4 Reasons Why Copying Your Competitors Is Killing Your Business

Published on July 1, 2015

Dear Cleaning Business Owner,

There is a devil on your shoulder.

He's saying, "Go on. Do it. Nobody is going to notice if you copy them."

It's tempting to go this route, but we've got some big warnings for you:

Copying your Competitors will Kill your Business.

Whether you're starting your own business, or you’ve been growing your business for a long time, you've probably felt the temptation to copy your competitors. They seem to know what they’re doing, right?

Think again. Here are four reasons why copying your competitors will kill your business:

1. Your Profits Will Be Lower Than You Want

In the first years after starting your business, you will kill your profit margins if you try to offer all the services your competitors offer. You haven’t had the experience, and you don’t have the data. Yet.

But your competitors provide SO MANY services, how can you ever compete?

You do window washing? They do that, too. And move-out cleans, and rug scrubbing, AND –

STOP IT. If you really want to make money with your service business, your best bet is to focus on your core services.

As your business matures, you will grow a stronger team and find better systems. This is when you can start adding additional services.

2. You Will Spread Yourself Too Thin

That’s why you’re copying them, right? But what they do probably won’t work for you.

Let’s say you run a residential maid service. Your client asks you to do something extra, something you don't normally do:

“Can you fold all of my clothes, too?

You don’t want to lose their business, and really, how much time does it take to fold clothes?

That's the little devil on your shoulder talking.

No, it isn’t.

Instead of giving in to every one of your clients’ requests, you need to get back to what you are ready to do. If you were a cleaning company, and your clients asked you to mow their lawns, would you?

Doing all of those extra tasks for your clients might earn you more revenue, but it’s going to cost you more time and more money.

How do you say no to a client? “Mrs. Smith, I would love to power wash your sidewalks.  However, we are focusing on perfecting house cleaning before we offer power washing.  Thank you for thinking of us!”

3. Adding New Services is Harder Than You Think

Every service that you perform is like its own “mini-business.”

Let’s say you do landscaping and you primarily work with pruning, maintaining, and installing flowers and other plants. If you want to start doing stonework (laying down pavers, building retaining walls, etc.) you need to plan out that new service.

You have to:

  • train your crews
  • find a vendor for products
  • establish prices
  • set up operations
  • find a designer
  • adapt your marketing

There’s a ton of work that goes into perfecting every one of your services. You have no reason to rush around, trying to adapt your business to your clients’ wishes. Focus on what you are good at, and expand with a careful plan from there.

If you prepare for your new services correctly, instead of rushing them, they will make you real money. Don’t copy your competitions, just because they are your competition.

“Don’t focus on the competition, they’ll never give you money.” – Jeff Bezos

4. You will make yourself miserable

This one might be the most important. If you are scrambling to match your competitors’ services, you’re going to feel inadequate, you’re going to overwork yourself, and you’ll lose your drive for success.

Think about this: why did you get into your industry in the first place? Was it to be the same as all the others out there? Or was it to set up your own business and do things your way?

Look at your Profits and Losses - If your top three services are making you the majority of your profits, think about cutting everything else out. How much time would you save? How much money? Look at the Lifetime Value of clients to determine if the service even makes you any money.

If all of those extra services are causing you too many headaches, maybe it’s time to get back to the core of your business. Maybe it’s time to get back to doing what you love.

Related: 13 Smarter Ways to Market Your Cleaning Service

Stephen Zink

Stephen is a full-time graphic designer at Service Autopilot. He works on various marketing materials in both print and digital media. His passions outside of design include going fly fishing, playing video games and motorsports racing.


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