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 & 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 competitors’ 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 count on your competitors to keep making the same mistakes in their business.
Well, 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 to 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!
No matter how prominent your ads are on Facebook or how stunning your website is, no one wants to do business with a service company that isn’t all that committed to serving people. So, why are you obsessing over the ROI (Return on Investment) of your social media efforts, campaigns, and Ads, and constantly checking your rankings instead of doing a little internal work?
If you want truly measurable returns that will exceed your expectations, develop true customer loyalty, and keep business steady, it’s time to focus on the service you’re providing and the value you’re *actually* offering your customers.
ROS = More Business Without Additional Marketing Costs
Sure ROI matters, but in the service world, ROS (Return on Service) is where it’s at. Why? Because it leads to more business, without a bigger investment in marketing and advertising.
Think about it: there are so many service businesses out there, and unless you’re incredibly lucky, chances are, you’re in an oversaturated market full of competitors. While marketing efforts, a big budget, strategic moves, and retention tools and techniques can help you stand out among competitors, there’s one thing (that you have total control over) that can make all the difference in the world: your service.
These days, it seems anyone can smack a sign on a truck and drive around town saying they’re the best, most qualified service provider in their local market. But not everyone has the service to back that up. When you can back up your claims and build your reputation by providing an excellent customer experience, you get some pretty fantastic returns.
Because let’s face it: word-of-mouth and referrals are still the best methods of marketing. Plus, they’re (kinda) free.
So give your customers a reason to shout your company name from the roof tops. Commit to providing the best possible service, each and every time. When you do, your customers will do a lot of marketing for you, and when they need your services again, they won’t even think to Google another company or go with a cheaper price. That’s what ROS is all about.
What Can You Do to Boost Your ROS?
Here are some ways you can really wow your customers and ensure unbeatable service and higher ROS:
#1 Go the extra mile. You know there are competitors out there that can perform the same work you’re performing. So what can you offer above and beyond that service? Take the time on each and every service call to look for ways in which you can make the customer’s experience even better. Whether that means wearing booties and laying drop cloths or taking the time to listen to the customer and really hear them, if you open your eyes, there are so many little ways to make your services memorable and remarkable.
#2 Hire service-oriented employees and make sure they’re happy. Think carefully about each new hire you bring into your company. Are they caring, friendly, understanding? If your employees don’t have a heart for service, they shouldn’t be in the service business. After all, each interaction your employees have with your customers sends out a brand message, and you want to ensure that your customers are receiving consistent and caring messages. Make sure each employee has the knowledge, heart, and scripts to send out the message you intend your customers to receive.
#3 Deliver on your word. Are you promising your customers one thing and delivering another? That’s the fastest way to send customers running. If you pride yourself on being the cleanest and most respectful chimney sweep in town, but show up to a house covered in soot, you’ve set one expectation and delivered something far different. Stand by your word! If your customers receive consistent service that meets their needs and speaks to what’s important to them, they won’t consider working with anyone else.
#4 Don’t be right. Do right. We have a saying that goes around here at Spark Marketer: “Do you want to be right or do you want to win?” Sometimes your customer is “in the wrong.” Maybe they misunderstood a recommendation your techs made and blasted your company on Yelp for no good reason. It sucks, but it’s ok. Approach that customer with a little grace and a little empathy and take the time to make it right. Educate them on why your techs recommended the work they recommended, and seek out true understanding and harmony. Let them know you’d like to make things right, and that you value their satisfaction. You may have to eat a little humble pie, but in the end, you’ll have a happier, more loyal customer. And that is a big win.
Don’t Take It Personally
So, you’ve committed yourself to providing the best value and the highest quality, but you’ve still lost out to a lower bid. Unfortunately, even though quality may mean the world to you (and it should), it may not be the most important thing to every potential customer. Don’t take it personally! If you’re providing true value, honest estimates, and the best possible service, when you get turned down, you can still walk away with pride.
That said, it’s your responsibility to educate your customers and let them know that, while there is more than one way to do something, you do things the right way. Take the time to explain to them what that looks like and why it matters. To some, like contractors focused on flipping houses as swiftly and inexpensively as possible, doing things “the right way” may not be all that important to them. Those aren’t the customers for you.
Hold yourself to higher standards, make it obvious to those that do business with you or are considering doing business with you, and keep on trucking. You’ll develop a reputation that will do a lot of your marketing for you and have you reaping big returns.