Forget tough! Today’s competition is fierce.
What are your competitors doing? How are they thinking about the industry and the marketplace? What sales tactics are they using? What marketing, social media, and service strategies do they have in place? Are all of their technicians certified? What maintenance and service programs do they offer? How about pricing? What technology and business systems do they use that might make them more efficient and be able to serve customers faster?
To ensure your dealership has a competitive advantage, you need answers to these questions and more. Whatever you don’t know can be obtained by performing a competitive analysis - the practice of researching, analyzing, and comparing your competitors’ dealership to yours.
Progressive dealers routinely conduct sophisticated competitive analysis. Many state the analysis strongly influences the decisions they make. But not every dealership has the budget or marketing staff to gather the business intelligence to perform this important business project. They are too busy with day-to-day operations and watching the bottom line. Some plan to do it, but it never gets to the top of the to-do list. Others feel the task is too complex and don’t do it all.
Here are some simple ways to get going:
Just Get Started
Google knows everything about you. They also know everything about your primary competitors and make it easy for you to obtain intelligence. Use Google, Yelp, Alexa and other tools to learn about their strengths and weaknesses. Find out if they have made mistakes, which is always good to know.
How about their websites? While equipment distribution is a serious business, be sure your website has the “Wow” factor as soon as a prospect or customer lands. Determine how your user / ordering experience stacks up against yours.
Advertising copy often not only reveals your competitor’s pricing, but often how innovative their dealership is.
Pay attention to the publications, frequency, special offers, design and tone of their advertisement. How does yours compare?
Where Else to Gather Competitive Intelligence
Your sales staff. No brainer. Sales people often have more access to competitive information than anyone else. Prospects and existing customers often show salespeople literature, and price quotes. They also get customers to discuss problems they have with a competitor’s product or service department.
Where do they take their equipment to be serviced? Why them? Do they offer a “Real Deal” that you don’t? What needs are not being met?
Benefits for YOU
Benefit from the time and energy, and perhaps funds you put into doing a competitive analysis by identifying as many weaknesses of your competitors as possible. Turn them into strengths for your dealership.
Then, put strategies and tactics in place and make changes that will make you outshine them. Then you’ll be and in a far better position to win the battle to gain market-share.
Set the Bar
Many business experts feel the competitor is there only to challenge you to perform better. Your dealership should set the bar for your competition. In other words, be proactive, not reactive. Strive to be the leader.
Be a Business Partner
Let’s not forget to mention the two things your competitors can never duplicate – YOU. Internalize these five things:
1. That person thinks about their business day and night.
2. It is very close to them.
3. It is dear to their heart.
4. Your competitors are vying for their business.
5. You had better deliver more value and work harder to develop a relationship.
Stand out from your competitors by positioning yourself as a business partner. You’ve heard that before. But how well do you do it? How can you improve?
Talk to your prospects and existing customers and ask them questions about their business. Look for ways to help them run their businesses more effectively and help them to get results where they can see it - in their bottom line. Offer it up, and help, help, help.
They want to do business with someone that can help them reduce their total operating cost, improve efficiency and achieve a competitive advantage – just like you do. When you partner for success, provide solutions, and more help them far more than your competitors, you will be more apt to enjoy a distinction that creates a competitive advantage.
Get and Stay Closely Connected
If you are the dealer principal, stay closely connected to your customers. Visit them often, and thank them for their business.
Give them access to your cell phone and let them know they can call on you whenever they feel the need.
A Weapon to Fight Your Competition
Make every effort to ensure you have a far superior workforce than your competitors. Invest in them, invest in training. Make sure they know how to treat customers and provide a consistently great customer experience.
The Competition is Everywhere.
Our entire economy is based on competition. Decide where you want to be in the marketplace. Will you be at the top, the middle, or the bottom? If you want to be at the top conduct frequent competitive analysis, and do whatever it takes to stay at the top.