The E-Myth Contractor: Your Questions, Our Answers On Competition

Q. My company builds custom design cabinetry. My major frustration is that I often lose bids because I come out higher than my local competitor, who can afford a lower bid because of a bigger operation. As a small business, how can I hope to compete with larger establishments?

A. Your problem is a common one. Many small business owners find it hard to compete in a price war with a larger establishment. But, there is hope. You simply need to justify the cost difference to your prospects. Find creative ways to differentiate yourself to show why you are unique and worth the extra money. What could you do in the area of customer service to show uniqueness?

Demonstrate Your Uniqueness with New Forms of Customer Service

For example, if you have displays of your craftsmanship for customers to see and feel--a few different designs of cabinets--then when you are on a call with a prospective customer, or a call to discuss a bid you've presented, you could ask him to drop by when he is in the area to see some of your work in person before he decides on which bid to take. Or, how about some moveable samples that you could load into your truck or van? Then, you could tell the prospect you will swing by to present samples of your work. Since your work is artistic in its very nature, why not showcase your masterpieces? Get your workers to use some of your leftover lumber and begin crafting some samples in their spare time. Or, better yet, take photos of previous jobs you have completed, and use them to create brochures and/or a website showcasing your work.

Ask...And Answer...All the Tough Questions

Keep in mind that you want to keep creating new and exciting ways to market your company. Try asking yourself:

  • Why am I in this business in the first place?
  • Why do I enjoy this work?
  • How can we be the BEST cabinetmakers we can be?
  • What would be the most helpful, efficient, and productive systems we could put into place that would expedite our work and possibly even allow us to come in with lower bids?
  • What system for a particular task in our business could we invent that works more efficiently than how we are currently doing it so we can save time and/or money?
  • What other avenues could we pursue to produce more revenue to cover expenses so we can come in with a lower bid rather than falling back into the same old patterns?
  • Is the way we are doing things now serving our current condition or is it serving the future of the company?
  • What assumptions are we currently making in this area that are leading us down this same path over and over again--how can we think differently, with a new perspective?
  • What other systems can we put into place to differentiate ourselves?
  • What more can we do to set ourselves apart from our competitors?

Creative and Holistic Thinking is Key to Your Success

The above questions will keep refocusing you to invent new, dazzling, and extraordinary ways of marketing your products and services. If you always do what you've always done...you'll always achieve what you've always achieved in the past. The entrepreneur in you CAN think of other ways to handle this bidding issue. If you can't see your business changing, growing, and evolving, then you WILL just continue down this same old road. Believe you can be the most extraordinary cabinetmakers and you will!

Look at your business as a whole--as the product you bring to the marketplace--not just the cabinets you make. Explore other ways of getting the same jobs and processes in your business done. This will energize you once again. Then, capitalize on those reasons, your answers to those questions, to create even more extraordinary and dazzling marketing strategies. BELIEVE that there is a better way and you will discover it.

-- Cammy Mercer, Certified E-Myth Coach



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