Today, there are more and more companies entering the marketplace, looking to gain the competitive edge against you.

Wow, that’s depressing. But it doesn’t have to be.

At my Totally Booked University sessions, one activity we engage in to be competitive is to analyze various carpet cleaning and restoration websites. We do some comparisons. We try to learn from what others are doing.

When we put one up on the screen, everyone’s eyes open wide. There is a good reason why I see this response each and every time. Think about it. How did we find those websites to look at? Through an Internet search. They are coming up because they are doing something right.

Isn’t that worth considering? Learning from what others are doing?

It’s how we learn the biggest and best lessons. It’s why we really pay attention to the horror stories others tell us. After all, if you are sitting amongst your peers and someone says, “You know, one time I was cleaning up after this lady died and here is what happened…” you know you perk up, listen and learn from someone else’s experience. You don’t want to make the same mistake. You listen carefully… you apply what you hear… and maybe you don’t make a mistake when you face a similar situation.

What are some of the activities your competition (the successful companies) is doing that you can imitate?

Here are three…

First impressions

It may not be fair, but you only have a few minutes to make or break how a customer will view your company.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you were looking out the window of your home, and your company sent a truck to do the job, what do your technicians do upon arrival? Is the truck clean? Do they pull up and promptly walk up to the door and cheerfully greet the customer and put the customer at ease?

The very best cleaning and restoration companies realize the first couple of minutes on any job are crucial to growing the business.

Modern marketing

Yes, the proven, most effective way to land the best customers is through referrals, but you can’t rely on that marketing method alone.

Successful companies utilize modern marketing, which means social media and the Internet, to increase their reach into the local marketplace. You need to do that as well. Keep an eye on what companies coming up on the first page of search engines are doing. What is their social media activity?

The best employees

They are your frontline soldiers, the people who control how your customers view your company. If you don’t have the very best team, you won’t gain the competitive edge you desire.

I remember a few weeks ago, speaking to a technician working for a cleaning and restoration company, and the young man piped up and said, “I love my job! Everything I do for our customers is important.” I looked him in the eye to see if he was joking. He was serious.

Wow… nice attitude. Wouldn’t you like to have a team of workers like that?

There are many more strategies you can implement, but if you need the competitive edge, these three will get you started in 2014.