I was reading an article in the Harvard Business Review (yup, nerd alert is going off now) titled When to Work with Rivals. The article provided a series of examples of competitors working together to address an issue and how businesses should decide when to work with a competitor. The article branded working with a competitor as “co-opetition.” The article was interesting (as much as any article in Harvard Business Review is) but I think when it comes to pet care the article was lacking. The article only focused on what was in it for the businesses to cooperate with each other. It never addressed if cooperation was good for the client of either company or the larger community. When it comes to pet care, we think this is a fatal flaw in the article’s analysis.
Pet Camp has always tried to have a good working relationship with other pet care facilities in San Francisco. Yes, we are competitors in providing overnight care for dogs and cats and doggie day care (among the other profit centers we all have), but we feel that cooperation is better not only for the individual pet care facilities but more importantly for San Francisco’s pets! Below are two reasons why.
Each pet care facility in San Francisco is different, but we face similar health and safety issues. When San Francisco experienced a Canine Influenza outbreak several years ago, several of us joined together to discuss the best ways to respond; what responses were working and which were not; AND, most importantly, what could we do to prevent another outbreak and to protect pets. While one of our competitors eventually decided that what we determined as the best practice was too expensive to implement, the rest of us continue to implement these best practices to the betterment of the larger pet community.
Providing Options For San Francisco’s Cats and Dogs
Not every dog or cat is the best match for any specific San Francisco pet care facility. There are dogs that have requirements that might not be the best fit for doggie day care A, but will be just great at doggie day care B. Knowing about your competitors AND being open to the notion that a dog or cat might be best served by them and not you, allows you to do right by the pet with the hope that your competitor will act the same in the future.
We know that not every pet care facility in San Francisco operates with these thoughts in mind. To be honest, when Pet Camp was confronted with a new and larger competitor moving into San Francisco it took us a while to get comfortable working with them. In hindsight, we should have been more open minded and more focused on the end goal of ensuring the best care for San Francisco’s dogs and cats and less on our fear that they were going to put us out of business. We know that now, and will continue “co-opetition” with a focus on what’s best for pets, not just what’s best for Pet Camp.
Thanks for reading.