2023 Year of Growth and Change

Contributor III

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

The same can be said for the trends taking shape for 2023.

From changing customer expectations to the increasing need for technology—all signs point to 2023 being a key year to differentiate yourself from the competition. You need to stay ahead of the curve and rely on experts. In technology things change daily and the Leader in this industry, Service Titan® spends million yearly keeping their product ahead of the curve and innovative.

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

A common trend is that people want things easy and quick. In this era after Covid-19 you will need to be touch-less and on top of all the new forms of AI in your vertical. Customers, office staff and technicians want things simple and laid out for them. When we can make things easier for all 3 segments, it makes us look good.

Although people are busier and more concerned than ever you will need to respect their time and way of life as the “new normal” takes hold. Find ways to make better use of your client’s time and they will remember you for it. Do not make them wait a week for your estimate because you must take your handwritten notes back to the office and have someone else put it into the system. Have the technology in your staff’s hands to be able to give them instant estimates. Be flexible and have multiple appointment times ready so people can work them into their schedule and not have to just take what you can give them. Remember the early bird gets the worm.

The IT world is taking hold of the home-services industry. 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 the home service businesses be on the same time frame? This is the mindset the home-service industry will need to take. If you do not have a software platform that can get you there by now you need to act now or you will be left light years behind. Do not purchase our buy something that is untested or be forced to use something that will take your business backwards. Be forward thinking and partner with someone who will give you tomorrows technology today. You can bet the traditional ways of operating will not be tolerated by homeowners in the years to come and your business will falter.

2. Look at cash flow solutions beyond loans and lines of credit

There are a lot of things field service businesses should feel good about heading into 2023. 95% of home service businesses in the U.S. plan to hire next year. Getting in the way of this optimism, however, is funding, operational efficiencies and how the new legislative mix will affect the economy.

75% of small businesses said that budget constraints and COVID-19 restrictions were their top concern from 2020 into 2022. Yet 45 % of the home services industry are saying they had record years depending on the vertical you were in. Those in the HVAC, Plumbing and the electrical vertical were deemed essential workers during 2020 and those prepared with guidance were able to get PPE loans that have been forgiven (has yours been forgiven?). Those businesses had an IT platform that allowed them to go touch-less quickly and efficiently and also gave them the flexibility to go from an office base business to a home-based business within 24 hours. The IT platform that leads the way was Service Titan® who within days moved their whole operation to home-based to allow their contractors to do the same and get the same support. I have not heard of any other technology that moved that quickly and that is why they are the industry standard and leader.  By doing that they not only afforded their contractors to enhance their cash flow through PPE but also through uninterrupted business flows. That is thinking outside the box and looking for ways other than loans and credit to enhance your cash flows in 2023. Look towards the new energy bill passed and the rebate dollars that not only will be available to consumers but also available to contractors. Learn how and be agressive getting these government dollars.

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

Many verticals in the industry are very behind and we have been seeing a lot of the older legacy businesses seeking new ways and practices to stay organized. The problem legacy contractors at times do not understand technology as well, and their kids or grand kids are stepping in. When this happens, they see a resurgence in their business. There are also some older platforms that contractors are on that makes them feel like they are on today’s technology which they are not. The programs developed in the 90’s that are still in use today are old, cumbersome and extremely hard to keep updated. In fact, some are trying to move to a cloud base which they struggle with to stay current and compete in a market they are so far behind in.  I have seen this a lot lately. They hang on to their client base by the dangling the carrot “coming soon” yet when they deliver is behind even the old slow platform they were using. To be the best you need to use the best and there is only one leader in this segment and that is Service Titan®.

There are still a lot of people who have not 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. Just think what 5% better productivity in the office and 5% better productivity in the field could add to your bottom line. There are a lot of archaic systems in place that have not been updated, and people are afraid of technology and change to some degree but to achieve this productivity you need to get a platform that gives you tomorrows technology today.

Everything about field services screams mobile. Whichever platform you use just make sure it is as mobile and reliable as you are. By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be comprised of millennials who have grown up with the internet and smartphones. Every year that goes by, technology continues to be a larger and larger imperative for home services businesses. 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.

