Plumbing Industry Statistics: Where is the Market Heading?
It’s safe to say that 2020 was a challenging year for everyone. For plumbers, Covid-19 put competing pressures on the market. While some consumers are less likely to need plumbing services, some are much more likely to demand them. While the construction industry is lagging on new installations, it is likely to rebound well from Covid-19 and create new demand.
The industry’s underlying element is still uncertainty: when will recovery happen, and what will it look like? The statistics we’ve collected below can help you predict and make more informed decisions about your business moving forward.
Growth Rates in Plumbing & Related Industries
From 2015 until the beginning of 2020, the average rate of growth in the plumbing industry was 0.4%. That’s small but steady growth driven by increases in housing. However, as COVID-19 disrupts the construction industry, there is reduced demand for new installations. Unfortunately, IBIS World predicts that the pandemic will create the most substantial single-year revenue decline in the history of plumbing as a tracked industry. While plumbing is an essential service and is still allowed to operate during the pandemic, other pandemic response elements are holding us back. The lack of construction projects is a serious impact, as is the reduction in overall household income.
A few things will help cushion plumbers from this demand reduction. For one thing, demand for emergency plumbing services and plumbing repairs is not affected by reduced household income, even though it may be more demanding on your cash flow. Companies that are already focused on emergency service should do well. If you can adjust your business to capture more emergency business, that can help. The most popular emergency plumbing services are still the usual suspects: water heater repair, drain cleaning, sewer line repair, leak repair, and fixture repair of all types.
In addition, household income has not declined across the board. Many homeowners are still employed and more likely to be spending time at home than ever. These people are more likely to invest in home improvements, including some plumbing. Bidets, tankless water heaters, touch-free fixtures, quality showerheads and other high-end plumbing options may become more popular options. According to Globe News Wire, the plumbing fittings and fixtures market is growing by 4.2% per year, perhaps even more, in the United States. Keeping up with this growing and changing market is wise to supply your customers with the products they demand.
Unfortunately, the Freedonia Group estimates that the overall reduced demand for plumbing will continue through 2021 and return to normal growth levels only in 2024. Underlying this lack of demand will be strong demand from seniors who need to adjust their bathrooms to age in their homes and wealthier people who want to add another bathroom to their space for utility as they work from home. Targeting both of these markets can help plumbers navigate the rough waters ahead.
Other Impacts of Covid-19
The pandemic and the pandemic response have had interesting impacts on the plumbing market. They have changed the plumbing problems we are likely to face in the future and what consumers and property managers are likely to demand in the future.
Firstly, the toilet paper shortage at the start of the pandemic has had a longer-lasting impact than anticipated. Demand for bidets remains high, perhaps as people seek to invest more in their homes. Additionally, the lack of toilet paper did make some people turn to less-than flushable alternatives, and plumbers should expect to handle clogs created by this situation. It may be necessary to educate some customers about how to avoid this problem in the future.
People are also looking for touch-free solutions in many aspects of their life, trying to limit the spread of COVID-19 and other germs. Plumbers are in a great position to offer touch-free fixtures for bathrooms and kitchens to commercial and residential clients.
Speaking of the commercial market, property owners are facing unique challenges right now. Many units are currently empty, and unoccupied buildings can develop unique plumbing issues. For example, the traps may run dry, allowing septic gases into the units. Once the units fill back up, more plumbing issues can crop up. This rise is plumbing issues is unfortunate, but it will also help plumbers who handle commercial plumbing clients rebound after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
Remodeling offers unique opportunities
While stuck at home, many homeowners used their time to start home renovation projects, including kitchen and bathroom remodels, room additions, and landscaping updates. Unfortunately, the increased demand plus the decreased efficiency of the supply chain means that materials costs have gone way, way up.
The good news is that these material costs disproportionately affect structural materials like lumber, while plumbing appliances, fixtures, and equipment have not been as impacted. Therefore, it can be a good time for plumbers to consider offering remodeling services that might not be a part of their everyday service offerings.
Plumbing as a Profession
What if you are interested in plumbing as a new profession? The outlook for your job prospects will be good as a whole once we have recovered from COVID-19. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the plumbing industry already employs almost half a million people. The growth of employees is about as fast as the average industry in the United States, even though the industry is projected to grow to outpace it. Growth is projected to be 24% by 2024.In this gap, roughly 50,000 plumber positions will be open each year. That leaves a lot of room for opportunity for new plumbers. It helps that no one or even no handful of companies is dominant in the industry. No company even captures one percent of national demand.
What about income? The average plumber makes $55,160 per year, at 26.52 per hour. There is a lot of room to rise above that if you’re comfortable running your own plumbing business.
Business Trends in the Plumbing Industry
Technological changes have created new opportunities for plumbing businesses to simplify and become more efficient. Three major trends are sweeping through the industry that you may be able to take advantage of:
- GPS fleet control: GPS can allow you to keep closer track of your fleet, your employees, and their progress through their day. It also makes reimbursing employees for fuel or providing them with enough resources for fuel simple. GPS fleet control has actually improved since it was first introduced. New software creates reporting for your whole fleet, allowing you to see travel times and more useful statistics.
- Financing options: Many firms now exist to connect the clients of contractors with financing options. You don’t need to be a major player in your market to provide customers with financing. Offering it, especially in trying times, can help you make sales and get customers the equipment they need.
- Digital receptionists: There’s no need to hire a receptionist and incur the high costs of their training vacation time, sick pay, and more. Instead, you can turn to a company that provides digital receptionists. Get full coverage of your calls, reports on your service calls and how they were handled, a courteous answering staff that doesn’t greatly inflate your overhead, and, perhaps most importantly, more work. Learn more about plumbing answering services here.
While the plumbing industry may be suffering from the lack of new construction through 2020, there will always be demand for everyday and emergency service calls. Offering and promoting unique equipment offerings, like bidets, can help you cut through the noise and reach more customers who are still working from home. Offering new financing options can help get through to customers who would otherwise be turned off by sticker shock.
Despite everything that’s changed in the wake of 2020, the plumbing industry is still doing better than most, and it’s only going to get better.
If you’re getting more calls than expected and need a better way to keep track of your scheduling, make sure to check out our plumbing scheduling services as well.