Tuesday 2 July 2013

Keep Close to Your Competition

Should you be worried about your competition? 'That depends' is the Consultant's answer. If your business is not strong and you can admit that you cannot keep up in terms of quality, price and service then, well, yes you should and frankly it is only a matter of time...
If you are confident in all these things then you may be able to say 'let the competition do what they can.' Very often the market is such that there is room for more than one anyway.
There is always call for you to establish an edge over the competition. With High Street banks for example they all offer broadly similar products and services so the only difference in any particular town is the behaviour of the local representatives. They are in a position to gild the service with their own personality and level of competence and the management of their front line staff and their back room departments. In the end the national nature of their industry means that whatever they do has no big effect on the performance of the bank as a whole and they have little control over the activities of their centralised functions.
So I can find an equal number of business customers from each bank who are enchanted or disenchanted with their Bank.
With a smaller locally based business the situation is much more under control. Adopt the Basil Fawlty school of service delivery thinking, and you will turn away more than your share of custom. Going the extra mile as the expression goes will earn you praise and at some point, more customers. I had this amply illustrated by a mobile telecoms company today who were travelling a 50 mile round trip to deliver a replacement  handset - because that was the 'right' thing to do. 
With the competition I maintain you should check regularly what they are doing. Check their website, keep an eye on their premises, check their exhibition stand etc. With a new business this is especially important. You do not have to do what they are doing but at least be aware and then decide if you have missed a trick and should do something similar and perhaps better.
But it is not a race. One networking organisation I know feels unable to accept anyone from rival organisations. Well, there are dozens of networking organisations and their customers are probably yours as much as yours are theirs.
An exhibition company I know avoids contact with others in their 'patch' as they see it. I would have a stand at the others if it was down to me. Competition is a matter of perception very often. Perception in the eyes of your customers but also perception of the business market opportunity that can be found in your competition. Be proud of your brand and your delivery and rise above it!
Bob Shepherd Associates specialises in building business. If you want the benefit of our experience in evaluating business and putting practical plans into operation it need not cost a lot. Make contact today!

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