Monday, July 26, 2010

Innovation and Creativity - Your Competition is Copying Your Best Ideas While You're Sleeping

If you've got a great product or service, you're going to be copied, challenged, reversed engineered or outright pirated, it's a fact of business life.

When I first entered the medical billing business back in 1989, there were no other companies in my niche (ambulance billing) in my state. Fast forward 23 years and there are now ten companies that are directly competing with my firm for some part of the ambulance billing business in my home state.

Now the interesting thing is that only one competitor has opted to match service levels and they are the latest entry into the game. This competitor only has 5 clients, and none of them are of substantial size or volume, should I be concerned?'s time to reinvent our service offerings again.

This poaching of clients, ideas or advertising offers and methods is simply part of business and it took me a while to both realize and to not to get angry about it. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but not when the flattery costs me money to get. Now all of this said, it doesn't mean you should simply accept this as a fact of live and take it lying down.

Your job, my job, is to continuously innovate, look for new services, new delivery methods, complimentary products or services that can be offered to clients. Let me tell you about one great, but relatively simple, example that some business owners might overlook. It comes from a small two person massage therapy center.

The center is located in a building with multiple other companies, a tax preparation firm, a hair salon, a tanning salon and a realtor. Do you see any potential complimentary service offerings in that list?

The obvious ones are the tanning salon and the hair salon. The three businesses did join together to create a SPA DAY event where, for a fixed price and fixed menus of services, a person could enjoy what all three had to offer and enjoy a complimentary lunch as well...a great idea but that's the easy one.

The massage center also structured Stress Reduction Sessions that were 30 minutes in length and at a reduced price during tax reason and for the buyers of property through the realtor. These are great complimentary offerings because, even with the great tax or realty services, each can still be a stressful event.

Both of these are great ways to increase business, especially the home buyers, since they are relocating into the area.

These are just a couple of quick, inexpensive, innovative and creative ways to fight competition and build strong alliances with other local business owners. What can you do in your local area?

In the words of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, "My attitude was that competition can try to steal my plans and copy my style. But they can't read my mind; so I'll leave them a mile and a half behind"

By : Bob_Holdsworth

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