Right now is an incredibly exciting time to be a part of the plumbing industry. There are a lot of unique changes happening that will affect both plumbers and their clients. Thanks to changes in technology and society, the way we handle plumbing might look extremely different in the next 10 years. If you want to make sure that you are offering cutting-edge service, it's essential to stay up to date on all these plumbing trends. Here are some of the most interesting trends to watch out for in 2023.
Increasing Desire for Eco-Friendly Plumbing Fixtures
It's no surprise that one of the biggest trends will be more eco-friendly plumbing. As climate issues become more prevalent, people are on the lookout for ways they can help. Most homeowners are at least tangentially aware of issues with water consumption, and many are responding by trying to update their plumbing. Especially as more and more eco-conscious millennials become homeowners, environmentally-friendly fixtures are increasingly popular.
Even though this trend is expected, it might surprise you to learn just how much demand there is. The 2021 Healthy Home Study from Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies found that 31.6% of homeowners are planning on retrofitting their houses with a tankless water heater. Furthermore, recent bans on gas appliances, such as California's ban on gas water heaters, indicate a growing legislative push to enact environmentally-friendly plumbing measures.
There are quite a few other plumbing fixtures that are also likely to go green. More people have started installing water-saving dishwashers, washing machines, and toilets. Even before these appliances become too old to function properly, many homeowners are replacing them with more efficient models. 22% of homeowners are even considering switching to eco-toilets that compost waste matter. Lawn irrigation systems are also being exchanged for more eco-friendly options. Some people are choosing to skip the irrigation system altogether, while others are opting for carefully timed ones that minimize water wastage.
More Opportunities to Incorporate Plumbing Into Smart Home Systems
The smart home trend is sweeping the nation, and it's even affecting plumbing. More and more homeowners are looking to integrate their plumbing into their smart home systems. This trend is mostly happening due to the popularity of Google Home and Amazon Alexa speakers. People are getting used to having voice assistants that can do things like turn on lights or adjust their AC, so now they're looking for ways to get the same convenience from their plumbing.
What does smart plumbing look like? It doesn't take the form of a TV screen on every sink, toilet, or shower. Instead, most smart plumbing consists of discrete ways to incorporate plumbing into home systems. One of the most popular types of smart plumbing is smart toilets. These toilets often have automatic flushing features along with heated seats, bidets, and water-tracking features. Since they have a reputation for being both convenient and high-end, they're very in demand among homeowners. The market for smart toilets is expected to reach $12.9 billion by 2026.
Many homeowners are also getting interested in smart home features like touchless tech. 60% of Americans prefer touchless faucets because they feel like they are safer and more hygienic. Other increasingly common products include smart leak detectors that send you an alert when they sense a leak and smart showers that can preheat your shower or run pre-set jet massage cycles.
Decreased Interest From Customers
Unfortunately, not all plumbing trends are good news. There is a predicted 0.1% decline in revenue over the next year. Plumbing companies can expect to have fewer clients and fewer profits overall. Though this is just a small downturn that isn't likely to stick around, it might cause problems for businesses that already have cash flow issues.
There are several factors contributing to this decline. The main problem is inflation. Many homeowners are struggling to deal with rising food and electricity costs, so they're waiting longer to fix their plumbing. A survey from The Farnsworth Group found that one-third of all homeowners have outdated or damaged plumbing that they haven't fixed yet. There are also fewer new homeowners who will need plumbing assistance. As the housing market cools down, fewer new properties are being built and fewer people are moving into their dream homes and deciding to do some updates.
This news might sound grim, but it doesn't mean most plumbing businesses will go bankrupt. Despite a small decline in purchasing optional plumbing services, there is always a need for plumbing repairs. Businesses can weather the drop in customers by pivoting to provide more emergency repairs and less maintenance and new installs. Savvy marketers can also run special promotions that attract budget-conscious customers by offering discounts and deals.
Greater Preference for High-Tech Plumbing Solutions
All of the recent technological advancements are also likely to affect plumbing technicians. There are a lot of new tools on the market, and customers are starting to take notice of them. People who are looking to fix a problem no longer have to rely on the advice of a single technician. Instead, they usually go online and explore their options. This has led to more customers being aware of and desiring high-tech plumbing.
Why are specialty tools so popular? Most customers want them because they're more convenient and foolproof. For example, trenchless pipe replacement lets customers repair their sewer without having to dig up their entire line. People are also increasingly interested in infrared technology that finds leaks without destroying walls and camera drainage inspections that quickly identify problems.
Companies that want to stay competitive can benefit from incorporating these specialty tools into their business. Though it requires some ongoing training for your technicians, it's an excellent way to appeal to customers' needs. When you offer convenient services that no one else in town has yet, it's easy to stand out from your competitors.
Rapid Growth in the Plumbing Fixtures Market
One of the most impressive plumbing trends of 2023 is the growth in plumbing fitting and fixture purchases. Though other areas of plumbing are facing a slight slowdown, this field continues to expand rapidly. Market research from Global Industry Analysts predicts a compound annual growth rate of 5.1% in the next few years. According to this forecast, the global market for fixtures and fittings will end up reaching $110.9 billion by 2027.
