How to handle an aggressive competitor

Unfortunately, with one of my current businesses – since it’s launch into the market place, we’ve been on the receiving end of every possible dirty tactic from one of our competitors. I wanted to share some tips on the experience, incase you too, are ever on the end of one of your competitors desires to do business unethically.

Now this can rear its head in many ways. For my business, it has generally been a competitor telling our customers that we have gone broke, or that they have purchased our business and to just call them directly now, as well as poaching and threatening staff, aggressive undercutting, and much more.

You may have experienced it in other ways, but regardless of the actual methods of your competitor doing bad business, here are some tips to handle it.

1. Don’t Interact

If you have a competitor sending you nasty emails, calling and hanging up, writing inflammatory things on your company Facebook page, trying to poach staff (yes, we’ve been on the end of all of these too); the very first rule is that you do not engage. Make sure you keep records of everything that is going on, but don’t engage.

Don’t bite back, don’t get in an email war, and don’t reply to their social media comments. If you take the moral high ground, they will often stop. The exception to this rule, is clarifying what is true and what is false if rumours or lies have been told to your customers. Even when doing this, purely clarify fact from fiction, and leave it at that. There’s no need to do the same back to your competitor. This leads us to point two…

2. Don’t stoop to their Level

If they don’t stop, the next rule is don’t do as they do. Do not go around copying their moves and trying to do the same to them. Whilst you might believe in an eye for an eye, it is not the right way here. Things will only deteriorate further; it will be a downward spiral of attacking one another.

There is absolutely nothing to be gained from this, other than becoming as bad as the other party. It also negates your ability to successfully enact step three if the need for that arises…

3. Seek Legal Advice

If things get too bad, and it really needs to stop, call in the infantry. If you’ve not interacted, not stooped to their level, but it doesn’t stop – call a Lawyer. A strongly worded letter can do wonders. This sort of behavior is against so many laws there’s no shortage of what you can go after them for. The ideal scenario here is you send a letter and it stops. If it doesn’t, you may need to pursue further action. That might be a defamation case, it might be a harassment case, or a number of others.

In some cases, if a very large company is doing this to you as a smaller business, there is a government body you can notify that will investigate, and has the authority to fine the company or jail directors. In Australia this is the ACCC (Australian Consumer and Competition Commission).

We are not a law firm, and don’t know your exact circumstances, so as per the third step, you may need to speak to a lawyer if these tips don’t help.

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