Just when we had mastered running our own business and were starting to heave little sighs of relief, along comes a threat and takes the wind from our sails!
Have you noticed many empty shops in your home town? Is the shopping centre reasonably full and the town centre empty? Is the high street becoming a ghost town? It seems that more and more shops are closing on a daily basis. A beautiful boutique three doors away from the Cheese Mall has just closed down.
We were just saying to each other a couple of weeks ago on the occasion of our first business birthday that we really shouldn’t be complacent or take our business for granted. Little did we know that a new ‘threat’ in our SWOT was about to emerge in the shape of a new competitor.
We noticed ‘pop-up’ shops popping up before last Christmas and during a local festival during the summer. These tended to be craft or specialist shops and have always brought more footfall to the town as customers come along to see the new shops and seem happy to spend. Hence, we didn’t see them as a threat at all, they were a strength and an opportunity.
However, last week, a couple of pop up shops have opened just along from our store and one of them is going to be in direct competition to us – selling hampers for Christmas with many of them being food-related. That was fine but a considerable number of them contain speciality cheeses! I was so taken aback when I saw it I really didn’t know how to react. To make it worse, our Christmas wrapping and hampers for our wines and cheeses weren’t ready so when we did put them out 3 days later, it might have looked like we were copying the pop up shop! Many of our regular customers are going along to have a look as it is a new shop and we’re wondering if they are going to do some of their food Christmas shopping there.
I really started to panic but Matthew calmed me down pointing out our 5 P’s again such as the importance of People, ie our customer service and the fact that we have customer loyalty behind us. I argued with him about Price – should we be reducing our prices but as he stated, there was no point in getting in a price war. We are both selling quality cheeses and as our prices are fair, people know they are getting good value for money. For now, we just have to wish them well for the 6 weeks that they are there, hope that it doesn’t affect our sales too much and ensure that we are doing everything we can to keep our customers happy and coming back.
As Dad said, the fact that people can travel to our area and know that they can visit two shops that provide speciality food hampers amongst other foodstuffs might even encourage more shoppers. They may even be a complement to our business and become a strength or opportunity rather than a perceived threat.
Time will tell! I will keep you posted. Have you completed a SWOT analysis on your business lately? Did you come across any surprises?