SB EP 78 - Dealing with Shady Competitors



Ismail: [00:00:00] Coming up on Super Boothers are you dealing with any shady competitors you are not alone. We discuss how to deal with people who seem to want to win at all costs that are just getting under your skin. Stay tuned. 

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Ryan: [00:00:57] Hello and welcome to Super Boothers. 

Ryan: [00:00:58] My name is Ryan. 

Ismail: [00:01:00] And I'm Ismail. Ryan what do you want to talk about today? 

Ryan: [00:01:03] I don't care. ::laughter:: 

Ryan: [00:01:09] Today's been such a long day. 

Ryan: [00:01:11] Like ever feel like you have those days where you're working nonstop yet you're not really accomplishing anything. 

Ismail: [00:01:18] That sounds like my life. 

Ryan: [00:01:22] Like everyone just like need something from you and only you. 

Ismail: [00:01:26] It's a never ending to do list you get some stuff done. And there's five more things added. 

Ryan: [00:01:30] I have worked on everyone else's stuff today and have not done one thing off of my To Do list. 

Ismail: [00:01:38] That doesn't sound good. 

Ryan: [00:01:38] No, one of the things that I have to kind of work on is to just kind of get a little a little reading on what my competitors are doing. 

Ismail: [00:01:48] That's actually something that I have been thinking about recently maybe it should be the topic of our conversation. 

Ryan: [00:01:55] Good for you thinking again! It's getting so often nowadays. 

Ismail: [00:02:02] So I actually heard a pretty cool podcast that I think ever want to check out. It's called business wars. 

Ryan: [00:02:10] Really? 

Ismail: [00:02:11] Yes. And so they have a different seasons where they focus on different business competitions business wars and the first one that I listened to was Netflix vs blockbuster. 

Ryan: [00:02:21] Really. 

Ismail: [00:02:23] Yeah it's really interesting. We all know how that turned out right. Netflix won, blockbuster's gone. But to me it was. 

Ryan: [00:02:31] I'm sorry that's the last time I use that button for awhile. 

Ismail: [00:02:31] I should expect that I should expect that. But I found that fascinating how they were going through the back and forth all the different battles that. These competitors were doing and like even the sneaky shady stuff that was going. 

Ryan: [00:02:48] Oh I love it tell me more.

Ismail: [00:02:52] That got me thinking I'm like what is appropriate business competition and you know this is something that we all deal with and this is something that we see people talk about in the online groups what's too far and what's okay. So. Before I start going into little things that I picked up on those episodes is there any general feeling that you have about business competition about what's too far what's not. 

Ryan: [00:03:12] I've always will and this thing goes for like political races. I mean because I'm in Texas right now we have a big election coming up and there are other third parties that are doing things that just aren't cool. And they are not affiliated with either one. Like they're just. They're Russian. No I'm kidding. So just to kind of explain a little bit more. There is a third party that somehow got I guess cell phone numbers and is texting users as that person and they're not and they're not really affiliated with that particular candidate. I mean so clearly obvious things like that. Aren't cool. I don't really focus on my competition which clearly has proven to be a problem. 

Ismail: [00:04:08] Well I I wouldn't go so far as saying that but like here's one little anecdote When Blockbuster started losing business to Netflix and for those who don't know Netflix started off as a DVD by mail business. So Blockbuster as we all know had the stores used to go there used to pick movies and taken it home. Netflix came out with a DVD by mail program. 

Ryan: [00:04:30] Don't they still have it? 

Ismail: [00:04:33] I don't think they have it anymore. I think they stopped it. There was a whole controversy around that but they went all on streaming now. But anyways there was a point to where blockbuster The CEO of blockbuster. Like literally. Got his friends and hired people. To go to Netflix's shipping centers with their DVD from Netflix and pretend that they're a customer trying to return it just so they can go into the factory into the warehouse and take photos of how they organize stuff how they shipped stuff. 

Ryan: [00:05:08] I love corporate espionage. 

Ismail: [00:05:12] It was corporate espionage where they would get the female to go in there. Oh tried trying to return this? Can you help me? Oh what's this. Can you take a picture of me in front of Friends would love it. And it was a legitimate espionage. 

