In every industry there will always be competition. It seems that we are either fighting with overseas markets and our own government when it comes to competitive situations. To really compete we will need to take a few steps to set ourselves apart from our competitors. Every step and measure to be unique does not always involve purchasing new equipment or totally changing how you do business.
Identify the Competition
The hardest and first step is identifying a competitive situation and/or competitor. Often we have a perceived notion of why certain customers do not honor us with the project and we are usually wrong—e.g., price or placing blame.
We’ve all even heard the government get blamed, the rules of certain States, bizarre business relationships or bribery. Nothing improves when blame is assigned. Realistic competition will force you to be better. No athlete ever won an event by not working harder than the other athletes.
Know Thy Self
There will always be room for the blame game, but the goal to win as many projects as possible requires self reflection and accurately assessing the competition. If a shop strives to produce the highest tolerance jobs to the best surface finish with the shortest cycle times, they would have a hard time competing for low tolerance work. That work would be a complete mismatch.
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses requires that you know yourself and where you fit into the many niches of moldmaking. Completing a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threats) evaluation is one of the many tools that can help you do a self evaluation.
Examine Your Customer Base
Once you have a good picture of what type of work you really are capable of performing, you must look at your customer base.
How many hours do you spend quoting on projects you have no chance of getting because they do not fit into how you do business? Quoting costs time and money, so when you only quote on projects that fit your company, you save your company more than just a few hours; you give yourself the ability to offer a quote that is more than just numbers—a quote with a thorough understanding of each detail.
Once you have narrowed your quoting to only the companies that can appreciate the work that you do, it is easier to start to analyze why you could be losing projects to your competition.
When you lose a project, act like an athlete, figure out why you lost and correct the issue. Look hard at your processes and continue to fine tune until you achieve close to perfection. Working harder with your customers in a manner different from your competitors is essential for long-term growth. Relationships do matter, but setting yourself apart from your competitors is what matters the most.