months off and travel, my financial security and my career are currently more important to me. I choose not to go on this trip so that I can focus on my career instead.”

PROACTIVE #2
“The experience of travelling is much more important to me than my job or my financial security. So I will convince my boss to give me a 6 month sabbatical (or just quit?) and I will go on this iconic journey.”

Re-evaluate your Paradigm

Saying that “I DON’T WANT TO go on a wonderful 6 month trip because I WANT TO work” is difficult and counterintuitive.  By changing your language you will re-evaluate your reality:

  • Do I really want to keep working instead of travelling?
  • How important is seeing the world to me?
  • How important is my job or career?
  • Is this job really what I want to do?
  • What is truly important to me?

There are no right or wrong answers to any of these questions. But asking these questions is important and empowers you to change.

Be Precise in your Speech

How you talk reinforces what you believe to be true. By being reactive with your language, you reinforce that you are powerless. By being precise and truthful with your language, you accept responsibility for your choices and gain the power to change those choices and to change your situation.

Take Responsibility.
Make it your Fault.

Until you can honestly say that “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday” you cannot say “I choose otherwise”.

Never blame others for failures.  Always blame yourself. The moment you blame another person or some external circumstance, you become powerless to change the results:

THEIR FAULT
“The project failed because we didn’t get enough support from the marketing department. They need to do a better job next time.”

YOUR FAULT
“The project failed because I did not mobilize the marketing department effectively. Next time I will change my strategy and make a more effective presentation explaining the importance of their role in the success of this project.”

The more responsibility you take, the more power you have to change.

Related Reading

Stewardship Delegation

“Stewardship” delegation is focused on results instead of methods; on the What and not the How. It allows the individual to own the work and communicate progress and results at agreed upon intervals.

The ability to effectively delegate is a valuable skill: Delegation enables you to devote more of your time to higher level important activities.

Stewardship Delegation often requires training and development of the people that you are delegating to. This ensures that they are competent enough to rise to the level of trust required to delegate.

The Five key elements of Stewardship Delegation

1. Desired Results & Timelines

Clearly specify the results that are expected and their timeline. Focus on RESULTS and not the methods.

Have the person communicate back to you the final results they will be delivering and when they will be delivering them.

2. Guidelines and Restrictions

Identify any guidelines and major restriction within which the person should operate. These should be as few as possible, but DO identify any paths to failure.

3. Available Resources

Identify all resources available to help in achieving the results: List any human, financial, technical, and organizational resources.

4. Evaluation and Performance Standards

Setup the performance standards that will be used in evaluating the results and the specific times when evaluation will take place. The individual is responsible for the evaluation and for ensuring it takes place.

5. Consequences of Success or Failure

Specify what will happen – both good and bad — as a result of the evaluation. (Financial rewards, psychic rewards, different job assignments, etc…)

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The 4-Day Work Week

A few years ago we offered our employees the option to work 20% less in exchange for a 10% pay-cut. The results and reactions surprised us.

A few years ago Fresh Air Educators performed an HR experiment: We offered all our full time salaried employees the option to pick between 2 work schedules:

  • Status quo: 5 days @ 7.5hrs at current pay
  • 4-day work week: 4 days @ 7.5hrs – Every Friday off
    Work 20% less but take  a 10% pay cut

For me, this seemed like a no-brainer:

Very Little Change to Take-Home Pay

The 10% of salary that was being given up would have been taxed at highest tax rate if it was earned (in Canada). So the net “take-home” amount was probably closer to 95% of what the employee was making previously.

Better Hourly Pay

Employees would now be getting 90% of their salary for only 80% of the work, so the pre-tax hourly wage was higher.

Happier, more rested, more productive

The 4 day work week gives employees a long weekend every weekend. That’s 52 extra days off a year.

Obvious Employee Perk

Offering a 4 day work-week is an obvious perk which should make it easier to hire top talent, and should lead to less employee turnover.

Cost Savings for the Business

The 10% salary savings for the business goes directly towards profits.

Very Little Productivity Loss

Working 20% less DOES NOT mean 20% less productivity.  The 80/20 rule kicks in: The most important things still get done while the 20% dropped will be the least important things (which probably only account for 5% of weekly productivity). By only working 80% of the time, you will still reap 95% of value.

Negatives: No Work Gets Done on Friday

The only negatives seemed to be that no work would get done on Friday. This was an issue for departments such as Customer Service, but most of those employees were hourly and already working non-standard work hours.

Employee Reactions to the Proposal

I was extremely surprised that we had almost zero adoption of the 4-day work week. A few employees tried it for a few months during the summer, but everyone eventually switched back to the 5 day work week.

Ultimately it seemed that:

  • Many of our employees were living paycheck to paycheck, and the reduced income simply wasn’t feasible for them.
  • Some employees were suspicious that this was some long-term scheme to permanently reduce their salaries
  • Some employees thought that they would be forced to make up the 20% of missing time for free.

So in the end, I am sad to say that this experiment was a failure, and we cancelled the program 12 months after starting it due to non-adoption. (However, I still believe in it, and I think I will try to implement this from the get-go in my next startup)

Related Reading

Random Thoughts from 2012

Some random takeaways from the Business of Software conference in 2012: Product vs Customer Focus; Cognitive Resources and Willpower; A/B Testing; Profit Sharing; and the Question Sales Pitch

Don’t Focus on your Product;
Focus on your Customers Instead

Don’t focus on making your product awesome, instead focus on making your customers awesome. This may seem like a small semantic difference, but what triggers the word-of-mouth snowball is when your customers can impress their friends because of something you enabled. To encourage your customers to spread your product via word-of-mouth, your product should make your customers “badass”.

