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The Top 11 Home Service Business Trends, Predictions, and Statistics for 2018

While the home services industry is made up dozens and dozens of verticals, from plumbing, to lawn care, to pool service, to painting, cleaning, and more, the challenges you face as business owners show plenty of overlap.

The same can be said for the trends taking shape for 2018. We reached out to business owners in various industries, small business subject matter experts, and associations, and there are lots of similar themes.

From changing customer expectations, to the increasing need for technology—all signs point to 2018 being a key year to differentiate yourself from the competition. Get ready to take notes:

1. Your customers want to move fast, and you need to keep up

“A common trend is that people want things easy and quick. People want things simple and laid out for them. When we can make things easier for our clients, it makes us look good.”
– Graham Audenart, Owner, Painters Enterprise

“People are busier than ever and have more demands on their time and attention. Find ways to make better use of your client’s time and they will remember you for it. Don’t make them wait a week for your estimate because you have to take your handwritten notes back to the office and have someone else put it into the system. Don’t make them call to book an appointment and have to compare schedules to find a time that works for you both.”
– Dawne Leaney Davidson, Owner, Freelife Accounting and Bookkeeping

“The gig economy will ultimately take hold of the home-services industry in the coming years. As more and more millennials purchase their first homes, the expectation Uber has set for on-demand services is permeating all aspects of day-to-day life. Next day service is the new norm. If Amazon can deliver a package within 24hrs or the same day, why can’t home service businesses deliver on the same time frame? This is the mindset the home-service industry will need to take. You can bet the traditional ways of operating will not be tolerated by homeowners in the years to come.”
– Matthew Kanas, Partner Marketing and Developer Relations Leader, Intuit Canada

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Next day service is the new norm. If Amazon can deliver a package within 24hrs or the same day, why can’t home service businesses deliver on the same time frame?

Matthew Kanas, Partner Marketing and Developer Relations Leader, Intuit Canada Quote

2. Look at cashflow solutions beyond loans and lines of credit

“There are a lot of things field service businesses should feel good about heading into 2018. 90% of small businesses in the U.S. plan to hire next year, 48% expect the economy to improve, and 37% said they would launch a new product or service in 2018. Getting in the way of this optimism, however, is funding.

23% of small businesses said that budget constraints were their top concern in 2018 and 84% have said that they can’t get as much funding as they seek. Those that do apply for funding are still very likely to use their personal credit score or a personal guarantee to secure the funding. With the rise of alternatives to the traditional bank loan, and customers’ increasing demands to control the data they share with whom and when, small business financing is likely to continue to change, providing alternatives to the traditional loan secured on personal credit. An increase in number of choices and control—over the financial options they have and the information they share—will be good news for field service businesses as they plot their path to grow in 2018.”
– Joanna Knox, Business Development Manager, Fundbox

“Getting pre-authorized payment methods on file is a great way to speed up your accounts receivable collections in 2018.”
– Julie Babcock-Hyde, President, Spark Accounting Solutions

3. A move towards technology is key to beat out competition

“The pool industry is very behind and we have been seeing a lot of the older guys seeking new ways and practices to stay organized. The problem is they don’t understand technology as well, and their kids or grand kids are stepping in. I have seen this a lot lately. We get a DM through Instagram about how they are trying to help with their parents’ pool business and ask us a bunch of questions. That is part of the reason why we wanted to start the Pool Chasers podcast.

Jobber has been huge for us. It took us a little while to adapt to it. I think this is the perfect software for how we use it.”
– Greg Villafana and Tyler Rasmussen owners of Brothers Pool Service, and creators behind the Pool Chasers podcast

“There are still a lot of people who haven’t embraced any technology on the business-side of their company, and the amount of time saving they could achieve by looking at how they run the administration side of their business. There are a lot of archaic systems in place that haven’t been updated, and people are afraid of technology and change to some degree.”
– Matt Davis, Owner, Adair Tree Care

“Everything about field services screams mobile. Whichever platform you use, QuickBooks Online or something else, just make sure it’s as mobile and reliable as you are.”
– Jennie Moore, Owner, Moore Details Bookkeeping

By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be comprised of millenials who have grown up with the internet and smartphones. Every year that goes by, technology continues to be a larger and larger imperative for small businesses. We have gotten to the point now where we cannot run our businesses without the help of software and our smartphones. The companies that are poised to succeed in the coming years are those that are always looking for that competitive edge, while keeping an eye on how to best serve their clients.
-Sam Pillar, CEO, Jobber

4. Make it a priority to stay in touch with your clients

“What we are planning for this next year is not necessarily a trend or something new, but something that we feel will be important and strengthen our brand loyalty.

