Peer pressure is real, and it doesn’t end when you get out of school. For some industries, in particular construction and service-based organizations, the pressure to keep up with your competition is not only a factor but a necessity if you want to remain successful.
A widespread trend I see in the turnaround, maintenance, and construction industry is that the few companies who used technology to catapult themselves ahead of the competition have largely become apathetic to continuing that momentum. They did so much great work to implement a set of core functionality, but have since spent years talking about projects instead of doing anything. They went from early adopters, willing to take some calculated risks and execute quickly, to run-of-the-mill leaders too scared to do anything, marking off the calendars until they get their retirement party and the fancy gold watch.
The great ones we work with know better. They uniquely understand the importance of creating downward pressure on their competition which not only raises the offerings but indirectly hurts the bottom line of their biggest competition.
There are volumes of books written on how technology can improve your bottom line and if you are in any way familiar with the history of Gulf Coast Solutions, you have seen direct proof of how easily this can happen. There is no need to remind you how technology can be used to cut costs, create opportunities, and improve quality. At this point in 2019, that should be well understood.
What is seemingly not understood is the role that technology plays in creating downward pressure for others. This is not unique to any particular sector but is a critical factor in service-based industries, whose lifeblood is often measured by repeat business and being able to retain the limited talent in the marketplace.
Because of what we do, and some success we’ve had in the past, we often get the privilege to talk with leaders who have leapfrogged others using technology. Typically, at some point, I encourage owners to use this technology in their marketing and sales efforts because when done very strategically and intentional, it can create this great downward pressure effect. Almost without exception, at some point, the following sentence gets uttered.
“You have helped us create a HUGE competition advantage with your solutions, we don’t want our competition to know what we have.”
Leaders — quit thinking this way, it’s not 2005 anymore. You’re not the only one who thought of using a database. Times, they are a changin’
- Everyone knows what everyone else has now. There are very few trade secrets and employees are constantly jumping around job to job, using the knowledge of what you have built, to improve their position in their new company. You’ve probably hired a couple of these who claimed that most of the success of Brand X is really because of their input. Success has many, many fathers, failure is…
- You WANT your competition to know the parts and pieces. You don’t need to tell them everything, but by making it known what you have, and what you are doing, you are creating an environment of reaction on their part. While they are reacting to what they hear, you are being proactive in staying ahead. Nothing will allow you to make further gains on your competition than when the competition is busy chasing their tails.
- You WANT your customer to know. The more they know, the more they put pressure on all the vendors to have the same offerings. If your technology allows you to prove your quality, lowers your rates, or creates on-demand reporting, they will start to expect this from everyone. Again, your competition will hear this and have to overreact.
Employees expect more, customers demand more, and authoritative agencies like banks, lawyers, and governments require more. Embrace these demands, create the want, over-deliver to all of them!
Another huge factor is what constantly being in a reactive mode does for your most critical asset — your people. Everyone coming together to play fire-fighter for a project is okay, in fact sometimes seemingly fun and a great bonding experience. However, this need to react drains the trust battery of your critical employees very, very quickly. They soon tire of chasing their tail simply because ownership won’t deliver on their promise of continuous improvement. They know deep down that the promise cannot be the end in itself, it’s the delivery that counts. In the best case they leave, in the worst case, they become very apathetic in their job, dragging your time & money down with them.
How do I know this to be true — because I’ve been hired on both sides of the coin, by those who are intentionally designing a culture that puts constant negative pressure on everyone in the industry, and by those who are scrambling to play catch up all the time and rectify the situation. I can say without hesitation that the cost to constantly play catch-up is 10x — 25x higher than it would to simply get ahead and stay ahead.