Competitive Advantage

Jul 26, 2021

Competitive Advantage

This week's theme is Competitive Advantage - Know Your Competitive Advantage & How You're Different. We're looking at what your competitive advantage is in the marketplace.  We're all doing lawn and landscape. We're all service industry guys. And we're all attacking the same client base - for the most part. So what is your competitive advantage? How are you going to stand out today?

Why is it important? 

The reason competitive advantage is important is that it helps you better craft your message, your marketing and your culture to your clients and your employees if you know what separates you from everybody else.  

If you can craft the better methods to your clients, to your employees, with your culture, and then just with your overall vision and methods, you're going to run a better company that operates more smoothly. And the best way to do that is to sit down and figure out your competitive advantage.

I think that as a business term, it kind of has a bad connotation. And so all I'm really talking about is what differentiates you from the other five to 10 lawn care businesses in your area? We all do a lot of similar things, right? We all have competitors in our area that do similar work to us. 

So, what I want you guys really to focus on this fall, as you slow down, is to figure out what you could do better and figure out how you're going to approach that. I think it would be super helpful if you sat down and just went through some of the things that make you different from the other guys around you. 

I think competitive advantage, we often think, has to involve a list of 10 things that I do that are better than the guy now. And that's not always the case. You really just need to figure out a couple of the major things you do differently from the guys around you so that you can hammer in on those points in your marketing and your message and your vision. And that way you can grow and separate yourself from Joe Schmoe down the street in the truck.

There are four main topics that I want to hit on today, even though there are about a million we could go through.

1. Price

The first one I want to start off with and the most over-talked-about one is price. Price is important and you can be a differentiator there. You can be a lower price and you can be a higher price or you can be the middle guy. 

If your number one message is that you are just the lowest price guy at everything you do, you're basically going to run your margins down to the bare minimum, and it's going to be hard to get by. You don't want to turn your business into a commodity and use the lowest price offering on everything.

2. Services 

The second one and I think this one's an obvious one, is your services.

I think everyone out there, especially if you're in years three on from your business, are probably throwing a lot of stuff at the wall. You're offering a lot of different services, and you're just trying to figure out what you're good at and what you like to do, and how you feel.

And so I understand that stage in a business. It's a little harder to figure this out, but if you're in years five on in your business, you've probably honed in on the kind of three or four main services you offer and why. And so I think that's really a good time to sit down and go, okay, here are the exact services I offer, and here are how they differ from the five guys in my area.

An example of this. There are a lot of detailed differences in the applications used or the timing of the chemicals. Right? There's a lot of differences. Even between the five guys in your area, you know, say you were to look at True Green Weed man, and then three local guys who all do fert and charge a similar price.

I guarantee if you went through their lawn programs, at some point within those programs, each guy does something a little different - maybe it's their insecticide program. Maybe they did a little bit of double app on three and five nuts. Whatever it is, don't overlook those things - figure out how you're different.

And when you guys are passing out brochures, or you have something on your website, really hone in on those three or four things that make your program different so that when clients come in, they're like, oh, he's a little different than this guy. I'm going to give him a try. He's not just the same as everyone else.

3. Figuring out your Target Market

Number three. And this is an important one- figuring out your target market and how it's different from your company.

I think if you're an owner. And like I said if I'm really talking to those guys that are like past year three in their business, you should have a pretty good feel of what your ideal customer looks like. Right? It shouldn't just be, oh, I'm going after everyone in the whole town. 

If you do that, it's going to be really hard to differentiate yourself. Once again, you'll probably drive the price down and it's hard to stand. So by years 3, 4, 5, start to figure out what you're really good at. Maybe you're that guy that really does well in the upper echelon neighborhoods in the community. Or maybe you're the guy that says "hey, I'm really good at serving that little edge of the suburbs where pricing's a little lower".  

It's second nature for owners to just say, "Hey, I'm going out and selling them, which is what I'm doing." But take a step back and I guarantee you, you can go, oh, my average client is about this. You know, it's a $65 lawn, a $250,000 home in a suburban neighborhood. Go talk to some of those customers. Then, target all of the other neighborhoods in your suburb that are similar to that. And I guarantee you you'll have pretty good success. 

4. Company Culture

The last one, which I believe is the most important differentiator for your business and competitors is your company culture.

And I know that's like a touchy, feely, good word to use. Everybody likes to throw it around. I'll start with here's why, and then we can get into what that actually means. Here's why it's important: your culture is going to dictate how you're perceived in your community because humans are relational.

We like to buy from people that we like, that we feel like we have commonalities with, that we want to support. So your culture is going to be kind of your message in the community with your client base. But two, it's also going to determine what kind of talent you attract an employee. 

We all realize a limiting factor to growth in lawn care right now is bringing in good talent and keeping them and training them and keeping them challenged. And so that the type of culture you have at your company is going to dictate the kind of talent you can bring in and then go serve people with.

And like I said, there's no right or wrong in your culture. You just need to know how you're coming across to your community, what you're doing to build the culture you want. Then, you can brand that and make sure that people in the community know what you're about.