Don’t Avoid Competition, Embrace It

When I’m back in my home town I often pop in the local Co-Op to pick up some groceries:

I’ve been doing that for years, it’s a nice little friendly store and always busy.

But then about six months ago something bad happened. Tescos (the largest retailer in the UK) announced they were building one of their express stores right opposite the Co-Op. You could see the anxiety in the staff’s eyes, how would they cope with the competition? Would anyone still go to the Co-Op? Would they go out of business?

It took a few months but finally the day came and the new Tescos opened:

What happened? Well over the following months, the Co-Op actually got busier! More people came to the parade drawn by the choice of shops and both stores became very busy. It turns out Co-Op’s customers stayed with them and many new people stopped by and experienced what they had to offer.

Embrace Competition, Don’t Fear It

I know competition is a major concern of many people entering business. Perhaps there’s already a physio in your village or a swim squad or two in your town and this puts you off. Please don’t let such competition deter you, in fact I encourage you to see it as a good thing. It shows you the market definitely exists and all you have to do is offer a better product or service than your competitors and over time you will dominate.

This is a much better situation to be in than entering a market where nobody knows what you do and you having to explain the service and convince people they need it. That would be very hard work and slow going.

In the UK there’s lots of video analysis services for swimmers and so lots of promotion for the idea that video analysis is good for someone’s swimming. There’s now large numbers of swimmers thinking “I’m struggling here and I don’t know how to improve, I need video analysis”. Naturally, the next question they ask is: “OK, who offers the best service?”. If you have that reputation, you win.

Another benefit of competition is that it provides a comparison. For instance, we know that our Swim Smooth certified coaches offer the most professional, insightful video analysis out there and they also use the best stroke correction methods in the world. But most swimmers do not have enough experience of coaching to appreciate this difference initially. However, if they have experienced or heard about a lesser service then they can see the distinction and appreciate our offering much more clearly. Plus they have something important┬áto tell their friends: “definitely see Jane not Bob, she’s so much better”.

The truth is that most of your competitors out there are offering an OK product or service and with a little effort on your part it’s easy to offer something much better. Do that and communicate the difference clearly (also critical) and you have everything to gain and very little to lose from competition.