The perception of businesses traditionally has been that a business competitor is the enemy, who is out to take away your market and profits. Is this myth or reality? Well, there are two sides to this claim. It is a myth that your competition is the enemy, but a reality that they are competing with you for the same market. However, that market is usually not a small segment of the population. In most cases, markets are so vast and complex that it requires many businesses to understand their business relationship and service them. Moreover, it gives your potential clients the right to make their choices!
In fact, the same people you are competing with can turn out to be your most valuable assets. By establishing business relationships with competitors, education and migration agencies can develop and expand their business network to function like a larger company or group.
Competition is always a good thing. It forces us to do our best. A monopoly renders people complacent and satisfied with mediocrity. – Nancy Pearcy
Here is a five-step guide to building and maintaining healthy business relationships with other agencies:
Step 1: Know and understand your competitors
Find out who your agency’s competitors are and the markets they service. It is also important to know about the kind of services they are providing. Compare your services with theirs and see where you could possibly collaborate and enhance your agency relationship.
These days, it is much easier to find this information, as most businesses have an online presence. Search for them in websites, social media pages, forums and online communities. They could also be available in online directories or yellow pages. Use this information to start building an in-house database.
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Step 2: Join professional networks and communities
A major part of business relationship management, joining professional networks and communities in your industry is essential. These networks will help grow your contacts and solidify your agency business partnership.
Find out which groups other agencies participate in and become an active member. Attend industry-related events and participate in committees on which agency members sit, to develop closer business relationships and personal ties.
Currently, LinkedIn is a solid online platform to nurture your professional network. Here, you can upload your agency profile, list out your services, share insights, and look for business opportunities. You can even post notes, articles and comments. Once people and agencies in your industry start taking notice of what you have to say or offer, they will join your network willingly.
Step 3: Maintain an open door policy to maintain business relationship
Be open to other consultancies and agents who ask for advice or wish to make new connections in the industry. If you can be of any help, please do not hesitate to offer. A simple “hello” or “how may I help you” can do the job and go a long way.
This openness is a great way of winning your competitor’s trust and maintaining a healthy competition. Give them an opportunity to know your staff and agency culture. By doing so, you are also obliging them to do the same or at least be open to working together towards bigger goals.
If potential clients contact your agency but you do not have the services they are looking for, you can refer them to another agency you trust in your network . This strategy will also help you get client referrals in the long run, while improves client experience as well. In return, other agencies in your network will also return this favor, in due time. Moreover, this kind of knowledge about other agencies and their services will help you establish meaningful strategic alliances as well.
Step 4: Propose strategic alliances to other agencies
Ideally, every business wants to provide all the services to their clients. However, is this possible? In fact, the education and migration industry is so vast and complex that most agencies can only specialize in certain kinds of services.
This is where strategic alliances can help you grow. If your agency’s services happen to be different from those of your competitors, you can propose an alliance to foster business relationship. Before doing so, research their services well and find ways to complement them.
Strategic alliances help pool resources together, so you can cater to bigger markets. Besides the financial benefits of doing so, such alliances can be a boon during times of crisis like industry slow-downs or natural and other disasters.
Step 5: Always maintain and encourage healthy competition
Healthy competition focuses on delivering quality services and continuously looking for ways to improve them, so that it is better than the competition. It is a positive way to grow your business.
Alternatively, unhealthy competition is negative and focuses on pointing out the flaws in the competing services. This sort of attitude ends up draining your energy and takes away your focus on growing the business.
Start by building a culture of healthy competition among your own agency staff. This will encourage them to work harder and smarter. Eventually, it will permeate into your business relationships with other agencies, especially when it comes to learning about their services.
Eventually, think of a business relationship as a personal one. Whether you are a sole agent or run an agency, the way you choose to represent yourself is a clear reflection of your business. So be honest, helpful, and professional in your approach, this will eventually build your agency’s reputation.