Can a Service Be a Commodity
Well Enron dealt with this a little for instance an intangible such as the available bandwidth in fiber optic lines. So what is a commodity in a service business? Well, a commodity could be considered are capacity to wash cars for a mobile car wash business like the company I own, the additionally created capacity coming from increased efficiency in studying production rates. In a service business, increased efficiencies will allow more time to do more work and thus make more profits from additional work.
Our biggest customers sign contracts with us to clean cars, concrete, fleets, etc. by signing the contracts with us in advance, what they are able to do is the guarantee that we will do their job first, no matter how busy we get or no matter how much in demand we are to other potential clients. Service Contracts could in fact be commoditized too you see, just like Enron had decided it could do with excess bandwidth in fiber optic lines or timber futures for new home builders. The excess capacity for washing cars could be the capacity of our units to wash cars in advance directly to the general public after those important pre-scheduled and contracted fleets produce. By using prepaid carwash cards we can sell carwashes in advance to our customers at a predetermined price. We guarantee we will deliver those carwashes even enough the relative price of carwashes go up due to the demand that occurs both from seasonality, changing demographics and that change in more sunnier weather (which makes our phone ring off the hook).
Our customers are able to lock in the price of a carwash, or many carwashes, or a contract for our capacity to wash cars. Like Starbucks we are smart, we are constantly improving our capacity to wash more cars, while we eliminate other market players by bundling services, providing better services, afford better equipment, better marketing dollars or lower prices to the customer who signs up in advance. With these contracts in hand any company can use those against bank loans for influx of capital for expansion, those who sell their products and yes, services too will be able to better judge their future obligations and needs. Those who buy the contracts can also have their costs known and locked in. Those who trade on the float and provide a system for doing this also tend to assist the system by risking their monies on their perceived future possibilities of price fluctuations in that market.
So in fact a service, which becomes a commodity stabilizes prices, promotes efficiency and allows customers to lock in guaranteed deliver and price and that is a good thing, think about it Enron did.