It is holiday season again and one of the things that I find fascinating about going on holiday is the opportunity it provides to observe how people do business. In any given resort the competition to attract and retain our business is intense, whether we are talking about restaurants, bars, gift shops or attractions, they are constantly vying for us to spend our money with them. It is difficult to imagine a more fiercely intense battleground. Typically, the season is limited, if not short. The customers are just passing through. There is only ever two weeks, as a maximum, within which to capture the custom of a traveller and if a business isn’t able to capture the business until day 13 there is no chance of repeat business. It is nothing short of savage. If you thought the competition in your field was tough it probably can’t compare to the white-hot intensity of a typical resort restaurant gathered, as they often are, around a sea front or harbour. Each player can see how the other operates and each is trying to seduce the same customers at the same time. It is fascinating to see the different tactics they each employ and of course if the resort is booming all of the businesses have a good time. It is relatively easy to thrive in a boom market. When the opportunities are scarcer only the good survive. Only the great will thrive. It is possible to see almost every colour in the spectrum of business strategy in one place. There will be a plethora of low price, low standard businesses catering for the price shopper. There will also be the higher price, higher standard establishment catering for the more discerning and free spending customer, and every combination between. You will be able to see and feel, those businesses that have found a winning formula and those that haven’t. Those that have will be busy, but not too busy to spoil the experience and those that haven’t will be noticeably quiet. As consumers, we will be able to tell one from the other, but as customers we will have a very different perspective to the business owners and maybe that is part of the challenge. I wonder, in the white-hot cauldron of intense competition, how many of the business owners will take the time to step away from the furnace, so that they can observe, with a cool head, what is happening from the perspective of the customer? So they can assess the playing field and make whatever changes are necessary to come out on top. In the same way as a coach of a top sporting team is constantly making tactical adjustments, from his position of observer, up in the stands, to win the match. Your business may not be in quite the same cauldron of fierce competition, or maybe it is but you just aren’t as aware of it. It is estimated that because the Internet allows anyone to sell anything anywhere that competition in most businesses has increased at least five fold over recent years; All of which means that it has become much more difficult to get away with running a business badly. Do you need to step away from the coalface, from constantly working in your business, to work on your business? To decide what your strategy and tactics need to be to capture the opportunities that are undoubtedly out there. A holidaymaker can see which restaurants have the empty tables and the bored looking staff (which is the cause and which is the effect I wonder?). The signs may not be so obvious in your business but they are there if you care/ dare to look. We live in a world of intense competition. What do you have to do to come out on top?
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