Competition isn’t bad, you just need to be better than them.
In a previous post we talked about how competition is good for both the consumer and for the businesses. Knowing your competition is going to be a huge factor in your small business’s success. We’ll go over several ways on how you can research your competition and how to use that new gained knowledge.
First lets discuss the different ways you can research your competition. One of the easiest ways is by looking at your competitors website. If they are retail business, their website might display their pricing for their products. Not only might the prices be on their website, but if the site is very intuitive, it might also have the ability for customers to leave reviews and feedback. Always read reviews and feedback, from there you can learn what the customers are looking for and what they are not pleased about. From there you can make sure you are offering what the customers are demanding and also make sure you’re not making the same mistakes as your competition. If you want to go one step further, some websites have newsletters if you want to be updated on discounts or special promotions. It would be a good idea to see what kind of deals they might be offering so you can at least match or beat their promotions.
If you have a service oriented business like a mechanic or auto body shop, they may not display their pricing on their website because there might be too many variables. If you want to know their pricing, there really is only a couple of ways to research that. You can try to call and be a secret shopper to get a few ideas on what they charge for common services like an oil change, tire alignment, or smog check. If you want to take an extra step you can actually take your vehicle there and get a real customer experience. There’s nothing wrong with being a customer of your competition. See what they offer, and make sure you make mental notes of everything. For example, if they offer coffee in the waiting area, if there’s nice comfortable seating area, whether it’s clean or dirty. All these things you need to make note, and see what you can do to be better.
One last way and one of my favorite ways of researching my competition is by using social media sites. There are a bunch of social media sites that will show the reviews from the customers. Utilize these sites to your advantage, and just like viewing the actual websites of your competition, you want to do the same with these social media sites. You want to view the reviews and complaints to see what the clientele wants and does not want. Sites like Yelp.com or Instagram.com will also have pictures, those pictures could be very informative to your business as well. If you owned a restaurant, you could see what other restaurant portion sizes are and maybe what their presentation looks like. All of this information can be useful when strategizing your business around your surrounding competition.