What to do when the chick down the road opens up ‘shop’ and has the same (or very similar) to business to you?
Competition in a competitive market place, especially when they are undercharging, can feel like it will break the business and break you!
Let alone if they don’t have a Food License, copy-catting or they cannot possibly be making a profit!
I was recently talking to a client who has had competition start up in the same (small-ish) town. She has gone from being fully booked out for 3-4 weeks in advance to now 1 or 2 orders per week. Or no orders for the week.
She follows up with her clients and quotes and ask why they aren’t booking and they happily tell her they can get it around half the price from this new lady.
With a little bit of Facebook stalking the other lady freely admits that she doesn’t have a Food License and makes these cakes ‘just for friends and family’.
The usual reaction is to –
- Dob on them to the council/government/health department
- Email her with this article ’cause like you and me we all start somewhere
- Fight the urge to rip their heads off
- Give them a ring and tell her exactly how peeved off you are
- Throw your hands in the air and give up or curl up in the corner and have a little cry
- Ignore her.
Several of these probably seem tempting and I get it. (The ripping off of head and dobbing seems temping, doesn’t it?) It is hard when you have done it right, spent time & money building a business up and done it the right way and someone else doesn’t. Or they straight up copy your business model and ideas.
While it doesn’t seem ‘fair,’ here is the truth.
There is no such thing as competition.
Think of the bakery down the road. Another bakery can open up down the road (and they do!) any day of the week. Does one bakery mean that no other bakery can/should open?
Same as a chemist, supermarket, laundry or clothing shop? Of course there can be more.
Competition is the opportunity to do something better.
Whether you specialize in or a fast turnaround on cupcakes, are the queen of butter cream cakes, wedding cakes is your niche, delivery on time every time, or you rock at customer service and the follow up.
Let competition or copy-catting be your inspiration and motivation for putting fire in your belly in figuring out who you are, what your business is about, what your niche is and how exactly you rock at being you.
Customer service should always be your area to shine because it will always ‘win’.
Because the customer wins.
As customers we always brag about a great customer service experience. Where we were remembered, made to feel special, where it was above and beyond the ‘normal’.
That experience is brag-able, shared with friends and family and they become raving fans.
And of course, customer service plus delivery of a truly great product. Well, that is a 5 star experience. (There is nothing average about your goodies, right?)
Step 1. Ignore
I know, I know … you really (really) want to rip her head off.
Remember what you teach your children… Ignore bad behavior and it usually goes away.
And find nice people to play with! There are loads of really nice Cakers and business people who you can hang around with, catch up with and create friendships with who will support you and your business.
(Yes, even other Cakers. Imagine someone you can ring at 1am for some fondant or you are sick and ask if they can do your order.)
Remember, you (and only you!) have built your business to where it is now. *High 5* yourself because you have done something ah-mazing. Remember your skills, what you rock at your your unique point of different. That isn’t going to change, girl. Celebrate your wins and yourself.
Step 2. Market Smarter
So, that cow up the road?
Well, she isn’t making a profit selling at those prices. I promise you that. She will put herself out of business and/or raise her prices.
While waiting it out, there are loads of marketing strategies you can try to impress your clients (further) with your customer service.
For example – go back to unfilled quotes and offer a bonus, like a box of mini cupcakes if they accept your order. Do up a voucher (with an expiry date) and email out to subscribers and carry around in your purse and hand out or do a letter box drop. Have a flash sale and email out and put on social media. Create a bit of a buzz or stir or event.
I would love to hear from you.
Have you dealt with a chick down the road, competition or a copycat? How did you deal with it? And what ended up happening?
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Founder – Angel Foods and Cake Business School
I would love to hear from you.