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Collaboration or Competition, Which “C” Are You, Volume #2

A number of years ago I wrote this article http://www.integritysd.com/articles/collaboration-or-competition-which-c-bu/ regarding Collaboration versus Competition.  A trip to Vista this past Saturday caused me to consider the topic again.

Lynne and I went to shop at the City of Vista Farmers’ Market.  Lynne wanted to buy Christmas presents for some of her teacher friends, purchasing homemade soaps from a local vendor in years past.  Before shopping we stopped for breakfast at the local pancake house.  Along with the pancake house there is another restaurant that is a sports bar opening early on Saturdays for college football.  Both restaurants are directly adjacent to the farmers market.  This has become somewhat of a ritual whenever we will shop the farmers’ market, eating breakfast at the pancake house.

After breakfast we went to take our normal short walk to the farmers’ market to discover that there was a newly locked gate in the place of what was previously an opening in the fence surrounding the farmers’ market.  The sign on the gate read, “No farmers’ marketing parking in this lot.”

So here starts the dilemma.  Do we drive to the farmers’ market or do we walk?  When starting to walk we discovered that there are no sidewalks available to leave the parking lot.  So we got into the car to drive. By the time we got into the car, made a “U” turn and drove to the light to make a left turn into the parking lot of the farmers market, we decided to go to COSTCO to do our shopping.  By the way, this was the weekend to shop local small business.  I felt terrible.  And then I said wait a minute.  There is a lesson in this.

First, let’s us do a little more discovery to understand how this might have come to be.  Why was there a gate and a sign in the first place?  Maybe the businesses in the parking area discovered that their patrons were unable to park on Saturdays during the hours of the farmers’ market.  On the other side of the fence maybe the vendors selling food at the farmers market wanted the patrons to eat their breakfast at the farmers’ market.  Could the gate have been prevented with both sides creating a win through collaboration or did the competitive forces get in the way of good logic?  How could a collaborative mind set make this a win for both parties?

I still believe that collaboration is one of the four pillars of success when it comes to building a business.  By the example above two restaurants offering the same breakfast items co-exist in the same parking lot and thrive.  They have both been there for years.  It is much like having a city street with four corners hosting a McDonalds, Burger King, Jack-in-the-Box, and Taco-Bel on each corner.  Each offers something a  little different so that the corner can service a larger segment of the population.  In the case of our small local business parking lot restaurants, one offers sports television with breakfast while the other offers breakfast.  At the time we were eating our breakfast the sports bar was nearly empty while the pancake house was nearly full to capacity.  As is normal, it look like the farmers’ market was doing well that Saturday too.

With every dilemma I like to offer solutions that apply to attracting the right prospects and generating more referrals.  In the case where there is the possibility of competition I encourage you to discover the differences between your business/industry and the company you see as a competitor.  Create an offer that compliments the differences having those offers come from the prospective competitor.  By example, the pancake house can offer a coupon created by vendors at the farmers’ market to purchase their goods in specific quantities/time to make it worthwhile for the farmers market vendor as well as the pancake house.  The pancake house would create an offer that farmers’ market vendors could offer giving discounts for buying breakfast.  The pancake house could also give discounts to vendors selling at the farmers’ market.  If parking is truly the main issue an offer could be created to encourage people to park in the larger parking lot for the farmers’ market and shuttle patrons to the opening in the gate to the restaurants.  Shuttle costs could be shared by farmers’ market vendors and fixed building restaurants.  This would increase the traffic to and from the farmers’ market creating more sales at the restaurants.

Finally, whichever way you believe, ‘competition is inevitable/collaboration with competitors just will not work’ or ‘collaboration is a good way to grow our business,’ I suggest engaging in communication with those businesses.  A lesson I learned many years ago is that when I know my competitors/collaborators well, I can more easily sell my products and services.  I sold an insurance policy that no one had heard of against my competition which was Blue Cross, Blue Shield, and Kaiser.  One year, on average, I replaced four Blue Cross, Blue Shield, and Kaiser policies with our unknown brand.  It was all due to knowing my competitor’s policies better than their agents knew them.  I encourage embracing the differences from those you see as competitors.  Create instead strategic alliances that support the ideas for attracting the right prospects and generating more referrals.

 

Gerry Rose runs INTEGRITY Networking Solutions in Oceanside, CA.  He works with people in business who want to attract the right prospects and generate more referrals.  More than 10,000 businesses have been presented the INTEGRITY Networking Solutions system in San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange Counties.

Gerry’s stimulating presentation Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals is ideally suited for small business owners, home-based businesses, and independent professionals who want clearer direction and want to attract more prospects, develop dynamic systems, and strengthen their companies’ accountability.  Gerry does one on one consulting, conducts a range of keynote speeches from thirty minutes to full-day education workshops.  His book series, Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals, are available on the website, www.integritysd.com.

Gerry has more than 20 years’ experience directing business owners how to grow their businesses.  He is a networking dynamo.  Those who know him will assure you that he does a great job of bringing people together—which is why he started INTEGRITY.

Involved with networking organizations since 1984, Gerry is a Distinguished Toastmaster, a member of Toastmaster International, and has chaired numerous chambers of commerce and non-profit organizations.

Are you truly committed to attracting the right prospects and generate more referrals?  If so then contact INTEGRITY Networking Solutions for availability and information.  You can contact Gerry by mail at 1610 Quiet Hills Drive, Oceanside, CA 92056.  Direct dial (760) 439-4623; e-mail to gerry@integritysd.com.  For more information, go to www.integritysd.com

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