Ryan: [00:05:26] Love it. 

Ismail: [00:05:26] So You love it. But is that too far. Because if you love it then you have to love when people do it. 

Ryan: [00:05:32] I love it. It happened to me. It's absolutely. It has happened to me within the last 30 days that people were filling out fake leads to get my pricing which is just annoying. It happens. It happens. 

Ismail: [00:05:47] I've been there. Yeah. And but this one like it went even further than that where at a certain point blockbuster. Actually like literally copied Netflix's Web site. Everything just changed the colors and changed logo and made their own Blockbuster Online service. So what do you think about that. I know we talked about that a lot where it's stealing basically. 

Ryan: [00:06:12] If you have seen even one episode of Shark Tank. And again we had talked about this on another episode a while back about photo booth manufacturing ...It Is not proprietary. You absolutely can do it. I mean whether or not you this happens commonly where I mean even in our industry I think it's happened with props before. I'm assuming with backdrops where you have someone that will copy website exactly to the T. Exact same verbiage exact same everything the only change like e-mail and some photos maybe if you're lucky they'll change the photos because even you and I have been victims of people using photos that don't belong to them. 

Ismail: [00:06:53] Don't get me started. I'm going to get heated. But you know those are just a couple anecdotes and if you find this interesting I would suggest checking that out. They have other seasons like Nike vs. Adidas and like Southwest versus Delta I think you'd like that Ryan. I think the whole is about how they were battling for Dallas like who's gonna take over Dallas. But the real thing that kind of gets me the takeaway is that Blockbuster was trying to do all these things and spying and copying and they're gone. And the takeaway for me is that they were so focused on the competitor that they didn't focus on the customer. Netflix was focused on the customer. How we have a better service and they won. And I think this is something that Jeff Bezos says from Amazon, we don't worry about competition. Obviously you know what they're doing. You're aware of them. But if you take your sight off of your customer, you will lose. 

Ryan: [00:07:46] Yes. 

Ismail: [00:07:47] So to me that's the real lesson in competition. You can't...I Go into business understanding people will be shady people will try to knock me off. People will try to lie cheat and copy. It's just people being people. No I can't get stressed out about people doing what they do. But. I can't let that affect my mindset. 

Ryan: [00:08:08] I think that whenever I first started doing weddings I was always focused on what everyone else was doing. Back then it was called wedding pages and now it eventually became the Knot. But anyways every city would essentially put out their own publication and we all have this where books and magazines come out that are specifically local to where it is you are. I would comb through those. I'm actually looking one right now just kind of perusing but not going over with a fine tooth comb like I used to I used to focus on every tiny little detail that someone was doing and think to myself am I not enough? Am I not doing it. What am I doing differently. What am I doing wrong. This person seems like they're making so much money. And then you you know come to find out that they're booking maybe one thing a month in the and you're booking you know four times more and then they're really not a threat. I had a conversation with my friend Melissa this is it can be like you know like you know like Oprah, Oprah always talks about oh my best friend Gayle they go oh yes we know she's your best friend. We get it. I can just from now on I'm just gonna call her Melissa. So Melissa, I was just on the phone with her. Day before yesterday and she did an open house at a museum. And she was saying how like there was this other florist that was there. Again this is kind of like and they have like a dinosaur sort of theme going on right now. So there's like gigantic fossils of a T-Rex and like all sorts of stuff and here she comes in. She was saying how she setting up. She did her little centerpiece she did a little lounge area. The term that she's this is just Peter Rabbit simple. She goes in there does her thing she sets up in like 30 minutes probably less than and the girls you know out of the corner of her eye are unwrapping glassware. 

Ismail: [00:10:10] She sets up all her stuff. She looks over and they're still unwrapping glassware. She's finished. They're still unwrapping glassware and she's thinking how might she go. Gosh what am I doing wrong like am I not putting enough effort. Because Melissa comes and set this up herself. She's looking at this girl and she has like four or five other people helping her unwrap all this glassware and they set up this like it was cute. I'm not going to say that it was worth that kind of time to set up but. It was like essentially a ceremony set up that was just like maybe i'll post it. I don't know. It's just a very intricate. And she goes the girls were taking all these photos to post on Instagram like it's some gigantic thing and she's like am I doing something wrong here. 

