When I first entered this industry I was curious when I would hear two companies in the same market claim that they didn't see the other as true competition and rarely ran into each other. They would claim that the reason the other company wasn't competition was because of their superior service. What I came to realize is that these companies didn't run into each other because they were servicing different market segments. They often didn't realize they were servicing different segments because over time Mr. Market did the segmenting. The segmentation was mostly down the lines of design market versus construction market.
The economic downturn has caused business owners to look much more closely at their business and the market in general. They are understanding what markets they are currently servicing and looking to expand into the other segments. What is important to understand is that these different segments have very different requirements especially price requirements. If your pricing and service differentiation are not carefully thought through it will erode your margins instead of growing your business. In this environment nobody needs more margin erosion. An article in CNN Money
talks about Starbucks struggle between the competing value propositions of fidelity
. This is very similar to differences in the AEC community. Design professionals want fidelity and construction professionals want convenience. Your pricing and service differentiation should match these market requirements otherwise you will loose business by charging too much, or erode margins by charging too little and having to provide more services.