Is Your Neighbor a Competitor? Here are 3 Reasons Not to Sweat It

[Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.]

[Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.]

Last week I spoke with a charming new massage therapist. She was just about to sign a lease for her first studio when it was discovered the space next door was also to be leased to a massage therapist. Her husband, bless him, was all for finding another spot and/or reading the landlord the riot act. The question was whether to continue in that space (which she liked) or to move on?

I say, if you like the place, stay where you are. You know as well as I that massage therapy practices are not like grocery stores or hamburger stands. As a rule, most people don’t haul into your parking lot on the spur of the moment expecting to find what they need. People who are looking for bodywork are more likely to find you through friends or through another trusted source. Another massage therapist in your community is a competitor, but she is not more of a competitor because she is your neighbor.

Here are three reasons why a competitor neighbor is an opportunity:

[1] Opportunity to Attract the Clients You Want

When you have similar businesses next to each other, potential clients need an obvious reason to choose one or the other. The easiest, most reasonable thing to do is to speak directly to your ideal clients. I know, I bring this up a lot. That’s because it works. Let’s say my massage therapist has suddenly retired to Bali. I have no idea who to go to now for my neck/upper back issues. I remember I’ve seen a couple therapists near my grocery store. I’ll check for a phone number as I drive by … Ah! There they are. One has a sign saying “Massage Therapy — $25 for first session.” The other has a sign reading “Massage Therapy — Specializing in Neck and Shoulder Work.” Who would you call first? Right. So, if you’ve been thinking about the possibility of maybe making a definitive statement, getting a competitor neighbor should kick you into gear.

Sidebar: The whole deep-discount-to-attract-clients thing doesn’t work in one’s favor in the long run. In addition to not generating the money needed for expenses (never mind making a living), what you get is a collection of clients who simply expect cheap rates for bodywork. You get a bunch of clients who don’t value your work and therefore, don’t value you. Don’t go down that road.

[2] Opportunity to Grow Stronger

If your neighbor is a good therapist and someone you feel you can trust, the two of you have the chance to strengthen each of your practices. Talk to your neighbor. What kind of clients does she like to work with? Would your neighbor be interested in doing some marketing with you? Teaching some classes? If you develop a business friendship, maybe you can help each other out with vacations and emergency clients. Maybe you can trade work on each other since you’re right next door. Maybe you trust her enough to send overflow clients to her. Perhaps she has training in a specific area that would benefit one or two of your clients. At the very least, you could pool your resources. You could share what you know about other local therapists worthy of recommendation. You could order together from supply companies and save on quantity discounts and on shipping.

[3] Opportunity to Show Your Professionalism

If your neighbor is not someone you can work with, that’s okay, too. Businesses reflect the personalities of their owners and vice versa. I’ve found this is especially evident in massage therapy and bodywork practices. If you think, and if you plan carefully how you will present yourself to the public, you will look welcoming, confident, and competent. If you are next door to someone who is flapping and hollering and throwing deep discounts all around, your practice’s personality will be magnified. Really. Who is going to keep going to a loud, disordered person? Probably no one you want on your table anyway. It’s the whole “Go placidly amid the noise and haste” thing.

In Conclusion

Tell people who you are. Tell people what you can do. Show people what you can do. Keep your name out there. Talk to the people you want to have on your table/chair in their language. After that, keep in mind that with a reasonable amount of marketing forethought on your part, a similar practice next door to you will not hurt you… and it just may help.

[This article was adapted from a blog originally published on the Natural Touch Marketing blog site. We are posting it here for your benefit, and with permission.]