It can be a little intimidating when a competitor opens up nearby, or moves into a corner of the market that you’ve occupied comfortably for a while. While the first thing you may be tempted to do is focus on knocking out the competition, it’s much more effective to look at your own business and see what you can do better. Here are four tips to guide you.
1. Offer the best customer service.
One of the simplest ways to stand out from the competition is to offer your customers the best service possible. Whatever the nature of your business, if your service is consistently friendly, helpful and reliable, your customers will keep coming back.
You can build the capability of your business to provide outstanding service by offering your staff comprehensive training, even if you provide the training yourself. Make sure you focus on inter-personal skills when you hire new staff, and reward the right behaviour from your people with an incentive system. Creating a positive workplace culture will encourage your team to be at their best, and help you attract, and retain, the best people.
2. Refresh your image.
Does your branding reflect your business as it is today? If not, now may be a good time to refresh how you present your business, including your logo, signage, website and business cards.
The same applies to the physical business premises. Would your offices or shopfront benefit from fresh paint, updated furniture, a new fit-out or signage? For example, in a café – painting the walls, or even small touches like introducing artwork, fresh flowers and baked goods on display on the counter – can make a big difference to how the space looks and feels.
3. Have a point of difference.
The most successful businesses are never trying to be everything to everyone, instead they have a clear understanding of what they do well and build on that. Don’t try and replicate what your competitors are doing. Identify your speciality or niche area of expertise, and look at ways to grow this into new offerings or markets.
For example, if a bakery franchise opens near your artisan bakery cafe, consider offering a diverse range of specialty breads and pastries not found in an everyday bakery, add a catering service or gourmet sandwiches, or become a supplier to local cafes and food businesses. You could also emphasise the artisan nature of their products in your marketing, or focus on being organic to create a point of difference.
4. Review and punch up your marketing.
The arrival of competition may mean it’s time to revisit and possibly ramp up your marketing activity. Think about what you’re hoping to achieve, your budget, and how you will measure the ROI. If you are worried your competition might steal your customers, consider implementing a loyalty program to retain existing customers. If you have any awards, maybe emphasise these in your marketing to demonstrate quality. Use customer reviews and testimonials to encourage new customers to try your services or products. For example, a hair salon could use window decals to promote awards won, or a recruitment agency could ask happy clients to provide a written quote for use on their website.
Competition should concern you. But look at it the right way. Competition provides an opportunity to think about, improve, change and even grow your business for the better.
If you’re looking to grow your small business and need funds to help you do it, speak to Prospa about a business loan.