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TOUGH CALL: Around the Rumor Mill

tough call rumors
An ethically-challenged competitor is spreading rumors about your company. What would you do?

It’s finally happening. The year has started off with no arctic vortex, no economic meltdown, no seemingly unbeatable new competitors entering your market, and all forecasts point to a year of solid, steady growth. When your pro customers bring homeowners into your showroom, they’ve got a little extra spring in their step.

In the old days (pre-recession), this is what you’d have called “normal.” Finally, it looked like you and your team were going to be able to do what you’ve been doing your entire career—serving your market with quality building products at a fair price.

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Then your phone rang. It was a reporter from the local newspaper, asking for an update on your company’s news. “We heard that your company has fallen on hard times and is going to be closing its doors within the next three months,” he said. “Can you tell us anything about plans for the building and the land, and the employees?”

After patiently explaining that there was no truth to the rumor of your company’s demise, and that you and your company look forward to serving the local market for many years, your top outside salesperson walked into your office with a troubled look on her face. “The other salespeople and I just need to know if it’s true. Are we going out of business? We all thought we were doing fine!” Immediately after reassuring her that the rumors weren’t true, and their jobs weren’t in jeopardy, you got a call from one of your biggest customers asking if it was time for him to start shopping for a new supplier. So much for the year finally starting off on a good note.

While you’re not 100% certain where the rumor began, you suspect that it originated with an ethically challenged competitor who will seemingly do what-ever it takes to get an edge. Judging from the three conversations you just had, they are having some success planting seedlings of doubt in your market. And unless you act quickly and decisively, the rumors could have a negative impact on your business.

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The question is, what’s the cleanest way to put an end to unfounded rumors about your company?
Lawyer up – Have your attorney write a strongly worded Cease and Desist letter to the suspected culprits. If they continue, take ‘em to court.
Fire back – You’ve worked too hard building your business to take this lying down. It’s time to show them that two can play this game.
Clarify – Bring your staff together, assure them that the rumors aren’t true—and that your company is stronger than ever. Then spread the word, far and wide.
Do nothing – Don’t dignify the rumors with a response. In three months, when your company is still standing, people will realize that it was only a rumor

What would you do?

Got a Tough Call of your own? Send it to

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