When I was in my early 20's I went into a flower shop to order a corsage for a Military Ball. I fell in love with the dusty old shop and the old lady who ran it. The way she handled customers was incredible. She just HAD IT. She was extremely eccentric but just had a way about her. She had cats - everywhere - like the true definition for crazy cat lady (though she wasn't crazy; she was super kind and I adore her). There wasn't a surface in the back of the shop that wasn't sprayed with gold paint. Wow, she really was a piece of work (again, in such a quirky way)....but I just fell in love with her and I asked "are you hiring???" - She responded, "you can start on Tuesday" - WOW! I had never had experience in a flower shop and soon enough I was the newest employee of Pollyanna's Flowers & Things - making Valentine's Day arrangements, funeral arrangements, taking orders, corsages - the whole 9. I loved every minute of it!
A year or so in, a new shop opened. It was GORGEOUS. I mean, truly! The new shop was bright, airy and modern (though it didn't have the mysterious allure of cats in rafters), it truly was gorgeous. I asked my boss Carolyn how she felt about the "competition" and she said, "Oh honey, they don't bother me!" - (but like surely I thought this new shop would put this dusty old cat-shack out of business). She replied, "If I can't stand a little competition, I don't deserve to be in business" - and she never, ever, badmouthed or breathed a word about the other shop (at least not negatively). If she had anxiety over it, she never showed it. Every day was business as usual.
And as it goes, I moved away (military at the time) so we parted ways. The bright new shop closed its doors not too long after opening (I want to say 2 years, but can't recall) and Carolyn's shop is still cranking it out. The point is - she had built meaningful relationships and confidence in herself ; she didn't worry about anyone else. Her spirit really touched me. She taught me at an early age that you should not worry about competition, rather, focus on what's in front of you. Cherish the relationships you make and maintain them. I just adored her and the way she handled her business - most of which had nothing to do with flowers. She was the reason the town continued support her. She had built something good and the town rewarded her with loyalty.
We all get comfortable with the brands we love and the products we want, but we forget that sometimes the most valuable asset to our business is us. We have to treat each customer like they are family because it keeps them coming back; it builds trust and people want to trust others with their big moments whether it's ordering flowers, baking a cake, hiring a photographer, etc. The best part about being a family photographer (for me) is the connections I make. There's no greater satisfaction than when I go from meeting a shy untrusting young child for the first time and watch them blossom into vibrant little ladies and gents who can't wait to hug and high-five me. (Oh but don't think for one minute that I didn't snap pics of those pouty faces during our first meeting!)
TL;DR Moral of the story - don't worry about what everyone else is doing. Build relationships and don't get caught up in the details of it all; most of all, be genuine.