Never, never, never, ever disparage your competition

Eventually, the bad firms will fail, and great firms will thrive

"Man is not, by nature, deserving of all that he wants. When we think that we are automatically entitled to something that is when we start walking all over others to get it."  — Criss Jami (Diotima, Battery, Electric Personality)

I had a meeting with a client the other day. We were talking about cyber liability insurance. I was asking questions about their network security, and the client referred me to their technology provider.

I reached out to the technology provider and had a nice conversation. She told me what I needed to know about our mutual client’s network and then went on to trash most other local providers. I’ll not call on that provider as a possible client, they won’t ever get to experience our firm’s point of difference. They might be a good company, but a great company does not downgrade or speak ill of their competition.

I was meeting with my Indiana Peer Group the other day; it’s called SAM. SAM stands for Smart, Accomplished and Motivated. I think we might rename our group SAME with the E standing for ethical.

One of our members is another technology provider in east central Indiana. They were recently pulled into a situation where a local non-profit was hacked, their data was held hostage and they did not have the protection nor policies and procedures in place to avoid the “hack”. 

They provided some free consulting to help the nonprofit through their situation. They know the local provider that failed to protect their client. They know some very bad stuff about their competition. They are an aggressive firm, they are prospecting, talking to clients daily. Many times, our member firm talk to clients that indicate they are with their competition. They could easily say “you know that was the vendor for the local nonprofit that was hacked, but they refuse to bring that into the conversation.

They choose instead to provide a technology audit and simply show potential clients the gaps in their network protection. I gained a lot of respect from our technology member last week. He works as we do, never speak ill of your competition. Simply prove your value without downgrading your competition.

There are some very poor insurance firms in every market we compete. When we have our initial meeting and are told that they are insured with agency XYZ, we could easily say, “You know, that agent has had multiple Errors and Omissions claims,” or “You know, your agent filed bankruptcy” or “You know, your agent has had multiple complaints filed with the State Department of Insurance." But we don’t. We simply smile, and work with the client to show them the weaknesses in their program.

Karma is a bitch, and I need not trash my competition to outperform our competition. Over time, all bad firms are pushed out of their closet into the spotlight of their community. Word will soon spread about errors made, bad claims service or their poor financial management.

Instead of worrying about your competition, checking their LinkedIn page every few days to see what they are up to, why not focus on your own business? Look internally: How can you be the best firm you can be? It does not matter what your competition is doing; simply do it better.

I once had an employee that left to start his own agency. As we competed with my old friend, we uncovered some serious insurance fraud. We did not contact the authorities. We simply replaced his work with our firm’s program fixing the issues at hand and charging them market pricing. Our clients are more than happy to pay us more to fix their issues.

Recently, I learned he has gotten into some trouble. He is dodging a few insurance carriers to which he owed money, and was in some pretty deep trouble with the Indiana Department of Insurance. I don’t need to share this information, it’s public record. I choose to focus on my company, my team, our clients and making sure that our firm is operating as efficiently and ethically as possible.

Stop worrying about your competition. Focus instead on YOU, YOUR firm, and YOUR team, and do things the right way. Over time, this focus will allow you to compete with any sized firm in the world. I started buying my firm in 1996, my partner joined me in 2014, and we choose to focus on our firm, our efforts, our plans and not those of our competition.

We invest in our technology, we invest in the education of our team, and we invest in our relationships with our clients, vendors and communities. It is not necessary to trash our competition. Over time the bad firms will fail, good firms will be stable and great firms will grow into new markets, grow their team, and gain national recognition.

Think about your competition. There are some bad players in your market and I’m sure you have adequate proof to show anyone and everyone how damn bad they really are. But don’t fall prey to the trashing or speaking ill of your competition. I promise with time, these folks will fail, get purchased, and you will continue to thrive in your current and future markets.

Good luck my smart, accomplished, motivated, and ethical friends. We’re a pretty small group, seek out other like-minded businesses that hold these values. We’re out there, meeting behind closed doors, making ourselves better… without ever bashing our competition.


Categories: Management & Leadership, Web Exclusives