We end each year with a list of researched trends and predictions to help you plan for the year ahead.
But 2020 was different. It didn’t come with clean forecasts and organized predictions— it came in like a wrecking ball. We learned to adapt quickly, redefine normal, and learn from our community.
So for this year’s home industry trend report, we left the neat forecasts behind. Instead, we asked 25 home service professionals the most important and unexpected lessons they learned this year, and how they’re applying them in the year to come.
Here’s what they said:
The Year We Learned to Do More with Less
“More than anything, we learned how to get more done with less. That meant instead of hiring new roles, we looked at our existing staff and figured out how we could pay them a little more, and ask more from them as well. We wanted to show them that we appreciate them, and we need them. So we’re down 15-20 employees this year, but we’re more profitable and we’ve controlled overtime. It’s amazing what your employees will do when they feel like they’re a part of something, when you communicate well, and share the company objectives with them. And I feel like our entire staff has been really grateful to continue to work.”
– Kory Ballard, Ballard Inc.
Leaders Take Ownership
“As a leader, your teams look up to you for inspiration. You set the tone for everything they do. So before giving fault or blame for an issue, you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself: have I set the right expectations? Have I given my employees the tools to succeed? Have I supported them along the way? As a true leader, 95% of the time, you’re going to have to say that it was your fault, because you haven’t done those things to the best of your ability.
– Dan Guest, Guest Plumbing and Heating
You Are Not Your Business
“If you get a negative review you might think, ‘we worked so hard at that job and that client had the nerve to post a negative review online.’ And then you take it home, it affects your mood, how you relate to your partner, and the rest of your family because you think someone personally attacked you. But when I draw the line and say ‘I am not my business and my business is not me,’ it gives me the separation I need between work life and personal life. So I could leave the ups and downs of my business there, and I could be the rest of me with my family.”
Market to Employees like you Market to Customers
“Too many business owners expect unicorn employees to walk in the door, who care about their business as much as they do. And obviously, that doesn’t happen. You have to get as serious about finding employees as you are about finding customers. Some of the businesses that I work with are spending equal dollars on marketing and recruiting, which is unheard of. But it’s a tough labor market right now, even though you wouldn’t expect it with all the unemployment.
I’m not discounting the ability to find great employees, but it drives me nuts how business owners will say, ‘It’s all about hiring great people.’ No, it’s not. It’s about being a leader that can build a system and build a business that can operate with regular people.”
– Nick Huber, Sweaty Startup
Don’t Put Other People’s Dreams Before Your Own
“Losing an executive-level position in May taught me that using my education, experience, and entrepreneurship for my family should have been at the top of my priority list long before COVID-19 made its appearance. The toughest lesson I learned in 2020 is that placing a higher value on other people’s goals and dreams above my own is not the real path to success. Starting a new COVID-resistant, home service business was the best decision my husband and I have made together. The old cliché is true — the sky’s the limit!”
– Amy Morgan, Pit Stop Pools
Fight the Urge to ‘Do It All’
“There are only a handful of things that will significantly impact your business. You need the discipline to prioritize your tasks in order of importance. Just because you do ten things in one day doesn’t mean you’ve moved your business forward.”
– Oscar Gil, R3 Detailing
How to Deal with Competition in an Oversaturated Market
Listen to Oscar Gil’s live talk on how he stays relevant and stays focused in an over-crowded market.Watch the Talk
Ride Out the Hard Times
“A lot of people said it’s the worst time to start a business. But for me, it happens to be the timing, so we’re doing it. And we’re going to break a million dollars our first year in the middle of a pandemic. So, we’re doing something right.
At the end of the day, it’s going to be harder, and it’s going to be riskier. But I want to be able to create the culture as we grow. Starting from the get-go is scary. There are a lot of swings. But I’ve learned to just ride out the hard times. And if you continue to ride it out, eventually you’ll be on top again. If you give up on the downside, then you’ll never see the highs.”
