Last week we discussed the importance of customer relationships. This week, let's wrap it up with discussing competitor relationships.
While entertaining competitor relationships may appear risky, it’s incredibly beneficial. In these times where product availability changes daily, building a genuine and trusting rapport can create future opportunities, potentially together. In many cases, it will enable you to be the first in line if a competitor is looking to sell, consolidate, refer or partner with another brand.
You may be unsure of the benefits of these relationships, so understand the good far outweighs the bad. For those wondering how to approach competitors, here are a few tips:
- Make the first move. Don’t be anxious about blindly reaching out to competitors. You both likely have a passion for the service you provide, product you sell or the problems you solve. You will find you have a lot more in common than you think. When you reach out, be friendly, open and honest. Explain how you want to create an open line of communication that would benefit both of you.
- Be prepared to say no. Before you pick up the phone, prepare for the tough questions. There is a fine line between the information you can and cannot share with a competitor. A competitor may ask a question that you don’t want to answer, so be prepared in advance.
- Continue the relationship. Find topics that won’t put either of you in a vulnerable position. Try discussing outside dangers to your business on a macro level. Both of you are facing similar threats, so you will likely find some common ground.
- Find a cadence and stick with it. The more you talk, the more comfortable you both will be engaging in open discussions, potential partnering opportunities, or just overall support.
Your business relationships – regardless if they are with your suppliers, customers, competitors and even employees and your community – are the most valuable elements of your business and are directly tied to your financial well-being. I know this is true for my business, so take it from me, and make a few “checking in” emails and phone calls. You will be surprised how these small acts will develop tightknit supplier relationships, generate customer loyalty and sustain a definitive presence in the market.