Playing Nice with the Competition
Working with the competition is a long-term strategy that can pay off, yet is not a common practice most business owners think about. Competitive collaboration ( we know… whaaat??) can actually improve your business and boost profits. Building a business means building relationships with not only potential customers but competitors as well! Think about it…
You can help build the overall impression of your industry.
In order for your business to succeed, you need your industry as a whole to succeed too. By supporting your competitors, you are growing the environment that both businesses thrive in, ultimately attracting more potential customers. In return, it ideally creates more than enough opportunities to go around.
You can keep the jobs you want.
By growing your industry alongside your competitors, you start to develop and carve out a specific niche for your business. If there’s something you don’t want to focus on or bother with, this presents opportunities for cross promotion and referrals. For example, if you are an electrician, but you like to work on high voltage jobs, you can outsource to another electrical company for the lower voltage jobs. Both businesses thrive, have a distinct niche and work together towards the same end goal – making customers happy.
You can take the high road.
Learning your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses can help you develop a strategic plan to promote your brand. However, you should never talk badly about another brand or person as it always comes back and ultimately says more about you and your brand than theirs! When comparing companies, talk about the positive differences and how you can help bring value to your customer instead of bashing the other guys.
You can collaborate to present yourself as a one-stop shop.
More often than not, businesses can’t provide a truly perfect solution on their own. Collaboration yields higher profits, makes the environment more productive and improves customer satisfaction. A few ways that you can collaborate with your competition are by working together on larger products (see #2), or even purchasing products in bulk so you both realize a discount. Want to really show that you’re a good sport? Select a charity that both companies are passionate about and come together to raise money for a great cause!
While it may seem a little crazy to work with someone who could potentially “steal” your customer, if you strategically select the right people and companies to work with and nurture those relationships wisely, it can grow your business in ways you never thought. And even if you don’t want to work with your competitors, don’t get nasty. You never know if a customer’s previous vendor was their brother’s best friend or even someone you may know!