– Thaddeus Liversedge, HVAC Techs
Your Knowledge Sets You Apart
“Where I excel is my knowledge. When I first meet a client, I let them know that I’m not just any average Joe with a lawnmower trying to restore your lawn — I actually have experience and I have knowledge. If I can’t communicate face to face, the initial interaction at least needs to be over the phone. That way, they can get a feel of me and I can kind of get a feel of them. Moving forward, we’ve already built a rapport, they trust me, I trust them.
Don’t be scared to educate your clients. I break down all the work I’m going to do to their yard, step by step. If the customer wants to get the job done themselves, they can do it. I’m not scared of losing business. The analogy I use all the time is: everybody knows how to make pizza, but not everybody makes pizza. Educating your customers and sharing your knowledge with them will only keep them coming back and booking more work with you.”
– Stacey (SEF) Flanagan, SEF the Lawn Surgeon
Schedule Time to Focus on Growth
“After going from job to job all day, Monday to Saturday, you just want to decompress when you get home. You barely clean up your gear and all you want to do is eat, have a beer, and chat with your family before bed. I’ve fallen into this trap a bunch of times, but when this happens you’re leaving out any time for growth, expansion, education, and collaboration. I’ve learned that I need to literally schedule time into my week if I want to accomplish anything outside of my day-to-day operations.
I stopped scheduling Fridays and I focused on working four days a week. One time I took a few days off and completed a course. I was able to grow my knowledge, networks, and meet a whole bunch of people that were in similar businesses. Because I put aside time in my schedules, I ended up shadowing those people in their jobs and they did the same with me. Scheduling time to focus on growth will help you weather the storm and prepare for 2021.”
– Kurt Stenberg (Kurt the Arborist), Cochrane Tree Care
Hear how Kurt made the leap from taking emergency calls as a firefighter and paramedic to the world of tree care entrepreneurship:
Treat Your Business Like an Engine
“Your business is an economic engine that you’ve built yourself. Presumably, you hope it keeps running even after you’ve left the industry. Consider how well you treat that engine: what you put into it, how much you tweak and tune or neglect and ignore it. All of those actions, especially early on, are going to determine if that engine runs at all and if so how well it runs. If you put your hours and diligence into making that engine into what you want it to be then it will carry you and your employees wherever you want to go.”
– Kayla-Rae Mendez, @kaylascender
Whoever Makes the Game Easiest, Wins
“In 2021, we’ll be living in an Amazon Economy. When there’s something you need for the office, you don’t drive to the store. You just go on Amazon and set it as an order. That convenience is what people want for their chore list, too. People won’t want to deal with the hassle of having their house washed or windows cleaned — they want to just literally click a button and hit ‘approve’. We have to assume people have too much on their plate and that they don’t have time for you. Whoever makes the game the easiest and the most convenient will win.”
Make convenience your competitive edge
33% of consumers say they’d pay 20% more for a convenient experience. You don’t need to beat your competition by lowering your price when you can beat them by offering more value.FIND OUT HOW
Service Providers Will Drive Technology Adoption
“I live in a small town of 3,200 people and it’s generally harder for them to get comfortable using technology. But I’ve noticed that since we started using Jobber, our customers are getting comfortable using it. I text them invoices, and next thing you know, they’re making payments online. The world is moving so fast, and people are moving even faster. Our clients don’t have time and we don’t have time. So, the faster we can communicate with our clients, the better it is for us and for them. I know that for our business, if we want to grow and get ahead, we have to use technology to move forward.”
– Chant Singvongsa, Chant’s Daily Hustle
Listen to Chant’s story of how he went from a factory worker with two part-time jobs, to a full-time serial entrepreneur:
Your Customers are Looking for Answers
“Make your company as solutions-based as possible. It’s great to have targeted goals of where you want your company to go. But this year, we had to be really receptive to where our clients needed help, even if it meant doing things we weren’t used to.
Your customers are looking for answers in their life when things don’t have a ton of answers. Being the solutions-person is what’s going to keep people loyal to you even when times are tough or unpredictable. And it led to some of the most profitable jobs we’ve ever had.”
