The small engine repair shop can fix bicycles if someone asks. A washing machine repairperson can wire a new light switch, and the pizza shop can serve eggs benedict. Should they diversify?
Often the mindset is that if we don’t have it, we can get it. It is tempting to grab some money on the table and run to the next table to see what is desirable there. Also tempting is chocolate cake, sleeping in, and another cocktail at happy hour. None of which may be a good idea.
It may seem easy for the restaurant to expand the menu, the mechanic to fix everything that has a bolt, and for the landscaper to paint the porch, stain the deck, or seal the driveway.
If there is time, a need, a question, or what is otherwise believed to be an opportunity, then perhaps it is tempting to take it. The mindset is, when customers ask, we don’t refer, we respond.
This appears to work, that is until you are an expert at nothing. What you become known for is unclear, and how people refer you doesn’t seem to make any sense. Is your small business a group of part-time hobbyist or experts?
The general store has general merchandise and this makes sense. A medical doctor knows something about tending to cuts and bruises, and can also take your temperature and diagnose the common cold.
On the other hand, the shoemaker probably shouldn’t get involved with wagon wheels. Both help you go places, but they are a completely different markets and expertise.
Getting eggs benedict at the pizza shop is unusual. It typically would not strengthen their business, but distract from it. Making them more noticed is having the best pizza, or the best eggs, but likely not both.
McDonalds tried pizza for a while, but I don’t believe it was a hit. Taco Bell has tested french fries, and Tractor Supply has been known to sell baby chicks and ducks.
Having a wider offering seems logical to pick up some extra cash, or cause a little excitement. Is it really what you want? Does it make sense or is it a distraction?
Most people are trying to remove clutter from their life. It seems to make things easier, better, and more focused. Cluttered businesses typically don’t really get noticed, but the specialty shop is easy to refer.
The idea to diversify may make sense for the general store, not so much for the specialty shop.
Which one are you?
If you say, “both.”
I’ll say, “The small engine repair shop can fix…”
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.