With new dog daycare and pet boarding businesses starting everyday, the industry is growing and well, getting more competitive. That's a good thing. Competition gets us to 'raise the bar' and get better at what we do. Further, competition in a healthy market can actually increase your business and increase the value of it.
After reading a post by the folks at PetBusinessSolutions about competition ( https://petbusinesssolutions.com/your-competition-is-crushing-youanalyze-that/ ), I reflected on my days as a business owner and addressing the competition (which unfortunately was not very friendly - all they could think of was to lower prices and steal our brochures).
I decided that it is better to compete on differentiation than price. Price wars just drive everyone's business down, and in the end customers suffer as well. Develop aspects of your business that differentiate - that give you an advantage in attracting and retaining customers - and your business will grow sustainably.
A helpful exercise for business owners and managers (all employees, really) can be to assess your business' competitive advantage. That is, "what gives us an advantage over our competitors? What helps us attract and retain customers that our competitors aren't doing?"
Competitive advantage can take form in many ways:
- Location - that great corner location or exclusive lease in a commercial area.
- Facilities and fixtures - physical amenities.
- Unique training and certification - get certified as an owner or manager, or get your facility certified.
- Operations - Toyota developed a lasting advantage through their operational systems, and yes, some of that was in their software. In other words, they focus on processes - as much if not more - than on product.
- Recruiting and retaining great staff. - Empowerment, training and enabling employees to do their jobproductively and provide great service.
- Customer relationship 'management'. How easy is it for your customers to communicate with you and ask for what they need? How quickly and effectively do you respond to their inquiries and requests? How can you make this system more efficient and productive?
Now it may be hard-to-impossible to change your location (and that may be less of a differentiator anyway), and expensive to change all your kennels or other fixtures, so you might focus on other differentiators like your operations, staff training and empowerment, and customer relationship management and communication.
I think you might find that much of this is in the way you do business and in the way you handle transactions and relationships that give you an advantage over the long-run.
Consider your reservation systems, payment processes, staff training systems and communication techniques with your customers.
How can you improve service to your customers?
How can you make it easier and more enjoyable to business with you, as opposed to the other business down the street?