The Competition: In the Mirror!
Who is your competition? Some lay in bed thinking about this. What are they doing? How do I keep my customers? Are they cutting prices? Are we doing everything we can to stay ahead of them? Do I worry about the big ones and their advantages of scale (purchasing power, market penetration, etc.)? Do I worry about the little ones and their advantages of scale (low overhead, willingness to buy market share, etc.)? Is their new product going to make mine obsolete? Can my competition respond faster to questions, problems or "emergency" orders?
In reality, our competitors include ANYONE your customers (and their employees) do business with. Customer service? They are comparing yours to companies they experience the BEST customer service with, like Disney or Chick Fil-A. Speed? They are comparing yours to Amazon. Return policy? They are comparing yours to LL Bean! Your competitors don't merely include the other guys who make and sell what you do. Your competitors anyone that DELIGHTS (not satisfies) your customers.
Time for a football analogy. Some head coaches (the CEO of the team) spend hundreds of hours scouting upcoming opponents. They go watch their games, watch video, know their tendencies on 3rd and 3, whether the punter is left or right footed. They spend countless hours understanding these things, and then spend countless hours getting their team to understand these things. Come Saturday afternoon, some of these same teams will commit 12 penalties and turn the ball over via fumble or interception 4 times, and allow their opponent 2 special teams scores (blocked punts, interception returns, kickoff returns).
Other head coaches (and these are the ones I love) don't spend 2 non-value added minutes worrying about what their opponents will do. They really don't care. They will prepare their own team to minimize mental errors, and they will not shoot themselves in the foot. They will dominate time of possession (you can't score if you don't have the ball) and through sheer repetition, they will run 10-15 plays perfectly. Not 90 plays half fast. They focus on what THEY do. If the other team happens to beat them, God bless. They will ;make improvements and get better.
The challenge is to delight (not satisfy) your customer so much they wouldn't think of going elsewhere, and may even pay extra to stay.
Who is your competition? Look in the mirror! All we need to do is focus on the 8 wastes in all of our processes and tenaciously go after them!