Recently, several ICLMNet members asked me why I have invited my "competition" to join the network.
Let me answer by first asking you a question. If you were the only concierge company in town, could you handle all the business?
About ten years ago, I picked up a client who need to reorganize her business fast. She was a single mother who decided to target busy mothers who worked in Washington DC. To find these women, she decided to advertise in a popular local paper (the internet wasn't as robust as it is today) and WHAM! It worked!! In only a few weeks she went from no clients to hundreds wanting her services. She became so overwhelmed with all the business she decided to close down for a few months and reorganize. She relaunched her business a few months later.
Here’s another way to look at competition …
What would McDonalds be if Burger King hadn’t come on the scene?? Wendy’s? Chick-fil-A?
Think they spend their time sending each other hate mail?? Actually, in the last few weeks they have been having a hilarious chicken sandwich war and have been trading jokes and friendly banter back and forth over Twitter.
See my point? PLENTY of business for everyone. One town can certainly handle more than one company offering the same basic services with no problem at all.
I think competition is good for the soul. It forces us to do better and offer a better product. I also firmly believe in building relationships and working together towards the common good.
And yes … I practice what I preach. I’ve actually trained a few of my competitors over the years (although I’ll admit I didn’t know it at the time) and often give them referrals. In fact, I just sent a referral out last week!
Should I get mad every time someone publishes another book on the Concierge industry? Not my style. Plus I think the more books out there on the subject, the better!
Here’s a snippet from “The Concierge Manual” that explains this point quite well…
After I graduated from college in 1984 (I’m seriously dating myself here), I found a job working as an administrative assistant to a meeting planner. After a few months, I discovered that not only did I enjoy the work, but I had an aptitude for it. In those days, however, there were no books on meeting planning or courses you could take to learn meeting planning. You just learned it from the bottom up while in the field. Not many people knew what a meeting planner was back then, and certainly no one was teaching the subject in college.
Today, meetings are a billion-dollar industry. Colleges are offering majors in meeting planning, seminars are being taught around the world on the topic, associations have been created for meeting planners, and hundreds of books have been written on the subject. The personal concierge industry is going the same way as the meeting industry; it just isn’t going to take decades to do it. It’s already a billion-dollar industry as I sit here writing this. Quite soon, I think you are going to see colleges and universities offering concierge courses. The industry already has books, software, conferences, workshops, business opportunities, franchises, and groups (such as www.ICLMNet.com) dedicated to the industry.
This is exactly why I decided to invite my “competitors” to join my concierge network back in 2000 when I started it. A practice I continue to this day. The industry needs them if we are going to grow as a group.
Working together will get us farther than working apart.
My advice to everyone is to bless your competition, shake their hand and welcome them to the neighborhood. Say positive things about them and build a relationship with them. Don’t judge them for what they do or not do. Instead, greet them warmly and let them be. Plus, never ever speak badly about them.
Now why would I want to do that? Good question … one reason might be that it’s the last thing they’ll expect you to do. It will certainly shock them for a minute!
The real reason is this … there is a universal principle that states what you put out into the world will bounce back at you like a boomerang. I know that you’ve all heard this one. If you put out honesty, integrity, love and respect … they will bounce right back at you and will only make your business better and more prosperous. If you put out jealousy, anger, fear and hatred then please learn to duck because it’s coming right back at you. Treat your competition as you yourself would like to be treated.
Love will always get you farther than hate.
(The 20th Anniversary Edition of Katharine's Book The Concierge Manual will be coming out in October! Stay tuned!)
Copyright © 2019 by Katharine C. Giovanni