Business was good in 2021, but hiring is tough in 2022.
Those are two main takeaways from a survey on Market Trends conducted earlier this year at Pantheon, ServiceTitan’s annual conference for the trades. The survey measured industry and market trends, with 190 participants of varying-size businesses participating.
Some key takeaways:
Business was good in 2021.
The main concern in 2022 is finding and hiring more employees.
A great majority of businesses are interested in leveraging technology to support growth, especially with data-driven insights.
Most believe that marketing and sales will be most affected by technology.
Business growth in 2021
Residential and commercial shops both posted what ServiceTitan called “overwhelmingly positive profitability results in 2021.” While 60% percent of commercial and 70% of residential respondents reported growth of at least 6%, less than 10% reported a loss, none in commercial.
The best news: more than half (52%) of respondents reported growth of 11% or more, largely driven by enterprise shops.
Yes, 2021 seemed to be a good year for many.
Optimism and concerns
Respondents are optimistic about 2022. Ninety-two percent said they are optimistic about their business performance, and 77% see positive growth the rest of the year, even with concerns about inflation.
Finding and hiring the best people remains the top concern. While 49% percent said their main concern surrounds being productive in the hiring process, and 23% listed the concern of finding new customers.
When it comes to predicting market trends, 39% felt that hiring the right people will have the biggest impact. Supply-chain concerns were second, at 15%. That percentage is significant. Another ServiceTitan survey held last August showed that 97.5% of respondents either were not told by the suppliers when the shortage will end, or the suppliers are not sure themselves. The decrease may be an indicator that the supply chain issues are lessening.
One intriguing element to the survey: Businesses that had no or negative growth in ’21 and those with extreme growth (more than 11%) felt increasing profit margin was most important to their business.
Leveraging technology, especially data-driven insights
Those who took the survey are extremely interested in how their businesses can leverage technology, with a focus on data-driven insights. ServiceTitan has written about data-driven insights when it discussed the impact of cold weather on HVAC businesses and when it examined the realities of “Brown Friday” – the day after Thanksgiving.
Data-driven insights (DDI) were of interest to 96 percent of respondents, shared equally by residential and commercial entities. The interest is strong in how DDI can impact marketing. The most successful businesses listed DDI and AI to be having the biggest impact on marketing and call booking.
The other two major technology drivers of interest were Artificial Intelligence (AI), 82%, and Machine Learning (ML), 81%.
Companies with moderate and high growth were most interested in proven entities such as AI and ML.
AI and DDI are seen to have the most positive impact on marketing and call booking by positive-growth companies.
Moderate to high growth businesses favor AI as it relates to call booking, but those with slow or no growth see Natural Language Processing (NLP) to be having the biggest impact.
Image recognition was seen as the top value to help positive growth for all growing companies.
loT is the least known as it relates to its impact on the trades.
Some details on the survey: 190 participants took part, with participants receiving a $5 Starbucks card. The sample was weighted toward residential, but was spread across different-size companies. Owners and general managers made up two-thirds of the sample, which reflects the attendees at Pantheon. Almost 90% of respondents were businesses between $1 million and $50 million, with an equal number less than $1 million and more than $50 million.
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