Do You Know Your Competitors as Well as You Know Yourself?
Whether you are already in business or just starting out it is important to undertake research on your competitors. Not to copy them but instead to create a difference between yourself and them through service and product.
For close on two decades my research company has conducted mystery shopping for our clients, and I can’t stress how important it is to measure the service delivery of your competitors. Whether you are in a “unique” business or one of many, you only have one chance with today’s customer.
When identifying your competitors and their offering you have to think like a customer. Ask yourself: who are my competitors, what are my competitors offering, where are my competitors located (online or nearby)?
Check out your competitors online
The majority of businesses have websites, so online research is one way you can understand more about your competitors and their offering, especially if they are an e-commerce platform. A good start is to find out:
- Do they have an enquiry form? Complete and send off an entry to monitor the response time and take note if the response you received (if any) was personalised or just a“cut and paste” job.
- Do they charge for postage and handling? If so, how much? And how does that compare to your business?
- Do have payment security procedures in place and do they offer returns? If so, what are their terms and conditions?
- And lastly, were all their relevant contact details correct on their website? You may think this is a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many businesses skip a digit on their telephone number and wonder why the phones aren’t ringing!
Mystery shop your competitors
If you were thinking of doing a little in store “mystery shopping” instead, below are eight questions to consider. And remember have someone do a mystery shop on your business so as to make a direct comparison.
- Were the staff groomed and dressed according to company policy or service (e.g. clean uniform and fingernails for someone serving at a cake shop or a beauty salon)
- Did the staff member welcome you with a smile and acknowledge you if they were serving someone else?
- Did the staff member answer your questions and provide options or alternatives?
- If they have a loyalty card or if it is membership based did they ask you for your card and if not a member did they offer membership/loyalty card?
- Was the transaction handled with confidence?
- Was the order repeated back to you so as to check all items had been ordered (e.g. meal order)
- How long did it take for your meal to be delivered and did all meals come out together and were they according to the menu description or your order?
- Did you receive a follow-up call after your enquiry, purchase or service to see if you were happy, to receive feedback or to offer other options for future purchases or book another appointment?
With your findings compare “apples with apples” identify the differences that will then provide you opportunities as well as show you your strengths and perhaps even your weaknesses.
Most importantly now that you have spent the time and money in conducting the research don’t let this information sit in your top draw enact upon it to create a better offering for your customers. Personally, I would suggest undertaking competitor research every three months (minimum).
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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