For us, too often we get a call from a client and then don’t reach out to them unless they are needing more services. Our plan for 2018 is to stay in touch with our clients on a more regular basis. We plan on doing this by emails or texts but to use the phone a lot more. These days our faces are always looking at our phones and a good conversation with another is so refreshing.”
– Graham Audenart, Owner, Painters Enterprise

5. Amazon and Google are making waves in the market

“The biggest issue right now is competing with Amazon prices. We are going to have to do a better job of working with technology and not against it. A lot of people complain about it but it isn’t going anywhere. We have to find a way to work with it so everybody wins. This will change our marketing efforts.”
– Greg Villafana and Tyler Rasmussen owners of Brothers Pool Service, and creators behind the Pool Chasers podcast.

“In the United States, services are available to purchase through Amazon.  I see customers ordering services through Google and Alexa.”
– Judith Virag, Owner, Harding’s Cleaning

“In 2018 you can’t rely on low pricing to differentiate yourself from the competition. Customer demographics are changing and people have what I call a Google/Amazon mentality. Meaning that if it is suggested by Google or you get it cheap and fast like Amazon, it must be good. This will devastate any company’s ‘book of business’ because the customer just pops back online to get services from whoever is available. They often rely simply on price and convenience. This is great for buying shoes but bad for the legitimate service providers who do quality work.

If you can’t find a way to earn a customer’s loyalty, this could mean that individual contractors will need to make huge price cuts in order to get the jobs necessary to survive, and that employees will suffer the trickle down of low profits.”
– Dave Kaucnik, @plumbingfail on Instagram

“Tech companies entering the residential service arena like Amazon and Google will create a wider gap between lower quality commodity service and true experts. There will be a greater gap in costs between unlicensed contractors, the commodity middle tier and the high end, service driven contractor.”
– Bryan Orr, Founder, HVAC School

6. In order to decrease employee turnover, you’ll have to increase wages

“The issue we have is finding employees that share the same core values and can work hard consistently everyday. We are going to have to start paying our guys more money more frequently and adding a sign on bonus to new hires that fit our needs. This is a tough job but we need the right candidate. They are not as easy to come by anymore.”
– Greg Villafana and Tyler Rasmussen owners of Brothers Pool Service, and creators behind the Pool Chasers podcast

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I am 100% open and honest with all of our cleaners and all future hires. Yes, I will pay them more, but only if they deserve it. If you are unreliable and do not fit in and believe in the qualities, mission and vision of our company it just will not work.

Monica Doyle, Owner, Monica Maid Quote

“We have always believed that the cleaning industry does not need to have high turnover. When I started the business 8 years ago, I read this in every article or blog post when I was researching the industry. When anyone hears anything about the cleaning industry, that’s what you learn: high turnover.

I strongly believe that my cleaners deserve a respectable wage reflective of their hard work and dedication to our company. We pay on average $3.00 to $7.00 more per hour for our trained cleaners. Does this come with time? Yes. Is a top wage impossible to achieve in our company? Definitely not.

Most of our employees that are with us over seven months are earning the higher end of our cleaning wage. I have more than one employee who has been with us for over 2.5-3 years, this is unheard of in the industry!

I am 100% open and honest with all of our cleaners and all future hires. Yes, I will pay them more, but only if they deserve it. If you are unreliable and do not fit in and believe in the qualities, mission and vision of our company it just will not work.”
– Monica Doyle, Owner, Monica Maid

7. You’ll have to learn to manage multiple client communication channels (because your competition is already doing it)

“Our clients are communicating with us in more and more mediums. Some still call, some are texting, some are sending in inquiries via the web, some are sending Facebook messages, some are sending us emails. Make sure you have multiple ways your clients can reach you, and someway to cover all of these methods to ensure reasonable response times.”
– Julie Babcock-Hyde, President, Spark Accounting Solutions

“Customer service interactions will never go away, but how it happens and how we engage with our clients and prospects is changing. New studies show that 56% of people would rather message than call a business for customer service. That’s HUGE!

As professional cleaning service owners we need to be make sure that we are setup and equipped to receive messages from multiple platforms—namely SMS and Facebook Messenger. If more than one out of every two people prefer messaging, and we fail to offer this
convenience, we’ll lose prospects to a competitor that does.

It can be frustrating to be present on so many platforms— answering the phones, text
messages, snail mail and e-mail correspondences, SMS, and now Facebook messages, etc., but we simply cannot balk at the numbers and refuse to engage in these ways or we will certainly be left behind!”
– Kevin Reynolds, Owner, Handmaid Cleaning

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New studies show that 56% of people would rather message than call a business for customer service. That’s HUGE! As professional cleaning service owners we need to be make sure that we are setup and equipped to receive messages from multiple platforms—namely SMS and Facebook Messenger.

