Published December 2, 2008

Business Competition: How to Come Out on Top

It is rare for a small business to have no competition. From local to global business competition, you must study the competitors in order to be able to place yourself in a position to take them on.

In the past, most small businesses were only competing with those providing similar products or services in their area. This is no longer the case.

Technology has made it possible to search for products and services worldwide. That means that you now have a lot more competition in business to deal with than in the past.

It also means that, in some cases, it will be impossible for you to beat the prices of some of your global competitors.

That doesn't mean that you can't compete with those businesses, it just means you'll have to find creative ways to compete.

Here are some areas to consider when dealing with your business competitors.

Price

Many business owners make the mistake of thinking that competition begins and ends with who has the lowest price. This isn't the case because other factors, such as those discussed below, are just as important to many people.

Still, price is important. There are some customers that will base their choice solely on price, so it is important to be as competitive with your pricing as possible. That doesn't mean, however, that you should sell yourself short.

As mentioned above, if you are in a business in which there is global business competition, you probably will not be able to be the lowest bidder.

All that you can do is be sure to set your prices fairly and then find other areas in which you can excel.

Customer Service

This is where every business owner has the chance to outshine their business competitors. Your customer service policies can make or break you.

You can be one of the most expensive providers around, but if you have outstanding customer service, you will have business. Again, not all potential clients are going to choose service over price, but many will.

By excelling in this area, you have the chance to win business away from those who are not providing such excellent service. Your customer service actions will depend on the type of business, but some examples include calling to check on your customers on a regular basis.

If it's appropriate, visit them instead of just calling. If they mention a problem, rush into action to fix it before the customer has a chance to ask you. Always return calls in a timely manner and never make the customer feel that you are in a hurry to get off the phone.

Yes, these actions will take extra time, but that is what it takes to excel in the area of customer service.

Availability

While it's true that some of your business competition may be able to beat you in price, you can beat them by increasing your availability.

Put a couple of employees on call so that you can tell your customers that you will be available to them 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Of course, this isn't appropriate for every type of business, but for some this one action could be what causes a customer to choose you over your business competitors.

Just be sure that if you promise availability at certain times that you follow through.

Overall Value

Find ways to increase the value of your product or service over your business competition. For example, if you have an HVAC company offer 2-3 years of free annual maintenance with the installation of a new system.

If your business is the type for which customers must return, such as a barber shop or dog groomer, consider offering some type of "Buy 5, Get 1 Free" card. Do something to add value to the customer's dollar.

For some, competition in business is tougher than ever before, but you CAN find ways to rise above the competition.