ICS Magazine

Setting Yourself Apart From Your Competition

April 12, 2007
What do you do to set yourself apart?


In a marketplace where the consumer has many options to select from, it is the job of the service business manager to come up with a marketing program that will separate his/her business from all the others, and give the customer a reason to select it out of the crowd.

Marketing surveys have shown that, while quality workmanship is always a primary consideration, there are several other variables that go into the consumer’s decision to select one service company over another. It is the company that can create the highest perception of value for the investment that will get the business.

One of the best ways to show value is to emphasize your company’s credentials. Certifications or special recognitions give the potential client confidence in both skill level and dependability. Especially valuable are credentials, such as IICRC certifications for technicians as well as for the firm. This shows the consumer that you are dedicated to training and professionalism and adhere to established industry practices and standards.

Similarly, it is useful to list affiliations such as trade associations, local chamber of commerce, or the better business bureau. These references give the potential customer a sense of security and ethics, something that has been shown to be a big concern to consumers.

It is also smart to emphasize your company’s stability and reliability by highlighting your years in business. Many consumers like to deal with companies that have been around a while and have a good track record.

Another variable that has become a major selling point in today’s marketplace is convenience. By being able to minimize consumer inconvenience by being available on weekends, evenings, or other special times you can appeal to the consumers with very busy life styles. By being able to offer special flexible payment options such as direct billing, credit cards, direct deposit, or in some cases special terms you set yourself apart from those that must be paid only with cash or check. Scheduling so that you are able to promise narrow windows of appointment times, such as between 9 and 10 am instead of between 8 am and noon, is a convenience busy consumers really appreciate.

Another aspect of convenience is your ability to supply reminder notices or ongoing maintenance programs that relieve the customer of the burden of remembering that it is time to clean the carpets. Remind them that, with modern carpet’s soil-hiding construction, if you wait until the soil is visible it is actually past time to clean. Regular planned maintenance is not only convenient it provides a healthier environment and prolongs the value of the carpet as an investment.

If you offer additional related services, such as minor carpet repairs, upholstery cleaning, or specialized stain removal, it is smart to highlight these services in your promotions. Don’t make the mistake of assuming they know that you offer these additional services.

A special customized service such as emergency spill cleanup or pre-holiday touch up of traffic lanes at reasonable prices can help to build an ongoing relationship with the client and increases the perception of value for your services.

Whenever possible you should promote third-party endorsements or recommendations. This includes things such as the CRI Seal of Approval for your equipment and chemistry, or specific carpet warranty specifications for which you qualify. Similarly, if you perform services for well-known local entities such as country clubs, concert halls, government buildings, upscale restaurants, churches and the like, ask for permission to list these as references or if possible get brief testimonials from your contacts. These third-party endorsements can be one of the most powerful ways to create value for your services.

The perception of value in today’s marketplace is based on much more than a good price. Credentials, experience, convenience and endorsements are examples of some of the things that contribute to the consumer’s perception of value and play a role in the decisions they make regarding which company to choose.