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

What you need to plan for this next year is not necessarily a trend or something new, but something that the industry feels will be important and strengthen your brand loyalty. Many times, you will get a call from a client and then don’t reach out to them unless they are needing more services. Your plan for 2023 should be to stay in touch with your clients on a more regular basis. Plan on doing this by emails , texts or how about just picking up the phone and calling them. These days we are always using our phones for something other than what they were made for. Pick it up dial a number and talk to clients.

Do you do drip email campaigns or direct mail campaigns to specific demographics. If not you can set these up easily if you have the right IT platform, Like Service Titan® and their MarketingPro™ platform.

5. Google is making waves in the market

In the United States, services are available to purchase through Google. In 2023 you cannot 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 from Amazon, it must be good. This will devastate any company’s customer base 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 books and supplements but bad for the legitimate service providers who do quality work. If you cannot find a way to earn a customer’s loyalty, this could mean that individual contractors will need to make huge price cuts to get the jobs necessary to survive, and that employees will suffer the trickle down of low profits. You must embrace these platforms and be part of them to retain your customer base and build the value you need to retain top talent and build bigger profits. Home services 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 illegal contractors, the commodity middle tier and the high end, service driven contractor. But the credibility being on these platforms will drive the unlicensed illegal contractor out of business. The question I have though does your IT platform allow you to integrate with the Google’s and Amazon’s of the world?

6. Importance of employee retention, Look at your culture and your pay

One of the biggest issues the home service industry is facing is finding qualified employees that share the same core values and can work hard consistently every day. You are going to have to start paying our guys more money more through hourly rate or ticket spiffs. You may even have to look at sign on bonuses although internal cheer leading because of a great culture may be your best form of bonus in some cases. Recruiting is a tough job, but you need the right candidate. Qualified workers are not as easy to come by anymore. There are home services agencies out in the market you may want to take a look at.

7. You will have to learn to manage multiple client communication channel / Your Competition is already doing it

Your clients are communicating with you 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 some way to cover all these methods to ensure reasonable response times. Make sure as always, your IT platform can handle all these forms of inquiries. You cannot have 5 or 6 people looking at these all day. 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 63% of people would rather message than call a business for customer service. That is a growing trend that will not decrease only grow. As professional home service owners you need to be make sure that you 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 you fail to offer this convenience, you will lose prospects to a competitor that does.

8. This is the year to continue to master social media

The real winners in 2023 are going to be those who learn how to all the social media platforms out there. Google, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube are the big boys, and you need to learn how to use these platforms to your marketing advantage. 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 do not have an online presence, through social media, they may never find you.

Post content that is authentic; explain your business or the tools/techniques you use to provide your professional service. Some of the best performing business ads on Facebook consists of simple explanatory videos. Do not be afraid to be the face of your company. Customer expectations have changed a lot. The post-COVID-19 customer is more technology-driven, they will go online, get 3-5 quotes and check reviews. In 2023, focus on building your online reputation, online reviews, and connect with the next generation of customers on social media.

9. Being mobile-friendly is mandatory

I see home service 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. Is your site mobile friendly? Most owners forget to ask this question.

Almost all of Facebook’s users are accessing Facebook via their mobile device today, in fact 93% of Facebook logins come from a mobile device. Mobile speed will become more important as you can see 5G is already here. No slow or complex systems in 2023. In 2023, mobile speed will become even more important. Talk to your web developer and make sure you are mobile ready.

10. It has never been more important to secure your place on Google

Google is making moves towards a closed ecosystem, where eventually you will not need to leave their site to make decisions on who to hire. You can see this already with Google Local Services you can read reviews, set appointments and reserve all from Google with their focus on Google Local Services Ads. You can also see that Google is moving to all AdWords for many key category searches. It is possible that within the next few years that many local searches plumber, electrician, etc. are completely paid, particularly on mobile devices. 2023 is the year that you need to get AdWords working for you, as your competition has already jumped on it.

With 2023 being a year of change do not sit still. Come into the digital arena for real or your competition will leave you looking up at them. Come into today’s world with your IT platform, digital marketing platform and your thinking. Remember if you want the best you need to pay for the best to take your businesses to there next level.