Management in the Not for Profit Organization

Dedicated to Exploring the Philosophies and Techniques of Management in the Non-Profit Sector


...a new competitor come into town and immediately take over?


Why did the new competitor come into town?  And why are they doing so well?  Is it that their customers (who used to be your customers) are just enamored with trying something new?  Or did you alienate them somehow?  Was it something you said?


Are they that much better than you?  What exactly is their pricing structure?  Are they doing something that you didn’t know about, or something you knew about but decided not to try?


Will your customers come back to you after the newness wears off?  If your customers were dissatisfied with you, will they give you a second chance?


What do we do now?


Old barriers that protected markets and kept providers confined to arbitrary catchment areas have been falling for years.  In fact, it may have become an avalanche.  The need for cash flow and market share is now almost as big for non-profits as it is for any business.  Aggressive organizations are reaching across many lines to get them.


Be aware that if you are doing well, then somebody is going to want a piece of what you have.  There are people out there doing research on what you have and how you are doing it.  I know, I was one of those researchers for some time.  The watchword was SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats).


The best bet is to do the research yourself.  Do you have a cash cow?  If so, it may be an indication that you are overpriced on that product.  This could be a big invitation to competitors to enter your market.


Do you have your customers “over a barrel”?  Well, you won’t for long.  Customers can be very loyal, even protective of a vendor who has gone out of their way for them.  But they can be just as vindictive toward a provider who does things that demonstrate arrogance.  Customers who feel that they have been disrespected will virtually dive toward any new option.


How much money have you spent on research, development, and training lately?  Are you just meeting the minimum requirements of your licensing bodies?  If so, you are missing a great opportunity to be viewed as a vibrant and vital organization.  You might also be missing a product or technique that could make what you are doing obsolete.


Did you hook yourself to the coattails of a single political influence?  If so, what happens to you when that influence falls out of favor?


The list is long, but try to think like a competitor.  What are the weak spots in what you are doing?  What would invite a competitor to set up across the street from you?


Finally, realize that no matter what you do, you can not be assured of keeping all of the competition away.  But that’s ok.  You may find yourself sitting on the same side of the table with your competitors when you face legislators, licensing bureaus, and purchasers of services.  Non-profits have a tradition of joining together to help their field and their consumers, so having more players can mean having more influence.


Just stay on your toes.  If you don’t do it on your own, be assured that more competition will come along and force you to.