When you plan your aerial installation business it's important to make an estimate of how much demand there will be. It's also important to find out as much as possible about the competition. Doing some market research will help you with this.
Think about how many people and organisations are likely to use your services.
Private domestic work
Much of the work you do will probably be for private householders - people wanting to upgrade their television system, improve their reception, switch to a new satellite service and so on.
Think about how densely populated your working region is. Much of your work is likely to be concentrated within the most densely populated areas, so it may be worth focusing your advertising and marketing efforts on them.
Look at the type of housing in the area. Is it:
- mainly rented or mainly owner-occupied
- mostly individual houses or mostly flats and apartment blocks
- well kept or run-down
Try to find out about the types of people living in a particular area - are they mainly families, single people, students, immigrant workers, older people?
Look out for areas where installing equipment like satellite dishes could be problematic - these include conservation areas, national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) and listed buildings. It could be worth finding out details of local planning requirements in areas like these.
Try to match the range of products and services that you offer to the needs and wants of local people. Think about whether or not you're prepared to travel to other areas to do work.
Record sheet 1 will help you with this aspect of your market research.
Work for landlords
In rented accommodation, it's often the landlord who's responsible for things like aerial installation and repairs. Landlords of houses in multiple occupation (HiMOs) may require services like multipoint network installation, while owners of flats and apartment blocks may require master antenna television (MATV) and satellite (SMATV) systems that use a single aerial or dish to feed all the properties in a building through a network.
Installation work for other businesses and organisations
Think about other types of property in the area where your services might be required. Pubs and clubs, leisure businesses, schools and offices are all potential customers.
Contract and sub-contract work
Try approaching other businesses that may need your services regularly. You could, for example, leave your details with building contractors and property developers, who may regularly need aerial services. Housing associations may also be potential clients.
It may be possible to get regular work from other installers on a sub-contract basis. You might also be able to become an approved installer and repairer for insurance companies.
Large organisations who invite firms to tender for contract work may be reluctant to use a newly established business. Also, a young business may have difficulty in funding a large contract, as many things may have to be paid for well before any payment is received. But it may be worth finding out who is responsible for putting work out to tender in large organisations such as housing associations and big construction firms. Try to find out how the tender process works and what you would have to do if you wanted to tender for a contract.
Finding out about how much competition there is
Once you've decided who your customers might be, you need to find out how well they're already served.
How many other businesses in the area offer the same services that you intend to? A look through the relevant classifications on Yell.com (classifications 'Aerial services & supplies' and 'Satellite dish installers') and other online directories will help to establish this. You could also look at local print directories.
Look at some of your competitors' advertisements and websites:
- what services do they offer
- do they advertise any special features, for example '25 years experience', 'Sky approved' and so on
- do they belong to any trade associations, for example the Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI)
- what sort of impression does their advertisement give you (for example, does the firm come across as small and friendly, large and efficient, good value and so on)
Record sheet 2 will help you with this aspect of your market research.
Bear in mind that, when it comes to Sky satellite installations, you'll face competition from Sky's own network of installers. These focus on 'standard' domestic installations.
Remember that, unfortunately, you may also face competition from 'cowboys' and 'moonlighters' who work for cash but don't advertise anywhere. These often quote very low prices but usually fail to match the quality of professional firms. Many have no insurance and some are blatantly dishonest.