Imagine you’re a consumer who’s shopping for a product or service that you know very little about, and that costs a fair amount of money. If you’re like most people, you’ll consider more than one company. And why wouldn’t you? It’s so easy to shop for companies today! In just minutes, with the click of a mouse, you can check out multiple companies.

This means that many days, consumers aren’t just calling and finding your company, they’re considering you versus your competitors. How do you stack up? If you’re like many owners, you’ve probably never even thought about it. But you can find out, and it’s surprisingly easy!

The first, easiest thing you can do is read and rate your competitors’ yellow pages ads, websites and other internet activity.

The next step is to research your competitors’ CSRs. Begin by making a list of questions to ask and things to look for (e.g., friendliness). Include some of the challenging questions you get, like “Can you give me the price over the phone?” Now find a few friends and family members to call your primary competitors. Ask your volunteers to call each company a few times, because one call may not reveal the way they typically answer their phones. Once the calls have been made, compile a report that will tell you the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors’ CSRs.

The next step is ask your volunteers to order service calls. There are two reasons for this. One, you’ll now be on your competitors’ current customer lists, which means you’ll receive all the postcards, newsletters, emails and so on they send to customers. Second, you’ll know the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors’ technicians.

It’s important to go through these steps at least twice a year. Even though you know about your competitors from a contractor’s perspective, it’s important to know how your competitors appear to consumers. That’s good marketing.