Technology weighs heavily in this year’s top plumbing industry trends, from growing demand for smart homes to pipes that tell on themselves when they spring a leak.
Consumers increasingly ask the plumbing industry for green living products, ways to reduce water usage and recycle water, and for touchless plumbing fixtures.
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The combination of technology and customers’ environmental concerns opened new opportunities for plumbing contractors to expand into heating and cooling, lawn sprinklers, and other home mechanical systems.
At the same time, a critical shortage in skilled labor calls for renewed focus on quality control and creativity in the workplace.
Here’s a breakdown of the most important plumbing industry news you need to know.
1. Smart plumbers embrace smart technology
Consumers today use technology to control everything from their smartphones—from regulating their home’s indoor air temperature to creating a grocery list based on their smart refrigerator’s notifications.
Today’s homebuyers—many of whom grew up with smartphones—are not only extremely tech savvy, but also environmentally conscious. They want to work with service providers who use high-tech solutions, such as water leak detection smart devices to prevent unexpected water damage.
Workers in the plumbing industry who are willing to adapt to modern technology can identify new streams of revenue and provide better service to their customers.
2. Plumbing industry expands for new opportunities
Homeowners rely on the plumbing industry for more than fixing aging pipes, unclogging a toilet or installing a water heater these days.
Some companies in the plumbing industry also install HVAC units, water treatment systems, water conservation systems, landscape sprinkler systems, fire sprinkler systems, and waste management systems—all of which employ technology to maximize efficiency.
3. Educating customers about greywater plumbing trends
Today’s environmentally conscious consumers want to reduce water consumption and save money on utility bills. They remain committed to water conservation and are willing to pay for it, giving plumbers specifically trained in greywater systems an opportunity to reap the benefits.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the average American uses about 80 to 100 gallons of water every day, with showers and toilets consuming the most water. When customers complain about high water bills or ask about ways to save water, techs are trained to educate them about how greywater systems can reduce waste, benefit the environment, and save money.
Start the conversation about water usage and greywater alternatives, and make it a part of your plumbing company’s revamped digital marketing strategy. You’ll create a new pipeline for business and an entirely new revenue stream.
4. Demand grows for smart plumbing fixtures
Simple flush toilets don’t cut it anymore. With Generations X and Y now buying homes and Gen Z close behind, today’s young consumers expect more from what they buy than previous generations.
No longer content with traditional water heaters and plumbing fixtures, they want new technology including Bluetooth shower heads, smart water heaters, sensors to detect leaking pipes, and touchless digital faucets that reduce water flow.
The plumbing market also offers smart toilets that conserve water, or come with seat warmers and night lights. Touchless plumbing fixtures, previously found only in commercial settings, are gaining in popularity for homes because they last longer and help to conserve water.
What’s the most sought-after smart plumbing fixture by consumers? The tankless water heater. Plumbing professionals should be trained to explain to customers how tankless water heaters increase comfort and save on energy costs, and always offer them to customers as an option to take advantage of explosive growth rates in smart technology demand.
5. Brain pipes report their own leaks
Ever heard of brain pipes technology? This revolutionary way of detecting leaks is taking the new construction market by storm, and is sure to make an impact on the plumbing industry as well.
Brain pipes technology detects leaks in your plumbing system and pinpoints the exact location of the leak before sending a text to the homeowner and shutting off the water supply. This helps prevent mold or leak damage from occurring.
The technology also generates a monthly report on water consumption so homeowners can determine where and when they’re wasting the most water. If you’re a plumber who installs systems in new construction, you need to learn more about brain pipes.
6. Digital marketing matters to get a competitive edge
The plumbing industry remains very competitive throughout the nation, and not a single plumbing company claims more than 5 percent of the total market share. Plumbing industry statistics also indicate demand for plumbing services is projected to grow over the next five years.
With so many choices available for consumers, plumbing companies without solid digital marketing strategies, a social media presence, and positive online reviews become just another lost face in the crowd.
To be competitive in a saturated market with historically low customer loyalty, your plumbing company needs to build brand awareness. Brand awareness starts by meeting your customers where they search for plumbers today: Online.
Did you know that only 10 percent of millennials care whether they’ve used your service before when hiring a plumbing company—compared with more than 30 percent for previous generations?
Studies also show 70 percent of home services customers prefer email as the best communication tool to learn about deals, offers, and reminders. They also want to receive personalized emails, much like how Amazon remembers what customers searched for or bought previously.
