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Competition is good…. Really!

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Seriously, when it comes to competition, I really do still get the “burn” for competing, and of course, winning. I hate to lose as much now as I ever have in business. It’s not even just limited to business for me. In fact, I’ve taken a couple of very enjoyable sports and turned them into a version of hell for myself. Golf and Tennis are both supposed to be relaxing and sources of positive feelings, and even sometimes exercise.Take tennis for example. Having discovered tennis about 4 years ago, I thought that was it. Finally a sport that I love, but also – apparently I had a but of talent for as well. In fact, I had a very natural topspin Kick serve that many players only dreamed for. In addition, I could hit a nice 115 mph flat serve, and loved to hit a hard forehand. Well – of course, I started taking it all too seriously, and then came the racket throwing, swearing, fits of rage, and yelling at line calls. The fact I can even get a game still is a miracle. I wouldn’t want to play with a pain in the butt like me – so why would anyone else? The answer – because it’s easy to beat me! While I am throwing my racket, the opponent is usually lobbing in balls, or hitting drop shots and making me even more furious. “Why can’t you just play this game that you love sooooo much” is a question I ask myself soooo often. The thing is – tennis is like business. I don’t like just “not losing”… I like to hit home runs, or in tennis terms – I like to hit winners. I don’t simply sit back returning balls waiting for the other guy to miss. That’s boring to me. Instead, I like to hit the shot that makes people say “ooooh”… Unfortunately, unlike in business, my tennis game can be a little inconsistent, and therefore, more often than not – that oooooh is replaced by a big Oooops!Golf – no different. I can hit a 280 yard drive “almost” every time. Then – on a good day, I can play to an 82, 85 – never under 80 – and not normally over 90. Then – recently, the wheels fell off. You see, I decided “this sucks – I am stalled in the high 80s, and will never break 80 if I don’t smarten up”. So – I decided that I was now a golfer, and needed to improve my swing, get new clubs, etc, etc. The result – now I throw those new clubs, I swear a lot, and constantly complain about how unfair the course layout is, the slope of the greens, the depth of the lakes – whatever. See the pattern here? Once again, I’ve taken a normally enjoyable game, and made it into a source of frustration. Like in business, I really hate to not be the very best I can at golf. Now – I’ve taken my game to new lows where simply hitting a simple 130 yard approach shot is impossible. I am comfortably into the high 90s and sometimes even worse. How’s that feel? Not so great.Anyway, I digress. The purpose for this blog was not to discuss my lousy golf game, or anger management issues. In business, I have always respected my competitors, and tried to know whatever I could about them. I don’t dwell on competition because that gets me nowhere. Instead, I like to pay close attention to what they’re doing, pick up any ideas I can, and move on.Lately – because GearSource plays in the internet field, I’ve been host to a large number of wannabee competitors who decide “hey, I can build a site for $49.95 and along with my new bellsouth high speed connection, I will be rich”. Sure, the internet is really a land of opportunity. Its really what attracted me. The sheer numbers on the internet can be staggering. The ability to grow exponentially without adding expense and the ability to streamline are all very compelling reasons. However, I am the same in business as I am in tennis courts. Simply “not losing” is not an option. I believe that if you’re going to spend the time, money and effort to do something – you might as well do it right!One new competitor in the world of online used gear sales claims to have the Largest Advertising site in our industry. He says he’s the #1 classified ad spot, etc, etc. Well, I thought I had better take a look. I go to his site, and once I finally found my way through his crazy navigation, I realized he had fewer than 100 TOTAL product listings – yet he’s claiming to be the largest?So then – he takes these crazy (and untrue) claims on the road. Unfortunately, the print mag’s in our industry are hurtin’ enough to publish almost anything, so instantly I start seeing press releases basically saying nothing but “We think we’re the #1 classified ad site where you should REALLY sell all your used gear”. In fact, much like checking ref’s on a resume, I thought I’d check out one of the companies he claimed to be doing business with. The president of that company told me “Marcel, he called us – and tried to explain why we needed to be working with him. We took a look at the site, and can’t even figure out what the heck they do – NO we’re not working with him”. Point being, our industry trade magazines are jumping ALL over this guy, and printing any of the propaganda he’s been feeding them simply because he’s one of the few people left to fill their pages with ineffective print ads.I am not suggesting a company should not advertise!!! Don’t get me wrong. I’ve spent a fortune advertising with these same magazines and have done very well – but that’s brand building. In this case, it’s a newcomer spending an investor’s money (presumably) spreading BS about a company with virtually zero market share.Sure, I’ve got other competitors. In a perfect world, we’d be in the number 2 position, and would have maybe 1 or 2 good competitors biting at our heals. Why not #1 you ask? I think being first breeds complacency. It makes you lazy, and you start making bad moves. Look at the companies in the lighting industry as an example, and you’ll see some “Former #1’s” who have done everything they can to throw away their market share, piss off their customers, lose staff, etc. I’d love to be number 2 and wake up every day trying to figure out how to gain market share on #1. The fact is – we’re laying foundation in a market where there was none. Companies either hung onto gear until it was dead, or sold it to the local church or high school. There really weren’t good equipment disposal plans in place at any company, other than maybe BASH lighting, who in their day, really pioneered the used gear sales methods. Every day, we at GearSource are finding new markets for our vendors, and finding new vendors for our clients too. We’re definitely the largest current seller of used inventory and will likely remain in that position as long as I can keep my head out of my butt (a major effort on some days).Seriously – we really do take our clients and vendors quite seriously and have never taken our leading market share for granted. We have spent a fortune building our system, and will continue to. We’re the only company who does what we do that employs a full time Web Staff. We’re the only company with 7 full time sales people (4 in the US and 3 in Europe), we’re the only company to spend money and exhibit at the tradeshows, etc, etc. The point is – we take this market very seriously. It’s not a part time endeavor for us. This is truly our business, and we’re quite good at it. Some days – I feel like throwing my MAC in a lake – sure, but usually, I keep it together much better than on the course (or courts).

Author: Marcel Fairbairn

Our expert sales team, collectively, have over 50 years experience in the sound, lighting, production and music industry.

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