– Michael Bedell, Bedell Property Management
Catch Up with the (Paperless) Times
“If you aren’t an almost 100% paperless company by now, you are already behind the powercurve for 2021. Regardless of how any of us personally feel about the pandemic, our responsibility to our clients comes first. In many ways that means contactless quotes, deposits, contracts, payments options, electronic communication techniques, designs, and much more. Even without a pandemic, being a ‘green’ company is good for the environment.”
– Kristy Boase, MIL-SPEC Landscaping
These Landscapers Maxed Out their Client list in one SeasonFind Out How
It’s Time to Raise Your Prices
“2021 is going to give you an opportunity to raise your prices. The businesses that are elevating their level of service will stand out from the ones that aren’t, and customers will see the value of what they’re paying for.
Explain your work in a professional way. Tell your customers, ‘Hey, this is why we charge what we charge. We do these things differently.’ If you’re a construction company, let your customers know you do a walk-through of the job site every day to pick up any excess materials, or maybe you have licensed contractors. Explaining why you are charging what you’re charging gives you a leg up. And it’s not bragging — you’re explaining your value.”
– Tyler Rasmussen, The Pool Chasers Podcast
Train and Trust your Staff to Do the Right Thing
“There’s a lot of sensitivity out there. We’re going into people’s homes, and their comfort level has really changed. Anxiety is heightened, and you can’t always know how customers will react when you enter. Companies who can’t be sensitive to that—who can’t adjust their customer service to be more sensitive—are going to falter.
We have biweekly staff meetings where we talk through potential situations with our staff, of how to deal with difficult customers while still showing our company values. We make sure all of our employees, at every level, know that we trust them to make the call if they need to leave a home, or if they need to do something extra for the customer to diffuse a tense situation. It’s not worth it otherwise for my mental state or anybody’s mental states, for that matter.”
– Judith Virag, Clean Club Calgary
Your Service is Not a Luxury
“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, we were alarmed at how many cleaning services considered their company a ‘non essential business.’ Cleaning is and has always been essential in our society. In the 1840’s, germs/microbes were finally recognized by scientists to cause the spread of disease. Since then, society has increased efforts to combat infectious germs in everyday living environments and in medical care facilities.
For years, professional cleaning companies have misunderstood the trade and skill of professional cleaning as a ‘luxury service.’ Unfortunately, hundreds of cleaning services have closed down and lost their clients because they believed this. Cleaning is not a luxury — cleaning is a necessity and an essential service. In 2021 and beyond, professional cleaning companies will need to educate themselves on the necessity and skill of the trade and leave behind the lie that the professional service we provide is a luxury.”
– Kevin and Grace Reynolds, American House Cleaners Association
Meet your Customers Where They Are
“Being able to sell on Instagram and Facebook saved us through COVID. The pandemic eliminated human to human interaction so much that people rely on social media now to communicate with everybody, not just their friends. So we took all the money that we normally would have spent on trade shows and put it into social media marketing.
I went out and hired salespeople who were fresh out of high school. Sometimes I see their chats, and my inner business owner goes, oh no, don’t say that. But my customers love them because they understand how to communicate today. They meet people where they are.
We’ve done hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of sales through Facebook Messenger. People don’t want to call four companies, they just want to message you on Facebook, get a price, and know that somebody will show up.”
– Steven Knight, Mosaic Home Services
You’re Your Best Cheerleader
“This year, more customers than ever are reaching out on social media to book services. You have to think of these online platforms not only as a way to advertise your work, but also as a place to access customers and let them book work with you.
Regardless of what home services you offer, there’s a social media following for your industry, and you need to be active in it. That means commenting on other contractors’ posts, engaging with them, posting content once per day, every other day, or at least a few posts a week. Being consistent will get people to follow you and eventually book services with you. If you want to get your name out there, you have to do it yourself. Nobody’s going to do it for you.”
– Mitchell Gordy, Mitchell’s Lawncare LLC
New Buying Habits Are Here to Stay
“2020 taught consumers that it’s easy to do business online. The pandemic brought this need to the forefront for us, but it won’t go away when the pandemic dies down. Current customers have gotten comfortable buying services online, and the next generation of customers will demand it. Service companies need to continue to grow their online presence and increase their web support, using online quotes, self-service customer support, and service knowledge base.”
