Monday, August 25, 2014

Focus and Specialization

A year and a half ago I gave myself a present.  I found a handyman named Randy and had him take care of my entire list of repair projects around the house.  He fixed a broken fence post, hung bike racks in my garage, fixed a doorjamb, fixed a leaky faucet, and replaced a heater vent.  He did it all and for a reasonable price too.

At about the same time my wife and I decided we needed an entertainment consol.  We shopped everywhere and found most consoles are 30” high or lower which means they’re a perfect height for our toddlers to climb up and hit the TV with their instrument of choice.  We also wanted magnetic door latches we could easily open but the kids could not.  We were referred by a friend to carpenter named Phil.  Phil came to our home, assessed our needs, showed us a drawing and built a custom console. 

Premium Pricing

I was pleased with both services, however when I estimate the time and materials Phil put into the job I believe he charged at least triple what Randy charged for his time.  It’s counterintuitive.  You’d think the tradesman who knows everything would be able to charge the premium, but what people really want and are willing to pay a premium for is a specialist. 


In addition to paying more to Phil, I also find myself referring Phil to friends more often.  Randy presented many more skills than Phil but because Phil is a specialist he occupies a space in my mind for “custom woodwork”.  When friends ask about an electrician or plumber I don’t think of Randy because he is neither an electrician nor a plumber even though he was able to help me with those types of projects. 

It’s a paradox, but the more we focus, the greater presence we have in our customer’s mind.  “We do everything for everyone any time any place” makes us interchangeable with others and people don’t know where to place us.  When you occupy a piece of someone’s mind you open up yourself to new business from them, and also to referrals.