Competition as part of your value chain
On selling ‘your default product’… regardless of the situation and customer needs.
True story: I work in a large office building that is shared by multiple companies. The owner of the building rents floors of the building including the services: Water, electricity, heat, working toilets, vending machines for food, coffee machines,… stuff like that. This also includes toilet paper being available at all time. Of course, this work is outsourced to a specialised company meaning that all toilet holders and the toilet paper they hold is from one firm who probably does not sell toilet paper by the roll, but sells something like: ‘99,9 % of working hours, your employees have toilet paper’.
Yesterday, something strange happened: All toilet dispensers (and also the towel, soap,… dispensers) where physically removed and replaced by others. Meaning in a lot of work (handyman coming in with drills and stuff), a lot of noise and dirt al over the place for – at the end of the day – having the same toilet paper (no, the rolls where not bigger, did not have a different colour, no fancy smell,…): plain old toilet paper.
Although I off course understand the importance of having your logo on the toilet dispensers as ‘service’ company and having easy access to the toilet paper,…, the end results is quite hilarious. No change (off course, probably at a lower cost for the building owner), no possibility of re-using the existing infrastructure and just replace… well… the toilet rolls.
Wouldn’t it be ‘innovative’ to just see your competitor as part of your supply chain? After all, it is more cost efficient for the both of you if you could ‘exchange’ the physical toilet dispensers if you trade a customer. Not to mention how much better it would be for the environment (less garbage, I’m not quite convinced that the old provider will come and pick up his old dispensers) and the customer (quicker transition period).