As aging in place service providers, we want to be active and effective in the marketplace we have selected. It doesn’t matter what type of service or product we offer, we must know what is going on around us if we want to remain competitive, stay out in front of the competition, and be the leader in our market area. If we expect to be the first one that someone calls when they need help such as what we provide, we have to position ourselves for this to happen.
We can provide handyman, contracting, or building services where we actually create improvements in the client’s home, install products and technology to assist them with their safety or mobility, or modify other physical aspects of their home to enhance the general accessibility and peace-of-mind for our clients. We might not be the general contractor or the main renovator for their project, but we might have a key role to play in providing lighting, windows, doors, flooring, cabinets, countertops, door hardware, seating, bath fixtures, appliances, wireless technology, security, safety oriented improvements, wall coverings, furnishings, room accessories, and the like.
To get started – and this is a continuous process rather than a one-time thing that we do and mark it completed on our to-do list – we have to be aware of who is active in our marketplace. We all need to select a specific market area in which we want to be active. It can be very small or quite large. The number of people living in that area and the number of homes present are going to help in defining the space in which we operate. Travel distance and the time it takes to drive from one end of our service area to the other is something to keep in mind as well.
Our marketplace can be as well-defined as a neighborhood that has a name, commonly defined boundaries, and one that people in our area recognize by that name – people living within that neighborhood and those from outside that area. It also can something that we select – one or more zip codes, an area bounded by major streets, transmission lines, or natural features that we choose, an entire town, village, or city. It can be a region. There are no specific criteria for what should constitute a service area, but it needs to be well-enough defined that people will seek us out for providing services in that area and one that we can monitor for activity.
Once we have a reasonable definition of our marketplace or service area (it can be adjusted larger or smaller over time), we need to start noticing who is working in our area – competitors (other contractors, handymen, electricians, plumbers, roofers, security companies, and anyone else that matches some or all of the services we provide), real estate agents from the their signs posted in people’s yards, appliance repair from their vehicles, HVAC technicians, and other service personnel. By observing what is going on in our marketplace in terms of service people are requesting, it gives us a better idea of where the more urgent need is concentrated and suggests business services that are the most in demand.
By looking at the type and amount of work being done in our market area that we aren’t doing, it gives us an idea of how we might want to strengthen and expand our business so that we can accommodate some of this lost business potential. We don’t need to be the exclusive provider in our marketplace (although that sounds like a good idea), but we need to position ourselves for first the right of refusal – where people call us before anyone else to discuss their needs and determine if we are a good fit for working with them. This may mean a business expansion on our part unless we are as large as we choose to be.
Looking at print ads, listening to radio and TV spots, watching signage and other types of printed messages, and monitoring the internet for websites and social media engagement will help us understand our competition and what the public might be looking for in terms of keywords or phrases used, published pricing or rates, testimonials, or services highlighted.
Some of us may have reached our optimum size as a business and may have a substantial referral business that keeps us as busy as we like. For others, we welcome the opportunity to expand our business, and one of the best ways of doing that is through a better understanding of who we might be losing work to now and then formulating a plan to retain more of that lost business.