Within friction, lies opportunity or demise. If products are products, which they mostly are, and service is service, which it mostly is, where is the next edge of competition? Friction holds the key to unlock your advantage. As it does for your competitors too.
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What is friction?
It’s resistance. It interrupts free flow and creates discomfort. It’s necessary in some cases, like tyres on the road to give grip. But too much resistance slows the car, not enough will see you spinning wheels and standing still.
A simple example
I workout at a gym that is 700m down the road from a competing gym. They are premium gyms, big, spacious and have top-end equipment. They have pools and tracks, trainers and studios. They offer towels and fruit and they have coffee-cafes too. They cost the same. They have parking and they have views with lots of natural light.
A new gym brand has come into town and is locating exactly equidistant from these two gyms. It is big, spacious and holds the promise of offering great service and equipment. The product is the product and the service is the service. But say the new gym offers boxing classes and they become popular. I’ll bet within a week; the two other gyms will do same. So where is the edge of competitive advantage?
Friction mostly lies in experiences – conscious and unconscious
To enter my current gym, I arrive at the parking, collect a ticket, walk up some stairs which land in the foyer. There, I must present a plastic card that is then swiped at the turnstile which unlocks and lets me through. After my workout, I have to validate my parking ticket, exit the turnstile, validate the ticket again and then exit the parking. It’s the standard operating procedure at my gym and the competing gym.
I do this mostly unconsciously until I don’t have my card, cannot find it, keep forgetting it or it malfunctions. It’s annoying and its offensive. After years of loyal membership, being scolded at the reception for not having a card again is unpleasant. Yet I tolerate it because it’s the standard operating procedure at my gym and the competing gym too.
Say the new gym adopts a different approach. For example, upon becoming a member, when you arrive at the parking, the camera recognises and identifies you. You park, enter the building and the path from there into the gym is unimpeded. Through facial recognition, correlating me to my membership, I have no need for a card, no need for a parking ticket and no need for any of the off awkwardness that I experience when I have neither of the cards for any number of reasons. Now, suddenly, through that experience, the former experience is not only annoying, but an issue. Why should I now tolerate it when a new operating procedure that makes me feel welcomed, easy and relaxed be possible. I only notice it when I have it but when I have it, I notice it angrily.
Friction is competition at the edge, and it stacks up to put you ahead
This is one example that this new gym could deploy to set a different standard. This mindset also translates into other areas where friction in the entire gym experience exists. By solving and removing friction from an additional 8 or 9 interactions, they stack up and through that amplify a fundamentally different experience. Subtle, small, silent in many ways, friction unseen in your business will harm it. Seen and addressed, it will stack up to set you apart.
We work with established business to build competitive advantages through understanding who your clients are, what problems they have and then curating experiences for them that sets you apart. It’s critical to survive and valuable in valuations and exits. It is the essence of a brand and that means a business that is beyond you, a saleable business that is!