'Unfair Advantage' Over Your Competition
by Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE
All I've ever wanted in business is an unfair advantage. Before
you raise your eyebrows, let me define the term. An unfair
advantage is not lying, cheating, or stealing. It's exactly the
opposite. An unfair advantage is doing everything just a little bit
better than your competition. And even if you've been in
business for many years and you're at the top of your profession,
in today's competitive world you also need to do everything just
a little bit better today than you did it yesterday. That's your
It's not always easy. Do you remember the movie STAYING
ALIVE, the sequel to SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER? (And can
you still dance that way?) It's about how the John Travolta
character pursues a career as a professional dancer, all the highs
and lows (with a little romance thrown in). The last scene is an
incredible dance routine. As my friend Kookie and I danced out
of the theater afterwards, I had a revelation: The trouble with life is
that it's just too short to be good at very many things!
The dedication and discipline that the Travolta character needed
to become a great dancer didn't leave him much time for
That's the problem with working and being in business today.
The future belongs to those who are competent in many different areas. To be successful in any industry, you need to be a
technically-adept, charismatic communicator with exceptionally
good work habits, good people skills, and an abundance of
healthy energy. (And it doesn't hurt if also you look good and
There's an old saying, "If you build a better mousetrap, people
will beat a path to your door." That was true once, but not
today. Having the best product or service does not automatically
guarantee you success. That's because:
1. People do business with people they know.
2. People do business with the people who do business with
3. People do business with people their friends talk about.
4. People do business with people they read about.
Start now to develop your own unfair advantage and build your
1. What one thing can you do better than your competition? How
can you let the world know about your advantage?
2. What one activity can you improve on? Decide whether this
improvement is worth the energy it will require. If so, what one
step can you take this week?
3. Learn from the best...and the worst! No matter how long
you've been in the work force, make a list of every boss you've
had. Start with your first job at the age of ten or twelve and go
right through to today. What did you learn from each of these
people, good or bad?
This exercise is especially important if you are now in
management or plan to be. Everyone you've ever worked for can
teach you something, even if it is only to provide you with a
pitiful example of what not to do. "If you want to build a ship,"
wrote pilot- poet Antoine de Saint-Exupery, "don't drum up
people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and
work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of
the sea." How many leaders have gone beyond mere
management to filling you with a yearning for the endless
immensity of opportunities before you? How did they do it?
Everyone Represents Your Company
When I was a new business owner I attended a management seminar, the
speaker said something that I have never forgotten. "Your business is
as good as your worst employee." What a sobering thought.
Customer Service Means Actions, not Slogans
Every single contact your organization has with its customers either
cultivates or corrodes your relationship. That includes every letter you send,
every ad you run, and every phone call you make. This includes every employee
contact, from the CEO to technicians, sales force, support staff, and
In other words, your business is only as good as your worst employee!
Keeping Up With the Vigilante Consumer:
Providing superb customer service
Customer service is today's competitive
advantage. If we don't have masses of potential customers, we'd better keep the
ones we do have happy. Ecstatic. This gives your business an unfair advantage. An unfair advantage is doing
every tiny little thing better than your competition. In this instance, your
competition can be your best teacher.
10 Ways To Form Lasting Customer Relationships
By placing the customer at the
center of all your thinking you create an environment which fosters long term success. A
key component of success lies in your ability to generate repeat and referral business,
and a sure way to do this is by forming lasting relationships with your customers.
Award-winning speaker and in-demand speech coach,
Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE offers fresh, usable ideas on getting,
keeping and deserving customers.
Meetings and Conventions Magazine calls Patricia
"one of the country's 10 most electrifying speakers." She is the author of GET WHAT YOU WANT, MAKE
IT--SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO FAKE IT. For more information, contact
PFripp@Fripp.com, (800) 634-3035, (415) 753-6556, or visit her
website at www.fripp.com