“Competition is my greatest problem” – this is the opinion you can hear from many owners of language schools. Are you trying to cope with it? We recomend a few tricks that will ease your “pain”.
When asked if he slept well with all the competition from Pepsi, Roberta Goizueta, CEO of Coca-Cola Company in 1980s answered he slept like a baby. “That’s wonderful” – his interlocutor rejoiced. „No, no … I wake up every two hours and cry”.
Therefore competition is a serious challenge in any sector. Please find below a few hints that will help make your nights calmer than those of Goizueta.
Competition? That’s excellent!
Although you may find it hard to believe, competition is something positive, because it urges you to act, motivates search for innovative solutions, helps build a well-knit team. Its presence may also expand the market, with benefits for you. For example, people who saw adverts of another school encouraging them to learn languages, may start checking the options available in the market and eventually come to you.
Certainly presence of competition is not roses all the way. Sometimes you compete for the same customers, and infrequently for the same employees (good language teachers are at a premium). So how not to let yourself be pushed out of the market?
Know your rivals
The first step is to determine who your rivals are. Remember that your rivals can be not just other language schools, but also universities, private tutors, companies offering online courses. Try to learn how your rivals operate. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How do they advertise? What opinions about them are posted by their customers in the Internet?
Watch (your rivals) on the web
Internet is the main medium through which schools reach their potential customers. It is worthwhile checking how your rivals cope with that. To do that you can use such tools as DigSiteValue, owing to which you will learn – among others- how often their websites are visited, what their Page Rank is and how many external links lead to those websites. See also how high the websites of your rivals are displayed in search results for keywords of relevance for you.
A new rival in the market? Don’t panic
Try to face emergence of a new rival with calm. Do not make any sudden moves, such as price reductions, a misguided marketing campaign or backbiting your rivals. Remember that those who act in stress and haste may pay twice over. Think how you can strengthen your market position.
Compete with quality instead of price
Reducing excessively the price of your courses you will spoil the market and put yourself in a difficult situation (it is not easy to raise a price once it is reduced). It is also not certain if you can win many new customers doing so. People believe they have to pay for good quality – and quality is what matters for them most. Customers usually choose the offer they find most valuable.
In a long run it is better to rely on competing with quality instead of price. This concerns not only the quality of courses but also customer service or conditions of learning experience. Also take care of good relations with your employees and remunerate them adequately.
Look for alternative revenues
Instead of fighting for the same customers, you can expand or narrow down your field of operations to reach new people (we recommend our article about how to find a niche for yourself). It is also a good idea to ask yourself the question of what other opportunities to generate profits are available in your area of operations. As an example, perhaps it is also worthwhile adding translations into you lines of business, starting to run a blog about language teaching and make money on advertisements, start on-line courses or start the business of letting rooms? Owing to such diversification of the lines of activities, you will be much less dependent on competition.
Remember – don’t let watching every step of your rivals dominate your actions. Instead of agonising over constant thoughts about your rivals, be persistent in search for your own way, develop and build your position in the market.
How do you sleep at night?