Finding a Niche Market

The vast changes taking place in our marketplace today confirms that the way we do business has changed. It is exciting, however, to see how many dealers have applied their creativity in uncovering new opportunities and finding ways to apply previously underutilized resources.

Manufactures and OEMs have been forced to become more innovative and competitive in creating and delivering greater value, and dealers are diversifying their products and services from the status quo. We are seeing some dealers fade away, but we are also seeing dealers creating a niche in their marketplace—particularly in the commercial segment.

Unique Opportunities

Without disclosing the dealers or their location, the following are some interesting niche markets that have evolved as a result of the need to change.

  • There is a water dealer who has trained his staff—both sales and service—to market exclusively to hospitals and medical clinics consisting of more than two-dozen specialty fields such as dental offices, optometrists, diabetes centers and others. They no longer compete in the residential market and have changed their marketing program to target the medical industry. The owner reports, although the sales cycle and learning curve is longer, he is happy with the direction and growth of his business.
  • Another water dealer who is an avid athlete has made recreational facilities their niche, consisting of more than a dozen types of facilities such as ski resorts, arenas, sports complexes, fitness centers and weight-loss clinics. This new focus has afforded them the ability to diversify their products and services they provide, which yield both short- and long-term recurring revenue.
  • I know of a couple of water dealers who have made the marine industry a lucrative niche, selling to and servicing ship lines. It is amazing how much work is available and money to be made providing potable water exclusively for the shipping industry; however, in some locations this niche is seasonal.
  • Some water dealers make greenhouses, dairy and poultry farms their niche. They have no interest in pursuing simple municipal, residential applications. They specialize in multiple water sources, chemical feeders, solenoid valves, alarm systems and regular monitoring.
  • There are water dealers who exclusively cater to the food-service industry by selling to and servicing hotels, lodges, legions, motels, coffee houses and restaurants. Their knowledge of water chemistry pertaining to dishwashing, food preparation and coffee roasting is superior and an essential part of their customer’s profitability. This in turn pays the water dealers for their expertise on an on-going basis.
  • Government or institutional facilities is another great niche. Obtain a list of government buildings, schools, apartment buildings and car washes in your area. These are great opportunities for driven and qualified water treatment providers.

Find Your Niche

Find a particular industry or field that you could apply your passion of water treatment and service, or develop the necessary skills and knowledge to consult, sell and service a particular niche industry. A couple of points to consider in establishing a niche market is that in many cases you may uncover ignored or unsaturated markets. These exclusive markets tend to yield a higher margin for your specialized services.

There are many water dealers who have a niche market where they have diversified themselves to deliver particular services to a particular group. The ideal niche market is one in which you have superior knowledge and fill a specialized need for your customer. A niche should provide continued opportunities to sell and a stable market where you can rent equipment and provide services and consumables that yield short- and long-term reoccurring revenue.

Ric Harry is director of Sales and Management Support. Harry can be reached at 905.734.7756 or by e-mail at info@richarry.com.

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