5 ways to learn from competitors

Looking for ways to improve your products and services? Want to give your customer service a boost and get better online ratings? Look no further than your competitors.

While you can learn business improvement ideas from any company, your competitors can teach you a lot about what to do and what not to do. In fact, some of the best ideas about how to operate, manage and market your business are likely to come from your rivals.

Here are 5 simple ways you can learn from your competitors:

  1. Get customer input & suggestionsCustomers can be a great source of information about what you do and don’t do well. If they choose to do business with you instead of a competitor (or vice versa), there’s probably a reason. Are your competitors faster, cheaper or better than you are? Ask customers to take a short online survey about why they do business with you, what you could be doing better and what they prefer about your competitors. Listen carefully, and when possible, make improvements. Don’t be afraid to share news of your improvements online or in publications, either – customers like to know their voices have been heard.
  2. Read online reviews

    In addition to getting feedback from your own client base, you can get ideas from customers online, too. Google, Yelp and Facebook are all likely to have reviews about your competitors. If they’re regularly being praised for something that you’re not, pay attention. On the other hand, if you see complaints about poor delivery, bad service or high prices, then use that to your advantage. You might find all kinds of opportunities to meet customers’ needs.
  3. Review their FAQsIf your competitors have an FAQ page on their website or if they answer common questions on their Facebook page, LinkedIn page or Google My Business listing, read through them. Chances are, your potential customers have similar questions and problems. If you don’t have the answers posted on your site, add them in (in your own words, of course, but basic questions will probably be the same).
  4. Get content ideasDoes your competitor have a blog? How about free informational downloads or posts on LinkedIn? See what they’ve been writing about and if you can write about similar topics that will help your clients. If you feel like you don’t have time to track everything, don’t worry – Google can help. With Google Alerts, you can sign up to get alerts when competitors add posts or if particular topics appear (Don’t forget to set up an alert for your own business, too, to see if and when somebody’s talking about you.)
  5. Look at the numbersOne of the best things you can learn from competitors is how they’re doing financially so you can recognise your business’ own strengths and weaknesses. By analysing things like their gross profit and average net profit margins, you’ll see just how your business stacks up, as well as where you may need to become more efficient or change technology. You can research some of this information through industry associations, business libraries and online resources, but to gain real insight, you’ll need benchmarking data.

If you need help to get ahead of the competition, please contact your Accru advisor.

About the Author
His unique selling point could be described as ‘getting’ it quickly. James has a real ability to grasp what clients are looking to achieve. He builds a clear picture fast, making sure that businesses can see the wood for the trees.
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