Focus on your competition to grow your ego; focus on your clients to grow your business.

My personal business hero has always been my father.  Sadly he passed away 11 years ago, and I wish almost daily he was still alive to work with my brother and me as we grow My Maid Service.

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One of the moments when his genius really hit me was my senior year of college when I had an internship with a company that was introducing a new product.  We had studied the industry leaders project for years, and we were launching a new product to finally match them feature for feature.  This was a company full of smart people and we were all thrilled about the huge opportunity in front of us as we only had a 10% market share and we would finally be able to compete.  I was so excited and told my dad what a great opportunity this was. 

After I went on for 30 minutes he just said “Shame you guys spent all that time and money you won’t have anything the other guy doesn’t already have.  And what do you think they have been doing for the last 3 years?  Working on a new product that is going to leap ahead and make your product look just as old and out-of-date as it is now.  Stop being obsessed with the competition and start paying attention to the customers.”  We had all worked on this project for months and years and in a few minutes my dad saw the critical error we had all missed.

I often see us making the same mistake in the cleaning industry.   We spend all our time looking at what the others guys do and trying to copy it.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a big believer in getting competitive intelligence, and you can be successful by executing better than the competition.  However, you also need to keep an eye on the needs of your client.  There are always big changes coming and, when they do, you get a big chance to leap-frog the competition and take the lead.

Instead of always looking at what the other company is doing, you need to spend time looking at what your clients need.  You should be looking for new services they may not even realize they want.  What technology are they using and how can you take advantage of it?  So stop following the leader and start leading the way.  It is scary to lead the way, but the leaders are also the people that get the biggest rewards.

Derek Christian is the owner of My Maid Service with locations in Cincinnati, OH and Dallas, TX, as well as a business coach through Cleaning Business Builders and publisher of  Derek is now an investor in several cleaning companies including My Maid Service Dayton and Real World Services Columbus.  Derek is also a consultant for industry leaders Marvelous Maids and Castle Keepers.