April 2017 - Competitors

Sometimes we hear that "trading is difficult" or that a business is growing despite a "tougher environment". Some say that they have switched from being a "marketing led" business to a more "sales led" focus. The search for competitive advantage is ongoing for all businesses but help can sometimes come from an unexpected source.

Opposite where we live in Hereford there is a large Victorian house with eaves, gulleys and ledges where crows and pigeons argue noisily about who occupies the space available.

Freddy is our next door neighbours' cat. He is a proud tabby and like most cats gives the impression that he owns the world. I was in the front garden recently and watched him make a prodigious leap at a pigeon that was slow to take off. Now this fat bird was nearly as big as Freddy and although he grappled manfully with his prey he was making little impression.

The pigeon managed to evade Freddy sufficiently well to find refuge under the overhanging roof of the coalhole chute. Freddy looked perplexed but just as he was starting to jab a tentative paw under the opening, three big black crows set up a loud screeching call from the house opposite and started to dive bomb the cat. One after another they went straight for him only to veer off at the last minute. As an understandably cowed and frightened Freddy crouched down low, the pigeon saw his opportunity; he scuttled out from his hide and through a hole in the fence to escape into a neighbouring garden.

Enlightened businesses work with their competitors too: garages lend testing kit, hotels refer room occupancy when they are full and engineers on the trading estate share machine tools.

The better the quality of relationships that you have with colleagues, staff, stakeholders and customers, the better will be the performance of your business: and this includes competitors.