Is Stealing Your Competitors Business Ever Ok?

Business By superdobbers Updated 18 Mar 2010 , 2:29am by all4cake

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superdobbers Posted 16 Mar 2010 , 2:21pm
post #1 of 15

Is it ever OK to specifically go after your competitors clients? Whether they have icon_surprised.gif or haven't booked with them yet. The post on here about the badmouthing competitor made me think. The OP of that post obviously didn't "steal" their client, the client walked, but it raised a thought about what is fair play when you DO know they are a client of someone elses.

I'll start with confessing that I've been tempted once. I was stood in the queue at my local sandwich shop (who also sell celebration cakes). Their cakes are not made on site and are essentially grocery store cakes because they "send off" for them from a set book of designs. I am the only other baker in the village but I'm home based (UK) and I haven't been sucessfull in really raising awareness that I even exist, and cant get the visibility that his storefront has.

A lady infront of me wants to order a small plain chocolate cake for her daughters birthday...the convo went something like this...
Cake man (CM): "Would you like any design on that?"
Lady: "Erm, if you could just put some chocolate buttons round the side of it that'd be good thanks."
(Wow, she's easily pleased)
CM: Ahh we cant do that Im afraid. We dont do chocolate buttons
Lady: Oh. Oh ok, perhaps some balloons, like on that cake (points to a dusty faded dummy cake on the shelf
CM: Theyll only do that in vanilla
(OMG Really?! Are you serious? icon_surprised.gif )
CM: Does your daughter like anything in particular, any hobbies/interests?
Lady: Well, she does like cats
CM: Lovely, we can put a picture of Garfield on it
Lady: Hmmph, well ok..

I was literally biting onto my lip!! I wanted to shout the lady should have what she wants!!! and for £40 (~$60)! She ordered and walked out of the shop looking a bit bemused and it took all of my strength not to run after her, hand her a card and tell her that Ill make her a life-sized cat out of chocolate buttons if thats what she really wanted!! But I didnt, I stood in the queue and got my sandwich like a good girl.

14 replies
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CWIL Posted 16 Mar 2010 , 2:29pm
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I think in that instance you could have quietly talked to the lady outside and told her what you could offer. She could then make up her mind from there. This shop wasn't offering what she really wanted, so to me it's not really "stealing" business. You offer what she wanted, she didn't know about you, so once she knew about you, she could decide for herself to pay for what she didn't want or be able to get what she did want!

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grama_j Posted 16 Mar 2010 , 2:30pm
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This sounds more like a sideline for the "SANDWICH" company.... I think I would have told her "If you ever want or need a HOMEMADE cake, I could help you"....... and hand her a card.....

I've done that at WalMart.........

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Stitches Posted 16 Mar 2010 , 2:30pm
post #4 of 15

Is it wrong to be a capitalist society? I don't think so. Just decide what you believe in and live by it.

I believe in trying hard not to ever harm anyone. There are many twists in which hurting one person could help another and be justified. You aren't god. Live by what you think is right, regardless of money.

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minicuppie Posted 16 Mar 2010 , 2:31pm
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Every Sunday the hubs goes three blocks over, buys donuts (they do not sell apple danish,my fave) and a newspaper and brings them home. The donut shop does not own him or his business. If another donut shop opens 4 blocks away and has apple danish, he will drive the extra block and shop there. Does that answer your question?

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KHalstead Posted 16 Mar 2010 , 2:33pm
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I would have said "you know, I couldn't help but overhear your conversation and I know of a LOVELY lady that does cakes (then wink at her lol) and hand her your business card!"

This way when she realizes you were talking about YOU, she'll understand the wink...but it doesn't make you seem as if you're gloating over yourself AND you're helping her to get the cake she really desires!

As for stealing other's customers........people will go where they want to go......if you deliberately bad mouth the other bakers in order to get them to sign with you, then that's wrong IMO, but if you just offer a better product, better price,or are just more cordial during your meeting andthat results in them cancellingtheir order with another baker........well, that's just business IMO.

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deah Posted 16 Mar 2010 , 2:42pm
post #7 of 15

I couldn't have said it better KHalstead.

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MelissaAnn84 Posted 16 Mar 2010 , 4:47pm
post #8 of 15

I think if you have a superior product, or can offer what the client really wants, and their regular baker/vendor can't, then that's fine. It's what competition is all about.

As long as you are not maliciously (spelling!?) bad mouthing others to get their clients, or sabotaging them in any way then its not really stealing. People can make their own decisions, and if you have more to offer than of course they will come to you, and you shouldnt feel guilty about it.

