For some business owners, their natural inclination is to want to be the only one offering a product or service. But can competition be a good thing? According to Paul Manderfield, co-owner of Manderfield’s Home Bakery, it sure can.
His family’s bakery is showcased in this month’s issue (see page 30), and during the course of my visit, he mentioned that his competition had actually helped his bakery. A Breadsmith is located down the road from one of Manderfield’s locations, and he thinks it helped train his customers about artisan breads. And he also mentioned how Krispy Kreme’s growth several years ago helped renew donuts’ popularity.
When viewed this way, competition can actually be beneficial. In Manderfield’s case, Breadsmith had done a lot of the hard work of introducing artisan breads to the community. When Manderfield’s started its artisan bread line four years ago, area residents were receptive because they already were familiar with the product.
Often the hardest part of introducing a new product is convincing customers that they want it or need it. A competing bakery can actually help you market a product. The more impressions consumers have of a product, the more likely they are going to think they need it. The challenge is to make sure they come to your bakery to get the product and not go to your competition. You have to do enough marketing, so that customers think of your bakery first.
When Manderfield decided to expand into artisan breads, he knew they would sell thanks to the success of Breadsmith. He also knew he had to offer a better product and to let customers know the quality of his product. Each of Manderfield’s three locations always has samples of bread out. However, presentation of the samples also goes a long way in imparting the quality of the bread. Manderfield’s samples feature small pieces of neatly cut loaves that are placed on a bread board with butter and other spreads (all of which the bakery has for sale), so customers can sample the full experience of eating the bread.
To win the customers’ dollars away from your competition you need to produce a better product than they do and let your customers know about it.
Don’t fear competition, just do it better.