We work with a lot of firms on developing niches. Often firms equate developing a niche with specialization or developing specialists in an industry like manufacturing or health care, or functional area like business valuations or cost segregation services. They read or hear about all the benefits of specialization and they recognize the value of it, but in my experience, firms sometimes struggle with what it looks like.
It’s fairly typical that when I’m working with a partner group to define what it means to be a — specialist — each partner has a different idea. In order for specialization to become a competitive advantage everyone needs to be clear about what it means to specialize:
- What does it look like in our firm?
- What does it mean for individuals? Does it mean that professionals spend more than 50% of their chargeable time serving the industry?
- Do we have a team? Or is it individually based?
- What does it mean for the firm? Does it mean the firm generates more than XX% of revenue from clients in that market? Or spends a certain number of hours serving those clients? How many hours?
The more specific the firm’s definition, the better the result.
Once the partner group sets a clear expectation for what it means for the firm to specialize the staff can better understand what kinds of behaviors are expected. The marketing professional can create the right messages to attract the right target market. The firm can begin to align processes internally with the definition so that clients in that target market begin to recognize the firm’s specialization.
And this gives the firm a great foundation from which to grow their top line.