Competition: Friend and Foe

November 23, 2016

One of my favorite story/parable goes this way:

Two guys were on a hunting trip out in the woods, asleep in their tent. All of the sudden they are awoken by the sound of a bear sniffing outside the tent. One of the guys starts to put on his shoes. The other one says, “why are you putting on your shoes, you can’t out run the bear.” The guy putting on the shoes says, “I don’t have to, I just have to out run YOU!”

This is a great example of how we in business are doing our best to satisfy our customers while keeping an eye on our competition. As almost all businesses are faced with competitive pressures the following are some ideas to keep in mind:

  1. Be vigilant that your own customer service in all forms must be at the highest level possible.
  2. Follow continuous improvement models internally as a way to keep your costs down and your pricing competitive in the marketplace.
  3. Know your competition, both their strengths and weaknesses.
  4. Be very aware of and follow the anti-trust guidelines as set forth by your company and the government.

However, as hard as we try to outpace our competition, there are times when competitors must pull together and also respect each other. Recently two events made me realize this. The first was when I was visiting a customer in a new sales region I am covering. At the end of the call he asked if I was going to go see one of his competitors. He asked me to say “Hi” as they were “friendly” competitors who had helped each other when there were some supply issues, one had run out of product and the other helped out.

The other was at a recent trade conference where I met with an individual I had competed with for many years. He was retiring from his company and I had purposely wanted to congratulate him and wish him well in the future. He actually went much further with praise of our company and showed true respect for me which really touched my heart.

In a better spirit after this current election season and with the Thanksgiving Holiday upon us, let’s all compete at a high level but at the end of the day, sit down, have a glass of wine, knowing there can be respect for each other and we really can and do work together.

All the Best,

Joe Clayton

Best Wishes for a safe and Happy Holiday Season!