Even though some workers are returning to the office as the pandemic wanes, remote work is expected to persist in some form. Whether people are working from home full-time or a few days a week, they’re spending more time there. And that gives them a chance to notice and think about all the work their homes need. Projects ranging from routine maintenance to major upgrades and improvements are becoming harder to ignore and delay.
Besides constant reminders of home project needs, remote workers save on costs associated with going into the office. They are reducing commuting and lunch costs and saving on expenses usually allocated to clothing and its upkeep. More disposable income and increased time at home have contributed to a rise in demand for home services.
Working from home also opens up additional scheduling possibilities for maintenance and improvement projects. It’s easier to squeeze in estimates and actual work with vendors when people are home anyway. Some of the conveniences that come with remote work will continue to expand the home service industry, even post-pandemic.
Online Searches Dominate the Market
When homeowners need to find a vendor in the home service industry, they turn to the Internet. The majority of them start with Google searches or online resources like Angi. Consumers use these online resources to find and compare potential contractors. They also rely on customer reviews, testimonials, and BBB ratings as part of their research.
On average, more than 55% of homeowners will search online for home services before reaching out to companies for estimates. Depending on the service category, this percentage goes up even higher. Locksmith services, pest control, and lawn care represent some of the highest percentages for online searches.
The majority of homeowners are also researching companies they don’t know. Homeowners need reassurance they can trust someone they’re going to hire to perform work on their biggest investment. This is why a lot of them start with curated lists from organizations and sites that vet local service providers.
These sites consider average reviews, length of time in business, and responsiveness to complaints. Consumers can view overall ratings and written comments from current and prior customers. They can also see how vendors respond to online concerns.
Consumers Are Investing More in Homes
While the pandemic resulted in a temporary decline in home services and home sales, both quickly bounced back. By the second quarter of 2020, demand for home services and homes in general shot up rapidly. The demand has spilled over into 2021, with year-over-year growth of 32% in new scheduled home service jobs.
Reduced inventory of homes for sale and rising home prices have also prompted some homeowners to remain in place. Others have opted to sell to take advantage of bidding wars and high market prices. Both need home services to improve existing space or prepare a home for sale.
As people spend more time at home, they’re looking to improve and renovate the spaces they have. This includes creating workspaces and areas where they can engage in activities for which they would normally go outside the home. Home gyms, for example, have become more popular with pandemic-related restrictions and general wariness.
Homeowners planning to stay put are also increasing their spending on features to make themselves more comfortable. These can include cosmetic improvements like painting or full kitchen and bathroom remodels.
Tight housing markets are boosting demand for home services as buyers find it harder to secure ideal properties. First-time buyers and those looking to downsize may have to purchase older or less desirable homes that need additional work. Buyers may also have to settle for homes that don’t offer some of the major items on their wish lists. This can prompt calls to complete major remodeling work or touch-ups on items neglected by previous owners.
Homeowners Want Digital Conveniences
Technology adoption is becoming more critical for the home service industry. While homeowners are open to communicating with service providers over the phone, they also want conveniences that come with tech. Once they’ve hired a company, the ability to secure financing, accept and modify estimates, and make payments online are crucial. There is also a segment of consumers who prefer to reach out for estimates online.
Contact forms, emails, texts, and online chat communications are more convenient for remote workers. First, it’s easier for them to multitask with digital forms of communication. Second, they can get a reply they can respond to during lunch or after working hours. Overall, digital communication channels are less frustrating for homeowners.
Many consumers prefer making contact with home service providers via social media pages and messaging apps rather than phone calls. Being placed on hold, having to leave a voicemail, and not receiving a call back are a few reasons why. Playing phone tag to get an answer or arrange a schedule to complete work are additional sources of frustration.
Digital experiences are something homeowners are starting to expect. With a major project like an HVAC or roof replacement, they need to instantly know whether they can afford it. The inability to apply for financing online and get an immediate answer can be a deal-breaker. Vendors who provide same-as-cash financing options and online approval methods may end up securing work. Service providers who don’t — or who make it harder to arrange payments — could get passed over despite good reviews.
Remote work’s effects on the home service industry are marked by growing demand for online information, services, and digital conveniences. As people spend more time in their homes, the way they use their residences is changing. There’s a need for home office spaces, additional amenities, and increased maintenance. Consumers are willing to invest more in their homes, and they are funneling disposable income into their wish lists.
Whether remote workers decide to remain in place or change an entire living situation, they can’t overlook deferred projects or maintenance. They’re face-to-face with what they don’t like about their homes all day. Those upkeep items that once didn’t seem so bad have become glaring inconveniences and urgencies. Home service providers who are online, recommended and vetted, and easy to do business with stand to win.
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.