Top 10 Plumbing Industry Trends for 2020
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With 2020 just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to dig into some important plumbing industry news and statistics that will have direct implications for plumbing careers and businesses.
Plumbing industry statistics you need to know.
1. More job opportunities are on the horizon.
Plumber job outlook is promising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported an average of 14% expected job growth over the next ten years for plumbers and related occupations. That’s a much faster growth rate than most other industries at only 5%.
As much as that’s good news for people looking to enter into the trades, that also means business owners are going to feel growing pains more than they already do with the existing labor shortage. Owners need to distinguish their company as a preferred workplace for technicians.
The industry outlook for the future of the trades makes it even more daunting. 75% of current tradespeople are expected to retire in the next ten years, which means business owners are going to have to get creative with hiring tactics. Make sure you build a strong company culture that will not only attract but retain your top talent.
2. The gender gap will continue to improve, slowly.
On August 28, 2019, U.S. Department of Labor awarded nearly $1.5 million in grant funding through the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) Grant Program to recruit, mentor, train, and retain more women in quality apprenticeship programs like those for the plumbing industry.
This is indicative of a larger trend where women are breaking down the barriers of entry in sectors of the workforce that have been largely male-dominated—and this might just be the blessing in disguise business owners need. In 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the percentage of women plumbers was only about 2.5% nationwide.
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 labor shortage. And with that kind of national investment going into apprenticeship programs for women, business owners should tap into these critical pipelines ASAP.
3. Your digital marketing strategy will be more important than ever.
Plumbing businesses are widely spread out throughout the country yet remain quite competitive. There isn’t a single plumbing company that claims more than 1% of overall industry revenue. With plenty of companies for customers to choose from, you’re just one of many if you don’t have a solid marketing strategy.
To be competitive in a saturated market with historically low customer loyalty, you have to build brand awareness. Only 10% of millennials care whether they have used your service before when making a purchasing decision—compared to more than 30% for previous generations.
A cohesive digital strategy that includes thoughtful and targeted email marketing can help you deliver the right message to the right customers at the right time. Studies show that 70% of home services customers prefer email as the best type of communication related to deals, offers, and reminders. And even more of those consumers want communication from businesses to be personalized. Sophisticated tools like ServiceTitan Marketing Pro lets you customize stunning templates to create professional, targeted email campaigns in just a few clicks.
4. Plumbing is a growing part of the “smart homes” trend.
As wifi technology is being used to connect everything from smartphones to appliances, homeowners—and even savvy property owners—are looking for digital solutions to solve the high-cost maintenance responsibilities that come with property ownership.
One example of how the “smart homes” trend is influencing the plumbing industry are water leak detector smart devices. They can save property owners from unexpected water damage—a common and expensive problem. These water leak detectors are designed to notify the owner immediately if one of their pipes springs a leak. That’s when they call you. It’ll be critical for plumbing companies to get technicians well versed on smart devices like this, so they can intelligibly sell, advice, or comment on these products.
5. Modern payment processing will be a 2020 must.
Think of how you pay for things. Apple Pay. Venmo. PayPal. They are changing the way consumers purchase goods and services. These kind of one-click purchasing solutions offer consumers the ultra convenience they are looking for. And honestly, it helps mitigate any hesitation in the purchasing process.
Adopting modern payment processing solutions like ServiceTitan Payments—which enables on-the-spot payment capture or provides customers with an online payment portal—makes it easy for plumbing techs to collect payments without messy paperwork. These kinds of modern financial solutions can also reconcile payments faster and significantly cut down accounts-receivable time.
6. Employees are caring more about workplace happiness and career fulfillment.
As much as consumer behavior has evolved, workers have too. Employees aren’t just interested in big paychecks and promotions. They want to find meaning in their work. They want to feel like they are contributing to something bigger than themselves and, ultimately, be happy at work.
Studies have proven that workers are more productive and routinely perform better when they are happier. Maybe you’ve seen unusual things pop up in work spaces like ping pong tables that line the corridors in tech office buildings. But seriously, what does that have to do with CSRs, techs, or dispatchers?