There's a big increase in demand for fixtures because they are both visible and affordable. Customers who focus on looks are more likely to pay money for high-end faucets instead of invisible piping behind walls. The growing interest in DIY home renovations has also helped many people realize that just switching out fittings can give a bathroom or kitchen a whole new look. Especially in these budget-conscious times, the ability to make a big change for just a few hundred dollars is very exciting to homeowners.
This trend comes with a lot of exciting opportunities for local plumbing companies. The online market is experiencing a lot more growth than traditional big box stores. Instead of ordering from a big store that offers installation with purchase, customers are increasingly likely to buy from small online shops and figure out the installation themselves. This is a great market to tap into. Businesses that make a point of offering fast and easy fixture installation services will have plenty of interested customers.
Decline in Copper Plumbing
For decades, copper pipes have been the gold standard of plumbing. They're extremely durable, easily withstand temperature changes, and don't contaminate water. Despite these advantages, there's been a big downturn in copper usage. More and more plumbing projects are switching to PVC pipes and PEX pipes instead.
A major factor is simply cost. Copper pipes have always been more expensive than PEX or PVC. Now that so many consumers are concerned with costs, many aren't willing to pay the extra money just for increased quality. Another issue is availability. Many areas with natural copper mines are depleted, and some areas with bountiful copper deposits are undergoing political unrest. Goldman Sachs reports that there will be a drastic drop in copper production in 2023, and some analysts forecast this trend will continue through the 2030s.
This trend won't be a problem for flexible plumbing companies. Those who are willing to work with a variety of materials will be able to ensure that decreased availability and soaring prices don't get in the way of completing plumbing projects. Being aware of the trend ensures that you can get your employees the right training and offer customers the best possible options for their budget.
Renewed Emphasis on Customer Service
Of course, good customer service has always been important. However, the past few years have included a drastic increase in prioritizing customer satisfaction. The amount of consumers who use online reviews to make their decision has increased by 9% since 2018. Currently, 98% of consumers take reviews into account when picking a service provider. This means that modern plumbers need to ensure their customers are always happy.
What does this mean for your business? If you want to succeed, you need to do more than just provide good plumbing services. You also need to make things as convenient for customers as possible. More and more customers say they pick their plumbers based on helpful features like online appointment scheduling and prompt visits from technicians. Depending on your current status, it can be helpful to train employees in things like phone etiquette or appropriate ways to behave on service calls.
Keep in mind that this plumbing trend is about more than just leaving customers satisfied though. You also need to make sure that everyone is aware of your service. Since modern customer service is so closely related to online reviews, it can be helpful to create a business model that prioritizes reviews. Taking the time to send clients a follow-up email asking for a review can help you build an online presence that showcases your excellent customer service.
Higher Costs for Material and Labor
In addition to changing customer shopping trends, inflation is also directly impacting many plumbers' bottom lines. On average, most manufacturers are reporting pricing increases of between 5% to 15%. This means that buying parts might cost significantly more in 2023.
In addition to higher prices for materials, there is also a shortage of labor in the plumbing industry. The National Association of Home Builders reports a 55% shortage in available plumbers. Fewer people are training to be plumbers, and many trained technicians are moving to other careers. Therefore businesses that want to attract good technicians need to be willing to offer a higher wage.
These pricing trends might be a reason for many plumbers to begin rethinking their pricing models. If you haven't updated your prices in a while, 2023 is the time to adjust them. However, keep in mind that sudden price jumps might frustrate returning customers. Many plumbing companies are switching from hourly pricing to flat rate pricing because it's less confusing for customers to follow. Being upfront about why your prices are changing and which factors are affecting your prices can help you avoid alienating your client base.
Greater Need for Accessible Plumbing
Due to shifting cultural trends, the United States population is gradually aging. Median ages have sharply risen since 2015 because the Baby Boomer generation is now in their senior years. With so much of the population growing older, there is a new market for plumbers to consider. Data shows a growing interest in accessible bathroom design. More and more homeowners want a home where they can age in place, so they're redesigning bathrooms to be more accessible.
These bathrooms are meant to accommodate the needs of those with health problems. There are some specially designed bathroom fixtures, like walk-in bathtubs, that are particularly useful for those with mobility challenges. In addition to these big installations, your plumbing team might find themselves installing taller toilets, faucets with lever handles, and other designs that make it easier for the elderly and differently-abled to use the restroom.
If you want to capitalize on this plumbing trend, it pays to stay informed. Being up to date on ADA-compliant bathroom design allows you to offer your customers safer and more convenient restrooms. Even if your customers aren't currently asking you for more accessible restrooms, plumbing sales teams can generate a lot of interest by offering these new designs to clients.
As you can see, there are going to be a lot of changes in 2023 and the upcoming years. Businesses that can embrace these new plumbing trends will have more opportunities to successfully meet their customers' needs.
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