Don’t say bad things about your competitors because it reflects back on you.
Before letting my inner entrepreneur loose on the cleaning industry, I worked in sales for corporate America for 12 years. They always taught us to not say bad things about the competition because it just makes us look bad. I guess I understood that you want to spend your valuable time with a potential customer talking about you, not the other guys.
To be honest, I never really understood this until recently. A customer called looking for weekly service, and at the end of the over-the-phone estimate, she asked me for two non-franchised companies similar to our size whom she could call for comparative estimates; I gave her two.
She called me back, laughing, and said we blew away the competition. When I asked why, she told me to call my competitor and ask them what made them the best. So I did:
Derek: So what makes you better than your competition?
Derek: Excuse me?
Derek: Um, could you elaborate?
Competitor: I test my people all the time, so I know they don’t use drugs. Other people don’t do this, so they have employees that use drugs.
I basically tossed this competitor a slow softball over the plate and asked her to tell me how great her company was, and the only thing she could come up with was to imply that all of the other companies hire drug users. Basically, she said that all cleaning services employ drug users, including mine, but that she tests her employees every few months and fires employees once they start using.
I was really blown away. All I could think was this lady must have had some serious problem with drug using employees if she thinks that is what makes her service better than others. She not only made herself look bad, but the entire industry as well. What a terrible way to build trust with our consumers.
Needless to say, I got the sale and she did not.
The Lesson: Don’t say bad things about the competition because it reflects back on you.