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4 Plumbing Industry Trends to Watch in 2018

What can you expect from the plumbing industry in 2018? How will technology, your competition, customer expectations, and data influence the industry in the next year?

The Jobber Academy team reached out to experts in the plumbing, home services, finance, and marketing industries to get their thoughts. Here you’ll find what they had to say and the 4 trends to watch in 2018:

1. You can’t rely on low pricing to differentiate yourself from the competition

“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

“In 2018, don’t be an estimator or order taker. Be an educator. Be a partner. Take the time to answer questions, explain what it all means, what needs to happen, and exactly what the outcomes are that can be expected.

Building that simple trust that—yes—you are someone who can be relied upon, takes price out of the equation.”
– Stanley Genadek, Dirt Monkey University

Quote

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 Quote

“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

“In the past, customers wanted to choose between repair and replacement, but now, people are more focused on repairs, And when they are replacing they’ll be more cautious. We don’t force customers to buy anything they don’t need. We have to improve our service to make sure the customer is happy. The customers hold a higher standard and expectation from us.”
– Van Wu, Owner, Trust Home Comfort

2. Technology gives you new ways to stand out from the competition

“Customers are using technology more and more in their daily life and anything you can do to align your business with that trend will put you ahead of the game. Send customers your quote/invoice while you still have their attention and you’re more likely to get hired/paid quickly. Show them that their time is important to you and they are more likely to respect yours in turn.”
– Dawne Leaney Davidson, Owner, Freelife Accounting and Bookkeeping

“With new technology coming out every day, and more technology built into all of our devices, there may be more opportunity to provide service or support without ever going to your customer’s site. Evaluate if you have opportunities to remotely diagnose (and ensure you have the right parts with you) OR remotely troubleshoot and resolve issues without a trip out to the customer’s site. Both of these will help to improve your profitability.”
– Julie Babcock-Hyde, President, Spark Accounting Solutions

3. Get online to connect with new customers

“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

“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

Quote

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 Quote

4. Data not intuition will influence business decisions

“Businesses will look more and more to quantifiable metrics for decision making instead of using ‘gut’ feel. This will have huge impact technician and installer compensation as well as dispatching.”
– Bryan Orr, Founder, HVAC School

“If your accounting isn’t in the cloud yet, you should seriously look at this opportunity. Cloud accounting and real-time bank feeds are giving clients the ability to see almost real-time financial results for their business. Getting information more quickly allows you to recognize and respond to trends sooner.”
– Julie Babcock-Hyde, President, Spark Accounting Solutions

Start the new year with a more organized plumbing business

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