Holden vs Ford. Rugby vs AFL. Pineapple vs no pineapple. No matter how you spin it, competition is a huge part of our lives… especially for businesses!
Healthy competition drives us to improve and push ourselves forwards. Without it, businesses can easily become complacent – just look at what happened to Blockbuster when Netflix came along!
Keeping ahead of your competition is lesson number one of running a business. It’s important for businesses of all stripes to stay ahead of their competitors – and tradies are no exception!
Of course, that just leaves the big question: just how do you go about getting a leg up over other tradies?
Know who your competitors are
First step’s first: before you can tackle your competitors, you need to understand who they are!
Your competitors will depend on the scale of your tradie business and the services you offer. For example, large outfits with multiple tradies and apprentices won’t have to worry about competing with the semi-retired sparkie that does the occasional cash-in-hand job!
Start by identifying your core service and looking at other tradies that offer the same service. Not all tradies are the same – plumber A might focus on residential plumbing repair while plumber B might focus on repairing gas lines.
When identifying your competitors, consider:
- How important each service is to your business
- Direct and indirect competitors for each service
- How big each competitor is
At iformat, one of the first things we do when formulating digital strategy for tradies is a deep dive into your competitors. One of the first questions we’ll ask tradies is what areas they focus on – are they local tradies or Melbourne-wide?
If you want our advice, start local when researching competitors. Most tradies work local, so focus on competing tradies within your service area.
Figure out what makes you different
So you know who your competitors are. The next step? Figuring out what makes you different from them.
Some points of differentiation can include:
- Your product range – is your range bigger?
- Brands – do you have any unique or niche brands?
- Certifications – in addition to standard industry qualifications, do you have any extra skills?
- Partnerships – do you partner with any popular manufacturers?
- Specialisation – do you also perform niche services?
- Breadth – some customers like having a one-stop-shop for their problems
You don’t need something that makes you completely unique… you just need something that makes you stand out from your direct competitors!
It’s not enough to just say “our service is better”. No, if you really want to set yourself apart, you’ll need something that’s more tangible
Don’t be scared of price
More expensive isn’t always a death sentence for tradies. In fact, for some tradies it can actually be a strong point of differentiation – otherwise, brands like BMW and Mercedes wouldn’t be as popular as they are!
Don’t be afraid to spin yourself as a high-end tradie. Some tradies such as renovators and builders can thrive by positioning themselves as high-end tradespeople.
Just make sure your service is one people are willing to shell out extra for!
Take advantage of opportunities your competitors aren’t using
If you’re a mechanic, you’re probably watching the growth of electric and hybrid closely. Unlike cars that run off petrol, electric vehicles need completely different maintenance routines. While petrol engines can have hundreds of moving parts, electric engines have around 20… or even less!
Some have speculated that this is going to decimate the mechanical industry.
But you’re not a mechanic, you’re a sparkie/plumber/carpenter… what does this have to do with your business?
One way you can keep on top of your competitors is by keeping on top of changes to your trade! Not only does it give you a point of differentiation if you get in early enough, but it also opens the door to a completely new segment of customers.
Speaking of new opportunities…
Establish an online presence
Alright, this one’s kind of cheating. But with more and more of our lives moving online, any tradie that doesn’t have an online presence might be at a huge disadvantage!
In our experience, most tradies either don’t have much of an online presence. Many tradies only maintain a basic site – many don’t put any thought towards a broader digital marketing strategy.
Tradies that put the hard yards in and create digital strategies for their tradie businesses automatically gain a huge advantage over those that don’t.
Your digital agency can help your tradie business with:
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- Web development
- Pay-per-click advertising
- Social media
- … and more!
Depending on your circumstances, your digital agency might only use a handful of the tools at their disposal – it all depends on your competition and where you want your tradie business to go.
Digital strategies from iformat
Putting together a digital strategy for your tradie business is a lot like answering a call from a customer – no two jobs are alike! Your digital agency works with you to choose the tools that work best for your unique circumstances, crafting a digital strategy that helps you get more jobs.
Don’t know where to start?
iformat has worked with businesses in all industries. That includes tradies ranging from electricians, to plumbers, to builders – some of our tradie clients have grown so much, they’ve had to bring on extra staff just to keep up!