What do you specialize in?

November 14, 2011
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Can you answer this question in one simple sentence?

It's a very difficult question. I'm not asking what you do for a living, I'm asking you what you specialize in?

If a customer finds you on google and clicks on your website for the first time what do they see in the first few seconds? What do they feel? Do they just see a company that does roofing or do they see a company that specializes in roof repair?

The world is full of plumbers, electricians, and HVAC's. The funny thing is we all do something differnet. I don't install water treatment, I let a competitor occupy that space in the market. Yes, I'm a plumber but how can I build a profitable reputation if I do everything? The answer is you really can't. Sure, you can do it but it will make your company weak.


At one point in my life the phone would ring and the first words out of the callers mouth would be the following...

  • Do you repair water heaters?
  • My husband and I put a new floor in, can you fix a toilet flange?
  • I have iron in my water, do you do that sort of thing?
  • My sewer is plugged, do you clean sewers?
  • I have an old shower valve, do you stock 80 year old parts?
If customers are asking you these types of questions something is wrong. You see, if you can't focus on what you specialize in you will have a hard time making maximized profit margins. You will have a hard time writing an advertisement for a local paper. If you have a website you need to direct traffic right? You need to focus on what you specialize in, if not how whould you lay out your website? What would you blog about? I know a remodeling company who gets in an awful lot of trouble becuase they doesn't specialize. People call them and becuase they feel they have to do everything they take every job. It creates chaos. That same company is forced to bid against companies that DO specialize and that means they have to charge less to compete.  If I were to summarize what my company specializes in this would be the sentance that would describe it. I am a one man plumbing shop that specializes in residential plumbing repair on older homes delivering expert same day service.
What does this mean? Well, it means my mission is pretty clear. Knowing this I can easily develop a marketing plan. I can write an advertisement for a newspaper or Yellow Pages in about 2 minutes. I also know what I WILL NOT put in the advertisement. It means I will blog about plumbng repair and not about how to get soft water. The description is the first step in developing a wesite. It tells you what your barriers are.It defines the market for me. It makes it perfectly clear what I need to stock on my service truck. At one point in my life if you asked me to define my business in one sentence I would have said : I do plumbing. Guess what? It created a serious problem for my business, it wasted my time, cost me money, and confused my customer base. It doesn't matter what you specialize in, if you specialize you become efficient in the marketplace. In short you, become the EXPERT.

Once your the expert the phone calls change. Instead of having 10 calls a day and closing 4, you can have 6 calls a day and close all 6. Charles Schwab Defining what your comapny is in the market place is something that most companies fail to do. It doesn't have to mean you pick one thing and forget the rest however. You can define your business in other areas like customer service. Below is an example of a company that defined itself well in an area that has nothing to do with it's ability to physically solve financial problems. Charles Schwab offers investment services as well as online trading. For a number of years they lost focus, they lost touch of what they specialized in. In the last couple of years they have refocus.....they decided to specialize. What Schwab realized is that every other company could do what they do. They realized they were offering a commodity.  Schwab made a marketing decision to specialize in "customer service". They came to the conclusion that it was an aera that they could excell at. It was an area the competition wasn't doing a good job at.  So they made the decision to occupy that space. Charles Schwab acomplished the task, the customer service they offer is unparalleled in the industry. It's so good in fact, I look forward to calling them for various questions. It's become a game to find an unhappy person who answers the phone. It doesn't happen. This is the power of focus. Summary The market place is crowded. To do well in business and maximize it's potential you need to specialize in something that's important to people. You need to do it well, you need to occupy this space in the market so nobody has a chance to claim it. I was once told that it will be impossible for me to compete against a competitor that's been in business for over 80 years. I'm writing this post becuase I am taking work away from them every day and it's not just any work, it's the type of work I want.......the profitable kind. You can do this also. I defined my business around a set of barriers that I don't cross. Once I defined my company by deciding what I'm specializing in word began to spread. The more I focused the less calls I got. But the calls I get are easier to close. As time goes by the people calling me for plumbing outside my specialty are shrinking. This is called reputation. My truck is stocked based on my reputation.  This is also known to some as a business model. The focused effort to define yourself is where the profit it. It's also where the fun is. So can you answer the question? Can you clearly define your business in one simple sentence? Does that sentence register well in the marketplace? Here is a test. If you can define your business in one simple sentence then take that sentence and put it right in the header of your website. If it really is good, if it really does deifne your business model then that's easily the most valuable sentence on your website. It needs to be the first thing customers see. Mike

