HONESTY and integrity are values that most of us seek out and aspire to. It is therefore extremely disappointing when you find businesses that do not cherish these values and resort to underhand and dishonest measures to try and gain a competitive edge.
As the franchise owner of Musical Minis, a business that has been operating for nearly 21 years and which has been franchised for some 13 years, it is inevitable that I have encountered others whose business ethics I disagree with. We have built up a successful business by delivering to parents a programme that we devised, aimed at stimulating and improving cognitive development through music. Over the years competition has become more fierce but we have maintained our competitive position by having a distinct approach that thousands of parents and children have appreciated.
I genuinely do not mind competition but do find it galling and ethically wrong when individuals try to obtain through dishonest means information that is supposed to be for the benefit of prospective franchisees.I have noticed people who have been targeting Musical Minis for some time, even though they have gone under various names, as I have email addresses on record as they have previously:-
- contacted a number of my franchisees to enquire about parties claiming they live in their area.
- contacted me a few times for franchise information.
- contacted me to enquire about buying our music.
Imitation is always flattering but the lengths some individuals have gone to beggars belief. If they are prepared to act unethically to obtain information, their values may be questionable.
My message to anyone embarking upon an enterprise where they may be tempted to dishonestly attempt to gain information from the competition is this: -
Build a business in which you have sufficient self confidence that you do not need to copy the competition.
Unethical behaviour towards the competition leads to unethical behaviour in all aspects of your business dealings.
Gaining market share is about perseverance and honest marketing.
Success should not be sought at any price.
As a warning to others - be very careful; not everyone believes in honesty and integrity.
I would be interested to hear your views on business ethics and of any similar experiences you may have had.
Photo by Flickr thinkpublic