Little Fish Unite!

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If there is a large boarding farm in your area that is dominating all the smaller operations and you feel a bit smothered and overwhelmed, here are some ideas of how to cooperate with your competitors to keep your customers happy and in your stalls.

You’ve heard the old axiom about being a big fish in a little pond, but sometimes if the little fish get together they can take on the big fish to protect their pond, yet remain independent.

It’s often good to be a big fish in a little pond. You get to control pretty much everything, and you can gobble up the smaller competitors if they get in your way, or you get hungry enough.

But when that’s happening in your little pond, often it isn’t good for your business, your small fish competitors, or the customers of that pond. That’s when it’s time for the little fish to unite!

You don’t have to lose your independence when cooperating with other little fish, you just need to figure out how that cooperation (legally and ethically) will work in order to compete with a big fish. I’m not talking about price fixing or anything underhanded.

What if your little pond (the area from which you draw customers) covers four towns in your region. You have overlap with four other stables in that region, not all of whom cover the same four towns. Then you have a giant fish that covers most of the region (and then some) and is trying to gobble up your customers in those four towns.

Are there ways for you and your four competitors to become “cooperative competitors”? Could you join together to put on a student show or an outside show? Could you take turns hosting clinics at your facilities and share the cost of the day? Could you take on some services or products for each other that are unique and that your customers want (maybe haul-in day for acupuncture at one farm, and a haul-in day for the veterinary dentist at another farm on another day)?

If you all provide pretty much the same boarding services, but you have a dressage trainer and no one else does, is there a way for your small fish competitors to promote your dressage trainer to their customers if you promote one of their services (say, a reining trainer)? Then you all have a broader selection for your customers to compete with the bigger stable.

Little fish can unite to compete successfully with the big fish in your pond.