What’s your niche?
Being a jack-of-all-trades is all very well. But would you prefer to be a master of one?
‘Finding your niche’ is popular these days. Everyone from high school pupils to YouTube stars are at it. But don’t write it off as a trend – finding your niche could be the key that unlocks a whole new world of work opportunities for you, not to mention boosting your earning potential through the roof.
If you have no idea where to start, don’t worry. Rhino Trade Insurance are here to guide you.
This might end up being a long one, so grab a brew and your biscuit of choice and let’s begin.
What is a niche?
Firstly, how the heck is it pronounced? Some people say ‘neesh’, others ‘nitch’. We prefer ‘neesh’ – no particular reason, we just think it sounds better.
A niche is basically something you specialise in and can do very well. When smiley maths guru Carol Vorderman started appearing on Countdown back in 1982, you could say that she had found her niche. No-one knew numbers better than Carol, at least nobody who could command a camera’s attention for a solid 45 minutes (including ad breaks).
In the trade world, your niche should be an area in which you have particular strength, skill or area of specialisation. From there, you should be willing to develop this until you are the number one person in that niche, meaning that instead of having to compete for business with every Tom, Dick and Harry in the mainstream trade, you will be in high demand with every single customer in that niche (and hopefully profitable) market.
What is the advantage of having a niche?
Some people think that having a niche is going to narrow down your potential customer base.
This is true, but bear with us. If you’ve done it right, this should be a good thing.
Here’s an example of the niche model in action:
The diabetic dogs
A small business only makes treats for diabetic dogs. In doing this, they knowingly isolate the general market of non-diabetic dog owners. But instead of this being a setback, the brand will gain far more popularity within the sizeable diabetic dog-owning market than they ever could by offering generic dog treats to an over-saturated general market. The diabetic dog owners will be prepared to pay well over the odds for the products which are designed especially for their diabetic pooches.
The company has filled a niche – and is enjoying profitability and success within that niche.
OK, but why are we talking about dog treats, we hear you ask? OK, let’s give another more relevant example of how a niche can secure an advantage for a tradesperson:
The specialist painter and decorator
A public heritage building is looking to upgrade its café facilities and needs a painter and decorator.
The café is located in an old coach house with lots of wooden beams and historical details. The management don’t want to use any old painter and decorator – they want someone who is specialised in work of this type. They need to be assured that the original features won’t be damaged, and that the tradesperson is used to safely stripping off layers of paint from another century.
They will seek out a painter and decorator whose niche is working on heritage buildings. They will be prepared to pay double or triple the usual rate for the work to be completed safely and to a high standard.
As you can see, it pays to have a niche. Your targeted customers will be able to find you quicker, you will become sought-after among that specific market, and you won’t waste so much time fielding enquiries from potential customers who need something you can’t give.
How to find your niche
So, as a tradesperson, how can you improve your specialised skillset in order to move into a niche?
The first thing is to consider your strengths. An example would be a carpenter who has always preferred working on the trims, mouldings and finishings of buildings (what’s called ‘second fix carpentry’). He might want to stick to this type of carpentry rather than also offering things like cabinets, structural work and joist work.
His second fix carpentry clients will thank him for it – they want an expert on the job, not someone who will have a pop at anything. He’d lose some clients who are after structural/ joist work, but he would gain so many potentially lucrative clients who are only after high-quality finishings.
Think of it like this – when you see that a Chinese restaurant that also offers kebabs, fish and chips, pizzas and burgers, you turn round and walk out the door, right? (You don’t have to answer that one). But our point is this – you want people to offer one thing and do it very well.
Focusing on one profitable area – and doing it well – is what trade niches are all about.
What’s my niche?
But how can you find the right niche for you?
First, consider your strengths. There’s no point going after a niche you know you’d struggle in. Then, you should take a look at the market. Are there any market gaps you’ve identified in the time you’ve been in your line of work? Have you noticed customers asking about a certain service you don’t currently provide, but could? The great thing about being in the trades is that you talk to people every day, so are in the perfect position to take a pulse check of what people want out of a tradesperson.
Here are a few examples of tradesperson niches off the top of Rhino’s head:
- A roofer who is an expert in flat roofs
- A joiner who is a one-stop shop for kiddie-proofing homes with toddlers
- A carpenter who only makes bespoke patio furniture
- A removal man who disassembles and assembles furniture
- A bricklayer who specialises in conservation brickwork
- A builder who uses 100% recycled materials
- A handyman specialising in jobs for people living with dementia
We can’t tell you if any of these would be right for you. Only you can know what your niche might be, but we hope our list has got you thinking.
What if you don’t have any special skills?
Plenty of tradespeople don’t have a particular area of specialism beyond their main trade. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you are looking for your niche and can’t seem to find it, it might be time to upskill.
Think back to the general carpenter we mentioned earlier who prefers second fix carpentry. Once he has made the decision to move towards developing his expertise in that area, his next step would be to begin to work on his skills in things like applied moulding, wood panelling and feature walls. This could be with formal training such as diplomas, on-the-job training or even teaming up with a more experienced second fix carpenter. By focusing his skills in this area, and eventually dropping the general rough carpentry from his core offering, he will begin to move towards his new niche.
He should also start to focus his self-promotion on the types of clients who might be looking for higher-end trimmings, such as developers of premium new-build properties.
Once he has some jobs under his belt, he can start to market himself as an expert in high-end trim carpentry for new builds, thus moving away from the saturated general trade and towards his niche.
A word to the wise
It should be said that nobody can move into a niche overnight. It’s not a good idea to publicly declare that you’re no longer offering X or Y core service before you’ve had the time to test the market, build your skills and build a reputation within your profitable niche market.
It takes some time to upskill and build up a base of clients, so the process of niche-ifying your business should be a slow and steady one.
It’s important to mention that not everyone needs to find a specific niche. Offering a variety of services works very well for many tradespeople, and in fact being a multi-skilled tradie or general handyman in the right location can mean you’re always in demand.
But if you’re finding that you’re struggling to stand out in your chosen trade, the phone isn’t always ringing and you’re looking to offer something a bit different, it might be time to find that niche.
Thank you for sticking with us. We hope this article has given you some food for thought.
At Rhino Trade Insurance, we work with tradesmen and women up and down the UK, and we’re passionate about helping them protect their businesses with our award-winning trade insurance.
If you fancy a chat about our tailored trade insurance policies, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, ping us a message via our webchat or give us a call today on 0116 243 7904.
As always, if you need to chat about anything, our friendly team are here 6 days a week.
If you’re not feeling chatty, you can grab yourself an instant quote using our quick quote engine. No matter your niche, we’ll have a policy which is just the right fit.