Identifying competitors and determining their strengths and weaknesses is a critical factor in building the image of your business from the customer’s perspective. Their perception of your business is as they see it in relation to other alternatives. Knowing why customers choose your competition or decide against them will present opportunities. Matching your strengths to their weaknesses will identify areas in which you can excel. In areas where you’re both weak even modest improvements can give you an advantage. In areas where you’re weak and they’re strong you’ll identify opportunities in which you can improve and become more competitive. Following are steps to knowing your competition:
- Identify Companies Servicing the Same Market – Depending on the circumstances people will generally take their vehicle to be serviced at a shop that’s within a certain mile radius of their home or job. Competing businesses are any auto repair shops that service the same target market within a certain proximity to your shop. The target market at the highest level would be general auto repair, tire shop, specialty shop (BMW, etc.), or some other narrowing of the customer base. Competitors are shops that service the same market directly or cross over into it.
- Review Competitor Prices – Knowing what the competition is charging is an important factor. Being able to offer better service at a lower price is a tried and proven strategy to attract and keep customers.
- Check Online Reviews – Looking at recent reviews of competitors will provide an idea of your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses. Trends and similarities in reviews will not only indicate areas of strengths (or weaknesses) but also what customers consider important.
- Analyze Business Lost – When a potential new customer or existing customer is lost to the competition – if you can find out why it will potentially tell you areas in which they’re doing better than you.
- Analyze Business Won – If you win a new customer and you ask them why they chose you – also ask who else they considered. This will tell you who you’re doing better than in areas that are important to the customer you won.