core competency

Term of the Week: Core Competency

Papa John’s corporate mission is to “create superior brand loyalty,” e.g., “raving fans,” through (a) authentic, superior-quality products, (b) legendary customer service, and (c) exceptional community service.” Nowhere in its vision statement appears the word “pizza,” because it hasn’t become successful on the strength of its main product. Read what corporate says are its core values: focus, accountability, superiority, attitude, and constant improvement.

In fact, Papa John’s has built its reputation on being family-friendly, community-minded, and mastering on-demand service. That is the company’s core competency, not as a place to get a dirt-cheap pizza.

When I’ve asked business owners in our industry to describe what their company is best known for, I’ve received answers such as “unmatched quality,” “one-of-a-kind creativity,” “attentive customer care,” and “dependable delivery.” You can argue that those four distinctions translate into likeability, trustworthiness, and delight in the eyes of the customer.

If you aren’t sure which of your value propositions is most appealing to your customer base, take time to conduct market research. For a relatively short period, attach a one-question survey to every packing slip or invoice and encourage your customers to respond to this question:

What was the most compelling reason you chose to do business with us today? (please select only one answer):

♦ Low price

♦ Superior quality

♦ The way you were received and treated before and when placing your order

♦ Outstanding after-the-purchase support and service

♦ On-time delivery, as promised

♦ Uniquely creative design

♦ Convenient location and hours of operation

♦ In response to a promotion or special offer

♦ The easygoing and enjoyable experience of shopping with us alone

After several hundred responses, you will begin to see a pattern emerge. Hopefully, you will receive the least number of votes for low price and special offers. From the other choices, the overwhelming response will reveal your business’s core competency—your unique value proposition. 

Source: Vince DiCecco