Staying Afloat In A Competitive Business Environment

Our streets, roads, the print and electronic media are awash with different offers from manufacturers and service providers. The one I enjoy so much is the one between the phone manufacturers. The competition is so hot that Apple and Samsung had to extend their “fight” to the court room 🙂  I also read online that one major phone manufacturer, and a one-time major player in the phone business, has been having some “survival” meetings with some organisations. How sad! But that is the nature of business. It’s like a game – no pity for the opponent and all the players cannot be winners.

As a consumer, I love competition for so many reasons. It affords us the privilege of having alternatives to choose from; it forces businesses (serious-minded businesses, if I may add) to see consumers as being the most important factor to consider and hence, be the focal point in business decision making process; it makes pricing to be at consumers’ advantage; it forces businesses to constantly seek for their loyalty; and it forces businesses that are not quality-conscious, to have a rethink……The benefits continues……

No doubt, as consumers are enjoying these benefits, businesses grapple everyday with the art of “out-smarting” one another in a game, an interesting one at that, that involves winning as many customers as they can, over to their side. Sadly, the inability to cope with competition is a major reason why so many businesses all over the world are finding it very tough to operate, and in extreme cases, many have “crawled” out of existence!

Competition has been the bane for so many businesses that have either not mastered the tricks of the game; cannot withstand it or have simply believed that businesses can survive on luck, mediocrity or chance for so long.

I got the urge to do this post after my wife started complaining that the number of businesses competing with her was rising every day. The fact is that the only way to avoid competition is to “close shops.”  Aside from legal monopolies (organisations given the legal power to be the sole producer or seller of a product/service), every business attracts other businesses in the same line of trade. Even where turnover/profit is not encouraging, or where a business enterprise is creative and launches an entirely new product or service, other people/businesses would still join the market and create competition.

So, since competition is inevitable, and the foundation of competition is “winner takes all,” what will a business do?  Apply for a legal monopoly status? 🙂 Well, I am not aware of any country where that is done. Cut corners? That too, is not a good business option as it is a short-lived solution that can even boomerang. So, what’s my take on competition?

Below are six [to avoid putting up a very lengthy post] of the tips I shared with my wife…..

1. See business like a boxing match. In a boxing match, boxers fix their eyes on each other to counter every move of the opponent. In doing this, they have to be alert and conscious of their environment – a case of complete alertness. Thus, businesses have to constantly be at alert – conscious of, and pre-emptive of competitors’ actions and inactions. I feel this among phone manufacturers this days. To me, competition among phone manufacturers is  good case study for my post.

2. Do something extra.something special.  Make your product or service very outstanding. Relate with your customers in a way your competitors are not known for. Give them a very competitive price, without lowering standards. Use marketing campaigns and strategies that your competitors have not explored or have not even thought of. Give your customers reasons to stick to you and give your competitors‘ customers reasons to cross over to you.

3. If making huge profits was your major focus, think of this : while you are busy chasing money, your competitors are busy strategizing on increasing customer base, including, of course, winning the hearts of your own customers over. So, my take on this is: re-strategise by making customer-focused strategies to be your main focus.

4. Where you do not see your customers for a while, do not wait for them. Reach out to them. In this age of high tech communication, distance or large number of customers is not an acceptable and reasonable excuse.  By just by clicking “enter” or “send” on your computer or mobile device, you can reach millions of customers. A simple message that reads : “Hi valued customer. I/we just want to wish you a splendid weekend” can go a very long way in reawakening a dwindled customer loyalty.

5. Every consumer loves convenience. Think of ways you can create convenience for your customers. There are many ways that this can be done. This however depends on the nature of your product. You can carve out time for home service, break bulk, arrange for delivery of the goods to the door-step of the consumers, ease usage, among others. All of these are aimed at satisfying different groups of consumers rather than seeing the entire market as being the same.

6. There is no doubt that the human resource “drive” an organisation towards growth, stagnation, decline or eventual collapse. It becomes MANDATORY therefore for businesses to engage and maintain(through motivation and excellent welfare and staff development packages) goal getters and workers who understand what business growth and success is all about. Thus, merit and not nepotism or sentiments should be a business’ over-riding criteria in employment.

Of special mention here, is the caliber of the CEOs and top management personnel who take far-reaching decisions affecting the entire business. This days, wrong choices of who pilots the affairs of a business would be a costly mistake as it could place a business on the path of failure, stagnation, inability to stand competition, and then collapse.

I hope you found my tips useful.  I would like to read your reactions 🙂

Thanks a lot for your time and wishing you loads of luck in your business 🙂

First Impression In Business

Image courtesy adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Few days ago, I needed to have a hair cut. I was so reluctant to use my regular barber. He is popular in my neighborhood because his cut is the cheapest. I did not want to go him because, even though his services were the cheapest, his customer relations was very poor. He always carried himself as if he was doing his customer a favour rather than the reverse being the case.

And so, I decided to try out the new guy in the hood. As soon as I entered, I could feel an atmosphere of “customer appreciation.” I was greeted with a warm welcome spiced up with a smile and visible respect for my person. He even helped me fix myself properly on the seat – something the other guy would never do.

He asked me the style I wanted; I told him and he got to work. All through the cut, he treated me with maximum respect and care. He even cared to ask if the clipper was hurting me. He gave extra attention to every detail involved in the cut.

The summary of my experience is that he was conscious of the fact in business “the consumer is king” and should be treated as such. He treated me like “if I don’t use this oportunity well, he might not come back.” As if he read my mind. My going there was actually a test. He passed big time.

Guess what? He’s now my first choice. I don’t find myself going back to the other guy again. I prefer a place where I will not only get value for my money, but also find an ambience of “excellent customer relations.” Nobody wants to go to a place of busines where the owner wears a facial expression that makes you go “is he/she annoyed that I came?” I would not like a place where I would be afraid to ask questions or to touch something.

There can never be two first impressions in business. The first impression I get goes a long way in telling me what to expect in future. It comes only once. It is either used for or against the business.

I leave you to draw your conclusions and make your deductions.

Thanks for your time.

Related post :

Customer loyalty : A condition for business survival

Business start up : Step by step tips

 

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