Many years ago, during a sales meeting, the topic of “being different” came up.
Our top salesman, who always cracked us up, chimed in with a story I remember to this day: “I’m parked on the street, with a competitor ahead of me and another already inside. Knowing these were big companies, I sat and thought of how I could be different. What will make these people buy from me and not the competition? Well, when it was my turn, I got out of the car, picked up a small rock from the street, walked up to the door and threw it through the window.” Needless to say, the room burst out in roars of laughter. He then said, “People remember the differences. If you can’t be first, be different.”
So, aside from rock throwing, what sets you apart from your competition is an excellent question to ask about yourself, your company and the services you provide. To me, it’s not one you should answer quickly. I’ve been pondering this question for many years, and read the online forums with interest when the question comes up. The answers are almost always the same, which tells me if you adopt them, you’ll just be joining the rest of the crowd and well, you won’t be any different.
The answers that most often come up are: excel in knowledge, underpromise and overdeliver, sweep cobwebs, go green, look sharp, be on time. The list goes on and on. These are all great ideas to employ, and will go a long way in solidifying your customer base. However, if you’re doing these things and five other companies also are doing them, just who is different and why?
MAKE A LIST
It’s important to sit down and think things through. I suggest you write a list and revisit the topic frequently. You may find that certain ideas on your list do not stand out, while others will have more traction.
I have an evolving list that has changed many times over the years. I have gone the “accolades and education” route by highlighting my associate certified entomologist (ACE) distinction, which is proudly displayed on my business cards and website. I have all the nice equipment. I have pushed for online reviews. Still, nothing has set me apart in any wide-ranging way. Honestly, it’s time to re-review my ongoing list.
Never think the ideas you’ve listed will have no effect, however; they will. One new client may say she saw your online reviews, whereas another likes your trucks on the road. Each point of difference is crucial to the whole picture.
You may never know what that broad appeal is that brings in the masses who sign up with you because you’re so different. That said, if you’re constantly re-evaluating and striving to set yourself apart, my thought is, you’re already ahead of the competition.
And that’s nothing to throw a rock at.
Tips from the Pest Cemetery crew
“My greatest point of difference between me and my competitors is: I answer my phone.”
— Larry Ewing, Owner, Gopher Stop, Riverside, Calif.
“Everyone can say they focus on quality or customer service. We differentiate by making a tangible commitment to our community. Our customers provide us with the power to give back, and we feel that’s an important cause for our team and for those who want to do business with us.”
— Audrey Hall, President, Eco Serve Pest Services, Orchard Park, N.Y.
“We see things through the customers’ eyes. Anybody can do the exclusion work. The job is not complete to the homeowner until the surrounding area looks beautiful as well. So, adding mulch is not an add-on, but it’s what they perceive as complete.”
— Robert Migliara, Owner, Federal Exterminating, Wellington, Fla.
“It is all about the client experience — not price, not chemicals, not how much you know.”
— Ryan Reynolds, Owner, Bayview Pest Control, Bellingham, Wash.