The thought of your #1 competitor may make you tense up, but if you can see past the red, there’s a lot you can learn about running a business and attracting more customers. Take some time to look over the competition and see what you can glean from them. What exactly can they teach you?
#1 What Your Target Customers Like And Don’t Like In A Company
We hope you’re already reading your own online reviews and responding to all of them (positive & negative), but there’s a lot to be learned from your competitors’ reviews as well. What are their customers saying about them? What are the good things that come up again and again? The bad things? Use that information to identify what you could implement or focus more on to entice those customers to consider your business. If your competitor’s customers always rave about how good their cleanup is, make your cleanup process and the lengths you go to to keep your customers’ homes clean a focal point on your website and in your marketing. If your competitors’ customers give low ratings because of poor scheduling experiences, make sure your scheduling process is easy and pleasant for each and every customer.
Listening to your competitors’ customers will give you insight into what to do more of and what not to do. And because very few business owners take the time to really reflect on what their customers are saying and implement change, you can likely count on your competitors to keep making the same mistakes in their business. Let them make those mistakes while you learn from them! You’ll end up with a better business and happier, more loyal customers.
#2 How To Differentiate Yourself
Take a look at your top three competitors and make a list of their similarities and differences. Is there something they all do right? Something they all do wrong? Spend some time thinking about how they look from the outside, how you compare, and what you could do to differentiate yourself from the pack. Use that in your marketing and on your website and make yourself stand out!
Note: You never want your customers to choose you solely because of price, so make sure that what you choose to focus on is not price-related. As a generalization, price-driven customers are not loyal, and what you want is loyal customers with high customer lifetime values.
#3 Just How Good You Need To Be
Many entrepreneurial minded people have a desire for things to be perfect. We want every little detail to be just right before launching a business, service, or product. But guess what: your competitors can show you just how good you need to be, and spoiler alert, you don’t have to be perfect. Look at your best competitors and make a list of things that are important in business — things like customer service, timeliness, cleanliness, and quality. Give each competitor a grade for each factor and figure out how they rate. Do they get a C for timeliness? Then you can start by making sure your timeliness score is a B or higher. Do they get a B for customer service? Then you’ve got to get your customer service up to an A.
Always strive to be your best and offer your best, but start by being better than your competition. Three in five Americans would try a new brand or company for a better service experience, so make sure you’re delivering a better customer experience than anyone else, and keep working to make it better and better.
Go Forth & Conquer
Some of the greatest secrets in life are learned through our successes and failures — but why not learn from those around us? Spend some time reflecting on and learning from the mistakes and successes of your competitors and you’ll reach your goals faster and with less hiccups. It’s a win-win for you and your company!
A healthy level of competition can be good for us. It can even be a business boost and make us better. But the opposite is true of obsessive “winner takes all” or enemy-based competition. This type of competition can actually distract us from our own business and our own customers, make us feel like there can only be one winner (all else are losers), and incite fear-based and scarcity thinking.
It’s this very notion that there’s not enough to go around and that our competitors are our enemies that can change our experience of running a business from an adventure where every challenge makes us better and improves our industry into a cutthroat exercise in greed.
How much time do you spend thinking about your competition? Do you view your competitors as enemies that you have to crush? Do you think the only way to get what you want is to take it from others? Do you believe you’re either THE winner or just another loser in business? Do you let market share determine how “successful” you are? Let’s take a minute to look at how and why this type of thinking can actually hinder your success.
Thinking in terms of crushing your competitors or getting more market share leads to decisions that have short-term value, as opposed to long-term value. If everything comes down to market share, you’ll be chasing goals that don’t actually improve your business or your industry. And although you may initially get fired up and focused with this type of mindset, you’ll eventually get burnt out and lose sight of what you really set out to do. Motivation that stems from a desire to make your business into the best business it can be is a lot stronger and longer-lasting than competitor-based or market share motivation, and it’s what’s going to take you through the tough times.
