If you don't manufacture bicycles, jewelry, wheels or outdoor furniture, but merely provide the "finishing touch," what can you do to make your "product" different? Think about it...the more a product is perceived as the same as another, the less value it has. What attributes can you give your plating, powder coating or painted finish that will strip it of its commodity label?
Perhaps the answer cannot be found in the finish; maybe it lies beyond the finish. Whatever strategy you use to make your product less of a commodity, it has to add value for your customer. There are the traditional standbys of lower costs and faster service; however, along with these dependable methods, there are the other benefits you can offer. These include, before and after the sale service, credit policies, delivery speed, replacement procedures, laboratory services, packing and shipping services, reliability, consistency and adaptability.
Often, however, the way to differentiate your product from another is to create an image for it. Why does Coca-Cola taste better out of those little bottles than it does from a 12-ounce can? It is the same product. It is the aura created around those little bottles. (It is the drink we always pulled out of the old basement refrigerator when visiting Grandma. Nostalgia.) The company knows this and charges more for them too.
An aura such as this is difficult to create in the finishing industry, unless you create substantially "different" finishes, such as signature antique finishes or special metallic style two-tone powder coats. Most finishers must differentiate themselves using one of the more practical approaches listed previously.
Your best bet is to pick the top three strategies that add value to your customer. Use the strategies that will best differentiate your company from your competitor, last the longest and cost the least. With some thought and creativity, you can use these strategies to change the image of finishing to less of a commodity and more of a value-added service.