Interconnectivity and cooperation is more important than ever before in the AV industry. Although modern business is usually very competitive, many AV leaders have been quietly (and successfully) collaborating with their competitors to tackle some of the biggest and most complex projects in the industry. While this has been going on for years, the idea of collaboration with competitors has gained popularity over the last decade as we see more businesses adopting customer satisfaction–oriented strategies.
Why Work with the Other Guys?
Customer satisfaction is always important, but never more important than in today’s business climate. Collaborating with other service providers allows businesses more depth when it comes to capabilities overall, a greater chance to provide more value to customers, and perhaps even provides an opportunity to attract a broader range of clients.
AV industry leaders agree that collaborating with a competitor to fulfill a contract is better than losing that contract. If a company doesn’t normally handle the type of issues that the client wants to solve, it’s okay to ask for help. If the project falls outside the company’s comfort zone or capabilities, finding a way to satisfy the customer is what matters. Working with a competitor can also potentially lead to the discovery of new methods and techniques that your organization may not have investigated yet.
Collaboration is especially valuable when large companies partner with local businesses that have more intimate knowledge of the client and the area. Regardless of what types of companies band together to solve a client’s problems, they are able to handle bigger, more complicated projects with fewer snags together. Ultimately, collaborating with competitors can deliver a better value to the client and superior finished projects.
Approaching Collaboration Wisely
If a client’s demands exceed your company’s capabilities and you need to secure backup or a partner, it’s vital to only connect with competitors you respect and trust. Chances are you’re already keeping tabs on the competition regularly, but it’s essential that you ensure the competitor can operate at your level before agreeing to collaborate.
While customer satisfaction is the goal, it’s also important to protect your business’s best interests when you collaborate. You may need to let your competitor’s team handle your equipment and software, and your team may need to use theirs. Carefully lay out all the specifics of the arrangement in a transparent contract to make the terms of the collaboration crystal clear before you start the work. A contract dispute later, when the project is in full-swing, can create a roadblock— or even dissolve the partnership, leading to setbacks and unsatisfied customers.
It’s also important to have your legal counsel draw up the terms and conditions of the collaboration and develop mutually agreeable payment terms. When it comes to the equipment your teams will need, it’s important to sort out procurement, installation, commissioning, and warranties. Basically, if there is the potential that some factor may cause a dispute down the road, address it before starting. Make sure all parties involved know who is responsible for what – if a competitor’s team member damages your equipment, you don’t want to be left holding the bill.
Customer satisfaction should be the top priority for every modern business. Competition is simply too fierce to lose customers due to poor service, and word travels fast. A damaged reputation is extremely difficult to fix. It’s important to always try and stay one step ahead of your competitors, but it’s even more vital to never lose a customer or botch a project due to an unwillingness to work as a team.
When it comes to collaborating with competitors, what are your biggest concerns? Have you ever had a positive (or negative) experience working with a rival? We’d love to hear your story!Photo Credit: mintcandydigital Flickr via Compfight cc