Your Competition Isn’t Who You Think it Is

June 1, 2018

Our industry is going blind. Very similar to the idea that the fish are the last to see the water; we are the last to really understand what’s really going on around here.

We think that our competition is “Gypsy Vandal Fireplace Co.” down the street or “The 800 lb. Gorilla” manufacturer, but that’s wrong. It’s simply not who we compete against.

If we take a step back to the national level, the incident rate of fireplaces has been falling in New Construction homes for a few years (if that terminology is new to you, it just means the % of fireplaces that are installed per home). At the local level, only about 2% of homeowners do a remodel every year and many of those projects do not include a fireplace. And to top it all off, if you were to ring 5 doorbells in your neighborhood and ask people about a “Gas Insert”, most of those people would have no idea what you were talking about. 

We don’t compete against other dealers or rival manufacturers- we compete against indecision, ignorance and apathy.

The fact is that most people don’t know and don’t care.

Our job is to be an evangelist.

Rather than hiding in our cave and stealing crumbs from everyone else that’s in there too, we need to step outside and look at the vast and plentiful fields all around us. There is so much whitespace in our category that it is unbelievable. Why are we so concerned about everybody else when half of the homeowners in our country don’t even know about our products? There has never been more opportunity than there is right now and if you don’t believe it then you’re nuts.

The problem is that many of us operate with a scarcity mentality. I remember a number of years ago, a manufacturer rewarded their top performing dealers in the country with the slogan “these dealers do not share well with others”. The fact is that a tightfisted mentality like that kills a generous spirit and a generous spirit is what we desperately need if we want to win.

I’m starting a podcast for our industry that will launch this summer and as I’ve been booking guests to interview it’s been amazing that some people can’t believe why I would do it. People can’t believe that it’s free. Many have asked what my angle is. There has been nervousness at the idea of sharing helpful advice with other like-minded folks in the industry because God-forbid some of the audience might wear a different colored uniform. 

The fact is that all ships rise in a high tide and I would guess that everyone would be happier if more consumers knew what a gas insert was. Well, if that’s the case, we need to stop side swiping each other and look ahead at the uncharted land that is right in front of us. To piggyback on what Gary Vaynerchuk says, we shouldn’t build the tallest building by tearing down everyone else’s. 

Winning businesses have an abundance mentality. There was a famous teacher a couple thousand years ago that said, “a good tree produces good fruit” and  “a bad tree produces bad fruit”. If you believe in abundance and sow generosity, what do you think you will reap versus sowing cynicism and negativity? An abundance mentality will change the way you treat your team members, it will change the way your team members treat your customers and (most importantly) it will change the way your customers view your brand.

So, circling back to the beginning. You don’t compete against the guy down the street. You don’t compete against that rival manufacturer. You compete against indifference, ignorance and apathy.

Trust me. Your company loses more jobs to indifference than to the guy down the street.

So today, what can you do combat your true competition and help raise the tide for everyone else?