- THE MAGAZINE
Many disaster restoration companies have decided to start a new contents restoration division or enhance their current division. They are developing this niche to not only survive the present economic situation, but to thrive and grow their company.
They have taken a page from Sam Walton’s formula for success. The legendary Wal-Mart founder is quoted as saying, “Swim upstream. If everyone else is going one way, find your niche by going in the opposite direction.”
When Walton died in 1992, the family’s net worth approached $25 billion. He proved that doing it different than everyone else can be very successful. He had a unique selling proposition, developed a niche and stuck with it.
What is a niche? It is a place or position particularly suitable for the person or thing in it. So what is your unique service position suitable in your target market which will make you money? Initially, we need to consider two factors:
- Your niche product or service. What skill do you currently have or can you develop to distinguish you from other restoration companies? Your service must be valuable for your customers, solve their problems and make their life or in the case of insurance adjusters, make their job easier.
- Your target market. In the case of a service company, your target market is generally within a certain radius of your business. How far do you want to travel to your jobs? What types of opportunities are within that target market?
Identifying the Contents Restoration NicheFirst of all, you need to decide the range of services you will provide. Do you want to be “The go-to company” that will handle a wide variety of services internally and outsource to specialists as needed, or do you prefer to be a specialist who does one thing very well? There are many contents restoration services to consider:
- On-site contents cleaning
- Ultrasonic cleaning
- Electronics processing
- Restoration dry cleaning
- Soft goods processing
- Document processing
- Leather cleaning and repair
Think of Wal-Mart – they came in to population bases where there were multiple businesses offering pieces of what they now offer. They put it all under one roof and offer a price point. Now people know what to expect – they can go to one store for a broad portion of their needs.
On the other hand, companies that specialize choose a specific place in the market – whether it is board ups, water restoration, fire restoration or restoration dry cleaning. Once they choose their specialty they do not accept projects beyond their scope of services. They know when to say no.
A wise man once told me that success is using common sense to figure out the best way to do a job and keep doing it over and over so you get good at it.
Ask yourself, what can I (and my company) do well on a daily basis and enjoy it? Whatever that is, become the go-to company for it. You may not have all the solutions, but you know how to get them.
Developing Your NicheOnce you’ve chosen your niche, how do you develop it? First, you need to have the skill level, learn the skill level or hire someone with the skill level. Hire personnel who are committed.
Is specific training needed? Will you get it locally? Online? Travel?
What equipment will be needed? Is it possible to start with basic equipment and supplies and work up as your budget allows or will you make a substantial initial investment as a turnkey operation?
How will you market your services? Bruce Barton, a famous advertising figure, pointed out that “Advertising is just one powerful form of education.” In your market it may be necessary to educate your prospects in the value of restoring rather replacing contents damaged by fire, mold and water.
Show adjusters and property managers “before and after” photos of contents you restored, and demonstrate how restoration saves the insurance companies money and makes their clients happy by allowing the insureds to keep their prized possessions.
As far as pricing goes, determine what the market will bear. You don’t want to charge too little coming out of the gate, because it will be harder to raise your prices later. If you charge too much, it will be a deterrent to getting the work.
Determining Your Start-up CostsDo you need a building, personnel, and software, equipment, advertising and printing costs? This is quite a commitment, so you want to take time to prepare and be committed to the development of your niche.
You don’t want to start and stop various niches, just to realize you are too distracted and not focusing on something long enough to make it a success.
Remain alert to changes in the needs in your market, the economy, along with internal changes as your company grows. As your skill levels grow, and the market changes, so do your opportunities! View it as a moving target. Don’t just choose your niche – create it!