When I do a business makeover, I invite the owner to go with me and visit their competition. It can be a little like trying to get a child to want to go to the dentist to get a cavity filled...
The stress. The doubting. The excuses.
Why, what is there to be afraid of?
One owner of a window fashions store and I got in the car and by the time we reached the competitor's parking lot four minutes later, the owner was convinced they would "know me."
Almost dragging him from the car we entered a sub-par showroom. Contrary to what he assumed, the products they carried only partially competed with his. After a few minutes, a woman yelled at our backs from behind the counter, "Let me know if you need anything." We turned to look at her.
She was dressed like a twenty-year-old in a too-short leopard print skirt with a halter top, but she was in her mid-40's. She was chewing a sandwich. This was the place you would have expected a professional dress code.
I whispered to him, "Let that go, we're looking for positives here."
By the time we got in the car, the owner turned to me and said, "Well they're not such a big deal." That was an understatement.
Dismissing our encounter with the woman who I later found out was the owner, my client said, "We could upgrade our display with something like that one on the right and it would drive sales."
Exactly and the point of the visit.
Fear of the unknown is worse than the known. Do you want to compete?
Go out today and shop a competitor with an eye for five key areas:
The store. Is it clean, neat, clearly organized? What is one thing they are doing particularly well with fixtures, endcaps, or displays?
The employees. Are they welcoming? Would you want to work with this person? What's one reason why you might?
The service. What is one thing about your encounter you would want customers to feel when shopping in your store? If nothing, what would you do to bring the customer service level up to speed?
The products. Is there something you should be carrying? Do they get more for a similar item?
The experience. Would you want to return to this store? Why? Don't dwell on the rotten, find something to challenge the experience at your own store.
You might only have one item or a list - but the attitude to find something good makes it much more valuable to help you grow your retail sales.