Posted by Emily Bauer
November 26, 2018
As a home service business owner, it’s important to stay on top of the latest industry trends and technology so you can provide the best available solutions to your customers.
The more you know about what to expect in 2019 and over the next few years, the better you can future-proof your plumbing business, take advantage of the available technology, and anticipate changes in customer expectations.
Here are some of the emerging trends and predictions that will shape the plumbing industry in 2019.
In 2019, online engagement will be more important than ever for plumbers. This is true for any type of home service business, not just plumbing.
Think about it – when a customer is looking for a local business, they’re searching online. That means your online presence will directly affect whether someone chooses to hire your or not – or if they’ll even see your business in the list of results.
So, aside from optimizing your website SEO and claiming your Google My Business listing, you should put some effort into your social media presence. Standing out on social platforms is one of the most cost-effective ways to connect with potential customers with your plumbing business.
Even if you don’t want to invest money in paid ads, you can join and participate in Facebook groups related to the plumbing industry, or home renovations, or even water preservation. Be helpful by responding to consumer questions and share informative articles that would interest your target audience.
This not only sets you up as an expert in your field, but also creates a convenient opportunity to plug your business or link to your business page (as long as the group rules allow it).
If your website isn’t responsive, you’re going to lose out on potential business. Why? Because your would-be customers can’t navigate your website on their phones – which is how a large percentage of consumers are searching for local home service businesses.
A responsive website is one that’s built to look great on any screen, regardless of size, so it can be used easily on any device. However, if you’re still using an outdated website that’s not responsive, consumers might not even be able to load the homepage, let alone navigate the site or find your contact information.
Plenty of customers shop around for the most cost-effective plumbing services. However, low-cost doesn’t always equate to a great deal – especially if it means lower-quality work in exchange for the lower rate.
Since it’s often quick and easy for consumers to compare rates online, it’s important to educate customers about the importance of quality craftsmanship. This isn’t necessarily about justifying the cost, but about helping people understand what they’re paying for and improving your customer relationships.
Plus, for many home service businesses, it’s impossible to compete on price alone. If everyone did that, the margins would keep on shrinking – and nobody wins in a race to the bottom.
It’s much more sustainable to inform your customer base about the value provided by your expertise. So, whether you invest in content creation (adding a blog to your website and sharing videos or photos on social media) or add an FAQ to your website, you need to find a way to educate consumers and establish yourself as an industry expert.
You already know that your reputation is your livelihood – and that’s not changing anytime soon. But what has changed is the way consumers learn about your business.
Customer reviews are one of the biggest factors that influence your reputation. Increase your positive reviews by asking happy customers to write a brief comment about your professionalism.
If you do get any negative reviews, it’s best to respond as diplomatically as possible. Try to get to the root of the issue and encourage the customer to give you a call so you can clear things up. Hopefully, you’ll be able to fix the issue – and maybe even convince the customer to reconsider their initial review.
As consumers become aware of the true impact of climate change, more people are looking for ways to do their part by reducing their environmental footprint.
Considering that the average American family of four uses at least 300 gallons of water per day – that’s a conservative estimate of 109,500 gallons annually – it’s about time consumers start to think about how they can minimize their water consumption.
Something as common as a running toilet wastes up to 200 gallons of water per day. So, simply hiring you to fix a toilet could reduce their household consumption by two-thirds of the total used by the average family every day.
Plus, installing modern toilets allows consumers to waste less water with every flush. According to a 2014 Government Accountability Report, Americans could reduce their water usage by 20% or more by simply switching to water-efficient appliances.
You might also start to see more solutions designed to reduce water consumption. For instance, greywater recycling is growing in popularity since it allows consumers to reduce water usage at home.
Considering that the average age of pipes around the US is 47 years (and some pipes in New York and Philadelphia are almost double that), the problems caused by aging pipes in entering public awareness more than ever.
You may or may not find customers asking about pipe relining before an incident occurs, but you’ll definitely get calls from people dealing with the consequence of waiting too long to replace or reline their pipes. This will include a range of issues, from leaking pipes to major plumbing issues to damaged property.
To prepare for the influx of issues related to aging pipes, make sure you and your team have the right tools, training, and knowledge to handle these problems.
More than ever, consumers are concerned about the environmental impact of their household appliances. This is contributing to one emerging trend that you should keep on your radar: a growing preference for energy-efficient water heaters.
As homeowners take an interest in environmentally-friendly alternatives, you can expect to see more solar-powered water heaters. Consumers opt for solar heaters for the twin benefits of saving energy and lowering their heating bill.
Here’s why this matters for you: when consumers first make the switch, they’ll need a local plumber to handle the installation. So, make sure you add solar heater installation to the list of services on your website.
With the technological advances and the power of artificial intelligence, smart appliances are popping up in just about every industry – including yours.
If you haven’t encountered brain pipes in the wild yet, it’s likely only a matter of time before you do. These smart pipes are able to self-diagnose leaks and alert the consumer before much damage has a chance to occur. It detects where leaks are located, which makes your job easier and keeps your customers calm in what could otherwise turn into a homeowner’s nightmare.
Technology isn’t just good for saving your customers money on water usage, it can also help you work more efficiently. For instance, trenchless technology offers an alternative to the traditional method of installing and repairing pipelines.
Unlike traditional sewer lines, this tech provides a faster, cost-effective solution that requires considerably less manual labor. Rather than digging up the client’s property to install the pipeline, you only need to create small openings at both ends of the pipe.
Plus, it’s easier to figure out what’s going on when plumbing issues arise – because you can view the inside of the pipe with a camera.
There are a lot of plumbing professionals out there. In fact, in 2016 there were almost 470,000 plumbers in the United States – and that number is only increasing.
More people are entering the trade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the plumbing industry will grow by 24% from 2014 to 2024.
But just as the competition is heating up, so is demand for plumbers. In fact, reports suggest that no plumbing company holds more than 1% of the market share in terms of revenue.
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