Do you know exactly what you do? Do you know exactly what your capabilities are? Most importantly do you have a good handle on what you cannot do? This is key to your success. You have to be real, and you have to be authentic. You cannot sell what you cannot do. Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? But we all know that it’s not.
All of us at one time or another will be tempted to take a leap of faith and try to do something we just cannot do. We might be tempted by trying to win over a new customer, or trying to impress or please a current customer, or just want to collect that big fat price that the customer is willing to pay to anyone who can build that challenging technology board.
Sometimes it might work, but most of the time it’s a mistake that is going to leave everyone a loser, you and the customer both.
Remember that old saying “Jack of all trades and master of none” Well being a master of none leaves Jack a very unhappy boy.
In short, stay in your own lane. Do what you do best. Most of the time this is obvious. If you are a low volume high mix PCB fab house stick to that. If you are a box build PCBA company, stay with that. In each case changing lanes will take much more time, energy, and expense than you can afford. Never mind the overall opportunity cost that will come with trying to do something or be someone you are not.
Sticking with what you can do well and most importantly what you are known for is never a good idea. Do what you are known for, and you will do fine.
McDonalds is known for their reliability and consistency. People go there because they know what to expect. You will get the same Big Mac in Portland, Maine as you do in Portland Oregon. That is what MacDonald’s is. Everybody says they hate the place but go to airports like O’Hare or Pittsburgh where there are at least twenty other places to eat and the longest lines are always at McDonalds…because people know what to expect when they patronize the place.
The same applies to whatever business you are in. They come to you because they know what to expect. If you are a QTA PCB company known for short lead times, customers are going to count on you to provide them with those services and products. And with respect to speed, they will hold you to a much higher standard than, say, the cutting edge PCB shop that builds the most difficult boards on the planet. Customers will expect them to build whatever they need, no matter the technology, and those customers will just assume that they will get it done, that’s what they are known for. But if they are late, the customer will accept it. When you are building the toughest PCBs in the world you are going to be late once in a while.
They are selling technology while the QTA shop is selling time.
These rules of brand identity, reputation and what products or services you are selling apply to all businesses. From the grocery store in Ohio who claims to have the cleanest restrooms in the world, to Maine Lobster Dock claiming the freshest and tastiest lobsters right off the boat you are expected to be what you claim to be. So, what you claim to be better be the best that you can be!
Nordstrom’s is known for impeccable customer service and a no questions asked return policy. They are famous for refunding a person who returned the snow tires he had bought. They gave him his money back no questions asked…and Nordstrom does not sell tires! (The more I tell that story, the less I believe it) But it is what it is.
LL Bean was famous for their lifetime guarantee. If you brought back a shirt you bought ten years ago and you did not like it anymore, they would refund your money, receipt or no receipt! Alas they no longer offer that incredible return policy since too many people were returning old LL Bean shirts they picked up for a buck at the Goodwill store last week.
But the point is still sharp. Do what you are good at, not just what you tell people you’re good at but what you really are good at. It’s only common sense.