We're (Not) #1
Why playing second fiddle to an industry leader may be music to your ears
In a nation where only gold medal winners are revered and nobody remembers the teams that didn't win the World Series or the Super Bowl, it's heretical to proclaim a desire to come in second or third. When legendary football coach Vince Lombardi proclaimed, "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing," he echoed a people groomed to believe "second place" is another term for "loser." But is that smart business?
Some entrepreneurs answer with an emphatic no. "Our core strategy is to be No. 2. We see it as a real competitive advantage, and we'll never sacrifice profitability just to get market share," proclaims Tom McDonnell, CEO and president of Jackson, Mississippi-based U-Save Auto Rental of America Inc., the country's No. 2 off-airport, neighborhood car-rental business. McDonnell, 37, readily concedes that his company, with about 25,000 cars and 500 locations nationwide, comes in well behind sector leader Enterprise Rent-A-Car: "They have 60 percent of the market; we're aiming to have 25 percent," he says. But, he stresses, "for us, being No. 2 is all positive. We absolutely believe it's a key strength."
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