You’ve come up (after weeks, months or even years of research) with a business idea you think should be profitable. You’ve struggled to raise the start up capital for the business, putting every other thing that matters on the line for the business to kick off. After careful plannings, your business in now off the ground and kicking. But the next challenge becomes ‘How to win customers and stay ahead of competition in this your new business’.
No matter how lucrative the business seems, no matter how much you invested in the business or how much planning that goes into it – once there no customer to patronize you, your business is as good as gone! Even if your product is in high demand, once your competitors are able to out market you, your business is gone. So, how do you stay ahead of competition in your business?
Staying ahead of competitors in business is an ongoing battle that no serious business man or woman must take lightly because if you do, you will be out of business sooner than you started. But unfortunately, many business people are getting this most important aspect of their business very wrong. Thereby loosing customers on daily basis and blaming it on bad market.
To understand how to win customers and stay ahead of competition, we want to first find out the reason why many people are loosing patronage in their business.
Why are the customers running…
One thing business people always fail to understand is that customers are very sensitive, they are human being with minds of their own and ability to make decisions. There are many reason why your customers many decide to go elsewhere and the earlier you know these the easier it will be for you to work on them.
1. Unattractive business environment – No matter how you look at it, this is the decider between you and your competitors. Everyone likes good thing including beautiful environment to transact business, a customer will readily branch to the business that is located in a better environment – it doesn’t matter if he is going to spend just few seconds to transact business there.
Take for example: You are standing by the roadside waiting for a commercial bus to take you to your destination and two happens to come by at the same time; One is old and dirty while the other is new and well maintained, which one of these two buses would you like to enter?… The same way you look at those two buses is exactly how every customer perceive business environment.
2. Bad or low quality product – Most business people are in the habit of assuming that customers are blind, that they know nothing about the product they are looking for. They believe they can dictate to their customers what they want. But that is not true, no matter how clever you think you are in deceiving your customers with bad product, they will surely find out. Every customer wants value for their money and knows exactly what they want – give them low quality services or what they don’t like and you will never see them again.
3. Over priced goods and services – No one like to buy at higher prices no matter how rich he is. If your product is over priced, customers will not think twice to go elsewhere — even if you managed to sell once you may not have repeat sales because the customer must surely find out the real price.
The best and biggest gain comes from volume of sale and not on the exorbitant price tag. Sadly though, many business people prefer to watch their goods rot away rather than sell at reasonable price. There is no better way to loose customers than being unreasonable with your pricing.
4. Lack of good customer care – Bad facial expression alone can send your potential customers running to your competitors. Even when your goods are of high quality and your prices is moderate – if the customer support and reassurance isn’t there, you may likely loose your customers to competition. So how do you make amend and save your business from collapse?
4 Steps to stay ahead of competition
1. Invest heavily in branding – Gone are the days you think the only thing that matters in business is goods and services, that once you have stockpile of goods you are good to go. To stay ahead of your competitors, you must have a distinctive brand — make your business stands out through your unique professional logo design.
A professionally designed logo by expert graphic designers cost between N20,000 to N100,000. Your logo is your biggest asset in business, invest in it, promote it, protect it, and make sure you secure it as a Domain Name — this is very very important. I’ve seen so many businesses in this country without definable brand logo, yours shouldn’t be like that if you truly wish to stay ahead of your competition.
2. Invest in good business environment – This is also part of your branding – the first impression a customer will make of your business is the environment and how respectable, well furnished and presentable it is. It is the connecting point between you and your potential customer. Your reception speaks a thousand words more than you can possibly say – make sure it looks classy.
3. Good Customer care and cautious Staffs – This is where too many businesses are really getting it wrong! Let me put it this way: Good customer care is much more valuable than good annual turnover. With good customer care, your business lasts forever — with bad customer care, even though you may have few good annual turnover, it wouldn’t take long before your business crumbles. By all means, create customer care unit now in your business if you don’t want your competitors to out market you.
Certificate is nothing when there is no sense in it, look for quality staffs that are presentable, knowledgeable, and at the same time sensible. Employee that have your business interest at head is more valuable than gold. I’ve turned back from patronizing some number of businesses because of the staffs I encountered.
Some staffs are very careless, very annoying, and very wicked. In fact too many staffs out there seems to be out to destroy businesses. You could as well be paying someone right now to destroy your business and call it a staff. If you want to stay ahead of your competitors, who you employ have a very huge role to play in this regard.
4. Good products and services at the right prices – There is nothing much to say more than this. If I deliver a product I felt is not excellent – even when the customer isn’t complaining, I will still not be happy. True satisfaction comes from excellency in service, make sure your products and services distinguish you from the rest of your competition.
If you can do all these, you will leave your competitors gasping for breath in effort to catch up with you in your business.