The Biggest Challenges Facing Residential Contractors in a Post Pandemic Economy
Over a year into the COVID pandemic, masks are starting to come off, hand sanitizer and toilet paper are no longer in short supply, and businesses are ready to go back to full operation. Most of the residential repair industry maintained growth last year, while some other sectors struggled. So what are the biggest challenges facing our industry as the rest of the world gets back to work?
Supply Chain Issues and Elevated Material Prices
In 2020, we saw COVID significantly affect the normal operating processes and staffing in manufacturing plants of industries such as steel and lumber. Some shut down production altogether due to the pandemic's effect on the economy and others were slow to resume production, creating significant shortages and increased prices. Then, in February of 2021, an unprecedented freeze hit Texas causing blackouts and forcing chemical plants to shut down; further disrupting global supply chains and creating shortages of the raw materials needed for things like paint and polyurethane.
Some economists point to the increasing number of baby boomers retiring, the U.S. birth rate falling below replacement levels, and more restrictive immigration policies among the pre-pandemic reasons that would lead to a shortage of workers. The 2020 Caronivirus pandemic caused even more strain, with some choosing early retirement over the requirements and risks workers faced during the pandemic, displaced workers changing careers, or parents staying home to educate their children. A U.S. Chamber of Commerce poll released last Friday sited that 30% of unemployed Americans are saying they do not intend to return to work this year and 13% saying they never expect to go back. From restaurants trying to support complete dine-in services for the first time in a year to corporate employers struggling to get remote workers back to an office environment, more and more companies are finding themselves shorthanded. Skilled labor industries are no exception.
Customers may not understand the volatility of materials pricing or the current shortages affecting business today. Many are already seeing massive shortages and delays on other goods and services contributing to their frustration. Sales representatives must ensure they are pricing high enough to make a profit even if costs increase but low enough to win the business against the competition; all while setting expectations on timing and the possibility of scheduling delays that may arise.
What Can You Do About It?
When you are not sure where or when you will get your hands on the materials or how much they will cost you when you do, it is hard for contractors to know what price estimates to give to potential customers and even harder to predict schedules. Having a consistent pricing methodology and process to manage the bids during these types of fluctuations can help contractors navigate this unprecedented time. To help protect themselves from financial loss, some contractors have added expiration dates to their bids and disclaimers to contracts that the price of materials may cause the cost of the job to increase.
Contractors are finding that presenting a professional first impression with polished and detailed bids, drawings, marketing materials, and contacts has helped them earn the trust of wary and frustrated customers who seem to be seeing delays in everything they purchase. Having good communication via emails, text messages, and phone calls to discuss progress and timing is another way to ensure the customer has a good experience with you.
Many contractors are being forced to find ways to do more with fewer people. Some are taking on less work, asking their existing teams for extra hours, or booking jobs months into the future. Others are making business shifts to become more efficient with technology by investing in tablets and software such as Contractor Accelerator....and its working. Customers of Contractor Accelerator report an average time savings of over 35 hours per week for office staff with some sales teams seeing 15 hours saved for each salesperson every week. In addition to the time savings, business owners are able to see everything their team is doing electronically, allowing them the freedom to focus on the business rather than getting caught up with the day-to-day check-ins.
Learn How Contractor Accelerator Can Help
Thanks for reading our Blog. We love getting to know contractors so please reach out and let us know how we can help! Contractor Accelerator is a leading mobile software provider for residential contractors that seamlessly integrates job estimates, digital drawings, customer management, appointment scheduling, and more features in a single platform. The Kansas City based company focuses on creating easy-to-use technology for residential repair contractors to help them organize and automate their business and become more efficient to grow without sacrificing work-life balance. For more information, visit Contractor Accelerator at www.contractoraccelerator.com.