Operations

Publisher's Page: It’s Impossible to Measure Excellence Without Competition

Sara Eastwood-McLean
Posted on January 1, 1998

Everyone gets bored with the same team winning all the time, even a diehard fan.  No one likes to see only one company reap the benefits of success.  When I first started at Bobit Publishing in the summer of 1991, I found this to be all too true.

LCT was going through a tough time.  For almost a decade we’d been the only game in town.  Our customers were struggling to survive the downturn in the economy.  Some didn’t survive.  Many fed up limousine operators had to call it quits.  To make matters worse, the Gulf war broke out in 1991, just two weeks before our national convention in New Orleans!  There was a feeling of discontent and some of that was aimed at us.  This will happen when things don’t go right.  We all fell on hard times.  However, since LCT had no competition, some believed that we couldn’t understand their pain.

At this time, a fledgling limousine magazine based on the East Coast was attempting to gain prominence.  The new competition was seen as a real positive to those who felt LCT should have to sweat a little.  No longer would the industry be confined to one publication.

Admittedly, we were caught somewhat off guard because we’d never had a competitor.  It seemed that, even though we’d always do our best, people still resented that there was no other option for them.  When some people went out of their way to support our competition, we knew we had to address our image problem.

In the spring of 1994, Ty Bobit and I closely evaluated this situation.  We started by looking at our internal organization and reassessing everything!  We made staff changes, including hiring a new executive editor, Mark Becker, a new assistant sales manager, Mimi Williams, a new circulation manager, Richard Price, and, finally, Tom Mazza, our first-ever East Coast field editor.

Then, with a critical eye, we surveyed our product, appraised our customer relationships, and set out to reinvent ourselves.  Over the past three years, we’ve grown to appreciate competition and to understand its importance in the business world.  We can now measure our performance to gauge how well we’re doing.  Also, you now have a way to evaluate our product and compare it to others.

It is impossible to measure excellence with competition.  The best reward has come from watching the industry come full circle and reunite with us.  It hasn’t been easy winning back lost readers and advertisers, but thankfully, we have, and our friendships and business relationships are stronger than they’ve ever been.

As your company continues to mature, you will find that after you’ve survived the upward climb (which is where you’ll get the most support); you too will face the “top of the mountain” syndrome.  Try not to underestimate human nature.  Everyone roots for the underdog.  If you fear you’re losing the popularity contest to a new competitor.  I recommend you re-evaluate your customer relations, services, staff, and company philosophy.  You may need to “reinvent” yourself to rejuvenate your company.  A few curious clients may move on to a new company, but fear not.  If you work hard and give it your best, your business will survive any competition and those clients will ultimately come back to you.

On behalf of all of us at Limousine & Chauffeur Transportation, thank you for appreciating our efforts and supporting our publication for 15 years.  We wish you a very successful 1998.

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

Related Topics: staying competitive

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