Beyond extended hours, can you make it easier to do business with your company?  My wife used to have a favorite appliance repair company.  She raved about their service, the shoe covers, the trucks, and the clean-cut friendly technicians.  One day she stopped using them, switching to a company she loathed.  When I asked why, she responded, “They let me schedule service online.”

6. Peace of Mind

Contracting Business Hall of Fame member, Larry Taylor differentiated his company by offering nervous consumers peace of mind about the people who would show up at their homes.  Larry not only performed background checks, drug tests, and used photo ID badges, but he posted all of the information about each technician on the company website so that homeowners could check out the technician who was dispatched to their homes.

While there is no evidence that the majority of our communities are more dangerous than the past, our society has become hyper-alert to risk.  People are paranoid and peace of mind can be a powerful form of distinction.

7. Charitable Support

The Cotton Patch Café supports a number of charities, including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, and others.  The restaurant stands out from the crowd with its customers because of the charitable activity.  People think of the chain as a restaurant that gives back.

Are there charities that you can visibly support in your market?  Ben Stark painted a truck pink and donated a percentage of the profits from that truck to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  For the breast cancer survivor “sorority” in Stark’s service area, Stark Air became the company to call.  After Ben shared the story at a Service Roundtable meeting, a number of contractors across the country emulated Ben.

The pink truck with the Komen logo is brilliant because it shouts the affiliation.  Many contractors support local charities, but seem reluctant to communicate it.  Letting people know you support a charity does not diminish the contribution.  In fact, it might increase if this causes consumers to select your company over the competition.

8. Environmental

You can become distinctive among consumers who care about the environment by becoming a “green” company.  However, this can quickly work against you if it’s little more than lip service, or “green washing.”

Hobaica Services, a Contracting Business Contractor of the Year Recipient, plants trees in a national forest every time the company installs an air conditioner.  The company recycles more than refrigerant, offers solar, and generally makes a sincere effort to reduce the business’ environmental impact.  Accordingly, they have attained “green cred” and distinctiveness.

9. Jingle

Roto-Rooter Plumbing and Drain Service built their business on the strength of a jingle.  The previously mentioned Hobaica Services also used a jingle very successfully (“You’ll like-a Hobaica”).

Jingles can get inside the head of a consumer and stick.  However, they will only work if you can support them with sufficient advertising on broadcast media.

10 Geographic Specialty

Rigidly defining your service area to focus on a specific community can be a source of differentiation if promoted well.  If no other contractor has grabbed the community name as a company name, that’s a great way to identify your company as the community expert.

Specialization of any kind tends to result in more effective marketing because the specialization forces you to focus your marketing.  Just remember that identifying yourself as the expert for Community A means you will have a more difficult time soliciting business from Community B.