Ryan: [00:10:58] And the conversation that we kind of took away from it was. No you're not doing anything wrong here. But what we also forget every now and then is yes we do great work. 

Ryan: [00:11:09] As event professionals we do great work in this day and age. It's no good if nobody else sees it. 

Ryan: [00:11:15] So this girl is playing the game of you know who has the best Instagram yes you book some events. 

Ryan: [00:11:23] Now will she book More Than You later from the Internet. We don't know. 

Ismail: [00:11:28] Yeah. I think overall. 

Ryan: [00:11:30] It's healthy competition.

Ismail: [00:11:33] Maybe that's not a popular opinion. I do think sometimes people. Do things sometimes people. Take things too far and act shady but. It's going to happen no matter what you or I say or what anyone says it's going to happen it's the nature of competition. And honestly I don't know if I have a problem with it because. You know that throughout history there's all these great stories of these great rivalries now. I know John Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. Used to mail insults to each other to have that rivalry that made them better. And I think even Mark Cuban and Donald Trump. Had that playful... 

Ryan: [00:12:09] I text horrible things to you.

Ismail: [00:12:10] They would mail jokes to each other hey ....I forgot the exact things they would do but I'm sure you can look it up where they were basically. 

Ryan: [00:12:16] Yes well I think Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have said publicly that one wouldn't exist without the other. 

Ismail: [00:12:24] So that to me is if you feel threatened by a competitor and you get all flustered and angry that's OK. But understand that that doesn't mean they're going to beat you. You can control how you react. Right. So I would take that as a challenge and try to get better. And that's what really comes out of it. If you're competitor makes you better. I would thank my competitor would say thank you so much because now I'm going to pummel you into the dirt. And I wouldn't have been this motivated if you weren't. 

Ryan: [00:12:53] See I don't think I'm a motivated by a competitor so much as i'm motivated by myself. Like with the exception of last week's episode I really don't think I focus as much on my competition. I mean truthfully I really don't think I focus on it at all. Maybe 1 percent of the year. Where like a website or something we'll cross my desk to where I will be like compelled to visit someone else's photo booth website. 

Ismail: [00:13:21] I think you know what. I would probably agree with you. I don't really pay attention that much to competitors anywhere. However there's a little part of me that kind of likes someone starts like poking me. And I do get a little bit of motivation from that if I'm being honest. And it's interesting now. I don't know if you follow hip hop and rap or if any listeners do not forget. I'm from Brooklyn so I have to represent. 

Ryan: [00:13:48] I'm Mexican unless it's Selena. I don't pay attention. Always Quintanilla, never Gomez. Continue... 

Ismail: [00:13:54] There is this whole thing now where Eminem came out with a new album and there's this other rapper Machine Gun Kelly who dissed him. 

Ryan: [00:14:02] Oh I saw that today in a meme. 

Ismail: [00:14:04] That's a whole big thing right now in the hip hop world and everyone's I'm sorry if people aren't rap fans. But there is a lesson in competition here. Right so Eminem is the greatest according to some people if you come at him he'll destroy you're career. And there's just new up and coming rapper, Machine Gun Kelly who had no fear and put out a song where he went after him. Very publicly and said some very very bad things about him. Eminem responded which he doesn't normally do. I actually respect the fact that Machine Gun Kelly did that because it's competition. Right so he's looking at how did I get to the next level. How do I get to the next level. I have to go after people better than me and hopefully people start paying attention and it's working. Now did he win that rap battle. I don't know. That's everyone's different opinion but I respect the hustle. I respect the fact he's trying to get better. So it depends on how you look at competition. So I would say take a step back. Don't be so personally offended if someone is doing shady things. Take a step back look at the big picture and think about how get you to respond and get better. 

