How things that might appear to be problems, can actually be the best way to set yourself apart from your competition.
This blog post is inspired by how much I love Boston Pizza, and how something so seemingly simple that they’ve done, has absolutely made my day.
I’m gluten intolerant, which I’ll admit isn’t the most fun thing in the world, but there are enough options out there that cooking for myself isn’t too much of a challenge. The problem comes when I try and eat out. As anyone with a food sensitivity can tell you, it’s kind of amazing how the fun of eating out vanishes when you can only eat 10% of what’s on a menu, or you have to be that person who asks for a hamburger with no bun, or have the server run back and forth checking what’s in various menu items.
A few weeks ago my family was visiting, and for some unknown reasoning, rather than sampling my cooking (I have yet to give anyone food poisoning, thank you very much), they decided that we should eat out, and Boston Pizza ended up as our destination. I’m going to admit that I was slightly grumpy at this point, there’s nothing quite like taking someone who can’t eat bread out to a place whose menu is 70% pizza and pasta. It looked like it was going to be another garden salad for me, but then, like the sun coming out from behind the clouds, there on the menu were the magical words that made me exorbitantly happy – gluten free pizza crust.
For the first time in a long while I was able to go out and have something I wanted, not something out of the few options that are normally left to me at restaurants. It was amazing.
I’m sure you’re thinking, “That was a nice story, Karen, but how does it relate to ME?”
It’s simple really. What Boston Pizza did was identify a problem and turn it into an opportunity. Locally, they’re the only restaurant that I can think of that offers a substitution like that, which means that in that market space they have a huge advantage over others.
But really, how does that relate to ME?
If you think about your own business, is there a segment of customers that can’t use your service or product for some reason? Maybe your product is very technical and requires a lot of training to use, maybe it’s a long complicated process to contact you. Heck, maybe to even get to your office means clients having to climb up some steep stairs.
It’s always possible to look at a problem with potential clients and write it off as them just being not part of your market. Sometimes it can be a much smarter business move to address the problems and maybe access a part of the market that your competitors can’t. Maybe you simplify your product so that it can be used by a wider range of people, or maybe you offer onsite consultations, so that you can still have face to face meetings with someone who can’t quite make it up your stairs.
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” and some of the best products and services out there have arisen from taking advantage of situations where others have chosen to ignore. There will always be complications with running a business, but smart management looks for opportunity where others haven’t. Offering a service or product that your competitors can’t or don’t is one of the best ways to set yourself apart, and gain some loyal, long-term customers.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have pizza to eat.