Who wants competition? I certainly don’t – how about you?
But you have competition, don’t you? So…is there some way (without taking out a contract on somebody…) that you can eliminate competitors?
I think there is a method, and it has to do (surprise!!) with gaining clarity of direction and focus. A recent conversation with a focused provider brought this to the surface.
Here’s the case study:
A company provides IT support and services. Now, stop right there. How many competitors does it have?
That’s right, 16 bajillion and seven. Everybody and his cousin can slap together a couple geeks and do IT “stuff,” plus we go all the way up the ladder to IBM, and then there’s offshore companies.
Whew! Competition out the wazoo.
But not necessarily. I’m going to change a few details about the particular company in today’s case study, but you’ll get the idea.
1. The company actually specializes in a certain vertical market – in other words, they have domain focus and expertise. Let’s say, for the sake of this blog post, that it’s auto dealerships. There are particular support services and client workflow knowledge needed that go beyond merely pulling wires, networking servers, and installing specialized applications. This specialization eliminates a whole slew of would-be/could-be competitors, who are generalists, or who have some other domain focus. And, domain expertise means you can charge more.
2. The company provides some expertise around strategic planning for growth and integration. As dealerships grow, they move beyond the two-guys-in-a-garage tech support providers, into the need for a partner that can shepherd them through a business and technology growth cycle, including the adoption of multiple platforms to improve overall workflow. That, of course, also means you can charge more – fewer competitors. It also means that the company needs only target growing and profitable dealerships – mom-and-pop dealers are NOT the customer.
3. The company is also offering managed services – a set of outsourced offerings that allows maximum flexibility for growth with minimum headaches for the customer. This could involve cloud offerings, on-site tech support, Help Desk SLAs – you name it. By now, we’ve really weeded out the vast number of pseudo-competitors. And, with this level of service, you’re dealing with clients who can pay more.
4. The company is situated in a favorable geographical area, with large nearby clients, but can extend reach, through virtualization and branch growth, to all 50 United States. But that’s the limit – no overseas distractions. For some businesses, the way to prosper is to focus on a very narrow geographical area only – just a limited set of potential clients where you can go deep.
We now have a targeted infrastructure/managed services provider (with a track record of proven success) for growing auto dealerships in the United States. Maybe there are no real competitors, or just a couple.
The key to eliminating competition is seeking to define and own a niche. Let everyone else fight over commodity work, seeking to be 5 different things to 5 different types of customer. Scrapping for every piece of IT support and service revenue is a losing game. Being a big fish in a small (well-defined) pond is a winning strategy.
This post will open the idea up for you a bit further: A 4-Dimensional Approach to Pinpointing Your “Sweet Spot”
I don’t want competition. And I don’t want to be a commodity. There’s enough business for everyone, and I prefer having collaborators and partners instead of competitors.
How about you?