Try this: Write a fictional product review WITHOUT mentioning your product or company. Write it solely with a focus on what your product allowed your customer to accomplish

The Power of Simplicity

…and the Scarcity of Cognitive Resources

Cognitive resources are scarce and easily depleted. If you present multiple choices to your users early on, they eventually run out of cognitive resources at a later time. Simplify the things that are not important and save the complexity for critical tasks.

Example: A complex registration process can impact the ability of your user to successfully accomplish tasks later on in your workflow (such as payment).

Willpower

Your willpower resources share the same part of the brain as your cognitive resources. By depleting cognitive resources, you are also depleting willpower resources. This theoretically means that if you are selling vices or guilty pleasures, there may be an evil strategy where you purposely deplete your customer’s cognitive resources via complexity in order to weaken their willpower and sell them a guilty pleasure.

The Evils of Gamification

Gamification works only in very narrow verticals and in general will not produce sustainable or desired results. Gamification triggers similar brain functions to those experienced during slot machine use and is not something that promotes long-term loyalty in your customers.

A/B Testing

Start with a Theory and Test it

When running an A/B Test, ALWAYS start with a theory and then use the A/B test to prove or disprove the theory. Don’t run random A/B tests hoping to stumble upon a magical winning combination.

Statistical Significance

Don’t trust your A/B Testing Toll to determine statistical significance. Use this formula instead:

  1. Define N as the total # of conversions in A + B
  2. Define D as the difference in # conversions between A and B divided in half
  3. The test result is statistically significant if D squared is bigger than N.

Thanks to Jason Cohen at WP Engine for this formula

Profit Sharing

Here is the profit sharing strategy that is implemented at Balsamiq.com (circa 2012)

  • All employees have a base salary that is better than market value
  • 10% of all profits are shared with employees
  • 25% (of the 10%) is divided equally among all employees
  • 75% (of the 10%) is divided based on seniority (with the more senior employees receiving more)
  • Additionally, 2% of all profits are divided equally among employees for them to donate to the charity of their choice

If there are more interactions than this, then you are not spending enough time either understanding the problem or finding the perfect solution for the problem.

Sitting down is Killing You

Sitting down for more than 3 hrs a day decreases your lifespan on average by at least 2 years. Try to stand up and move around for a few minutes at least once every hour, or consider getting a standing desk.

The Question Sales Pitch

If there is a question you can your customers, and you know the answer they will come up with, and it’s a favorable answer, then asking this question is a much more compelling sales pitch than just leading with the answer.

Uber for Tow Trucks

The tow truck business is a $5 Billion dollar annual market. However finding a tow truck (if you are not a member of AAA or CAA) is usually a very painful experience.

Urgent.ly provides an Uber for tow trucks app

If you are broken down in the middle of an intersection your number one priority is to find someone who can come rescue you quickly. Unfortunately doing a search on Google will only find you the closest Tow truck office and not the actual tow truck. This usually means that you need to call a few tow truck operators before you find someone with an available truck that can come get you in less than an hour.

Price is usually a secondary concern and you are not in a great position to negotiate anyway. Not surprisingly most tow trucks have a 100% close rate on incoming calls for help (if they have an available truck).

The solution to these problems is to use an “Uber for Tow Trucks” app. Here are the currently available options:

  • Urgent.ly – Available nationwide (USA) and fully integrated with MapQuest.
  • Honk – Available nationwide (USA).
  • RapidTow – Canada only (currently only available in Toronto but expanding nationwide). Subscription based model that requires 48 hours for account activation. Forces you to plan ahead for the unexpected.

Tow Trucks are a $5Billion market

…and uber-like towing apps benefit all the players involved:

  • The consumer looking for a tow gets a tow truck in the shortest time possible and sees the fares/rates before they commit to the tow truck.
  • The Tow Truck has shorter tows as most of their tow calls are nearby. More tows per day means more revenue in their pocket.
  • The environment is happy because shorter tows means less environmental impact.

Potential Partners

  • AAA or CAA (in canada) – Although both Urgent.ly and Honk seem to want to disrupt these automobile associations more than partner with them. AAA and CAA could also be strong competitors if they ever get their stuff together.
  • Apple Maps and Google Maps – Either of these two partnerships would be huge. Integrating directly into Google or Apple maps would open up access to millions of smartphone users without the customer ever needing to install the app (since it would be integrated into the Maps software installed on your phone). I suspect that Google is holding off partnering with anyone until Uber enters the towing space.
  • Uber – Probably more of an opportunity to be acquired by Uber once they decide to enter the towing space, but it’s hard to resist getting access to their existing customer base. Uber is also a killer competitor if and when they enter this space.

Game Changers

Right now it seems to be a 2 horse race between Urgent.ly and Honk. However there are some big questions looming on the horizon:

  • Will Uber enter the towing space? I believe it is just a matter of time before they do.
  • Will Google Maps / Apple Maps integrate with any of the providers? I believe Google Maps is going to wait until Uber enters the space (since they already integrate with Uber for ride sharing).

Background:

Back in early 2014 my car broke down and I was faced with a task that I had actually never attempted before: Call a tow truck. At first I was confused and not sure how to proceed.

  • Who do I call?
  • How do I get them here the fastest?
  • How do I know they are reputable?

I eventually went the Google Maps route and found the nearest locations (this was the nearest tow truck OFFICE and not the nearest tow truck). After being bounced around a bit, I was finally referred to a towing company that was available, and 20 minutes later they showed up.

Turns out that this tow truck operator converts 100% of incoming calls into sales.  When you are stuck in the middle of an intersection you don’t care about price, you just want a tow ASAP.  (There is also an opportunity here to setup click to call AdWords campaigns for tow truck operators)