No matter what sort of business you start, you're likely to face competition from other businesses like yours. You need to figure out ways to stay ahead of the competition as well as blow them out of the water. Here are 12 ways to gain the competitive advantage that you seek.
- Run your business for longer hours or during times when your competitors are closed. If you run a daycare, for example, you might extend your hours to include evenings and weekends to accommodate parents who are taking night classes or who are shift workers.
- Go the extra mile. It's amazing how little things make such a big difference. Send thank-you notes, birthday or Christmas cards to your customers or clients.
- Offer your loyal customers special discounts or start a loyalty program.
- Always be honest and upfront with your customers. If you messed up, admit it and take immediate steps to rectify your mistakes.
- Treat all of your customers with courtesy and respect. That doesn't mean that you have to like every customer or client that you deal with, but you do have to treat each one with professionalism and common courtesy.
- If you cannot perform a certain service or do not stock a particular product that your client or customer has requested, be upfront about it. Better yet, refer them to someone else who has the product or service that they need.
- Strive to provide excellent customer service. Customer service can make or break your business.
- Study your competitor's advertisements to see which products or services they are promoting. Get your hands on all of their promotional materials and look for a way you can improve on what they have already done.
- Better yet, buy your competitors product. How does it compare to yours? Are there any areas that you can improve on?
- Do informal surveys of your target market, both online and offline. This will help you to uncover exactly what the needs of your target market are so that you can more effectively meet them.
- Test a product or service similar to that offered by your competition by offering your customers or clients a free consultation or product in exchange for honest feedback.
- Send business to your competition. This isn't as crazy as it sounds, and the payoff can be huge. If there is a service that you don't provide and you know of a competitor who does then refer the customer or client to them. Ask your competitor to so the same for you.
Pick the idea that you like the best from the ones listed above and spend some time implementing it in your business and set yourself apart from your competitors.