5 Industry Trends Every Plumber Needs to Know About
As the plumbing industry continues to evolve, it is essential for plumbers to stay ahead of the curve and adapt to the latest trends. In 2023, several significant developments are shaping the plumbing landscape.
This blog post will explore four key trends that plumbers should be aware of, including labor shortages, the instability in the housing market, the increased use and interest in smart plumbing technology, the growing demand for sustainable and energy-efficient plumbing solutions, and changing customer expectations and preferences.
1. Shortage of Plumbers
The entire plumbing industry – in fact, the skilled labor sector at large – has been grappling with a persistent labor shortage in recent years. This trend has continued through 2023 and isn’t expected to relent any time soon. According to data shared by NPR, the application rate for young people seeking technical jobs like plumbing, building, and electrical work saw a 49% drop between 2020 and 2022.
A combination of factors, including an aging workforce, a lack of new entrants, and the growing demand for plumbing services, has contributed to this shortage.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were about 611,000 people employed as “plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters” in 2022. Around 20% of those people are over the age of 55, up from 16% in 2017.
Plumbing businesses need to be proactive about attracting and retaining skilled professionals by offering competitive salaries and opportunities for career advancement. Providing financial help with training programs and getting involved with apprenticeship programs can help develop a pipeline of qualified job candidates.
2. Instability In The Housing Market
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the US housing market has been experiencing fluctuations and uncertainty. Market shifts, such as rising interest rates, economic fluctuations, and construction materials shortages can all influence new construction projects, renovations, and maintenance work – all of which have a direct impact on the types and frequency of jobs plumbers can expect. Staying adaptable and diversifying service offerings is the best way for plumbers to navigate through these uncertain times.
After a boom in homeowner purchasing power and equity gains powered by the historically low mortgage rates of 2020 and 2021, the housing market has considerably cooled down in 2023. For plumbers, this means that jobs related to new construction are on the decline. Luckily, there’s always demand from the home repair and remodeling sector of the market.
In fact, given that just under half of existing US homes were built before 1980, the need for modernization updates and basic maintenance work is stronger than ever. Plumbers across the country are seeing a notable increase in service, replacement, and repair jobs.
3. Smart Plumbing Technology and Fixtures
These days, smart technology seems to be everywhere – and plumbing is no exception. Advanced plumbing systems can let customers track water usage, identify temperature levels, receive leakage alerts, and gain insight into overall data analytics.
Plumbers need to be aware of these new technologies and seek out any necessary training to be able to continue providing reliable service as smart fixtures become more common.
- Smart toilets use internal sensors to aid in cleaning and disinfection, as well as heated seats and automatic flushing. The market for smart toilets alone is currently valued at $4B globally and is expected to grow to $9B in the next 10 years.
- Smart water heaters track hot water consumption patterns to save energy by heating water when it’s likely to be needed and shifting to a lower power mode when it’s not needed.
- Touchless sinks and faucets aren’t just for public bathrooms anymore. Not only are these fixtures more sanitary, but they also reduce water usage, saving homeowners money and contributing to conservation efforts.
- Leak detectors use advanced sensors to identify and alert homeowners of the presence of a leak in their pipes. Some can even automatically shut off flow to the leaking pipeline. Leaks can lead to costly property damage, making this technology extremely popular, especially as it becomes more affordable.
It’s important that plumbers familiarize themselves with these advanced systems, including their installation, maintenance, and repair, as customers increasingly seek out these efficient and convenient solutions. Keeping up with technological advancements will be crucial to meet customer demands and remain competitive.
4. Increasing Demand for Sustainable, Energy-Efficient Plumbing Technologies
Environmental awareness and a focus on sustainable practices have become prevalent in various industries, including plumbing. 2023 has seen continued demand for green, sustainable, and energy-efficient plumbing technologies. The popular focus on environmental sustainability has fueled demand for eco-friendly plumbing solutions like low-flow toilets, water-saving faucets, and rainwater harvesting systems. Customers are seeking out water-saving fixtures, greywater recycling systems, and solar-powered water heaters to reduce their environmental footprint and save on utility bills.
Like emerging smart technologies, plumbers will need to be familiar with not only how to install, repair, and maintain these systems, but also be able to speak to their advantages and help customers select the right options for their homes.
5. Customer Preferences Are Changing
Reaching new customers and interacting with existing ones have both undergone a major transformation in the past few decades, thanks largely to digital technology. Smartphones have become an integral part of our lives, and leveraging mobile technology is now essential for plumbing businesses to connect with a significant portion of their customer base, considering 66% of consumers use their mobile devices as their primary research tool for small businesses.
That’s not to say the old-fashioned ways are completely obsolete. For example, word of mouth is still the most popular information source for customers looking for a small business, after Google, according to Service Direct’s research. So be sure to provide excellent customer service and encourage your customers to leave reviews on your Google Business Profile.
As the plumbing industry evolves, it is essential for plumbers to stay informed about the latest trends and adapt their skills and services accordingly. The ongoing labor shortage, housing market instability, increased interest in smart plumbing technology, and demand for sustainable and energy-efficient solutions are shaping the plumbing landscape in 2023. By embracing these trends, plumbers can position themselves for success and provide valuable services to meet the changing needs of their customers.