Written on August 3, 2009 by Jay Ehret

Breadth: Being broad in scope. Carrying items in many different product categories. Offering several different types of service under one roof.

This means that you try to offer everything a customer might want, even if it’s only remotely related to your product or service offering. If you are a remodeling company you might do everything from adding a closet, to trimming out some cabinetry, to building a patio, up to a complete kitchen remodel.

Depth: Being intense in scope by immersing your business into an industry or product category. Stocking a focused product mix, a specialized service offering.

One example is a landscaping company that does only irrigation systems, or only commercial work. The key word being only.

That word only is a sticking point. Businesses would rather use the term: and more. “Family law, real estate law, injury claims…..and more.” Which makes a business wide rather than deep. The problem with breadth is that it costs more to be wide. You have to carry more stuff or offer more services, increasing your operating expenses. Breadth also requires lower prices to move your inventory or to win business against a wider field of competitors.

Being broad means being a source. Being deep means being a resource. Sources are many, resources are few. Sources compete on price, resources compete on expertise. When I want a source for nails, I go to Lowe’s. When I need a resource to help me choose the right sprinkler head, I choose my local Keith’s Hardware Store, where they have an employee stationed at the front entrance of the store offering help.

If I want a cheap light fixture for my garage, Home Depot is a source. When I need just the right chandelier for my dining room, I go to Texas Bright Ideas, where they have a showroom, not just an aisle of boxes.

What kind of business are you? Are there advantages to being a broad rather than deep?

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