Now that you’ve vented, let’s move on to the important issue.
Many of you who have faithfully followed my column for the past few months (thank you Mom and Janet) know that I like to use the dictionary to define some of the words I use in these musings. I won’t disappoint you — I’m going to do it again.
Today’s word is niche. The dictionary has several definitions but I’ll only deal with the one that directly relates to you, the contractor, and how you can manipulate this word to your advantage. The dictionary defines niche as “a situation or activity specially suited to a person’s abilities or character.”
Whether you know it or not, all of you are in a niche right now. Don’t worry, no harm will come to you. You aren’t about to fall into a crevice or a bottomless crevasse.
Your niche may be the way you plan your personal life. Maybe you spend a lot of time being involved in your children’s sports; that’s one of my niches too. Or maybe you take an active leadership role in your local trade union or civic group — that’s a niche.
In other words, participation in youth sports or community activities is something suited to your character.
You also have a niche in the business world. It may be in the markets you serve. If you are good at residential service or commercial new construction, for example, you have developed a niche market for yourself. You work it, nurture it, and constantly improve your position in the market with the ultimate goal in mind — a bigger piece of your niche market.
I recently attended a seminar by Paul Pollets, a successful radiant heating contractor who spoke about selling and marketing his radiant heating business over the Internet. Pollets inspired my headline for this editorial because he repeated the “niche” word three times when describing a secret of his success.
Pollets relocated his business from the hustle and bustle of the Northeast to the more laid-back, easy-going atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest — Seattle, WA to be exact. Pollets adjusted his thinking to the Seattle mindset and began marketing his products and services to the young and wealthy “techies” who shop the Internet and demand the best-quality workmanship.
Pollets fine-tuned his business to cater to this new breed of hvac customers, and what he wound up with was a perfect niche market. Sure, he could go out and sell forced-air heating, plumbing services, or duct cleaning; and do a fine job. But he found his niche and has built up the business with the knowledge that no one else in his element can compete with him.
Niche, niche, niche.
Not all of us can follow the example of Pollets. He had the foresight to see a specialty market and forged right into it. I have no doubt that he will occasionally drop in on The News with some timely marketing and selling tips for you.
In the meantime, take a moment to define your niche. What is it that you do very well? What are you really good at? Is one part of your business flourishing while another part is floundering? Do you want to hold out hope that you can lift up the floundering part or would you rather make the flourishing part your niche? And work hard on it?
Thankfully, I’ve found my niche. I want to make an impact on this industry. I know that I can make a difference and I have many of you to thank for that.
So pound your chest and stand tall. You have a niche and it is very important to your customers and your community.