thoughts from the shop
by David A. Casey
Should we keep an eye on our competition to follow what they are up to, or should we disregard their activities as distracting to our own plan? The best answer is that we should do both.
Ignoring the Competition
A direction many businesses take is one of ignoring their competition and concentrating solely on their own performance and business plans. This method was successfully utilized by Wendy’s chief executive officer Dave Thomas throughout his career. Once, when he was asked what he thought about a recent new McDonalds promotion, the millionaire founder of Wendy’s replied, “I don’t think about McDonalds at all. I think about my customers,” he said. “ What I do think about is making sure that my customer gets a hot hamburger from a friendly person in a clean environment. But I hope McDonalds is spending some of their time thinking about me.”
Focusing on what you do, rather than on what your competitor is doing, can help you keep your business aimed steadily in the direction that you have planned for it, rather than managing your company by reacting to your competition. If your business plan is sound and was designed with your operation, your capabilities and your market in mind, it would be risky to change it solely based on the activities of your competition. Besides, responding to your competitors’ prices or other factors of their operations might not be the most profitable—or necessarily the best—way for you to plan your own business destiny.
Paying Them Heed
Copying successful business models is how many companies strategize their own promotional directions and service policies. If your competitor does it better than you, it would be best not to ignore them.
That’s why it also makes sense to try to learn everything you can about them. Knowing their prices, seeing their repair processes and observing their service policies will give you an idea of how far you must go to surpass them in quality.
Although I like to think that I am focused on my own business operation and don’t react too much at all to what my competitors are doing with prices or services, I still feel the need to know certain things about them that will help me.
For example, if I know they need electricity to do the job, I can bring 12-volt power or a converter to be more convenient for the customer. If the competitor doesn’t wash every window on every job, I will point out that my company brings that added- value service as a complimentary service with every repair.
A balance between understanding your competition and letting their stance rule your own is important to allowing you to follow your own business plan. A balance between using good management practices learned from others to benefit your customers is just as important to your company’s growth.
David A. Casey is president of SuperGlass Windshield Repair Inc. in Orlando, Fla.
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