Building More: Compare Vs. Conquer

Words: Corey Adams

Corey Adams

Standing room only. That was the scene for a lesson I learned at 17 years old. I didn’t know it was a lesson at the time, but that is typical of a 17-year-old boy.

When I was a senior in high school, our basketball team was pretty darn good. Early in the season, we had even beaten our rivals, a real good program which our school had not beaten in 9 years. It was a huge turning point in our season and the direction of the program. The lesson occurred late in the season when we met the next.

In our first meeting, I dominated the rebound department. It wasn’t close. I did, however, have a speed problem. I wasn’t the fastest guy out there, but they had no one of enough size or strength to keep me in check. What the other coach did in the second meeting was start five guards. He knew I couldn’t keep up with a small lineup, and he was willing to risk the rebounds for a more favorable offensive matchup. Our coach, upon finding out the starting lineups, chose to start a faster guy over me. It was the only game my senior year that I did not start. I took it like a champ, but we eventually fell to our rivals by 2 points. We lost. 

About 20 years later, we all got together to reminisce about the good ole days, and our coach said something that brought the lesson into focus. “I screwed up.” He stated that, by sitting me at the start, he felt that he gave in to the other teams’ desires and let the other coach lure him into a mistake. He chose to compare over conquer.

I am a huge proponent of studying our competition. I want to know what they do better than us and what they do worse. Where a lot of contractors fall short is they use the comparison to dictate how their business is structured. 

Straight copying what others are doing is not the way to stand out and dominate your competition. Unfortunately, this is the result of too much comparison. When we compare ourselves as a way to be like another company, we often start implementing the same principles and strategies into our own company. This is not a conquering mindset. 

The reason I study our competition is not to compare, but to find the things that they do not do well, then focus our efforts to become the best at that. I want to know why a client would hire them as much as I want to know why a client wouldn’t. Using that information correctly is how we can dominate. 

I will issue a warning: never try to conquer the cheapest contractor in town. That never goes well. 

Your competition can be your greatest resource for growing your business. Do not look at them with disdain; look at them with open eyes, ears, and thoughts. We all have things we could do better in our companies; your competition is no different. Find the things they struggle with and use them to conquer the market. Do they lack in social media? Do they take three days to call someone back? Do they pay their employees a below-average wage for your area? Is the owner completely “hands off?” Are they active in the community? These are just a few of the endless number of questions you can ask of your competition. When you find the things you can excel at, exploit them. 

Comparing yourself to your competition leads to a company putting in great effort to be exactly like them. Studying your competition leads to enlightenment into ways that you can be better than them. Ignoring your competition is just leaving your entire company to chance. 

Knowing what you do better, working on the ways you can be better, and leveraging your strengths is the key to dominating your competition. When it comes to game time, use what makes you, well, you. If you have size, use it. If you have speed, use it. Just make sure when you are progressing your company that you are not doing it from a comparison mindset. Focus on conquering. 

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