Your company is engaged in a battle of suppliers. It doesn’t create demand; it competes locally to supply demand that already exists. Many of your competitors are striving to win a bigger share of this demand or trying to capture its most profitable segments. What happens when market demand is suddenly changed by the shelter-in-place (SIP) order and gradual reopening?

Playing for a bigger piece of a (sometimes) smaller pie.
As your neighbors come out of hibernation, in some industries total demand will lag behind pre-SIP levels while others will be strong due to pent-up demand. If you’re in a lagging industry, you’re competing for your share of a smaller pie…for now. A drop in consumer demand may become obvious while the downward spiral of one or two local competitors might be invisible at first. Here lies an opportunity.

Your competitors are run by local people, many of whom changed their own life rhythm and daily schedule during SIP. We’re all humans. We’re subject to biases, distorted perceptions, negative emotions and a natural inclination to take the least effort-requiring path. It’s easy to justify some sloth as a means to deal with this passing crisis. In some ways, we’ve all been thrown off our game. Some of your competitors will still be lagging as the game picks up pace. You have the opportunity to come back stronger, smarter and faster—to adapt to a new environment better than your competitors and build out a bigger and better piece of what may be a smaller pie for the near future.

I’m reminded of an old joke. A bear is fast approaching two hikers. One guy starts to sprint and his friend says, “You can’t outrun a bear!” The guy responds, “I just have to outrun you.” The threat of lower demand for our services is that bear running at you and your local competitors. You and your competitors were strolling down the path together. Now you see the bear and quickly realize the new marketplace reality. While your competitor is frozen in his tracks, you immediately go UP-TEMPO! Here’s how.

Turn up the tempo inside your company for the benefit of customers.
Focus on quickly creating better customer care, deeper customer relationships and extra customer value. You already do that? Do even better and do it fast. When was the last time you called all your past customers? Impossible, you say? OK. Can each member of your team call five past customers this week and ask how they’re feeling coming out of SIP? Each call signals that you want to deepen the relationship, which sets you apart from competitors.

Hold a weekly team meeting and share customer stories. Your customer outreach creates a virtuous cycle of deepening customer relationships which stir up customer value-add ideas. Your team’s quicker pace on behalf of customers demonstrates they care, and this in itself adds value.

Talk to your team about going UP-TEMPO to stand out from your competitors. Tap their ideas on creating extra value-adds and super-service type of treatment for customers. Lead by example. Get your whole team to operate quicker, with more value for customers. Attitude is the first strong signal your company sends your marketplace. It starts with you.

While your competitors may be operating the old way, you will now create three new customer value-adds and launch one each month during the next three months. The quick pace of your team’s delivery of bonus customer value will signal to your team, your competitors, and your potential customers that your company is not weak and tentative coming out of SIP. You’re strong, smart and UP-TEMPO for the benefit of customers. The best customers want this now. Start today.