You have worked hard to create your business and validate your niche. You have some great customers who are loyal and support you. But what happens when you get asked to do something outside of your wheelhouse? How do you handle a request for a product outside of your niche?
Let’s go through an example. You own a local embroidery business. You monogram, put names, images, etc. on all types of woven fabric. That is your niche and you are known for this in your community. You have a loyal customer who lets you know she is throwing a shower and wants to have you make all of the guest gifts. She lets you know that in addition to embroidery, she wants you to monogram all types of gifts, let’s say a makeup bag as well as a mirror, a comb, and some additional non-fabric gifts. She’s asking you to create vinyl monograms.
While honored that a loyal customer wants you to be the single business to support the shower, you immediately start thinking about how to provide this service for your customer. If you say yes, you are going to have to purchase more equipment you don’t have and will have to learn techniques you have never applied. If you say no, you could lose this amazing customer and possibly lose the ability to grow your business in this new product line. What to do?
First: Ask questions of your customer. Don’t let her be vague or general in her asks of you, ask all of the questions that come to mind.
Second: Understand exactly what she is asking of you. Again, to deliver to her expectations, you must understand what they are. Understand all of the gifts she wants to provide if she has already purchased them or needs to purchase them through you when she needs to have everything put together, etc.
Last but not least: Offer alternative options that are within your niche. You very well may want to expand your business and this is something you have been considering. But do that on your terms.
Maybe now is time to expand your services. If that’s something you have been wanting to do, how many additional pieces of equipment will you have to purchase? How much will they cost? When will they arrive? How will you learn to use them? Can you deliver to the deadline she has given?
You have to consider these questions and more in order to be able to deliver to the expectations of your customer. If you aren’t wanting to expand your services or you simply cannot do it at this time, be honest with your customer. Thank her for thinking of you and thinking so much OF you. Let her know what you can and cannot do. Do this immediately so she has plenty of time to find an alternate pathway if she doesn’t want to consider additional products you can provide.
Staying true to your niche, especially while in a startup phase, will help you run that much faster. Sometimes saying no is better than saying yes.