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7. Cultivate online reviews to build a strong customer base
In today’s digital world, your online reputation depends on getting good customer reviews.
Did you know that a whopping 86 percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses before hiring, including 95 percent of those in the 18- to 34-year age group? In fact, consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before they feel like they can trust a company, and more than 40 percent only consider reviews posted within the previous two weeks.
Plumbing companies must constantly monitor their online reputations on every major platform: Google, Yelp, Houzz, and others. It’s also important to respond when you get a bad review, because 89 percent of consumers look for the company’s response.
To get a 5-star review, make sure your team is delivering a plumbing experience worthy of such glowing praise. Encourage regular, positive reviews from customers by including a polite request after every job with direct links to your Google My Business page or other online review platforms.
Make it easy for customers to do business with your company, and pay attention to online reviews to see what they think you’re doing well and what needs improvement. Customers tend to remember service companies who respond in real time.
8. Customers expect a personalized experience
In our on-demand world, with Alexa and Siri responding to the simplest of voice commands, today’s customers expect a custom-tailored experience with every purchasing decision—even plumbing services.
Turn your traditional customer service into an experience they’ll remember, and soon they’ll be singing your plumbing company’s praises to family and friends.
ServiceTitan’s core platform offers features specifically designed to elevate your customers’ experience, such as:
CSRs greet customers by name and know their complete history, age of equipment, etc., with a clear summary on their dashboard.
A two-way chat feature, allows your front office and customers to chat seamlessly through SMS texting.
Customers can book appointments, download invoices, and pay online without needing to call or wait on the phone.
Using GPS technology, customers can track their technician’s arrival time. Your CSRs can notify the customer the tech is on the way, including a photo and short profile of the person who’s about to enter their home.
9. Offer easy online payment options
Think of how you pay for things. Apple Pay. Venmo. PayPal. Square. These easy, one-click purchasing solutions offer consumers convenience when purchasing goods and services. They also help to mitigate any hesitation in the purchasing process.
Adopting modern payment processing solutions makes it easy for plumbing techs to collect payments without messy paperwork. For instance, ServiceTitan Payments allows your techs to capture payment on the job or allows customers to pay through an online portal.
Reconcile payments faster and save time on calculating payroll, accounts receivable, and more by automating your company’s finances with field management software for plumbers.
10. Labor shortage challenges a growing plumbing industry
The plumber job outlook remains promising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported an average expected job growth of 14 percent over the next 10 years for plumbers and related occupations, compared with only 5 percent for other industries.
To compete for top talent, companies need to build a strong company culture to attract and retain their best hires.
11. Apprenticeships help break plumbing industry barriers for women
In 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded nearly $1.5 million in grant funding through the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) program to recruit, mentor, train, and retain more women in quality apprenticeship programs such as those offered in the plumbing industry.
In an industry dominated by a male workforce, this national investment indicates a larger trend of more women choosing to become licensed plumbers. In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the percentage of women plumbers was only about 2.5 percent nationwide.
The old views of women as plumbers are as outdated as old pipes. As this massive pool of untapped potential continues to soar below the radar of many employers in the trades, business owners can confidently look at female plumbers as a viable solution to the skilled labor shortage.
12. Focus on mobile-first communication
Remember those tech-savvy millennials we talked about earlier? They’re expected to comprise 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, and they prefer to communicate digitally versus talking on the phone or face-to-face communication.
Business owners who focus on mobile-first communication, such as text messaging, work-based social media, or communicating through the ServiceTitan dashboard will keep employees happy and boost productivity. Instant messaging saves time, decreases miscommunication, and leaves a time-stamped record if questions arise.
ServiceTitan’s Mobile App also lets your team plug into the comprehensive platform through their tablet, keeping your back office informed in real time, allowing for easily produced good-better-best sales options for customers, and eliminating the need for an end-of-day trip back to the office to deliver paperwork.
Harness technology to boost your plumbing company’s bottom line
Even though smart technology rules plumbing industry trends for 2021, plumbers still need to focus on the basics:
Providing great customer service
Performing quality work, and
Educating consumers about the benefits of new products on the market.
Implementing powerful field management software lets you harness the power of technology to retain great employees, boost productivity, make more revenue, and give customers the kind of experience they’ll tell their friends about.
ServiceTitan Plumbing Software
ServiceTitan is a comprehensive plumbing business software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and achieve growth. Our award-winning, cloud-based platform is trusted by more than 100,000+ contractors across the country.