Reinventing your business

The other day, a colleague passed along a comment he had heard from a well-known groundwater insider. This is a dying industry, the insider said.

I wisely bit back the initial protest that rose from my gut to give myself a chance to think. When the fog of my indignance cleared, I could see the point. The groundwater industry certainly doesn’t look like it did a decade ago. Contractors are drilling fewer wells, forcing them to sustain their business with service work. Where work was once plentiful, people are selling their rigs and fighting over house calls.

Even so, that doesn’t mean the industry is dying. It certainly means the industry is changing. This isn’t a new situation; it happens all the time. A business, a market, an industry hums happily along for a period of time. People know what to do and they do it. Then they move to the next job and do it again. Eventually, though, something shifts. It doesn’t matter if it’s the economy, the introduction of a new technology, or market saturation. Something alters the universe and the world as we know it starts fraying at the edges, threatening to unravel.

So what can we do about it? We adapt.

In the groundwater—or any—industry, that means

  • Differentiating yourself from your competition. Although this appears to help YOU more than the industry itself, I would argue that anything that raises the bar ends up producing a better product/service and ultimately helps us all.
  • Looking at the industry from a different perspective. Instead of taking the approach that you “just” drill wells or install pumps, realize that you design, install, troubleshoot, and repair water systems. Your job is to keep your customers supplied with water in a way that keeps them comfortable and happy. How can I improve this customer’s water experience? When you look at it this way, you’ll start to see possibilities far beyond drilling wells and setting pumps.
  • Expanding your focus to find new ways to apply your skills and/or equipment. You have a lot of groundwater knowledge that you’ve picked up along the way. You don’t have to confine that to pump installation and service. And if you have a horizontal drill or cable tool, you already know that they have broader uses than just for water wells.
  • Finding new ways to add value. Use new technologies and products to improve performance and extend the life of the systems you install, earning you customers for life.

These are some pretty broad observations, but I’ll bet you can use them as springboards to identify opportunities specific to your business. Sure, things may look different today than they did yesterday, but this industry will only die if we let it.

Note: Tammy Davis, Director of Corporate Communications at Franklin Electric, provided this week’s post as a guest blogger while Mark Reeder is on vacation.

One thought on “Reinventing your business

  1. Tammy,
    You nailed this perfectly. The business landscape has change dramatically over the past 3-4 years. In my day to day travels in the SE region of the U.S. I have observed dealers who say they are as busy as ever that adopted your suggestions early on, as well as those that are either out of business now or are close to it who’ve hung on to the “traditional” business model in todays economy. Business is an ever changing landscape and if you aren’t observant and change with it with innovatative approachs geared to success, your business will suffer loss to those that do no matter how secure you feel about your past performance.

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