Straying from core strengths can lower a retailer’s value and chase away their customers. It’s a mistake that often comes from a lack of knowledge about their own core competencies. This reduces their ability to consistently deliver the products and services customers are looking for. What every business owner needs to understand is how to harness the power of their strengths to differentiate themselves in a very tight market.
What Are Your Core Competencies?
Knowing what your core competencies begins with looking at every area of your business. It requires a deeper analysis of your operations, marketing, sales, and finance. Are your employees productive? How many new customers came through your store? Is the cash flow steady? From the data you collect, you will be able to answer these questions and see where your strengths and weakness are.
After a close examination of your business model, you’ll need to see who your local, regional, and national competitors are. For smaller competitors in your area, you can assume that their general expenses and sales are comparable to your own:
- Store size and location
- Number of stores
- Number of employees
- Years in business
Calculation of their overall health has its advantages, but may be misleading, especially if they are poised for growth, so be aware of this when trying to compare your store with theirs. Once you have all of the information you need, you can focus on what will differentiate your business in a highly competitive market.
Where to Start?
The best place to start is operations. Core company strengths should focus on areas for cutting costs and improving efficiency. Always be on the lookout for areas of improvement, such as delivery and availability. Keeping your operations lean will improve employee productivity and contribute to improved cash flow. Your operations play a major role in the customer experience.
Customer service should be a major differentiator between you and your competition. How can you do this? Through simple improvements with product returns and checkout times. These are the foundation from which your employees can work from to exceed customer expectations. Customers also notice when employees are empowered to go the extra mile to make sure they are completely satisfied.
Being Faithful with Your Marketing
You already do a lot of scheduling—from deliveries to employees—so, the scheduling of marketing activities should be easy. Yet, small business owners often neglect their marketing plans for one reason or another. This can place a heavy burden on other core company strengths, because those areas are expected to pick up the slack.
To avoid marketing pitfalls, set a realistic schedule of marketing activities to fit your budget, then follow through on them. Frequency is the key to great marketing. Ask for input and help from your employees with social media and focus on positive messaging that works.
The Strategic Advantage
Building a solid core leads to a strategic advantage over your competition. Plus, focusing on your strengths will address problems with the weaknesses you discover along the way. This will create a balance that will set your business up for a more sustainable future.