There was a time when being disruptive was not a good thing. A poor school report would chastise little Johnny for being “disruptive” in class! This means he wasn’t being quiet, well-behaved and following the rules. Bad boy!

Now as a business your goal is to disrupt. Maybe not to upend whole industries as radically as Airbnb or Uber but certainly to come in as a fresh, new force bringing simple, workable solutions that make people think — “Why didn’t we think of this before?”

A case study

This week as a member of my community I went to a meeting regarding the security of our area. We are a small suburb, quiet at its centre but surrounded by some of the busiest roads in Gauteng. We have had some serious crime issues over the years but we have a committed and involved Resident’s Association who have found ways to maximize our security so that we have considerably reduced the incidents. One of the solutions we introduced several years ago is patrolling vehicles and rapid response from some very experienced security companies.

With the introduction of these changes crime plummeted. We have kept the same solution and the same companies for several years. Things have not got worst, but they have also not improved. It’s become all a bit ho hum, and the edginess of being ultra on guard is no longer there.

The security meeting introduced some new players into the game. The young owner of a family business introduced his company. I found his brash honesty disarming and his enthusiasm infectious. In fact, I had no idea someone could love the security industry this much!

Ringing in the changes

More than just the personal however, he brought in some different elements. The one was of course, technology. The vehicles are tracked and guided from a central control. The other was coming in with an incredibly compelling offer. He promised if just one person signed up they would start patrolling immediately in the suburb. In other words they would not wait for a certain number of households to buy-in before they began offering their service. Of course from a business perspective by being visible you’re going to sell more!

What’s more a big bug-bear has been that booms set up on either end of our main street had been destroyed by drivers not paying attention (read drunk!). The cost and effort of replacing them meant that they had been left in disrepair for months. So to further incentivize our signing up with their company he offered to fix the booms at no additional cost to the residents. Lastly, he came in at a very competitive price — lower than the established companies but higher than the “fly by nights”.

Business basics

So sitting as a potential customer you can tell I was impressed. But what’s more, as a business person I was gaining respect. These guys had done their homework. Firstly, they built solid relationships with the security committee of our Resident’s Association including a field trip to their control room. They listened to the needs and frustrations of the community and ticked off the concerns. Then besides presenting themselves to the homeowners they made their presence known in the days that followed by driving around, putting up flags and gazebos, and knocking on doors to talk and leave contact details. The cherry on the top is as I went for my walk today their response driver poked his head out of the truck and said, “Has someone come by your house?” Even their security staff are selling for them!

Is this disruptive? Not really. In many ways it’s just good business. But it was disruptive for the older, more established companies because business has been taken away from under their nose. Sometimes it’s just getting basics right, and then tweaking technology in your favour, and you can make a radical change in your business and the lives of your customers.