– Royce Ard, My Amazing Maid
The more we learn from each other, the better each of us will be
“2021 will be a great year to bring people together to network and to mentor. I never had an official mentor who walked me through anything. I spent so many years in business losing money, scratching my head, and going up against walls. But what I realize now is that I’ve got a little extra time in my life, and I want to give that back to other entrepreneurs. So they’re not banging their heads and they’re off to a little bit better of a start. There are so many people starting businesses and they just need a little help or advice here and there, and it’s so hard to find it or trust it.
We’ve been through some tough times. We’ve watched friends lose businesses. How can we learn from each other now, so if we hit this again, we’ve already formed a relationship and a bond?”
– Ryaan Tuttle, Best Handyman Boston®️
Listen in to Ryaan Tuttle’s journey of how he went from apprentice with a side hustle to running $50k jobs:
“As a smaller custom landscape company, our focus will always be quality over quantity. But that promise comes with scheduling challenges. Typically, we schedule no longer than 90 days out, with a solid expectation management plan with our clients. We do our best to account for unforeseen circumstances, weather, maintenance, etc. Then it rained a lot this year, pushing clients who were scheduled on day 80, 85, 90, etc. even further out. No amount of client expectation management prepares them for that.
We ended up doing more damage control, dealing with more stress, clients who aren’t as patient as others, etc. For a smaller business like ours, catching up is no small task once you fall behind. For 2021, we’re focusing on under-promising and over-delivering. We’re going to stick with a more reasonable (for us) 45 day out window.”
-Brian Boase, MIL-SPEC Landscaping
Listen in to find out how Brian stays true to his personal definition of success:
Your Relationships Will Save You
“This year was a real trial by fire learning supply chain management. Our core service business is external washing. We started offering a pressure washing service in-house, where previously we contracted it out. When we saw a spike in demand, we ran into a shortage of cleaning chemicals. Balancing inventory with production and shipments became a real challenge.
Developing relationships with multiple suppliers was the key to our success. Emphasis on relationships — they helped us get through it. And I’ve got an amazing team to thank. I definitely could not have accomplished all this on my own. In fact, probably neither business would have survived 2020 if I tried to ‘go at it alone.’”
– Donovan Quesenberry, DIV Cleaning Services
Family Takes Care of Family
“I have several friends who’ve had to close down their businesses due to the financial burden of the lockdown. Here’s what helped us make it through:
Take care of your employees. They are the most essential building block of your business. Family takes care of family. The safety of your team should be at the forefront of every decision.
Keep reinventing yourself. We had a mandatory lockdown for six weeks. We had the choice of seeing this as a huge liability, or as an opportunity. Those six weeks gave us the ‘free time’ to explore things we’d always wanted to do. In collaboration with Auroville Green Practices, we created a four-module online course aimed at educating architects, urban planners and individuals about trees, and how to take care of them in our ever-expanding urban environment.”
– Jonas Suchanek, Tree Care India
We’re Stronger for our Ability to Overcome
“In HVAC, we can usually predict our workloads as the seasons change. But no one could predict the impact on our industry of a global pandemic. Customers and business owners are worried about contracting a virus by entering buildings. Supply houses and manufacturers run the risk of closing down. And we’re dealing with all this while trying to keep our own families healthy.
But I’ve seen many businesses figuring out ways to make both employees and customers feel safe while continuing service. COVID-19 has been a true test for so many companies. But it’s shown us the importance of being able to adapt quickly to unpredictable situations. Adapting to what’s in front of you ensures you can look back and know that you’re a better entrepreneur for your ability to overcome.”
– Mike Ledford, @HVAC Brotherhood
In 2021, Community is Everything
Join the Jobber Entrepreneurship Group on Facebook to share your strategies and plans heading into the new year, and to hear from other entrepreneurs who understand what you’re building.Get Access