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Playing Well With Others: Rethinking Health and Wellness Competition

Competition only exists when both wellness businesses are chasing the same dollars — targeting identical customers, solving the same problems in identical ways.

No matter how wonderful your services are, your customers will always want stuff you don’t currently offer. You can’t be everything to everybody. If you don’t refer them to someone who can help or partner with another business to meet their needs, you lose the customer AND the dollars. That’s not beating the competition, that’s shooting yourself in the foot.

Don’t think competition. Think partnerships.

Planet Fitness, for example, is not competing with 24 Hour Fitness or Gold’s Gym or Curves or Orange Theory. Different target market. Different services.

A locally-developed healthy living program that targets yo-yo dieters is not competing with the Apex weight management program that a gym offers.

If customers see more value from your service when you incorporate another product or service, then you need to offer that product or service.

If you don’t have the in-house capability, that’s OK. This is a chance to bring in another business with complementary skills. You can leverage each other’s customers and both be better off.

Complementary businesses can coexist very well. For example, there’s a “fitness village” in one Texas community that has two gyms (targeting different customers) in the same block. The village also includes other wellness businesses focused on nutrition, mind/body, martial arts, and more.

It works because each retailer focuses on its specialty and customers like one-stop shopping. Far from competing, the presence of related businesses in a cluster actually attracts wellness-oriented consumers who like the convenience.

What to do

Identify your key business focus. Then, identify products and services which would make your business more valuable in your customers’ eyes. If those are tightly linked to your focus, offer those products and services yourself. Otherwise, network to other wellness businesses to offer those services.

The most important thing is to make your business valuable in the eyes of customers — how you do it is less important. Don’t be threatened by the need to reach out to other professionals or other wellness-related businesses.

Think broadly. What other products and services would be of interest to your clientele? For example, if customers are interested in healthy eating, you might consider any or all of the following: supplements, nutraceuticals and “phood”, cooking workshops, an organic produce buying circle, a program with a tie-in to a local gardening center.

By partnering with related businesses, you create far more opportunities for your customers to buy from you, and you get access to the customers of those related businesses as well.

In some cases, a financial arrangement between you and a related business may make sense — revenue-sharing, commissions, finder’s fees, etc. — but that’s not always essential or advisable.