In a world where products and services do not need to be locally sourced and can be as far away as the other side of the world, you must make sure that every client interaction is of the highest quality. Therefore, having good employees is an essential foundation for having a good business. However, you can’t only rely on those employees to keep your business healthy. Most companies are now faced with increased pressures on their business, mostly from repeat business disappearing.

The internet, the professional services offered remotely and the efficiency gains in logistics have all contributed to the market for every company expanding, as well as the competitors in that same space. Clients might come to you first because you are local, but that doesn’t mean they will stay. As clients get savvier navigating around the internet and more comfortable with engaging in remote/off-site production chains, they will consider other options they would not have before. 9 out of 10 cases one of the primary decision drivers is cost, as most international competitors will offer the same product against cut-throat pricing. The reality is also that a commonly used excuse of ‘low quality’ work is slowly disappearing, as both labor and technique improve.

This means that for the incumbent, local businesses there needs to a unique selling point that offsets the price. In most cases, especially for mass production that can’t fit in a few small boxes, it will be delivery time. That being said, delivery companies have significantly increased efficiency, being able to deliver packages from one side of the world to the other in mere days.

The unique selling points local businesses have must, therefore, lie outside price and delivery. The key for local companies to make sure they stay relevant is making sure they go from supplier to a partner to the clients they work with. This means that the work they do for their clients stops being reactive. A proactive approach is needed where the business actively identifies opportunities and threats for their clients and engages in that conversation. The proposition a company offers its clients should no longer be something that can be emulated or copied by a competitor out of the area or even overseas. The proposition is unique to the relationship of the business with its client.

Being proactive means that a business goes out of its way to spend time and resources to dive deeper into their client’s company, market, and challenges. It means working with the client in workshops or sprints to identify and agree on these opportunities and challenges and come up with possible solutions. It means being able to employ new technology such as 3d printing and specialist short-run machinery such as paper and vinyl cutters (see vinylcuttingmachineguide.com for some advice) to perform rapid prototyping to bring solutions to life. At this stage you will no longer be just another supplier, you will indeed be an extension of your client. You might even find that this side of the business becomes more profitable, transforming the core definition of your business in turn. You might find yourself using those out-of-area and overseas businesses as you have changed your own.