If you talk to people in business a lot, you will have noticed that being in a competitive market comes up more and more as a reason for many of the stresses, failings and poorly considered decisions in a company. I hear this kind of talk in every sector you can imagine, with each of the people who say it claiming that their sector is in one of the most competitive markets in the UK, and that people outside that sector can’t possibly understand. In hospitality for example, the seasonal nature of the work is cited as a reason for the inevitability of high staff turnover and lack of engagement. Yet some of the best hotels around the world pride themselves on recruiting and retaining the best core staff all year round despite seasonal peaks and troughs…and the service and atmosphere tends to reflect this. So what is the truth?
The North West’s most competitive market…
Here in the North West of England, one of the best examples of a truly competitive market is Manchester’s Curry Mile in Rusholme. With more than 70 South Asian and Middle Eastern restaurants within half a mile, it would be easy for aspiring restaurant owners to avoid the whole situation by thinking that the level of competition is too high. Yet most of those restaurants have been there for many years, even decades, thriving directly next door to other, very similar restaurants selling very similar cuisine from the same regions.
What do you think makes the most popular restaurants stay popular year after year, as new restaurants come and go around them? Why is it that some restaurants are outwardly quite unassuming compared to some of the flashier modern ones, and yet customers flock to them, talk about them, post on social media about them and still describe them as a ‘best kept secret?’
How do businesses continue competing?
The answer is that those restaurants keep quietly doing whatever it is they do best, working to their strengths. Often they are family run businesses with the same senior staff in charge, meaning that service, food and overall experience is consistent. This makes people want to come back again and again despite the competition – they know they want exactly what they are going to get, and the restaurant takes pride in knowing it can deliver.
Let’s be honest, most sectors in business are competitive. This is a fact.
It’s time to take control…
Creating a truly successful company that can weather any storm isn’t about worrying about the competition.It’s about taking control, ownership and responsibility and developing the mind-set of an ambitious business. It’s about looking at the USPs of your business and being willing to invest in developing them and over time, becoming known for them.
The truth is, when a business fails it is the responsibility of the business owner, not the marketplace.
Imagine how much more you could achieve, and how much more motivated you and your staff would be if you could work on controlling the marketplace through establishing competitive advantage rather than blaming poor performance on a crowded market?
When talk of competitive markets becomes the norm and people struggle with fear and negativity, how much less effort are we putting into recruitment, service, engagement and good management practices?
It is important to look at our competitors to keep our understanding of our sector as current as possible…but imagine how much better businesses could be if people put the same energy they put into worrying about the competition into becoming the competition, by working on the things we do best.