Every so often I get a call from a client that starts like this:
“Matthew, there’s a new competitor opening up an office in town. What are we going to do?”
After twenty-five years in the trenches, my reply isn’t what they expect:
“Send them some flowers and welcome them to the neighborhood. Then, get back to your own plans for the year.”
No matter what variation I get on the original question (They have a new website! They have a new app! They just bought a glossy magazine spread!) the answer I give is always the same:
It only matters if you’re implementing their business plan instead of yours.
Many of my clients in the real estate industry get themselves caught up in “the other guy’s plans” too often. They take their focus off their own plans when a salesperson comes running into the office meeting waving the competitor’s shiniest new thing. Suddenly, everything comes to a stop and the conversation becomes “What are we going to do, too?”
The real question should be: “What are we doing to implement our plan, nonetheless?”
For most of us, success isn’t a matter of a competitor “taking” sales or customers from us. In fact, it’s frequently not even about your competitor having a “new thing” that’s shinier than yours. I often remind my real estate audiences that 65% of clients come from people we already know (past clients, friends, family) and 70% of sellers only interview one agent. The battle isn’t “against” a competitor, but “for” our ability to stay connected to our sphere of influence, to be called in first, to pick up a repeat sale, and to do a great job during sales presentations.
If we reach our goals (or miss them) depends upon how much we stick to our own plans. It’s not even how ingenious the plan is, but how relentlessly we drive its implementation. Remember that your plan is significantly different than anybody else’s plan, even in the same business. That’s because you have different goals, different revenue needs, different kinds of customers, and different outcomes you wish to achieve. That means the techniques and tools to implement each will often be very different.
In other words, you really should mind your own business before you worry about minding theirs.
I’ve yet to meet a market that isn’t big enough for plenty of success stories, great and small. Even if your business plan is aimed at beating your competitor – in market share, by profits, by units – you won’t get it done if you’re too focused on how they are running their strategy. What if it turns out their strategy is to simply maintain their level of production for the year; or to sell off a portion of their business? If you don’t have all the details, simply copying them might be the worst thing you could ever do!
If your competitor makes a sale today, congratulate them.
Then refocus your attention on your own plans.