My dad runs an independent construction management company in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan is having a very tough time of it these days, but his company is doing well. He has been working on branching his company into different areas.
Normally he does a lot of work for Coca-Cola, but as they have also been hit hard, he’s decided to take some of his experience there and apply it elsewhere. Coca-Cola originally hired him to build security and cash rooms in various plants in the regional Midwest, but along the way he picked up some contacts in the security field. Now he’s teaming up with a local security camera business for a series of projects, so two local businesses are profiting.
Also, he has hired someone, and rented space in a building in Louisville, KY to expand his central locations. As a result of smart business planning a few years back, he has built steady work in multiple states around the Midwest, so all of his clientele aren’t located in one area.
Lastly, and most importantly, he is very responsible, efficient and pleasant to work with, and always has been. A few clients have told him things like: “Things have been tough lately, but we couldn’t think about working without you, because no one could do the job like you can.”
I think he is creating a really good prototype for a small business dealing with the economic downturn. He is taking the opportunity (and slight risk, but one worth taking) to expand into different areas. It’s like building legs on a table; if a table has two legs and you take away one, it will fall over. But if it has four legs, taking one away will only make it a bit lopsided. Also, I think the most important thing anyone can do for their business is to make sure you have something unique to offer clients or customers.
Why should you be the company that people will always want to return to? If you can develop that area alone, you will have a much brighter future. A local recording studio I work at is following much of this example as well, moving into working with TV and licensing and attending conferences to attract new clients. They are also the kind of place people are loyal to (I can personally attest to this!). Part of anyone’s product is the experience it provides. Focus on this, and you’ll have a unique perspective that will undoubtedly enhance your business.
Small businesses are in a very unique position right now. They have the ability to be flexible, and make changes they need to make, whether it be expanding into new areas or securing great customer relationships. Now is a very good time to take that risk. Most likely, there are many others doing the same thing, and working together is beneficial for everyone.