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Competitors Are Part of Your Customers World; You Should You Be Aware

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Competitors Are Part of Your Customers World; You Should You Be Aware

We live in such an amazing time in human history, with so much change in the world. A digital revolution that is innovating and creating at rapid speeds. Where communities are networked locally and globally. New paradigms for value adding, working, learning and leading.

With this large appetite for change across all companies, people and countries you need to be aware what your competitors are doing; current competitors and future competitors. You must have a strong competitor insight and foresight. An understanding of your customers’ alternatives is crucial to your ability to compete.

“The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” – William Pollard

Competitor foresight and insight case study:

TNN Engineering provides precision CNC machined parts to mining, automotive, agricultural and civil industries. Beginning in 1994, as a one-man operation from their home garage, this family-owned business now has a highly skilled team of 15. They have a culture of continuous improvement, invest in latest technologies and are a happy, inclusive place to work.

I asked Graham Smith, the General Manager at TNN Engineering, what competitor insight meant to him:

Do you monitor the current strategies of competitors and evaluate where competitors have succeeded and failed?

“We speak with customers and potential customers to understand our competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Understanding competitors value proposition compared to ours, then considering improvements to the value we provide.”

Do you discuss customers’ alternatives to understand your ability to compete?

“We have a daily, brief morning team meeting, to discuss the most effective way to meet customer expectations. Weekly we have a lean coffee meeting to look at issues then make a group decision on how best to improve the manufacturing process.”

How do you evaluate from a customer perspective which service offerings are competitive and which are not?

“We gather intelligence from our customers, through any marketing campaigns run by competitors and a great source of information comes from ex-employees of competitors.”

Do you discuss and clarify how customers perceive your offers compared with alternatives?

Yes, through our continuous improvement mindset we ensure our services and products are streamlined and strive to be clearly better than the alternatives in the market. We discuss and determine which product offerings are competitive and which are not.

We look for ‘low hanging fruit’. Areas not currently being satisfied in the current market. This is especially the case with lifestyle products which is a rapidly developing line of high-value consumer discretionary products.”

Strong competitor foresight identifies opportunities and fuels innovation.

Next, I asked, “What does competitor foresight mean for TNN Engineering?”

Do you and your team monitor potential future competitors and do you map the convergence of your industry with adjacent industries?

“We are frequently subjected to competitive pricing. Gathering feedback from customers, we feed this back into our pricing processes. It provides us awareness of potential lower cost competitors and allows us to refine our processes; reducing setup, production and delivery times. Staying abreast of future competition is something the management keeps an eye on. Analysing overseas trends, reading industry publications and generally staying aware of trends.”

Do you track global trends in industry competitive changes and if so how?

“We follow global manufacturing trends through conducting research and developing trends. When we identify ones that can add value to our business, we adopt it quickly to ensure we maintain our competitiveness.”

How do you make decisions with future competitors in mind?

“A team approach is critical. The intelligence we gather is shared throughout the entire team. Our culture is one where we create opportunities for team members to discuss ideas about potential future competitive impacts on our business.

Having everyone on board enables the entire team to focus on creating future value for our customers. We are aware that it is one thing to identify competition but the critical part is acting without any impact on current production.” 

To be truly customer-centric all leaders and employees need to understand from the customer’s perspective what their choices are, who is offering them, and how your company’s value proposition is superior to those from competitors.

Including the two dimensions of competitor insight and competitor foresight will result in revenue growth, successful new products and services that pre-empt the impacts of new competitors.

I invite you to share with me your thoughts on competitor insight and competitor foresight below. How do you plan to embed this as part of your culture?

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