I am starting to have public relation problems because of a competitor that is opening next door to our business. I know some people say competition is good, but this is a unique business where competition will definitely steal some of our business away. I'd rather not even say what our business is because it's so unique other people would know what I'm talking about.
Plus, in this situation my competitor is family. I grew up in our family business which was an icon back in the 1970's and 1980's and even into the 1990's although they closed to the public in the 1980's. Since then they have NOT been open to the public and all of us kids have grown up and moved on and started our own like businesses in the same type of industry.
We opened our like business four years ago on the end of the family property with everyone's approval (my parents have since gifted me the property). Now that it is a successful business here is what's happening. My father died last year and my mother is giving my youngest brother the old business to reopen. And, the biggest problem is she is giving him the "name" of the business which is already causing problems. People think we are closing and reopening in that location. Or, they think we are closing period and they are reopening. They are also misleading the public into thinking they are going to have the business in it's original form. I'm not sure if this is their intention or not, because I am currently upset with my family over my father's estate issues and I cannot get a straight answer from them. I think that's what they have planned and if not, at least that is what they are insinuating to the public.
If they had just started a business and used a new name I wouldn't even be worried because they would have to start from scratch (like we did) and they are not good at running businesses (they have tried and failed before). However, they are using our old family business "name" to gain an advantage over us. Also, I don't trust them - they could tell people we are closing, etc. They also do not have very good customer service skills and I'm afraid the public is going to get us mixed up and I am going to have to deal with people talking bad about them and people thinking it's our business. Part of the problem with our estate issues is the fact that they do everything behind everyone's back and resort to lying to my Mom to get what they want from the estate.
At this point, I don't even care about the family issues. I just need to know how to try and save my business because this is going to greatly affect us. It's already started and they are not even planning on opening until this Fall. I'm afraid this is going to get pretty nasty before it's over and any advice I can get to counter this would be greatly appreciated. People were already getting us mixed up before my dad died because that name is such an icon around here. The whole time we've been open some people will get lost and go to their place next door. Then it didn't matter because they just told the public that they were not open to the public anymore but we are. Now, they are telling all the "lost" people that they are reopening and who knows what else they are saying to them. I just need to know what to tell people without sounding petty. I've had people think both ways - competition is good and others (most actually) are appalled that "family" would do that to me.
Also, this is not just an emotional issue - it is a financial issue as our business is our sole source of income. I've got our regular marketing under control and Facebook and word of mouth is our biggest marketing tools. That' what worries me - the word of mouth marketing. I know it doesn't take much for the "wrong" word of mouth to get out and highly affect a business. Right now, that is the BEST part of our business is the fact that everyone LOVES it. What can I do to keep it that way with everything that is going on?