It’s all about building a rewarding company culture—and there is so much more to that than playing games at work. For example, ServiceTitan has integrated apps that allow you to better incentivize and reward employees for their performance. There are many ways you can show that you care about how employees feel at work. Because let’s be real: You can’t run a business without them. Start by reminding them of that today.
7. Water efficiency solutions are growing in popularity—fast.
As the climate crisis continues to be a growing concern for Americans, homeowners and property owners alike are quickly looking to “at-home” solutions—especially for water usage. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the average American uses about 80 to 100 gallons of water every day. And the biggest culprits for the most water consumption—showers and toilets.
What does that mean for the plumbing industry? A whole new pipeline for business. Whether they're growing more concerned about their environmental footprint or just looking to save on utility bills, customer demand for these types of water efficient equipment options continues to grow.
Even if it’s not something customers are seeking plumbing companies out for, there is a unique opportunity for technicians to start conversations with current customers if they have considered saving money on their water bill by looking into these low-flow alternatives that also benefit the environment. This can be part of your revamped digital marketing strategy!
8. Customers expect service, but continue to want an experience.
Our on-demand economy means customers expect a much more custom-tailored experience—even when it comes to plumbing services. Simply sending out a qualified technician to “get the job done” doesn’t mean they will convert into a repeat customer. And as we explored earlier, modern-day customers tend to have historically low loyalty rates. This makes it essential for businesses to strategically turn traditional “customer service” into an experience they’ll remember and even talk about to friends and family.
ServiceTitan’s core platform is equipped with features specifically designed to elevate your customers’ experience—like our two-way chat feature that allows your front office and customers to communicate seamlessly through SMS texting. Customers can schedule an appointment, download invoices, and even pay online—all without having to call the office and wait on the phone. That kind of seamless experience results in positive reviews and repeat business.
9. People are increasingly relying on online reviews before selecting a service.
This is a big one and there is a lot of data that supports this. Managing your online reputation is a must. A whopping 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people aged 18-34).
And it’s about more than simply reading the reviews—it’s also about quantity and relevance. People, on average, read ten different online reviews before they feel like they can trust a company. More than that, 40% of consumers will only take into account online reviews that have been posted in the past two weeks.
Are you monitoring reviews on every major platform (Google, Yelp, Houzz, etc.)? Are you responding to positive AND negative reviews? Because 89% of consumers read for business’ responses. And it’s not too late to right some wrongs, either. You can add certain elements to your workflow to encourage regular, positive reviews from customers. Include a polite request after every job with links to your major online platforms. Keep track of customer sentiment so you can see what may need to be improved upon. Once you’ve found the right method that works for you, keep it up! Consistency is key.
10. Millennial workers expect employers to communicate with them via chat/text.
Did you know Millennials now make up half of the workforce? And that percentage is expected to climb to about three quarters of the workforce by 2025. Workplace communication methods like instant messaging, work-based social media, and collaboration platforms have respectively increased at rates of 62%, 69%, and 70%—whereas phone and face-to-face communication has steadily decreased. This is a generation that’s infamously tech-savvy and as a business owner, this is your opportunity to focus on mobile-first communication .
Think about it. Your tech claims that you never told him to check his van for the pipe cutters. You can just check the time stamp on the text you sent him. Problem solved. Beyond that, SMS texting and communication apps (like Slack, etc.) actually boosts productivity, promotes employee engagement, and reduces miscommunication. ServiceTitan’s two-way texting on the Dispatch Board also works in a similar way to encourage productivity between your techs and dispatchers—eliminating the need to jump on the phone every time they need to confirm job details or provide updates.
With ServiceTitan’s Mobile App, your team can seamlessly plug into the comprehensive platform through their tablet and keep your back office up-to-date in real-time without having to call in or bring in paperwork at the end of the day.
The plumbing industry has a lot to tackle in 2020.
Our top ten plumbing industry trends definitely give a lot to think about. What 2020 plumbing trends are you most concerned about or even excited for?
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.Learn More