Is 2024 a Defining Year for Home Service Businesses?

This year will be marked by AI's influence and heightened consumer emotions due to political climates, but small businesses that keep certain principles in mind can thrive

Is 2024 a Defining Year for Home Service Businesses?

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill

Interested in Business?

Get Business articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Business + Get Alerts

A new year, 2024, is here and business owners in the home service sector are bracing for a year that promises both challenges and opportunities.

It's not just about the rapid advancements in AI, which are undeniably reshaping consumer expectations. Equally significant is the global climate of numerous elections, including the U.S., influencing consumer sentiment in subtle yet profound ways.

The election year effect

Election years tend to bring a sense of uncertainty, and the financial markets often reflect this. The typical downturn in stock market performance during such times feeds into consumer apprehension. Spending becomes more cautious, influenced by a media landscape often dominated by pessimistic narratives. The mood of the consumer, already a complex tapestry, becomes even more intricate during these politically charged times. Take a look at this chart comparing the S&P 500 in a typical year versus an election year.

Enter AI

While a game-changer in understanding and predicting consumer behavior, AI is also a potential catalyst for misinformation. This adds to the prevailing atmosphere of distrust, making the task of local businesses even more challenging. How does one navigate this landscape of skepticism and emotional volatility? The answer may lie in a return to foundational business practices.

Getting back to traditional business values in a digital age

While the digital revolution has transformed how businesses operate, this year may call for a blend of the new and the old. Community involvement, solid branding and relationship-building emerge as timeless strategies. These elements not only foster trust but also create a sense of reliability and authenticity amidst the digital noise. Those of us who had businesses long before the internet will recognize these tactics as the same as those we used to grow our businesses in the first place.

Why you can’t say goodbye to your online presence

Contrary to wishful thinking, the necessity of an online presence is more pronounced than ever. A strong online footprint, replete with positive reviews and accessible information, remains essential. Consumers will continue to check your business out looking for reviews, and education, and expect ease and immediacy in their interactions with your company.

Learning from real business scenarios

A case in point is a discussion we recently had with an HVAC business owner, convinced that chat services should drive a substantial portion of his customer interactions. His expectations were based on the success stories of other companies. However, his experience fell short and we needed to find out why.

Turns out it is largely due to a mismatch of customer preferences for scheduling services online. You see, about 30% of consumers do not want to talk to anyone to schedule services. They want the ability to come to your website and make the appointment easily and seamlessly and without direct interaction. This means businesses need to align their strategies for booking leads with actual consumer behavior.

Responsiveness and customer service

A common pitfall we've observed among some business owners is how long it takes the business to respond to customer inquiries. These tend to be the same business owners who complain about not having enough leads to respond to. These two things are at odds with each other. It makes no sense to say you lack leads if you aren’t responding to the leads you are currently getting.

Timeliness in responding to calls, texts, or online queries is not just a courtesy — it's a competitive necessity. A slow response can mean a lost opportunity, especially in a market teeming with alternatives that you can find at your fingertips. It’s also a huge miss in customer service. If you can’t promptly answer a phone, respond to an email or text, or a web form that’s on your page, what does that say about your service?

This is not just about booking the service call either. It also makes a difference to a client if you can do the work on their schedule, not yours, even for those who you think are loyal customers.

A story from one of our long-term clients stands out. This business owner, despite having a large and loyal customer base, faced a setback when he couldn't accommodate a service request on the customer's preferred schedule. He had been working for this client for over five years and was sure they would wait until he could get to them. When the customer eventually opted for a competitor who could meet the customer’s timing needs, our client was shocked. He learned two things that day that he works on in his business all the time: 

  1. Loyalty goes out the window when people need a service within a certain timeframe because people do not have to wait on you.
  2. It’s important to stay flexible and be able to give quick service as best you can.

Striking the right chord in 2024

We like the “chord” analysis because a chord is formed by playing many notes together, and that’s exactly what every business will need to do in 2024. The successful home service business will be able to blend the more traditional local business tactics as described above with current digital tactics to stay top of mind with the consumer as well as build trust in a mistrustful world.

We know this year will be marked by AI's influence and heightened consumer emotions due to political climates. But if you are a business that can swiftly adapt, maintain authenticity and prioritize customer convenience, your business will likely thrive.

About the Authors

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill are the authors of Blue Collar Proud: 10 Principles for Building a Kickass Business You Love and the owners of Spark Marketer, a "no bull" digital marketing company that’s been getting sh*t done for home service businesses across the nation for a decade. They’re trusted thought leaders in the industries they serve, which is why you’ll find them regularly speaking at service industry trade shows and conferences and writing for trade magazines. Tired of empty promises and ready for focused digital marketing and balls-to-the-wall dedication that gets your business seen? Visit www.sparkmarketer.com.



Discussion

Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.