Let’s talk about competitive advantages — those essential selling points that differentiate your health and wellness business from everyone else and therefore enable greater revenues, profits, and/or client retention than your competitors.
Location is a classic competitive advantage:
I have quick access to two gyms from my house. One requires me to make a left turn across three lanes of traffic just north of a major super-busy interstate entrance. The other is on a quiet commercial street with light traffic, and I can get there off a right turn.
Of course, if WalMart opens right across the street — or the city decides to expand that quiet street — that location advantage will vanish, and there’s almost nothing the second gym can do about it.
So while something external like location can be a competitive advantage, the strongest competitive advantages are the ones you control directly.
Now, lots of fitness and wellness businesses trumpet their “convenience and value” as if these are their most compelling selling points.
But here’s the problem. Convenience is largely dependent on factors outside your control.
Other than operating hours, and perhaps the availability of online options, convenience has more to do with your client’s lifestyle than it does with your business decisions. It’s about where they work, where they live, where their kids go to school, which routes are busiest or go by their favorite grocery store, and so on.
So “convenience” is a very shaky competitive advantage. It really works only for wellness businesses that offer extended hours when no one else does. Or for businesses that offer substantial online services when no one else does. If you’re open on weekends — but everyone else is, too — that’s not a competitive advantage.
And telling potential clients that you’re a “great value” is usually problematic for a couple of reasons.
First, “value” is usually code for “cheapest.”
But offering the cheapest services also means that you better incur the lowest costs to provide those services — or you’re going to lose money.
And anyway, the truth is that most of you are offering a premium service. You’re not a discount wellness provider, nor do you want to be one.
Now, here’s a practical definition of value that’s very different from “cheap.”
We visited my in-laws a couple of weeks ago. They really appreciate great restaurant meals. They don’t mind paying a fair price for it, either. BUT: it better be a great value.
That means: great food, well-prepared, and really good, personal service, in a fun and upbeat atmosphere. Now, does it have to be a white-tablecloth operation? Nope, they can appreciate a good BBQ shack just like anyone else. But like most of us, they always want to feel that they really got good value for the money they spent, whether it was $10 or $100.
Now, how does a restaurant that provides great value let customers know that?
Should they explicitly brag on themselves and say “Leslie’s Lobster Bistro- Great Value!”?
No, no, no. When YOU, the business, say you offer “great value,” that instantly translates to “cheap.”
Let your CLIENTS say you offer great value when they chat with friends or post online reviews.
What YOU should do is to spell out exactly what you’re doing that’s so exceptional and unusual:
- 100% Supima cotton Oeko-Tex certified towels in locker rooms
- Complimentary icy cold spring water after classes
- Your wellness coach’s personal cell phone number for your 24/7 use
And let customer testimonials and online reviews talk about what a great value your wellness business offers. We have several high-end clients that charge stratospheric prices. Their customers’ online reviews say “Expensive — but worth every penny if you can afford it.”
THAT’s what “great value” is.
The bottom line is that if all you can say about your wellness business is that it’s convenient and offers great value, then your next step is to decide which scenario you’re in:
- You’re really providing a remarkable service, and you actually have do unique competitive advantages, but you’re not doing a good job of identifying, describing and communicating them. That’s a very common problem and it’s one we help clients with every day.
- You actually don’t have much to offer that’s unique or different from your competitors. In that case, your best business strategy will be the first strategy we describe here.
Just remember: “convenient” and “great value” aren’t essential selling points. They’re what you fall back on when you don’t really have a handle on what — if anything — makes your wellness business special.