The first step I take with any client is to look at their website and make sure it's well optimised to compete with the competition and that it's backlink profile is clean. This is the foundation we will be building on so it's important that it's solid!
The reason your competition is above you in google is simple. Links. Backlinks from other websites to yours are googles biggest ranking factor and despite what anyone out there has to say my experimentation and analysis over the last 10 years proves this.
It's important to remember that returns/profits are what make the difference and I always stay focused on this. I want to keep my clients for life and continue helping them to improve their business' and their profit margins.