Find Your Niche Market Part 1
November 3, 2003
What Are You?
By: Linda Leigh Francis
What type of work do you do--commercial, tenant improvement, high-end residential, production residential, public works? Or, are you the “Whatever comes my way” kind of guy? If the latter is your response, you may want to take some time and develop you own special niche, because being everything to everyone is very difficult to do. Unless you’re so big as to have divisions, it’s hard to manage and it will make you crazy.
I worked with a remodeler who tried to do it all. He did commercial jobs and low-end and high-end residential work. His business was broad-based and the least expensive. He tried to be everything to everybody, and his business ran him ragged.
On some jobs, his workers were ripping out showers in falling down houses and hauling things to the dump. On other jobs, he was doing custom home remodeling that required true craftsmanship and highly skilled carpenters.
With this broad-base of customers he had a hard time hiring employees with the multiple skill levels he needed. He also needed a wide variety of tools and vehicles, and he had to market himself and his company in a variety of ways. He couldn’t get his profits right because each niche had different requirements. Although he knew the ratty showers always cost him money and time, he was afraid to let those small jobs go because, after all, “Work is work.”
I worked with him to evaluate his position and to figure out what he wanted, both on a personal and professional level. With this in mind, he decided to enter the high-end custom remodeling niche. He committed his time and resources to developing and supporting this narrow and high priced competitive position.
While it wasn’t easy for him, he began to eliminate the small messy jobs outside his new niche by bidding those jobs higher. He focused his time and attention on attracting the high-end remodeling jobs he wanted.
He raised his prices and improved his sales skills. He learned how he was the same and how he was different from his competition. He acknowledged that he wasn’t the least expensive remodeler, but he could explain to his prospective customers the benefits of working with his company.
He began to train his employees and hire to the skill level needed to do fine quality work. He invested in the tools he needed and upgraded his vehicles. In short, he made the commitments and investments required to compete successfully in his new niche.
Wonderfully, he found that once he quit trying to be everything to everyone, he became much more sane, successful, and profitable.
If you can relate to this story, it is time to think about your niche (or competitive position). Determine your current competitive position by thinking about the relationships between your customer base, your pricing, and your competition.
More tips on how to select your niche in the next article
Linda Francis teaches workshops and seminars on business management and it the author of Run Your Business So It Doesn’t Run You. For information on her seminars or to order her book, call 707-485-0162, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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