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Being bad mouthed by competitors1/24/16
I am thinking that a few of my competitors are spreading lies to potential customers regarding my company. On several occasions when following up with a quote we have been meet with hostility and a very rude we are going with someone else. A few have elaborated that they have been told various nasty things about our company that border on the absurd. The most recent being that we have 100’s of complaints with the BBB when in reality we have an A+ rating. It always seems to be the customers that shop the job. I have searched the web for anything negative and have not been able to find anything, so the only conclusion I come up is our competition is bad mouthing us. We do about 50 to 75 kitchens and get a lot of referral business. We have had a few wingnut customers, that happen to all of us I think, but I am sure they have not been able to spread their tainted stories to the extent we are experiencing.
So, is your competitor better than you, or are you not as good as your competitor?
That is like asking is the glass half empty or half full.
If you are doing 50-75 kitchens a year plus lots of referrals I wouldn't give it a second thought. Just move on, not a lot you can do about it even if you found out who was saying what.
That is why negative advertising is so effective in political campaigns.
The #1 rule to fighting black pr is to fill the vacuum.
When these guys are badmouthing your company they are creating a vacuum in the customer's mind. They are making many accusations without you answering any of them. (obviously nonsensical but that is how some people make associations).
So your job is to fill the vacuum with things like what you said about your A+ rating with BBB. And anything other facts you can fill the vacuum with. BTW only use facts.
I would send out a newsletter to all of your former customers. All factual positive news.
Your instinct towards not mudslinging is correct.
One of the advantages to working with a contractor is that you have a mutual motivation to keep the customer happy and in a positive attitude. When you work directly with the customer there is often an outside party who enjoys stirring up the dust.
But that is the lay of the land in the residential market. A good way to alleviate this problem is to stay connected with your former customers. A monthly mailer and or a newsletter helps with this.
Have you for any reason in any way done anything to be badmouthed. licenses, credentials etc. Now any one worth their salt will have business issues yes there are some who are perfect, I have rarely fell into that crowd.
I joined the AWI as a small cabinetmaker in the south where that is rare. this was to take a step up from this type of competition, when I went commercial I became QCP certified, the cost were not as bad as I thought and a serious look at the standards, testing and some procedures got us in. the real benefit was the pride my guys took in doing this, we studied all testing together.
Good smart people do due diligence, Been a long time since I was in residential but attrition always worked best. main reason We were badmouthed was jealousy and the fact that the main shop doing it was hiding a drug problem which eventually got the better of them.
When I ran into this head on, I remembered that I don't compete I build. if the communication from the client had hit a hard and unforeseeable change then it was best to say something kind and feel free to call should things chage for them. the client has become a victim of the bad mouther, do not get in that $hit hole With them.
Do the good work and the kings will find you. take a look at what you are building and access whether a step up is in order. Clean your shop make some needed changes, get the focus on you. I ultimately did not make a good Bar owner but I could get the crowd, Lines at the door. once in a while someone would ask how, simple do a good job. and when asked how I stood up to the competition (We were in A college bar district) I would simply say "Who?" never ever have I focused on what they were doing, If I do that I am defocused on my shop, my guys and ultimately Me.
some times you need to back up and let the guy who cheats trip, He will he is too focused on looking back at you to know where he is and what he is doing. Just do not do it with the clients, they ultimately are the real victim.
Good people will see it for what it is and tell others. keep your nose out of it. ask yourself this, if a client can be persuaded by an untruth to the point they take it personal, then is this a good client fit.
Take James' advice. He is as successful as he can be.
On thing I remembered.
sometimes in a new meeting I would tell the client that I have built a good (Hundreds) of local kitchen, and in doing so I have had (Two) really bad situations, don't be afraid to own the mistakes.
Once a guy sat across from me, Plans were done, contracts signed and his wife and the designer were off dreaming of hardware. he was thumping his pen and sliding his check book around . I left him alone for a few and when I came back he was still in this mode. I sat down looked straight at him and said Look if there is a problem do not write that check. he looked up like a ghost just slapped him.
Now I needed that job.
he asked "Why" I simply responded "look If you do not trust me do not hire me, I am about to go up into your house, your family and your life. I am going into and behind your doors, I am gonna see a lot of secrets, what pills you take, what magazines your Kid is reading and where he hides them, If you hire me and don't trust me you will only make my life miserable and I do not intend to do that to you.
He wrote the check, We built three kitchens, his, his brothers and then they gave a new one to Mom.
The facts are that there are people who are going to cause trouble no matter what you do. It has nothing to do with the quality of your work. More often than not they are lawyers and the people who prefer to hide behind them...
May very well be jealousy on the part of the bad mouther . Build and sell on your strengths not the competitors weakness .
You've had some very good advise here from several folk.
The one statement that hit me was this;
We have also taken our 'hits' as we built.
Please understand we no longer sell to the 'Street'. You have to when you start, but not when you've grown,
Once your Reputation is built, it really doesn't matter what someone else says.
There is a Major player in our Region that we have refused bids to for years due to a bad experience of how they do business.
We set our terms, the project went very well. We still refuse most of their projects.
Your reputation is yours!
Don't spend time on what you can't control.
I agree that mudslinging is not worth the effort...
That said, if someone told me I had 100's of complaints with the BBB, I'd pull out my phone and as I did, I said say something to the effect of "I am shocked to hear that as last I checked we had an A+ rating. Let's see what the BBB's ranking of my company actually says and whether or not you've been given some bad information. I buy things too, and I'd certainly be apprehensive of a company with 100's of BBB complaints so I can totally understand where you're coming from on that, but I'd be more apprehensive of someone who would say anything to unsuspecting customers by spreading false information to manipulate someone. We rely on a lot of referral business so whether or not you choose to use us I just want to be sure you are being treated right and have accurate information in making that decision."...
First thing I take care of in my first visit. Recent printout from BBB, Angies List rating, Yelp reviews, contractors license, insurance certs. Takes 2 minute and establishes credibility up front and makes competition look bad if they try to bad mouth you as well as sets the standard of what they should be looking for 8n a contractor
Anyone here would probably bad-mouth you. You would probably bad mouth anyone here too given the chance. Blue collar land= everyone sucks except me. No one is really that fancy when it comes to cabinets and integrity.
Hate to burst your bubble Mel, but at least once a month I send prospective clients to competitors who can do a better job on what they want than I can.
People who try to get ahead by bad mouthing others end up talking themselves out of an audience. Smart people know that. Those that have been in this game a long time don't behave that way.
I don't ever bad mouth. When they mwntion my competition, if they do good work, I tell them they do nice work this is what you can expect. If they are the slimey company, i invite them to do their research 9nline and see for themselves what their customers think of them. I also tell them what they can expect price and materials and design wise becquse I know who my competition is. Cant tell you how many times I have gotten a job and they tell me "We had xyz out, and it went just like you said it would, then we checked them out online and they have a bunch of bad reviews"