One resource that has the potential to help leverage all others, and gain exceptional business outcomes as a result, is Competitive Advantage.  It is perhaps one of the single-most underappreciated assets available to a business every day!  With a clear understanding of what it really is, your day to capture it could be today.

Competitive Advantage is the ability to stand out.  Most construction businesses have at least one or two competitive advantages, but fail to capitalize on them because they’re preoccupied with the wrong things.  While it’s true that the construction business demands a lot of a leader’s time, energy and attention, in case you haven’t noticed, most prospective customers don’t care.  They only care about what you can do for them.  It’s how the customer defines value, and their perception of how you can deliver it, that can set you apart from your rivals and minimizes the ultimate question of price.

Outward vs. Inward Focus

Competitive Advantage answers the forward-looking question that all buyers are asking when considering you vs your competitors: “Why (other than price) should I do business with you?”  Learning how to answer them in an engaging way can be the difference between success and failure.  It begins with a distinct shift from inward to outward thinkingbeing interested vs. interesting – focused more on impact than output.

Today, demand for construction services is high across the nation, and a natural industry response to more demand is more competition.  Unfortunately, our industry historically provides a low threshold of entry for new competitors to enter, which naturally leads to more price-driven competition.  Industry response usually precipitates more efforts for regulation and licensing, which isn’t a bad thing, especially from a consumer standpoint.  But, as much as we all know that more legislation doesn’t necessarily prevent new competitors from circumventing the system, the marketplace doesn’t necessarily appreciate the value of more regulation either.

Selling Value vs. Price

That is why having and developing Competitive Advantage – standing out and being overtly different, to the extent that prospective customers are impacted by your message and compelled to buy, is an invaluable resources in today’s market!  Competing successfully in today’s market requires being adept at flaunting your competitive advantages in a way that prospective customers are compelled to choose you over your rivals.  The complex world of custom building and remodeling is not one that can be conquered selling on price!

Having Competitive Advantage is often confused with attributes customers don’t care about, like experience, education, years in business and family history.  But having Competitive Advantage is much more about what Doug Hall, in his well-researched book Jumpstart Your Business Brain, calls “real reason to believe”.   While knowledge and experience are important, buyers want to know why it is important – to them!  They want to know how you and your organization deliver the things they care most about, the things they value most.

Due to a cultural bias toward self-promotion however, most businesses get the principle backward.  A business’s main job is not to be viewed as interesting, but interested!  Gaining Competitive Advantage requires laser focus on how our customers define value, not on how we define it.  Competitive Advantage defined is “Conscious, well-planned decisions, executed superbly, that create the ability to attract new business, command optimal prices, and deliver superior value.”  That puts the burden of responsibility for defining “superior value” on the provider, not the receiver of value.

Do You Know Your Customer?

questioning businessHow are you doing at understanding your customers and what exactly they want and expect?  Do you regularly survey your customers throughout the construction process to learn about their experience?  In her compelling book Growth IQ, Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business, Author Tiffani Bova notes statistics reveal that 86% of customers are willing to spend more for a better customer experience!  The construction industry is no exception.

In fact, the emotionally charged building process may demand higher levels of customer experience than most other industries.  Builders cannot afford to miss this!  Competitive Advantage is not just an option in today’s marketplace.  Using tools like Guild Quality, Avid Ratings, or even simple apps like Survey Monkey to learn about and capitalize on buyer preferences may be the highest-potential and most underused strategy at your disposal to gain a competitive edge and make more money.  What will you do with it?