Build a Community of Competitors: Why and How to Add Rivals to Your List of Friends

by Beth Black

June 2015

When we opened our electric bike shop — Pedego Greater Long Beach (GLB) — the first thing we did was study the other bike shops in town. They seemed like our logical competition. Over time, however, we’ve realized we have a much larger set of rivals. And it's all good.

Competition isn't just about products, it’s about benefits to the consumer. Customers go where they can reap the most rewards, such as comfort, confidence, savings, services or reliability. We at Pedego Greater Long Beach are proud to offer several perks. Our guests can enjoy personalized rental rides -- whether on a date, with family, with friends or co-workers. For shoppers, we offer consummate bike service that includes pick-up, delivery and free loaner bikes. We even repair flats for free — now, that's confidence! And we make special events spectacular with custom guided tours. It all adds up to a ton of benefits.

This leads to a broader range of rivals. We compete for vacation dollars, romance dollars, wedding gift dollars, birthday gift dollars, corporate team building dollars, retirement dollars, fitness dollars and more. This is fine. We know that if others offer similar benefits, we're doing something right. And … it makes us all a community of competitors.

Think of the last time you visited a local shopping mall. One of the main benefits provided by a mall is proximity of sellers with similar products. You can hunt for jeans, enjoy a snack break, and then hunt for more. The stores count on their community to draw customers. From that, each retailer can then capture a particular market niche. So for many, this “mall effect” provides an effective marketing strategy.

To get started, simply BIKE toward success:

  • Be kind. Strategic partnerships are borne out of friendly acts of kindness. Show the new business owners in town where to find the best coffee and buy the first round.
  • Include them in. Is your local Lions Club a popular community activity? How about your local Chamber of Commerce? Invite potential partners to events as your guest and introduce them around.
  • Keep some boundaries. There's no need to promise to limit your product line. Neither you nor your competitors should have to make deals with the devil. But it's always a good idea to focus on your strengths, your niche, while others focus on theirs.
  • Engage your competitors in the local political scene — for the benefit of all. Our town is very welcoming to cyclists, but we're happy to know that two other bike shops in our community can add some clout when we push for more bike lanes and signal buttons.

Benefits for you!

When several shops in our center placed a group ad in the local newspaper, we appreciated the strategic partnerships and the savings that came from the joint effort. Try to BIKE regularly, and you’ll enjoy these marketing benefits too.