We’re passionate about helping local businesses like yours compete in a big way. So when I stumbled upon an article from Business Insider titled, “A handful of companies control almost everything we buy — and beer is the latest victim,” I got a little defensive. First of all…beer?! Say it ain’t so! But more importantly, if the big conglomerates are running the entire game, is there any hope for the underdog?
Don’t go selling off your shares of these top companies in an act of revenge just yet. According to the article, 10 – yes only 10 – companies control most of the well-known consumer food and beverage brands. Nestlé, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg's, Mars, Associated British Foods, and Mondelez each make billions of dollars in revenue each year. But keep in mind, that’s with thousands of employees and mind-blowing manufacturing and distribution infrastructures.
At Thryv, we recently wrote on how local businesses can compete effectively with online beasts like Amazon.com. Let’s broaden our scope a bit.
Here are a few more ways the savviest local businesses use their size and agility to beat the big brand names.
Large corporations have an advantage when it comes to resources, both financially and with the number of employees they have on hand to help. But with a lot of employees and levels of command comes a political environment that’s much more difficult to navigate. For large corporations, this more strenuous hierarchy and bureaucracy can often mean longer turnaround times as they are forced to comply with time-consuming processes and endless checks and balances. Translation: They’ve got way too many cooks in the kitchen.
How to take advantage: Focus on speed of service. Empower every team member to make decisions on the spot that impact the customer experience for each individual you serve. Set time cap goals on a fair amount of time you think each customer should see a response within, and try to stick to them!
According to Customer Service Manager, 6 of the top 10 customer service complaints have to do with how difficult it is to get in touch with companies when customers need help.
Common accessibility issues customers complain about:
- Offshore call centers
- Automated telephone systems
- Being passed from person to person
- Getting stuck in a queue
- Impersonal staff
- Inaccessible or expensive support
What each of these complaints has in common is that they aren’t typical issues for small businesses. They’re problems caused by how big businesses structure their service teams to support larger customer bases. For the most part, these large companies haven’t figured out how to handle an ever-increasing number of customer complaints or issues, something you can do much more easily as a local business owner.
How to take advantage: Communicate often, and respond quickly to inquiries and complaints. Sometimes the happiest customers are those who feel they’re getting the attention they deserve – something the big guys just can’t make happen like you can.
Be Flexible and Unafraid of Change
Large corporations spend years and millions of dollars in resources on extensive research and development, manufacturing and production, and go-to-market strategies for their products and services. Because of this, it takes a long time to implement new products and to make any necessary adjustments to shifts in the market or customer feedback.
How to take advantage: You most likely don’t have the same level of eagle-eye oversight from shareholders or a board of directors. So listen to customers closely on what they like and dislike about your business, and make decisions based on what you hear. If something’s not working, fix it fast. Luckily for you, there’s no need to run any of your most important decisions up the corporate ladder before implementing change.
Hang on Tight to Your Passion
Where big business executives are rewarded with bonuses and promotions, you’re rewarded by doing what you love every single day. How cool is that?
How to take advantage: Let that passion shine through! Prospects and customers notice special touches you incorporate into your business, like the time and effort you take to cater to special requests or personalized notes on invoices. Going the extra mile whenever you can will create repeat business and referrals.
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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.