Ask yourself this one question; if my customer fired me today, would they lose something unique that my competitor could not give them. If the answer is no (and it probably is), your service is a commodity and that’s not good.
We’ve all heard it before…if you want your business to be successful, you have to differentiate your service from your competitors. We all tend to talk ourselves into thinking that our services are better than our competitors. We think we have more experience than their competitors, that we are more knowledgeable about our industry, that we have more integrity (how do you quantify integrity) or that we are simply more likable.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a Commodity is: a good or service whose wide availability typically leads to smaller profit margins and diminishes the importance of factors (such as brand name) other than price.
In reality most property management and field service businesses (landscaping, janitorial, snow removal, HVAC, etc.) really do the same thing and the only difference is price. As a service provider who’s worked with property management companies for the past decade, I can tell you that competing on price is no fun. Furthermore, the annual cycle of bidding for work based on the lowest price is not a good business model if you want to grow your business over time.
Price doesn’t differentiate your service from your competitors, it just makes your service a cheaper commodity.
But how does a property management firm or service provider differentiate themselves from their competition? Just look at the way Uber has overtaken the cab business. There is nothing special about riding in an Uber…a car pulls up to your house, you get in and a stranger drives you to your destination. Sounds like a cab ride doesn’t it? The difference is Uber has a mobile app that lets you know how long before a car gets to you, how much the ride is going to cost ahead of time and lets you choose the size of car. The differentiating element between Uber and other cab services is really the technology around the service and not the actual service itself. Uber has taken the commodity business of a cab ride and turned it into a specialty service.
Have you ordered a Domino’s pizza lately? Check out their mobile app, it tells you every step of the process. It tells you when your pizza is being made, when it is in the oven and when it leaves the store for your home. The technology doesn’t make the pizza any better but it make ordering from Domino’s a better customer experience.
If you really want to stand out in your field you have to stop being a commodity.
The service businesses that are killing the competition have found a way to use technology to improve the customer experience in a way their competitors can’t. If you want your business to stand out, your technology solution should interact with your customers in a way that improves their experience. To do this your technology should provide your customers with the following:
The ability for your customers to request work (place an order)
The ability for the customer to see your services in process
The ability for customers to verify services performed
The ability for customers to provide feedback on your services
And the ability to get automated notifications of each of these processes
We now live in a world where every business, especially service businesses, must differentiate themselves with technology. Virtually every business today can break out of the commodity business through the use of technology. How are you using technology to customize your services in a way that elevates your game above your competitors? If you are not offering something special that your customers would have to give up if they were to switch to a different service provider, then get ready for tough time in the years ahead because your competitors will figure it out and you’ll get left behind.