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You need to know who exactly you are racing against. Here’s how to properly identify your competitors

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Business owners who think that their idea is unique and will stay that way forever, are not in business for long!

You may have a unique idea for a new product or a service but it won’t stay that way and in many circumstances has already been developed somewhere, maybe not exactly the same but similar.

Identifying your competitors is not seeing what they do and then copying it but instead understanding the following:

  1. The demographic they are targeting
  2. Their range of services or products
  3. Options and alternatives they offer
  4. Where they are located
  5. Are they online – free delivery / charge for postage

Competitors are not always direct or near you. You have to think as a customer who has a certain amount to spend, what are they going to spend it on; food, entertainment, beauty, clothing. The list is endless.

You need to research your competitors as if you were a customer. So, how do you go about this? Create a positioning map/comparative analysis.

To identify and understand your competitors you need to make a direct comparison on what their service or product is with what you are offering (or planning to offer).

Being an owner of a Mystery Shopping company I can’t stress how important it is to measure the service delivery of your competitors, whether you are in a “unique” business or one of many, you only have one chance with todays’ customer.

Your competitors may have great inspiring quotes, slogans or values printed on their website and marketing material, however, it’s just words and if management and staff don’t have the same values or fulfill the needs of the customer as promised then the customer will move on and certainly won’t recommend.

So one way is to create a survey that you will complete if you don’t want to engage a Mystery Shopping company. The questions could include:

  1. Were the staff groomed and dressed according to company policy or to service (e.g. clean uniform and finger nails for someone serving at a cake shop or a beauty salon)
  2. Did the staff member welcome you with a smile and acknowledge you if they were serving someone else?
  3. Did the staff member answer your questions and provide options or alternatives?
  4. Was the transaction handled with confidence?
  5. Was the order repeated back to you so as to check all items had been ordered (e.g. meal order)
  6. How long did it take for your meal to be delivered and did all meals come out together and were they according to the menu description or your order?

If your competitor is online:

  1. Complete and submit the enquiry form online. How long did you wait for a response and was it personalised or just “cut and paste”?
  2. Did the order arrive within the guaranteed time frame?
  3. Were all relevant contact details correct on their website:
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email address

And one of the most important questions, that so many businesses do not ask, no matter if it is an item of a few dollars or tens of thousands.

  1. Did you receive a follow up call after your enquiry, purchase or service to see if you were happy, feedback and to offer other options for future purchases or book another appointment?

Gather this information on all relevant competitors whether they be direct or indirect and on your own business then look at the results in a comparative analysis.

If you are not using a Mystery Shopping company that has a specific program put it in a spreadsheet to see all the results that you can rank in order.

Then from these results: What are you going to offer that is going to attract prospective customers and have them returning that is different from your competitors?

Michelle Pascoe is a professional speaker, trainer, coach and author. She lives and breathes her passion for customer service, mystery shopping, and team motivation. She is an experienced businesswomen and specialist in every aspect of service operations and processes, and their impact on the customer experience.

Michelle Pascoe

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