Home Services: Healthy, but Still in Need of Help

January 7, 2021
Average Read Time: 4 minutes

Home services industry, we feel your pain.

Wait a minute – no, we don’t. Because unlike many businesses, home services made a quick recovery from the early pandemic, rebounding strongly through the summer and fall.

That doesn’t mean the industry doesn’t have issues. It’s just lucky enough not to have as many COVID-related challenges as others. But don’t worry: those problems are nothing that technology can’t fix.

Bounce Back Fast

The home services industry employs more than 5 million people and generates more than $506 billion in spending in the United States alone, according to HomeAdvisor. In recent years, it has been a financial star, with annual growth rates in excess of 30% and even higher for online on-demand services. Early estimates predicted overall growth of close to 20% in 2020 – until the pandemic called an abrupt halt to the economy.

However, after a steep decline in April, the industry began to pick up again in May and June. As of November, new work scheduled is up 8% and revenue is up 12% year-over-year, almost back to levels seen in the first quarter, Jobber’s latest home services economic report said.

Why has the home services industry remained healthy during the pandemic? Some services are considered essential (construction, electrical, plumbing, HVAC) and haven’t shut down in most states. Many can be done outside at a safe social distance (lawn and landscaping) or inside with precautions -- masking and social distancing, or with homeowners absent entirely. And providers have adapted their service offerings to the pandemic. Many home cleaners now offer deep cleaning and disinfecting services, for example.

And let’s not discount the fact that people have been stuck in their homes, staring at the walls, and thinking that a little remodeling might be a good idea. Why not replace the bathroom that’s been bugging them – especially since low interest rates make home equity options attractive?

Three Big Issues: Finding Employees, Attracting Business, Dealing with Customer Expectations

The pandemic hasn’t greatly affected the industry, and neither has it changed the issues its entrepreneurs face. Significant ones include:

Hiring great employees. Finding good talent has long been a major problem in the home services industry. For example, a third of remodelers, surveyed by Qualified Remodeler Top 500 Remodelers in 2016, noted that recruiting and retaining talent was their biggest challenge. Four years hasn’t made a difference. Respondents to a recent Jobber market report listed hiring as their number one concern.

Attracting new business. Second on the list of problems is attracting new business. While 75% say word of mouth is how they get most of their clients, Jobber said, digital visibility takes the next three spots (website, Google, Facebook).

Dealing with technology and the increased customer expectations it brings. People are accustomed to using their laptops or smartphones to do research, contact providers, and schedule appointments. They expect the home services industry to offer the same convenience. 46% of those surveyed for the Jobber market report said they prefer to schedule appointments via email, online, or a mobile app. That number jumps to nearly 60% among survey respondents between the ages of 25 and 44. But only 38% of home services entrepreneurs use online booking.

One Solution

Technology may be a challenge, but it’s also a solution. First, a website overhaul or refresh can help solve two problems: attracting new business and offering customers the experience and technology they want to use today.

  • Make sure your website is professional-looking, user-friendly, and provides the functionality customers are looking for.
  • If it doesn’t, come up with a plan to update functionality, especially when it comes to communication and scheduling capabilities. Chat would be a great option to include, too, as it provides a real-time response to customers reviewing your website and looking for services.
  • Your website also should be optimized for mobile use. Take a look at it on a smartphone and tablet and make any changes needed to improve its look and navigation.
  • If you need to start a website from scratch, or are looking for a new platform, consider one that integrates with social media so you can advertise right from your site.

As for filling the need for talent, as the saying goes, great employers make great employees. Competitive pay and benefits are always high on the list of what’s important to workers, and everyone appreciates being paid on-time and accurately. If you’ve never thought about payroll software, now might be the time, both to ease your administrative burden and offer new services to employees. The right payroll software can provide:

  • Ease of setup and use, making transferring from manual to digital payroll a breeze.
  • Availability via the cloud or at the office, depending on your needs.
  • Great customer support. Even when a system is easy to use and reliable, you’re still likely to need support from time to time.
  • Payment options outside the typical payroll cycle – for example, immediate payments to employees, or pre-authorized payment for work-related expenditures, such as materials needed for a job, so no one is paying out of pocket waiting for expense reports to be processed.

The home services industry offers a pocket of good economic news in this unprecedented year. Many providers are in an enviable position and have the chance to build on a solid foundation. Don’t waste the opportunity. Upgrade your technology to keep customers and employees close, improve your competitive advantage, and position your company for even better times to come.

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