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Mrs-A Posted 16 Mar 2010 , 9:42pm
post #9 of 15

not cakes but ive been in line while another person is looking at a product that the company i work for manufactures/sells and comparing it with competitor B product right next to it. i KNOW our product is superior, ive read all the scientific data and independant studies and even for a higher price, our product performs better for the consumer needs - so yeah, ive stood there and said "seriously, product A is a better buy, $ extra you will get better performance"... etc and the person bought the better brand

now i didnt say that i was a employee of product A so maybe that was wrong of me but i also know that product B was substandard so i did it guilt free.

ive also had to do that as part of my job (managements idea of getting the office workers out among the public on a weekend) and it works in an official compacity too - people really want someone with the persona of knowing the facts to give them better and more knowledgable assistance - as long as you dont rubbish the competitor with BS, lies or rumor its ok is my thoughts

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RobzC8kz Posted 17 Mar 2010 , 7:59am
post #10 of 15

I've been in sales for most of my adult life. The rules in sales is that ARE no rules!

We are a free market capitalist economy where the best person for the job should get the job and should get paid whatever the market will bear.

I just started working for a new bakery as the cake artist. There are two local bakeries that are our direct competition. One of the bakeries is also a supply store, and I am very good friends with the folks who work there! On occasion, I've been sent some of the their over-flow business. But, the owner stopped referring people to me because once they came to me, they never went back to the other bakery!! But is that my fault?? Of course not.

Now, the OTHER bakery has been around for a while, but she's got a bad reputation for the quality of her cakes. She primarily does wedding cakes, and everyone I've ever talked to said that her cakes taste horrible! So...I guess it's a good thing that she does wedding cakes...because REPEAT business is obviously not her concern. I've even found out that she uses pre-made, bought elsewhere, cakes for her wedding cake tastings, and then uses some OTHER product for the actual events! So a little bait and switch going on there.

So anyway, when we opened, the owner of that bakery actually came in to our shop. I recognized her right away because I've seen her at the supply store countless times. She's the kind of person who is loud, pushy, and will actually try to steal a customer RIGHT OUT OF THE STORE if she hears the owners talking to a customer about a cake!! I've never done that. I've offered suggestions for ideas to their clients, but I've never tried to steal one! So she comes into our shop and starts grunting and groaning and announces to everyone in the front, "I'm here from ____! Just checking out our 'Competition!'" And she made a few other rude remarks and left. All without even trying any of the pastries that we have. The owner of our bakery introduced me as their cake artist and she just said something like, "Uh-huh...sure."

There is a Bridal store in our center and we went in there to talk to the shop owner about referrals since we're two doors down and the other bakery is like 5 miles away. That owner too gave us attitude and was like, "NO. I ONLY refer MY customers to ____." So we were like, about you send us the overflow just to try us out? And again she was like, "NO. Absolutely NOT." Just being a hag for no reason.

So here's our plan. 1.) we have a huge full color advertisement in a sign box that shows some of my cakes...especially the wedding cakes. That sign box just so happens to be RIGHT OUTSIDE THE BRIDAL STORE'S front door!!! Ooops! Sorry!! and 2.) it is my personal mission to steal every single customer from that OTHER bakery!

And the only reason why I'm so fixated is because she was so rude to us in front of our new customers! Unprofessional bakers who use other people's cakes to lure brides into a contract, THEN switches the product with some tasteless mess of a cake, in my opinion, deserves what's coming to her!!

But would I ever step foot inside her bakery and try to do to HER what she had no problem doing to US? No freakin' way. Never in a million years.

But, since she did do what she did, it's going to make that victory even more sweet when it comes!!

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JenniferAtwood Posted 17 Mar 2010 , 12:21pm
post #11 of 15

I think that it depends on the situation. If for example in the sandwich shop they didn't offer what she was looking for then I think you could have stopped her outside and that would be fine. On the other hand if the sandwich shop did have what she wanted, that would not have been appropriate.

We had a decorator (that did only showcase cakes and simple flower cakes) when she left after deciding to be a stay at home mom, she decided to send personal hand written notes to our customers telling them she is the one who did their cake (sculpted, wedding) which she didn't and that she had opened her own shop at her home. And told them they should start comming to them. *Later we found out that before she left she copied names and addresses of our good customers* We found this all out because several of the customers called us to tell us about the notes. This in my book is NOT ok. She didn't stay in business for long.

All I can say is I try to treat others as I would want to be treated.

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rosiecast Posted 17 Mar 2010 , 6:34pm
post #12 of 15

Wow Jennifer, that was just all kinds of wrong. But Karma bit her butt off!!

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kellertur Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 1:59am
post #13 of 15

I think it's wrong if you have a "feeling" it might be wrong. icon_wink.gif That's usually intuition telling us something. I don't go after my competitors business, we refer to one another...and it works out GREAT. Except for one sneaky (unlicensed) local baker who feels the need to "trash talk" others. Life's too short to worry about people like that though... icon_rolleyes.gif

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giggysmack Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 2:11am
post #14 of 15

I would have talked to her outside

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all4cake Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 2:29am
post #15 of 15

Dang! Politicians badmouth each other to get votes...(I ain't sayin' that that's right...just sayin' is all)...It would be nice if everyone just put it out there and let the buyers/voters/whatever decide what they like best (and it ain't just politicians that do it either).

Maybe hand her your card and say something like, "Next time you'd like to order a special cake, give me a call." If you have a website, you could add, "You can view my work online at this address (while pointing to the address on the card)."

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