Idon’t know if I would call this a new phenomenon, but we’re sure hearing a lot about it lately at FCI– immigrant workers from places like Eastern Europe, South America, Mexico and elsewhere coming to the U.S. for a few years, scratching together some money on labor-intensive jobs like flooring installation by selling their services far below market value, and leaving for home with their pockets full of coin.

While I’m not about to say that every job done by immigrant workers is terrible, quality control is usually not the top priority. It’s about banging out as many projects as possible, as fast as possible, using the cheapest tools and supplies they can get their hands on. It’s quick work for a quick buck. As we all know by now, hurried, sloppy installations hurt everyone in the trade. They create a negative impression of installers and their work, and that in turn pushes down the amount of money even well-respected, seasoned professionals can charge. This leads to an even bigger vacuum of good work being done.

Immigration is a complicated issue; much more complicated than all the pundits on all of the 24-hour media channels claim, and definitely more convoluted than all of the politicians on both sides of the aisle feeding choice morsels of indignation to their bases make it out to be. It’s a hot-button issue, and like most hot-button issues, it’s an easy way to rile people up and make them feel upset without offering any real solutions.

However, as a business magazine, our primary goal is to offer our readers solutions. I’m going to remove the phrase “immigrant worker” from this conversation, and maybe that will help. “Immigrant worker” is a political hot-potato of a phrase. It’s designed to make you feel helpless, beset upon by forces outside your control, taking away the work that youshould be doing at a fair price, not the outrageously low prices they charge.

This is the same way you probably felt when the big box moved in next door and started undercutting all of your prices and services. Take away the “immigrant worker” angle, and suddenly you’re faced with a problem you have already surmounted once before.

Our challenge is to provide our readers solutions. Your challenge is to differentiate yourself from everyone else out there. How? One way is by offering quality service and exceeding customer expectations, each and every time. I’d love to hear from you on the ways you have succeeded against tough competition. If the playing field isn’t level, don’t waste time wondering how. Make a new field to play in.