If your competitor is a company, there is quite a lot of information you can obtain free of charge. For example, from the Gov.uk website you can obtain the following details:
- company information, for example registered address and date of incorporation
- current and resigned officers
- document images
- mortgage charge data
- previous company names
- insolvency information
You can also set up free email alerts to tell you when a company updates its details (for example, a change of director or address).
You should also make a point of reviewing your competitors’ websites on a periodic basis as this will keep you up-to-date with changes to their service or products including pricing and innovative ideas that might influence your product development planning.
Create a list of sites and factor in your observations into your planning meetings.
When did you last survey your existing customers?
It makes sense to survey your customers from time to time to get objective feedback on your current service levels. This can be invaluable data to factor into your systems development.
In particular, you should tease out the details of any factors that are likely to affect their future buying decisions:
- economic concerns,
- price sensitivity,
- redundancy, are your products keeping pace with those offered by competitors,
- buying experience,
- after sales service,
- loyalty bonuses and so on.
Offer a gift or other inducement to participate in the survey and act on the results.
Our competitors can be a rich source of ideas for our own business development as well as the strategies innovated from within our organisations. Keeping an eye on the competition should be part of your planning options. Ignore them at your peril.