Day 11

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One of the most misunderstood concepts in business is competition and for good reason. Competition could come from one company or hundreds, changes in the economy or changes in social trends, new products or new uses of existing solutions. Accepting that competition exists in your industry and then building a strategy to play the game is essential to winning.

​​​Your Real Competition

“War grows out of the desire of the individual to gain an advantage at the expense of his fellow man.” ~Napoleon Hill

In most cases, you will know who your competitors are before you form your business, other times competitors will rise out of your business’ growth and success. It’s a simple fact that all businesses will face competition.

As matter of fact, if you have no competition, then you may want to re-evaluate your business model.

Consider McDonald’s fast-food restaurants. Who is their competition? Is it high-end hamburger joints, other fast-food restaurants, or the parent who makes hamburgers at home? Or is it all of them?

Consider Massage Envy, a spa service that delivers affordably-priced massages. Who is their competition? Is it the high-end spas, the thousands of independent masseuses and masseurs, the chair massage services that are popping up in malls and airports across the country, or the spouse that likes to give his/her partner a back rub on Saturday nights?

If you own a car wash, don’t overlook the guy who gets a rag and a bucket of soapy water, and washes his car at home each weekend. He’s part of your competition. If you are an accountant, don’t overlook the do-it-yourselfers who use services like Turbo Tax software at home. They are your competition.

Knowing who your competition is can help you clarify how, where, and when you market and sell your services. There are five key indicators that will help you pinpoint your competition:

  1. physical location
  2. niche/specialty
  3. services offered
  4. relevancy
  5. availability

It will be easier to know if your business can be competitive when you know the options that are currently available to your target market. Let’s examine the first two a bit more closely:

  • Physical Location: This means the actual physical proximity within which you operate and engage in business with your clients: the city, neighborhood, street and even position on the block or floor in a building. Each can have an effect on your business.
  • Niche or Specialty: How is your business specialized within your larger industry? What is the actual focus of your services? This is your niche or specialty.

Learning about your competition sheds light on who your real competitors are, helps you to make informed decisions and reduces your struggle when trying to figure out how and where to find clients.

​​Today’s Action: Identify Your Local Competitors

Now is the time for you to uncover your local competitors. Perform some quick research by identifying other local businesses that are similar to yours. Go to Google and search by ZIP code. For example, by typing “physical therapist 32205” into the search field, Google Maps will plot all the responses for you, giving you a visual reference. Broaden your range if you perform most of your services by telephone, email or Internet.

Write into your tracking system the top competition you uncover. In a future video, you will be given more information about what to do with your list of competitors.

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This segment is all about exploring the competition faced by your business. So far, you’ve explored nearby competitors that are operating in a similar niche or specialty. Now it’s time to explore competitors based on similarity of services and other key indicators.

Competitive Services

“A lot of people have great ideas, but they don’t know if there’s a need for it.
You have to research your competition.”
 ~Magic Johnson

These are wise words from a man who not only led his team to five NBA championships, but who also is an accomplished entrepreneur, philanthropist, and motivational speaker. He reinforces the value of doing research.

Let’s continue our own research by examining the remaining three indicators that affect your ability to get ahead in business. The remaining key indicators are:

  • Services Offered: This is the list of products or services offered by your business. Not just titles or names, but also a description of what the service/product does for the client – the value or benefits it brings. A business that says it offers “relocation services” to its customers is one thing, discovering that what this really means is a “discount on transportation fees from a partner moving company,” sheds a whole new light on the service.
  • Relevancy & Trend: This indicator relates to how current and fresh the offerings of your business are. We’ve all had the experience where a maintenance technician was incapable of fixing our new appliance or computer because they lacked the knowledge or tools to complete the job.  So keeping up to date on your markets resources is very important.
  • Availability: When are your products/services available to your clients? Does the office close at noon on Fridays, or open at noon during the week? Are services available after hours or on certain popular Holidays? Convenience stores are a prime example of finding success by capitalizing on this aspect. Why else would anyone pay $8.00 for a two-pack of AA batteries, when the price everywhere else is about $4.25?

All businesses advertise the best features of their products and downplay the limitations. You will do the same. You need to get as close as possible to your competitors to understand the extent to which they offer services. When you do this, the mystery will be solved and you will be able to make intelligent, informed decisions.

Today’s Action: Uncover the Details of Your Competitor’s Services

Now is the time for you to scrutinize a few competitors for all three remaining indicators. Pick up your magnifying glass, get up close and personal and be skeptical.

What do you need to know? For starters, try to ascertain how closely the advertised service matches what you offer. What is included as part of the service and what is being done to care for the customers of your competitor afterward?

Be courageous! If you can’t distinguish the information you need from a brochure or website, call and speak as if you were a potential customer. Ask questions as if you were a client.

Write the answers in your tracking system. Be careful to show the business name, location and detailed clues or notes for each indicator you find an answer for.

 

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