Disclaimer: The following are opinions only!

Top 3 changes affecting our industry: 

1. The near extinction of mid-to-large, just-making-it construction based companies

2. A proliferation of ‘dude-in-a-white-truck’ companies

3. A thinning out and subsequent strengthening of service-focused companies (that’s us!)

When I opened my own shop in late 2009, at the bottom of a North American recession, I asked myself “Is there a day coming when the modern world will no longer require our services? Will the proliferation of internet resources and DIY workshops from our box store friends be enough to render us obsolete?” My answer, after some deliberation, was absolutely not. If that’s true, then what’s next for us? If, by the way, you think we will be obsolete, I would suggest it’s time for a good exit strategy.

I would bet (and kind of did) that we are going to see a fairly significant increase in both the number of magnitude of breakdowns and failures in their homes, and subsequent decrease in a homeowner’s willingness to take the cheap route.

Said differently, if the last 10-20 years have been marked by ‘cheap’ solutions to plumbing, heating and electrical systems in people’s homes, then the clock is ticking. It’s just a matter of time until those homes start to incur serious and/or numerous failures. I’ve already seen an increased number of calls coming from “I fixed this myself a while ago” customers. These folks are not interested in cheap anymore.
Therefore, providing some reasoning for my top 3:
 1. Construction has decreased and it will be some time until we see it hit pre-2008 levels. Those companies that grew fat and happy on high volumes of construction are going the way of the dinosaur. Some are making an attempt to take on service and replacement work, but they are ill-equipped for this. Ride it out.

2. An increasing number of unemployed techs from the defunct construction company are going into business for themselves. Point of clarification here — a proliferation of one-man companies does not necessarily mean a proliferation of sustainable one-man companies. They will continue startup and fail at high percentages, but they will always be with us. Same white truck, different dude every day! His prices are low and his voice mail is full. He is undoubtedly a pain in the neck. His ever present pressure on prices may cause a few companies in our circle to pack their bags and sell hotdogs on the corner (not a bad idea somedays, right?).

3. Now the exciting part. For those of us who choose to stay focused on service, our future is bright. Not easy, but bright. The gap between us and our competitors will grow. The need for professional technicians who fix it right and stand behind their work is going to get bigger (thank you dude-in-a-white-truck). But our costs of doing business correctly and professionally is not going to drop so we’ll continue to be triple the price of dude-in-a-white-truck. Isn’t life like that? The blessing always comes disguised as a challenge. “Dude” is doing two things for us: a) He is leaving a lot of work in every customer’s home (some he missed, some he fixed poorly and will fail again). b) He is teaching those customers what cheap, poor service looks like. That plays right into our hands.

 This last paragraph took me the longest. What do we DO about this? How do we adapt? Steady yourself, this is earth-shattering: Focus on the little things. Be the best. Show up on time. Take care of property. Take out permits. Wear shoe covers. Be polite. Do the little things infinitely better than anyone else. Said differently, just keep doing what we’re already doing. The deck is stacked in our favour, but it will take some time. I really wish the answer was more profound than that.
 Final thought — There are two things I’ve noticed as top attributes of top performing Nexstar shops.

1. Urgency — treat every call like it’s the only one you get this year and drill that mentality into every person in your organization.

2. Training — keep on teaching your team to focus on the small stuff. Do it a little bit better than you did yesterday. Never rest.

Okay, then. Enough Profundicating. Your thoughts, feedback and comments are coveted.