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Strategic Ways to Beat your “Big League” Competitors

| Topic:

Business Advice

It’s always challenging for small businesses owners to bid against the big guys. Burdened with less staff and equipment, small businesses are often forced to compete on price alone – an action that ultimately leads to less profit – if any – at the end of the day. To stop the endless cycle of taking on unprofitable projects, small businesses need to compete on selling factors other than price alone.

There are a variety of features unique to your company that will definitely set you apart from your competition. The key is figuring out where your competition falls short, where you excel and how you can market your selling features to your customers in a way that shows them why you’re the favorable choice.  

Step 1: Learn more about your competition:

Prepare a report on your competition. You can do this by researching the web for local businesses, reviewing their annual reports and reading their company literature and marketing materials. You may want to view some of the sites and projects, either by checking out their portfolio online or taking a trip to look at some of their completed work. Take note of what you discover: how is their work, their marketing efforts, their approach, etc., different from yours? Jot down the services they offer and their pricing. From these notes, figure out what’s missing. What can you offer that’s different? Or what can you offer that your competitors cannot?

Step 2:  Find your niche and target market:

It’s not about appealing to the most customers; it’s about appealing to the right customers. One of the best ways to compete against the big leagues, who often provide numerous services and aim to reach a wide range of customers, is to zero in on a specific group of people who you know will be interested in your services. Businesses can’t be everything to everyone. There are going to be gaps between what big companies can provide and what customers want. Find out what that gap is and use it your advantage.

So how do you determine what your niche is? Start by taking a look at your current clientele. Does your business seem to attract average-wage home owners or luxury estate home owners? Do your services cater to corporations or commercial businesses? Perhaps they cater more to public parks, resorts or golf courses? Take your most valued customers into account. This will help you discover what your expertise should be.

Next take a look at your services and consider what you do really well. Are you known for your interlocking, your water features, your concrete work, your irrigation systems, your unique gardens? Does your best business come from your design and build landscapes or your maintenance work?

Once you determine your service compare it to your typical customer. Ask yourself: will they use this specialty service? Say you provide most of your business to average-wage couples; will they be looking for maintenance service? Or is maintenance service more attractive for commercial clients or estate-owning clients? Try and strike a balance between your “standard” customer and your decided niche. 

Asking yourself these questions will help you sort through your work and pinpoint your expertise. And, if you can’t determine your niche from your current services, carve a new niche out for yourself. The most important thing to take away from this exercise is the fact that narrowing your expertise will narrow your competition and your variety of clientele – and this is a good thing! As an expert in one market, you’re more likely to have the undivided attention of a particular clientele rather than a broad base of fleeting customers.

Step 3: Find ways to cut corners:

While competing on price shouldn’t be your selling point; you still need to offer a good price to your customers. And you can only lower prices when your overhead allows for it! Find ways to cut corners by offering promotional or discounted rates for a limited time.

Step 4: Ensure optimal customer service:

Personal attention and one-on-one communication are elements that are often neglected by big businesses. Service with a personal touch starts with identifying with your customers. Instead of just communicating why you’re of value to your customer, show them. Show your customers how well you understand where they are coming from and what they are after. Bottom line: customers want to feel like they are taken care of. The last thing they want is the headache of having to worry about whether their project is completed on time and to their standards. Show your customers you’re dedicated to their satisfaction by taking the time to get to know them through a free consultation or meeting? They’ll notice and appreciate the extra effort you take to ensure the best in customer service and value. After all, it’s the little things that really do add up in creating a lasting impression. Other ways to add a personal touch to your business include: offering a free consultation, offering a free estimate, offering another similar service for free, increasing the value of a product or service, offering free maintenance for a designated time.

Step 5: Focus on convenience:

Find a way to speed up the process of completing the project without sacrificing the quality of your service – your customers are always on the lookout for speedy, excellent service and quality workmanship.

Step 6: Provide buyer incentives:

Whether you choose to offer discounts, new services, promotions or additional complimentary services, find a way to make customers feel as if they are getting more for their money if they do business with you.

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