Ryan: [00:15:12] You get blocked that's how. So I, I wish that. I was as motivated by competition as most people are like. I don't I don't really like if I go to an event that I'm attending and not working. And I see someone that has a photo booth. There are people that look at me that are Ryan...they have a photo booth and i'm like I have one in the car. What's your point. Like it just doesn't it just doesn't affect me. You know if I go over there and you know someone you know I take a photo or whatever and it's fine like I don't I don't let things like that get to me. I just don't. I mean there are times where I did an event for Wedding Wire awhile back and you know there were some that did a photo activation there and it was cool and it was good for you, Great, fantastic. I wish you well. I hope you sell the hell out of this. And I just don't I just don't. I've learned to kind of let that negative energy go. 

Ismail: [00:16:14] And if you're looking at it from a fear aspect. I don't think it works that well right because there's plenty of business for everybody. There's millions and millions and millions of people out there looking to book photo booths. You don't have to get that territorial right. There's enough there's enough money for everyone. But having said that if you were a vendor and like you said had a prop company and somebody else just blatantly copied your props and copies your website. I'm sure you'd get you'd feel some type of way. No matter how much you say you're not motivated by competition you're going to feel that way. 

Ryan: [00:16:46] Sure. I think it's a little different whenever it's like B2B. 

Ryan: [00:16:52] I don't think I feel the same way when it's B2C because I think with B2B you know to the people and the players that are involved so I can see how that would be a little bit more like you would feel more personally attacked if that happened. 

Ismail: [00:17:07] Let me ask you this then let's say tomorrow we drop this episode and a listener was like a man you know what you guys love competition. We're starting our own podcast. 

Ryan: [00:17:16] Congratulations. 

Ismail: [00:17:18] Would that motivate you? 

Ryan: [00:17:19] No it wouldn't. No, it wouldn't. 

Ismail: [00:17:21] That wouldn't motivate you? 

Ryan: [00:17:22] This is it this is episode number 78. I'm so sorry. I would love to see anyone try. 

Ismail: [00:17:39] Well I think as you're saying having it you know you're not motivated by competition. But then when I bring up a potential competitor, you're like, please bring it. 

Ryan: [00:17:48] I would really love to see you try it because there's something called pod fade which we have not had yet. And what pod fade is where you start a podcast and it is amazing. And then you start getting a little laxidaisical Maybe not every week maybe or every other week or once a month once a year then oh, ta-dah it's gone. 

Ryan: [00:18:10] You know we have been I think the only consistent thing in our industry that you know at 3:00a.m. central standard time every single Wednesday you will have a new episode to download. 

Ismail: [00:18:27] You're right. You Know if you think about it in a totality if you add up all the hours over these 78 episodes it's probably like 10 photo booth expos like seriously. All the effort that goes in. You know there's a potential...and we're using this as an example for everyone else in their business. But when you have a threat or a potential competitor. You just don't get that worried because you know you're doing a good job because your focus is on the right thing. How do I get better? 

Ryan: [00:18:53] This is another thing is again whenever I went to podcast movement that I was a little bit more motivated but that wasn't so much as competitors because A. they're Not in our space and and B. It's more of a camaraderie than it is anything else of someone that understands of what it takes to produce a podcast because what people don't know about this is we have there's a spreadsheet that we have that goes over our workflow for every single thing that we have to do for every episode. You know we write the title if there is an interview it has to be scheduled. The interviewer, interviewee rather gets several e-mails confirming they get an email of you know what to do with the episode whenever it comes out. You know we have sponsors and ads and we have to do. There's description they're show notes you know did we. It has to be edited. There is a transcript that goes for every episode that takes pretty much in real time. You know if we put out any content we have to have the time to create that content and set it up to where you know you're able to download it successfully. You know we do an audio gram every week and that takes time. If I do a live video on Facebook that takes some time so a lot of people don't know the entire I mean I think that for...our episodes are about 30 minutes or so a little bit less than it takes probably about four or five hours for literally everything for one episode of Super Boothers for sure. 

Ismail: [00:20:29] Times that by 80. 

Ryan: [00:20:30] and not to mention. And that's not including all the live events that we do all the travel. I would love for someone else to relieve me for a little bit. I need a break. And that's the thing is we're not the only photo booth podcast. There are other photo booth podcasts. We are probably I think it's safe to say the longest running I would say the most successful. 

Ismail: [00:20:55] And the best. 

