One Step Ahead: A Guide to Evaluating and Outmaneuvering Your Competition

Competition is a key part of human nature. From organized sports to international politics, for better and for worse, we see competition all around us every day, and we find ourselves competing in countless ways throughout our personal and professional lives. The word ‘competition’ stems from the Latin ’competitionem,’ which literally means ‘rivalry.’

It’s a word that has taken on negative connotations for some, in the sense that it is sometimes seen as a never-ending drive to gain the upper hand on others, at their expense. But competition doesn’t have to be cruel. In fact, it can be quite beneficial to everyone involved.

Imagine, if you will, that the same team won the Super Bowl every year for fifty years straight. Eventually, the NFL would lose viewership because the drama, stakes, and excitement would be sucked out of the sport entirely. The outcome of the season would be a foregone conclusion, and the league would be heavily criticized for a lack of competitiveness among its teams.

As another example, imagine that you walked into a grocery store and went to the cereal aisle and the only product on offer was a single brand of cereal simply called ‘cereal.’ No varieties, no other flavors, no other brands. Just ‘cereal.’ It is likely that at some point you would tire of this breakfast uniformity and seek out a different kind of breakfast food to mix things up a bit.

To get even more specific and relevant to today’s subject, imagine that every retail store in a particular segment was owned by the same company and had no competitors. Is it all that difficult to imagine such a store’s offerings stagnating over time and becoming familiar to the point of contempt?

The Fruit of Competition

All of these examples point to perhaps the greatest benefit of competition: innovation. The sustained success of one sports team forces its competitors to go back to the drawing board, to find better players, to improve their coaching and strategy, and to pour more money into their team. New and improved brands of cereal force cereal companies to come up with new flavors or more effectively market and distinguish existing ones via unique branding. And retail competition keeps retailers on their toes and focused on their customers’ desires. Given that we are all customers of some kind at some point, this can only be a benefit.

Whatever we might say out loud, deep down most of us understand, believe in, and support healthy competition. You can be sure that your competitors believe it. Your competitors are always looking for ways to gain an advantage, and you should be, too. It is fundamentally critical to the success of your business that you compete and distinguish what you have to offer from the offerings of your competitors in a way your customers and potential customers won’t soon forget.

One critical method of differentiating yourself from the competition is through a robust consumer finance program bolstered by a solution that streamlines the consumer finance process. Building a strong consumer finance program can help you outmaneuver your retail competitors to gain an upper hand and build stronger customer relationships in the process. Here are three reasons why.

Consumer Finance Helps Build Stronger Customer Relationships

The basic retail purchase is a pretty simple equation: the retailer sells something and the customer buys. Consumer financing adds another layer to that equation and deepens the relationship between consumer and retailer. By giving your customers added purchasing flexibility, you are empowering them to make a purchase at your retail establishment – and creating a foundation for a lasting customer relationship in the process.

Offering financing as an option to your customer – something you should train your sales team to do for every customer, every time – tells the customer that you care about their needs and that you want to give them the means to complete their purchase. It is, in essence, a way of going above and beyond to serve the customer, and it’s something that will immediately set you apart from the competition if they don’t have a similar offering or don’t emphasize it to their customers in quite the same way.

Consumer Finance Closes Deals

Beyond building customer loyalty, an effective consumer finance program helps you close more deals and boosts your revenue in a big way. If there is even one customer a month who would make a purchase at your store if convenient financing were available, and you don’t offer it, that’s money down the drain. In truth, however, the number is probably much higher.

Offering financing to your customers provides them with a bridge; a way of crossing from the decision phase to the purchasing phase with more confidence and flexibility. Given the relative economic instability and uncertainty of the past few years, that bridge is very welcome at the moment and will prove to be an important tool in your sales arsenal.

Effective Consumer Finance Sets Your Business Apart

There’s a big difference between a basic consumer finance program and a strong one, and it starts with the ways in which you enhance it and upgrade it from your basic, run-of-the-mill program. The best and easiest way to do that is by taking advantage of managed or self-managed services from FormPiper, your go-to complete consumer finance automation solution. FormPiper takes the laborious aspects of the consumer finance process and simplifies them, making it easy to transmit customer application data to multiple forms with a press of a button, and providing robust reporting via a single, convenient dashboard.

FormPiper tailors its consumer finance solutions to meet your needs, instead of trying to implement a one-size-fits-all solution that might not actually meet your retail business’s needs. It is, to put it simply, your ace in the hole when it comes to getting a leg up on your competition.

With a strong consumer finance program supported by FormPiper, you’ll build customer relationships that last and close more deals, to be sure. But more than that, you’ll separate yourself from the competition in an immediately recognizable way. And in a world driven by competition, that is a wonderful thing indeed.

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