Kevin Reynolds, Owner, Handmaid Cleaning Quote

8. Consumers are looking to save time, so former luxuries are now necessities

“For the longest time, paying for services was something that many people thought was only for wealthy (especially lawn maintenance and cleaning), but it seems this belief is quickly vanishing. In these busy times, people value the time they can spend with friends and family. When you hire a service professional what you are really buying is more time.”
– Dave Ferris, Product Manager, Jobber

“With millennials now, this isn’t 20 years ago where there were stay at home moms. Today’s 30 year old is going to run their house like a business. They’re not spending their weekends cleaning. They’re booking snow removal, they’re outsourcing their laundry. Their thinking is: My time is better spent elsewhere. There are dual incomes, so it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Almost everyone I talk to has a cleaner.

You are no longer selling a luxury to people. People already want a cleaner, they’re already sold, so why should they pick you?”
– Katie Pearse, President, The Maid Mentor

9. This is the year to master social media

“The real winners in 2018 are going to be those who learn how to use Instagram—how to edit, post professional photos. It’s amazing the amount of marketing you can do within your city through Instagram using hashtags, stories, and location tags.”
– Katie Pearse, President, The Maid Mentor

“Social media is the future of communication! You can go your whole life never talking to someone in your town that has the same interests as you. But through social media, you can connect with several. Apply this to your business. Potential customers are searching everything online now. If you don’t have an online presence, through social media, they may never find you!”
– Naylor Taliaferro, the Lawn Care Rookie on YouTube

“Social continues to explode and dominate more and more of our marketing activities as small businesses. In the next year, plan on increasing your activity and efforts on social. Small businesses will need to continue to be strategic to figure out what social platforms make sense. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a decline on Twitter as that becomes more and more a niche news channel. We will continue to see Instagram become the dominant player for business as that platform invests in its advertising products and tools.

We see businesses getting smarter and smarter on social as they figure out how to use great content to build an audience. We see video continuing to be an important media both on Facebook and Instagram.”
– Micah Slavens, Principal, Lift Interactive

Quote

The real winners in 2018 are going to be those who learn how to use Instagram—how to edit, post professional photos. It's amazing the amount of marketing you can do within your city through Instagram using hashtags, stories, and location tags.

Katie Pearse, President, The Maid Mentor Quote

“Post content that is authentic; explain your business or the tools/techniques you use. Some of the best performing business ads on Facebook consists of simple explanatory videos.”
– Adam Risbridger, Director of Customer Success, Abacus

“I think customer expectations have changed a lot. The post-recession customer is more technology-driven, they will go online, get 2-3 quotes, and check reviews. In 2018, focus on building your online reputation, online reviews, and connect with younger customers on social media.”
– Van Wu, Owner, Trust Home Comfort

10. Being mobile-friendly is mandatory

“I see small business sites continuing to simplify and tailor their experiences to mobile users. Google has been pushing this charge for several years now encouraging sites to be more mobile friendly for a world that is increasingly on the go. Sites will continue to streamline, paring down the amount of content on initial pages to increase speed and accessibility.”
– Micah Slavens, Principal, Lift Interactive

“Almost all of Facebook’s users are accessing Facebook via their mobile device today (in fact, over 90%). Mobile speed will become more important. No slow and complex sites! In 2018, mobile speed will become even more important. Facebook will prefer mobile pages that load fast and where users can easily find what they are looking for. If you plan to get on Facebook next year, make sure your mobile website is performing well and loads fast!”
– Adam Risbridger, Director of Customer Success, Abacus

11. It's never been more important to secure your spot on Google

“Google is making moves towards a closed ecosystem, where eventually you won’t need to leave their site to make decisions on who to hire. You can see this already with restaurants—you can check out restaurants, read reviews, look at a menu and reserve all from Google. Why even bother having a website if you can ask your phone which restaurant you should go to?

Home services is another vertical that should begin to see exactly the same treatment. With their focus on Home Services Ads (now Local Services Ads), we can also see that Google is moving to all AdWords for many key category searches. It’s entirely possible that within the next few years that many local searches (plumber, electrician, etc.) are completely paid, particularly on mobile devices. 2018 is the year that you need to get AdWords working for you, before your competition jumps on it.”
– Dana DiTomaso, President and Partner, Kick Point Digital Marketing

“Google shows business listings along with the business’ Facebook and Twitter feeds. If you’re a lawn care business in Minnesota, and someone searches “lawn care Minnesota” you can have an ad, your business listing, and results will come up for your website, Facebook, and Twitter feeds. Visually you could take over the Google search. I would feel confident as a small business to not run ads in our slow season because I am half the search results page. The more real estate you can take up the better. It makes you look bigger than you are, when you are on that results page.”
– Rafael Valdez, PPC Analyst, Jobber

Start the new year with a more organized business

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