|Posted on July 8, 2014 at 1:20 PM|
Nearly every custom installer I’ve met also loves a good craft beer. (Shamless plug: Check out my blog dedicated to craft beer reviews!) Beer is almost always part of the tradeshows we attend; either as a booth enticement or afterhours party conversation lubricant. Beer is often a crew pit stop at the end of the work day, either to celebrate or commiserate over a hard install.
Regardless of your personal take on Sam Adams beer, Jim Koch’s Boston Beer is now the largest craft beer maker on the market with over $600 million in annual revenue and a 1% share of the US beer market. In 1983, Koch left a 6-figure job with Boston Consulting Group, took an old family recipe and started a brewing revolution that has made him a billionaire and lasted 30 years.
What can we learn from this?
Find and Fill a Need
Koch described the American beer scene as “basically a wasteland” in the ‘80s, with drinking options limited to American pale lager macrobrews or imports that often lost their flavor due to travel time. Koch says, “There really wasn’t an alternative that was rich, flavorful beer delivered fresh.” So he made one.
The entire custom installation industry basically exists to “fill a need.” People want TVs mounted and audio distributed throughout their home and a simpler way to control devices. They look to technology to make their lives easier and more enjoyable and they look to integrators to make that technology user friendly. As new “needs” arrive, will your company be nimble enough to adapt to be able to fill them? Say moving into networking, or commercial, or security…?
Compete on Your Terms
When Koch explained to his father that he was going to quit a solid, well-paying job to get into brewing, his dad thought he was crazy. Namely because he would be competing against the mega brewers that were producing millions of barrels of what American beer drinkers seemed to like. Koch explained to his father, “I’m not going to compete with the big guys. They’re good at what they do. They make fine beer. Just like McDonalds and Burger King and Wendy’s make fine food. I can’t make beer that way, I can’t make beer that cheaply, [but] I can make the gourmet meal instead of fast food.”
Like Sam Adams, our products and services are often going to be higher than the Big Box retailers, but we can compete by providing a gourmet experience and service that provides a “gourmet” alternative that many people will be willing to pay for. We clearly can’t compete on price, but we can dominate on service and experience.