5 Interiorscape Veterans Weigh-in on Interacting with Direct Competitors

“This is a continuation of a blog post series where we will bring in the best discussions from our Interiorscape.com Facebook Group. Join the discussion!” – Jeremy Dearringer, CEO, NewPro

 

LET’S TALK ABOUT DIRECT COMPETITORS

What do you know about your direct competitors and how do you interact with them, if you do? Are you cordial, friendly, not-at-all friendly toward them? Why? Do you ever refer business that may not be a “fit” for you to your competitors? Are there some you would go to lunch with and some, definitely not? Are there some you would not want to bid against for a project? Why?

Please begin by telling us where you are located and if you have many or just a few competitors.

Please discuss:

“Here in Austin,Texas we have quite few competitors. There is a small group of about 6-7 small to medium size companies and we get together about once a month to visit about the industry and we are a friendly and respectful group. Business is referred on to each other if it is a job that we are unable to undertake. In a few rare instances we even share employees. We call ourselves ‘friendly competitors’.” – Melissa Griffin Whatley, Plant Management Associates

“We’re in the somewhat unique position of being a wholesaler to several of our interiorscape colleagues, so I do know them and strive for a harmonious relationship with each of them. 90% are great people and people of integrity. The other 10%…well, my mom taught me that if I don’t have anything good to say about someone….” – Clem Cirelli, Bellmont Greenhouses

“In Winnipeg, Manitoba. I have at least three major competitors who are much more established and distinguished than I am and in Winnipeg, for an interior trending business, that’s a very tough competition. I know quite a bit about them since I keep up in their social media and website updates. I have just recently started to engage them as I’ve come to realize that this is not only an industry that you need to become allies with in many aspects, but Winnipeg is a place where everyone knows everyone. You can only benefit from opening the doors and windows. I hope to collaborate more with my competitors in the near future actually. It’s a topic amongst colleagues that has recently been brought up. We come from many different angles with the same passion and it really could become a great thing I think if we started thinking less competitively.” – Nikki Bouchier, Off the Wall Greenscapes

“I think a huge point about all of this is, there’s enough business for everyone. All you have to be is good at it, so why not shake your competitors hand and start a great relationship. When I worked in California we had specific companies we loved bidding with so they could indeed retain a contract. And then they turned around in bidding wars against us , and did the same thing for us. Supporting each other just makes us all successful.” – Dawn Scaillet Velo, Decorative Plant Service Inc

“I get along with a few, Steve being one of them. Others I keep at arms length and would certainly refer work to the ones I get along with if it’s not a “good fit”. I don’t worry about competition much, all I can do is try my best and see what happens. I also don’t intentionally go after other companies accounts…now if I get contacted for a bid, that’s another thing.” -Rick Prado, Indoor Gardens

Conclusion

OK, so since I started this, I’ll chime in.

We’ve been doing this a LONG time in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale market so we pretty much know a LOT about most of our direct competitors.

We are cordial to most (unless we have some specific reason not to be, ie. one who specifically targets our accounts for takeover by low-balling) and our market consists of MANY competitors, including a BIG national company and a big franchise company, a slew of formidable and credible small to medium-sized companies and few Mom N Pop’s with a watering can and a car. Yup, we have it all.

We don’t often get into bidding situations as we prefer to do business with clients who appreciate innovation, relationships, and value, over “the lowest price” and accordingly, we sometimes choose to NOT participate in bid processes, as that usually translates to low bid gets it. If we do choose to participate, because it’s something we want, we try to find out who we are bidding against. YES, there are a handful of companies we won’t bid against because we don’t consider them to be credible or ethical competitors.

We also have a few competitors whom we consider to be “friendly (& credible) competitors” and we do refer business to them and them to us, depending on the fit. One is a short-term rental company (as we don’t do that) and another is an event planner and floral design partner.

We have a VERY close relationship with one long-time competitor and the owner of that company and I have known each other for over 30 years. We talk weekly and probably have lunches together almost as often. We’ve often said we should merge our companies and be partners, but have always ultimately decided to keep tings the way they are. We refer business to each other and occasionally we do provide proposals to the same prospects, but we never discuss pricing and we usually don’t know that we are both providing quotes until after the fact.

Was that TMI?

Read more comments like this and engage with other interiorscapers at https://www.facebook.com/groups/interiorscape/.

Steve is the Founder and "Chief Leaf" of FosterPlants, Inc., an award-winning boutique Interiorscape firm located in Miami, FL. The company has been in business under his leadership for over 30 years and specializes in Ultra high-end residential and select commercial & hospitality accounts.

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