4 views on the competition, #1

The way entrepreneurs and business leaders view the competition and approach “the enemy” from a strategic perspective, has as many variables as making a pizza. I’ve been part of organizations that are hyper vigilant on following the competition and others where they say “who cares what the competition is doing!”. With this in mind I reached out to 4 business leaders I admire and asked them to answer 4 questions on the topic. Over the next 4 weeks you will see their answers. Here is my first interview, with Brian Scudamore of 1-800-GOT-JUNK

1. You basically created an industry with 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, how did you first react when the copy cats started showing up?

I didn’t handle the early copycats well at all. I was a young, passionate entrepreneur, full of pride in the company I had built and that was growing and gaining a lot of attention in the media. I knew I had a special concept in the professional junk removal business. We had an amazing, customer-centric brand that delivered on providing on-time service; friendly, uniformed drivers; clean, shiny trucks, and up-front rates. At our office we were young, fun, and full of unstoppable ideas. My first big set-back was when a close friend and co-worker called me up one day, asked me if I was sitting down, and proceeded to tell me he was rolling out the same model of company – the competition! That was a very tough day.

2. They say “competition, first it makes you sick, then it makes you better.” Was that true for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

Yes. I realized pretty quickly that spending so much time worrying about the competition was an ineffective way of dealing with a realistic issue, and a waste of my time. I turned a negative into a positive and began to view the competition as a way of attracting attention to the junk removal industry as a whole. We maintained our laser focus on delivering the very best service and WOWing our customers at every opportunity. As a result we developed our mission statement: We make the ordinary business of junk removal exceptional.

3. Fast forward 10+ years, how do you view and react to competitors?

We grew so fast in the early days after franchising that within a few years we had a presence in the top metros throughout North America long before our competitors did. Our geographical scope enabled us to secure the big national accounts and alliances, and it was hard for others to compete with that. Today there are many regional competitors in our franchise partners’ cities, as well as a few nationally competitive brands. Innovation is one of the key ways we stay ahead of the competition. We have teams dedicated to delivering programs, promotions, and service that is timely and relevant to our customers, and always exceptional.

4. What is the number one mistake you see in the world of business as it relates to how people manage and react to the competition?

It’s important for entrepreneurs to strike a balance on how seriously they view the competition. You can’t resist competitors and take them so seriously that you put needless amount of time and energy into fighting them. On the other hand copycats are a very serious consideration. They drive you to be the very best you can be in your industry. Sometimes it’s enough to offer the best service. It’s also important to understand your changing industry, markets, and customers. New twists on old concepts are a great way to stay ahead of competitors. I actually have another example of my own, my second brand, WOW 1 DAY Painting!. I knew there were many nationally-recognized painting companies, but my own poor experience inspired me to launch a brand that promises to paint your house, office, bedroom, any project, in just one day! Nobody was doing it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow Brian on Twitter:  @1800gotjunk

Brian’s LinkedIn:  http://ca.linkedin.com/in/scudamore

See how Brian has built the ultimate PR machine:  http://www.youtube.com/user/1800GOTJUNK

 

Next Week we hear from Alan Smith, Business Model Generation’s co-creator and designer