Come be a Big Fish on Our Pond.
An unusual saying, but very true.
When I first started in business, I was small. I started a limousine service with just one vehicle and just one employee, me.
Looking back, I did what a lot of others do when first starting, I tried to look bigger than I really was. After all, if a competitor is bigger, they must be doing something better, right? Maybe.
The problem with this way of thinking is I wasn’t one of the big guys. I didn’t have a big fleet, large staff or even the experience that others may have. It was a struggle to try to get new customers. No one really knew me or my company. I didn’t really have anything to help me stand out in a crowded and competitive space, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
I joined and attended the local Chamber of Commerce and went to meetings with a goal to get my name out in the business community. A much larger, very big limousine company was also a member of the Chamber and also attended those same meetings. Not knowing better, I decided that I would compete on being cheaper in price than the bigger competitor. I actually ran ads in the local newspapers showing my price and the bigger competitors higher price next to each other, hoping to get some of their customers.
It was frustrating to attend these meetings where my much larger competitor was bragging about how big they were. Then it happened. At the next meeting I attended, the larger competitor stood and bragged “We have the largest fleet in the area. We have more cars than anyone else. We are the biggest”. When it came for my turn to give my 30 second introduction I stood and said “Did you ever deal with a really big company? Think of the Department of Motor Vehicles, or calling the utility company and being out on hold indefinitely. I hate when companies make me feel unimportant. When you travel with my company, you’ll always be important. We won’t treat you like a number or an inconvenience to us. I’d like to think Come be a big fish in our pond, where it’s YOU that’s important to us”.
It was the start of realizing that I no longer had to compete with another company on their terms again. Customers doing business with my company were the ones who would be benefit. My company being smaller was the advantage over the too big to care companies out there.
The premise of this book is based on how being different is not less, but better for the customer. After all isn’t the customer who should be the most important?
Figuring out what you do differently can be your big advantage over others.
The new book “Dare to be Different” being released in Spring 2019 will give you real life examples of how you can not only survive, but thrive in any economy regardless of who your competition is.
Years later, when my company grew in size and became a bigger company, we still followed the principles of being a smaller company. We had more systems in place to keep the consistency there, but always with the personal touch that made us “different” and better for our customer.
PS - I no longer competed on price again.