In the race with your competition, you’ll be inclined to believe that being first is all that matters. Well, it’s not! Sometimes, it’s actually beneficial to let someone else be the first to do something. You get to learn from their mistakes and work on improving a model, rather than reinventing the wheel. Think about it: Apple wasn’t the first company to build a computer. Virgin wasn’t the first company to launch a commercial airliner. Yet, these companies took something that had already been done and found a way to do it better. If they had been focused solely on crushing those in their market or gaining market share, they would have bought out all of their competitors and missed a great opportunity to improve their industries and experience true success.
If your focus is 100% on your competitors and defeating them, you’ll likely turn a blind eye to the things that could truly make or break your business, like internal communication. According to data collected from a 5-year study by Bain, 94% of business challenges are internal. Figuring out solutions to many of these challenges is vital to maintaining and sustaining a business – much more vital than crushing competitors. But how will you solve these problems if you’re so focused on “winning” and beating out your competitors that you never even identify them? You can’t.
So take some time to look at your business and your motivation. Ask yourself whether or not it’s time to change the way you view your competition. Ask yourself how you can improve your business and the way you serve your customers, simply by shifting your focus. Make 2017 the year that you focus on your business and how you can improve, instead of focusing on your competitors. And remember, there’s room for all of us at the table, so move over and stay focused on what’s on your plate!
Everyone has competition – even Google. But the amount of time and space you make for your competitors in your mind and life can be all the difference between healthy competition and unhealthy competition. Do you find yourself feeling victimized because your competitors are getting some of the business you deserve? Are you preoccupied with what they’re doing instead of with what you’re doing? Here are some tips to help you stop obsessing over your competition and keep your focus where it belongs: on your business and the services you offer.
Highlight The Things You Do Differently
In the service world, the things that make you a better choice than your competitors are not always apparent to potential customers. Perhaps you put down drop cloths and completely protect the home during the service, or require all of your employees to undergo extensive training and certification to ensure better, more thorough, more ethical services. Well, if it’s not on your website and the customer hasn’t done business with you before, how will they know?
You know why you’re the better choice – make sure they do as well! Highlight the things that set you apart on all of your marketing materials – from your website and brochures to your trucks and social media accounts. You don’t have to harp on it or put down your competitors, just make sure the things you do differently are laid out clearly for those searching for your services.
Educate Your Customers On Why You Do Things Differently
You’ve invested time and resources into training and educating yourself and your team, but your inexperienced, uneducated competitors are still getting service calls that should be yours because they offer cheaper prices. Don’t let it make you angry and defensive. Your customers and potential customers may simply not know the importance of certification and training or understand why you charge higher prices or do things the way you do. Take the time to educate your customers and potential customers and explain why you do things differently and why it matters. Most people will be willing to spend more if they know they’re getting better service from certified professionals.
Ask Your Customers For Reviews & Referrals
Another way to stand out from your competition is to let your customers speak for you. More and more people are reading online reviews before choosing a service business to work with (BrightLocal says 88% of people), and word-of-mouth referrals are still #1. But for the most part, you’ll need to ask customers to review you and spread the word.
If the thought of that makes you uncomfortable, come up with a script and make it part of your service call process. Practice asking satisfied customers at the close of service, and emphasize how much you rely on and appreciate referrals and reviews. Sending “Thank You” cards with a message asking for reviews and referrals after the fact can help as well. But by far the easiest, least awkward, and most effective way to get more reviews is The Spark Review Engine™. Check it out!
Personalize Your Brand On Social Media
Thanks to social media, customers can get to know you and your company well before they pick up the phone. Are you using social media effectively? You know the great guys and gals that make up your company – let those searching for your services get to know them as well. If you’re doing it right, potential customers will see who you are and why you’re different, and they’ll want to call you.
Stop worrying about your competition. Focus on what you do right and never stop providing quality, customer-oriented service. With time and consistent effort, you’ll come out on top.