Entering the Fiber Optic Market
By William Graham
(from: Structured Cabling & Connecting Systems)
Installing fiber optics is just part of the continuous evolution of work in the electrical trade and as well as quoting on jobs using traditional technologies, the contractor is now being asked to do jobs that have some fiber optics as an important component.
Unfortunately, many contractors resisted learning this new technology and passed up jobs which would have kept their people working and worst of all, some contractors refused work from old customers because of the fiber optics component of the project. On the other side of the coin, we increasingly see contractors looking at fiber optics as an area in which to expand their business.
I have spent countless hours talking to contractors, attempting to encourage them to “bite the bullet”, take the bull by the horns and get involved with fiber optics. During these discussions, a lot of good and worthwhile suggestions are made as to the best approach for the contractors to take, for entering the fiber optics market.
I have condensed these ideas into the following easy steps:
Learn as much about the technology as possible. Send for information on materials, tools and test equipment. Take the time to read the information and question the suppliers. Set up fiber optic material files, get on distributors’ mailing lists and, above all, read all the periodicals on fiber optics that you possibly can.
Train yourself and any others. Training is an investment and, like any other investment, there is a cost, but there is also a high return. The alternative is ignorance, and that is always more costly. Get some basic tools, materials and test equipment. Take time to practice. The most effective training will combine formal training with on-the-job or shop practice.
Advertise your new fiber optic skills. Tell the world what you can do. Define what you want to sell, then put together a brochure or an advertisement in your local newspaper, trade journal or other medium. Initially you will probably be selling fiber optic installations, splicing, troubleshooting, preventative maintenance and restoration services.
Talk to your existing customers; they should be your best references. Make sure they know you can fill any fiber requirements they might have. Talk to your suppliers also, and ask them to refer you.
Let other contractors know that you will willingly take on any fiber projects they might not want to do. Many will welcome your offer.
Go out of the way to take on a small fiber job, but don’t underprice the job just to get it; leave yourself a reasonable profit. Get the assistance of your suppliers of your fiber optic materials. Help is out there for the asking.
They do want you to succeed.
Now that your feet are wet, and hopefully you made a small profit, the next step is to go for bigger jobs. Your contact list is building as well as your resources and confidence. Take it a step at a time, but take these steps.
When you complete a job, sell the customer a maintenance and restoration contract. They want your assurance that you will be there if they need you and you want to continue to build on your relationship with your customers.
William Graham (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the president of Mississauga Training Consultants and a member of the Advisory Board for Structured Cabling & Connecting Systems.