1. Offer the best customer service
One of the simplest ways to stand out is to offer your customers the best service possible. Whatever the nature of your business, customers will return if your service is consistently friendly, helpful and reliable.
You can provide outstanding service by offering your staff comprehensive training, even if you provide the training yourself. Make sure you focus on interpersonal skills when hiring new staff, and reward solid behavior with an incentive system. Creating a positive workplace culture will keep your team at their best, and help you attract and retain good people.
2. Refresh your image
Does your current branding reflect your business as it is today? If not, now may be a good time to refresh your logo, signage, website and business cards.
The same applies to your physical premises. Would your offices or shopfront benefit from fresh paint, updated furniture, a new fit-out or signage? For example, painting a café’s walls, introducing artwork, or placing baked goods on display on the counter can make a big difference to how the space looks and feels.
3. Have a point of difference
The most successful businesses don’t try to be everything to everyone. Instead, they have a clear understanding of what they do well and build on that. Don’t replicate what your competitors are doing. Identify your niche, and look at ways to grow this into new offerings or markets.
For example, if a bakery franchise opens near your artisan café, provide a point of difference. Maybe offer specialty items not found in everyday bakeries, or become a supplier to local cafes and food businesses. You could also emphasize the artisan nature of your products in your marketing, or focus on being organic.
4. Review and punch up your marketing
The arrival of competition may mean it’s time to revisit and possibly ramp up your marketing activity. Determine what you want to achieve, your budget and how you will measure ROI. If you are worried your competition might steal your customers, consider implementing a loyalty program to retain existing customers. If you’ve won awards, show them off in your marketing to demonstrate quality. Also use customer reviews and testimonials to draw in new customers. For example, a hair salon could use window decals to promote their awards, or a recruitment agency could ask happy clients to provide a written quote for use on their website.
Competition should concern you. But use that concern to your advantage. Competition provides an opportunity to improve, revamp and even grow your business for the better.