Today unfolded the greatest fight of the century. It was touted as Manny Pacquiao’s greatest and most important fight of his entire professional boxing career. Obviously, he was up against a fighter who had never lost in any of his fights, perhaps one of the smartest boxers we ever had. It was Manny’s greatest competition by far. As we all know, Manny lost via unanimous decision. But who cares! For us, Manny is still our hero and our tough competitor! And so I thought about writing how to deal with competition in business.
Just like Manny Pacquiao, dealing with competition takes a lot of determination, courage, wisdom and creativity. It requires a lot of dedication, preparation and focus on what is exactly what you want in your business and how to deal with a formidable competition. But how can you really deal with competition? Read on.
Separating Yourself from the Clutter
If you are a new entrant in a business, it is important that your clients see you to be someone who can offer something new or different especially when there is already a lot of the same business available in your area. A “me too” strategy will not work in the long term because there is no reason for customers to patronize you.
In the case of Bake & Brew, we are aware of the existing coffee shops available in the neighbourhood. We are also aware of the availability of the highly commercialized cakes in the market. So our strategy is to offer quality and value for money home-made cakes. We are actually getting tired of buying those usual cakes for special occasions from those big bakeshops and so we want something special, something different, something personal and something home-made. Knowing Edna to be so meticulous about what ingredients to use, we know that we are not going to go for low cost, low quality products so this is what we have wanted to pursue in the first place…to be in that “quality, value-for-money” segment of the market.
Through the years, Edna has researched and developed those recipes that are something different from what is available in the market. We have these two unique cupcakes that you can hardly find in any of those shops in the metropolis. They are Chocolate Wasted Cupcakes and Ferrero Cupcakes. We call it chocolate wasted cupcake because a lot of chocolates are “wasted” on it. It is moist chocolate cupcake with American Buttercream drizzled with melted chocolates topped with Hersheys and Twix. Ferrero Cupcake, on the other hand, is also a chocolate cupcake with one whole Ferrero chocolate inside. Its icing is Swiss Nutella Buttercream topped with half Ferrero chocolate!
We also have to offer good quality coffee so we invested on a good espresso machine, re-trained our experienced baristas and sourced the best coffee beans available in the market. So we have now the best coffee and one of the most unique cupcakes available at Bake & Brew!
We used to buy breads for our sandwiches from nearby malls. But the supply was inconsistent so we thought about developing our own breads. We made sure breads are baked fresh, without preservatives and just bake whatever is needed by the shop for the day. It is tedious to bake breads for the requirements of the shop every day but if that will make our sandwiches consistently fresh and will separate us from the other sandwiches available in the other shops, then so be it! We made it right coz our customers noticed the freshness of our sandwiches making them happy and satisfied!
In our previous blog, I mentioned about our deliberate intention to find our niche market for personalized and themed cakes. This is also one of the strengths of the shop today, being able to suit to the tastes and requirements of our clients for quality personalized cakes for whatever occasion such as engagements, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Our regular clients are our walking advertisements because every time people ask as to who supplies good & quality personalized cakes in the neighbourhood, chances are, two or more neighbours would suggest to order from Bake & Brew!
I am actually a coffee shop addict. I would frequent coffee shops in my spare time so I can check on my emails and work. I am very particular about coffee shop set up and how they look so when we had the opportunity to have our own coffee shop, I made sure to be very careful about the look of the shop. We asked our young and dynamic interior designer friend to work on the design of the shop taking into consideration the ideas Edna and I wanted for the shop. Our customers have been complementing us as to how the shop looks. Customers feel relaxed every time they hang out in the shop and so we are relaxed too!
Your Greatest Competitor
While it is important to be aware of what is happening in the market especially in the specific field of business you are in, it is not actually your competitor that is the greatest threat of your business but YOURSELF! Once you have known which direction to take, make sure that you live up to the expectations set by your customers. To develop good product is okay but to sustain the quality of this product is another thing. You need to sustain the quality of products you offer to ensure that your customers keep on coming back. I have seen good products in the market but once they introduce cost reduction measures affecting the quality of the product, sales suffer.
It may also require constant innovations and improvements to ensure you adopt to the change of times and to the constant change of what is desired by the customers. We mentioned about top brands being outdated and later on being overtaken by up and coming new brands only because brand owners failed to live up to the change of times. If this can happen to leading brands, it can also happen to anyone and it can happen to you too.
While we are right now happy with how the shop is going by just looking at our smiling and satisfied customers, we are not complacent in the day to day operations of the business. We check on our products regularly making sure they are the same products we have developed the first time. We also look for other ways to create more excitement by constantly looking for other products that we can soon offer to our clients.
So always protect the quality of your product, innovate, research for new things, develop new products, find ways on how to delight your customers that is distinct and unique and before you know it, your business is above competition!
May the force be always with us!
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Anton Padua is a Manila-based entrepreneur who manages a successful community coffee shop south of the metro named Bake and Brew. His day job as Supply Chain Manager for a diversified conglomerate helps him get more on-ground entrepreneurial insights from SMEs.
For weekly tips and insights on entrepreneurship, follow Anton on this page.
You can also email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.