You’ve heard the joke about the two hikers and a bear, right? Two hikers encounter an angry bear in the forest. One of them opens his backpack, pulls out his running shoes, and begins putting them on as fast as he can. The other watches and says, “You don’t think you’re going to outrun that bear, do you?”

“I don’t have to outrun the bear,” the first hiker replies. “I only have to outrun you.”

How does that apply to you? Well, think of yourself as one of the hikers, the bear is right behind you, and your competition just put on its running shoes. Sound familiar? Business competition is nothing new, but it is changing in ways we’ve never seen before.

How to Outrun Your Competition (And the Bear)

Maybe the trick isn’t to run faster, but to run smarter. You can stay ahead of your competition by following these strategies:

Train every day. Before you invest your marketing dollars on the next big promotion, train your staff to deliver exceptional service in all aspects of your business.

Training is the handle, sales is the pump. Train employees to do more than just serve customers, but also to interact in a way that creates additional sales.

Build customer loyalty. It’s okay — and maybe even imperative — to offer a sweet deal to customers to get them in the door. The key is to capitalize on those visits and wow customers with products and service that they will want to experience again.

Go where your customers are. You know customers are looking for convenience, so offer it. Give your customers more than one reason to be there, by bundling seemingly unrelated products to offer convenience on multiple levels.