Ryan: [00:20:56] But no but. That's the thing. The effort that goes in to being the best or creating the best product or the best value or whatever. I think that the more you do it the less likely you are to be concerned with what other competitors you have. You know people will complain to me about you know a competitive issue they're having. My response has always been and will always be get over it. Put yourself in your own shoes and focus on your own work and put your head down and keep going because I mean just focus on your own stuff and you don't have to worry about everything else. 

Ismail: [00:21:41] That's the lesson that I probably give people but again it's it's never just a clear answer. There's usually the answer is usually it depends. So it's fascinating to me that. There are some people that seem to me like pickup competitive motivation is a big part like let's say that Elon Musks of the world where in an interview he said he would never give up. And this is on my vision board by the way you guys saw the picture in the Facebook group where someone asked him Would you ever give up. He said I would never give up. I'd have to be dead. To give up or there's an interview with Will Smith where he says if he's in the gym on a treadmill. 

Ryan: [00:22:16] We're racing now! 

Ismail: [00:22:17] Someone else goes on the treadmill next to him. He will literally run until he dies. Someone will have to die in order for you to run more than them. And so some people operate really well with the. So I think you have to know yourself be self-aware. As to what motivates you and try to use that to your advantage if you are someone who's motivated by competition. It's helpful to have someone you know poking from afar because that gives you that fire to respond and get better. I would just urge you to keep the focus on your clients and your business and don't want them distracted because that's on the other side of it. That's what people like Michael Jordan used to do on the basketball court where they would get in your head or they would start elbowing you to get you off get your focus off the game and then you'd lose. And to me the real takeaway here like the Netflix Blockbuster situation. Usually the people who are shady competitors who copy who steal. I talk people crawling in my booth inspecting my equipment. The second I look away. Those people usually lose. So although they're bothering you and annoying you and you feel threatened. Keep doing what you're doing. Chances are you'll outlast them in the end. 

Ryan: [00:23:33] And that's the conversation that I think I had with Melissa just to go back with a full circle on this is you know we worry so much about you know a lot of these new people coming in and you know we actually we talk about this one of her goals is to I mean because she did NACE she did ILEA or whatever it's called now MPI. You know all these major organizations that you know have their monthly meetings and you know part of being in our industry is just being visible and showing face and going to these meetings once a month and just saying you know Hi, my name is Ryan, I have photobooths if you would like them please let me know. I mean I really believe that those type of networking things are a little bit more important in fostering those relationships than say a competitor is. Another thing I think is a little bit important is you know whenever you again going back to the little Instagram thing and her kind of you know setting up her little table you know at the end of the day she's confident in her product and confident in the work that w hat she did vs. comparing it to whatever this other vendor did by the way I looked at the other vendor and she's like. Tell me what you think of this. I look at it and it's nothing great. And that's the thing is those people will weed themselves out there is just something to be said for technique and experience and creativity. And I know that everyone has their own strengths. My strength has never been props. There are some people that have absolute amazing props they took very good care of them. Good for you. I'm not one of them. And you know if we ever come down to you know a bride that you know she wants props and I lose her to you. Great fantastic. I'm so happy for you. That is your client. That is not my client. And it's also been comfortable with the fact of knowing that you know what if she wants you know a green screen. You better watch out. 

Ismail: [00:25:42] Yeah I think you know I wonder I know this is just me thinking out loud. Do you really think the people in McDonald's boardroom are up at night worried about Wendy's. I think what you're what you're getting at Ryan is there's always gonna be competition. You have to know where you are different. So if they want to do the props and you don't want to the props or you have the green screen they don't have the green screen you have to know where you stand and what your differentiation is as long as you have that you can't worry too much about the competition doing their own thing while you're doing your own thing. But I would I would suggest everyone check out that business wars podcast let me know what you think. I thought I was great. I kind of binge listen to them while driving. But I look forward to checking out future. 

Ryan: [00:26:38] Next week on Super Boothers. I actually started with the event industry doing wedding planning and then I stopped you know altogether and moved solely to products doing event production. So I did flowers linens rentals and photo booth came later. But yeah I would absolutely just put it on my event order yes for doing yes for taking care of it no big deal because that at the time was what a client really wanted. They didn't want to go to 10 different providers. They'd rather go to one. 

Ryan Salinas