Comments (16)

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Displaying 1–16 of 16
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    Oconomowocover 8 years ago

    For some reason it published this post all bunched together. I have no idea why. I apologize, it was not intentional.

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    mehtwoover 8 years ago

    I appreciate the time and effort you put into this blog. I'm at a point of focusing on what I want to special in. This hit the nail on the head, Thanks.

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    VinylHangerabout 8 years ago

    Great blog. This is exactly what I am struggling with lately. Too many irons in the fire means I can't concentrate on any of them. I have some thinking to do.

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    WarnerConstInc.about 8 years ago

    Being Awesome.

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    gastekabout 8 years ago

    Great blog. I'm not an AC/heating guy or a plumber, I specialize in gas pool heaters. I see so many other companies trying to do everything and they don't so it well. Concentrate on one thing and you will be successful.

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    missourimoldabout 8 years ago

    This is a great topic. Although my company does do disaster restoration in general, and the techs are certified in all aspects of this industry, each one specializes in a specific trade. I have a tech that specializes in fire restoration, one in water, one in mold, one in odor removal, one that only does crime scene cleanup. The company itself specializes in Mold remediation, but we offer professional help in all aspects of the industry. Most companies do it all, and the techs are trained and certified in all also, to me this is a waste of money for the company. why have 5 techs that do it all, and master none, when you can have 5 specialists in their own unique department. that is my thought anyways.

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    dprimcabout 8 years ago

    This is the very reason we completely restructured a few years back. Great read. Thanks.

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    Greg TN riderabout 8 years ago

    Good Post.. I'm a remodeling Contractor. and try to do it all. it does become frustrating at times. something to think about .Thanks

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    smalpierreabout 8 years ago

    Not specializing has been killing me too. My best friend has come to the conclusion that there is a lot of work he want's nothing to do with. He's doing better and better every year.

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    Jawsabout 8 years ago

    I agree with this for the most part. Great blog post.

    We do total residential general contracting. We are better known for full service remodeling, because that's what we market, but we are very comfortable with customs, additions, and boat docks. Its all about getting the right subs for everything, and training your crews in leads imo.

    Thanks mike. Great post. Glad to see you back at it

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    Jawsabout 8 years ago

    For some reason its not letting me edit my post. I meant to say train your crews AND lead guys.

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    BrandConstabout 8 years ago

    Good post Mike!

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    GantandBrownabout 8 years ago

    We are a General Contractor, but we specialize in hazard mitigation.


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    Ancabout 8 years ago

    Were a General Contracotor and are specialty is Custom Cabinetry Kitchen/Baths, Offices, Libraries, Commercial. Thanks for the great blog

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    JohnBLLCabout 8 years ago

    I like your perspective, Mike. If you're like me, it took you a while to really figure out what you exactly do before pasting it in your website! My in-family website guru says it's one of the biggest hurdles of guys who are just stepping into website marketing. In fact, if one begins to critique websites they go to, instead of just using them, it's obvious that that's a real common (and unfixed) problem.(in all size business)

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    cabinetsnjover 7 years ago

    Too many chefs in the kitchen usually spoil the meal. Maybe not the best analogy, but yes your point is well taken. And I completely agree that being Specialist is better than being a Gereralist.

Displaying 1–16 of 16
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