All businesses are subject to competition. How you feel and react to your competition is really the key. Competitors want to get business just as much as you do. They will fight, tell stories about you, they will undercut you, will play dirty and go to any lengths to get a student, especially yours! Our job is to get our current and new students to do business with us and to maintain the highest standards in our business. We can do this by out-thinking, out valuing and out performing the competition.

All businesses are subject to competition. How you feel and react to your competition is really the key. Competitors want to get business just as much as you do. They will fight, tell stories about you, they will undercut you, will play dirty and go to any lengths to get a student, especially yours! Our job is to get our current and new students to do business with us and to maintain the highest standards in our business. We can do this by out-thinking, out valuing and out performing the competition.

In many ways I think that a little competition is good for everyone. Imagine what life as a consumer would be like if there were only one choice for your needs. One Phone Company, one restaurant or one airline. They could do whatever they wanted to do and there would be nothing you could do about it. They could charge any amount, give lousy customer service and you would be at their mercy.

During our 21 years in business we have seen studios come and go in our area. Some have been good and others have not. Just last year a new one opened down the street from us. Our approach has always been not to focus on them but on us. If we react to what the competition is doing or are worried about them, then we are not in focus with the things that we do have control over. I am not saying not to be aware of what the competition is doing, just not to react to it. Yes, I want to beat the competition, its instinctive. It is, however, better to have them looking over their shoulders to see what we are doing than us worrying about them. I know that this can be very difficult to do but it is what I would strongly recommend. It can really be difficult if the person who is now your competition is a former employee or student. I have seen and heard through the years how studio owners have had to battle through these issues. I have always recommended to them to look beyond what their competition is doing. When a faculty member, in particular, opens their new studio close to your business or goes to teach for a competitor the best thing you can do is to remind your clients that you are the one who brought them in to teach for you and that you will do a great job of replacing them. If you are in control and your customers see that you are not panicked about competition then they will believe in you.

I know that this idea may raise a few eyebrows but in some ways I think that competition is good for our businesses. Competition will help to keep you sharp and aware of what you are doing right and make you think of ways to do better. It is important to realize this and to use it for your benefit. We can all get better at what we do. After all the years we have been in business we are still working to get better. Every year we find a new way to make the experience that our customers have a better one. When you have new competition it makes it even more imperative to look at what you do. It is amazing how much you can find out when you look through the eyes of your customer. In the end the customer wins. They will get a better product or service just because you will be more in tune with their needs and wants. When it is better for the customers they in turn will be more willing to talk. They will tell their friends, coworkers and family members how great your studio is. As we all know, word of mouth advertising is the most powerful way to build your business. A customer telling someone a glowing story about your studio is better than any ad we could ever create.

Competition means prepare to be your best. I dont believe in downing the competition. When a prospective customer asks you how your studio is better or different from your competitor, I recommend that you focus on showing them the benefits that they, as the customer, will get from doing business with you and how your studio will enhance the life of their child. When prospective customers ask us what we think about the competition, we always tell them that we focus on our customers and students and how can we make their experience at our studio a memorable one. You could even create a chart that shows the customer the benefits of attending your studio and you could then invite the prospective clients to compare your benefits with other studios in your area.

If you have been in business for a while that is definitely a very good point to focus on. Look at all your strengths or U.S.P. which are your unique selling propositions. When a new prospect picks you over the competition it is a day to celebrate and find out why? Once you find out why you were chosen, then all you have to do is keep repeating the process. Dont be shy! When they are signing up, you or your staff can ask them why they decided to choose you. You have to apply this same self evaluation to those who dont sign up and identify the areas that need improvement.

This past year we have had about 750 students and while that may appear to be a lot, we have room for and would like to have more! The reality is that not everyone is going to choose us and not everyone is suited to our program. There are some students that we have that we sometimes wish we didnt have! I am sure you have those ones too! You may even wish to send them to your competition as a gesture of good will! Sometimes we offer them a gift certificate to the studio down the street!! Seriously, in closing, remember that when competition opens down the street it is an opportunity for you shine. Make sure your clients are aware of all you do for them. Now would be a good time to send them a letter thanking them for their business. Give them a brief outline of all the great things that they have experienced during this year and how you are planning bigger and better things for next year. Let them know that you would also appreciate any comments or recommendations that they would like to share with you. At the end of the day our customers want to know that we care about them and that they are considered in as many ways as possible.