Whilst most industries experienced their worst year on record, one is currently flourishing at an unprecedented rate – and that industry is home improvements. With more people spending time at home for work and leisure, they are investing even more into their houses.
Australian online services marketplace Oneflare’s research shows that trade services are growing exponentially in 2020. Between April to October 2020 there was a 47 per cent increase in market value for home improvement jobs compared to 2019.
“For many Australians, the pandemic has been a catalyst to finally getting around to fixing things in the home that they previously didn’t have time to do, and they’re turning to local businesses to get the job done,” says Oneflare CEO Billy Tucker.
Superficial home repairs such as fencing, landscaping and painting have seen the biggest growth. As more people spend time at home, they are becoming more critical about the minor flaws in their homes. And now, they have the means and the time to address them.
The beginning of the nationwide lockdown in March saw many consumers concerned with financial insecurity. However, with the gradual lifting of restrictions, consumers were more comfortable with spending.
Reduced overseas travel also helped the industry grow. Consumers that saved up money for overseas holidays found themselves with an excess of cash that they were willing to spend on their homes. 59 per cent of respondents admitting the extra time at home gave them extra ideas and inspiration to upgrade their home.
“If we see someone not spending tens of thousands of dollars they’d normally spend on travel with the family, we see them spending that money on projects on the home. That can include pool cabanas, summer houses, big landscaping jobs,” says Billy.
The most popular category across all Australian states was the builder category, seeing a 115 per cent increase in jobs worth an additional $85 million more than 2019. This category was followed by painting and plumbing in Queensland. Most surprising was Victoria’s most popular category gardening which was up 81 per cent month on month.
“We know the small business sector in particular has been hit badly by the global pandemic. These latest figures show that whilst the Australian priorities have shifted, there is hope and crucially that the demand is there,” says Billy.
What can small businesses do to make the most of this upswing?
If you’re a small business in the home improvement industry now is the time to start selling yourself. Billy recommends small businesses should make themselves more adaptable to consumers’ changing preferences. “You need to be taking a hard look at how flexible your service hours can be, and how customers can contact you or make bookings. If you’re not fully online yet and are relying on telephone calls to get new customers, it’s certainly worth addressing that ahead of Christmas,” Billy shares.
This big home improvement boom may not last forever though. Where there was usually an upturn in January given the holiday season, sales in October and November have already eclipsed previous January sales. Billy predicts that this coming January will not be as lucrative as the past with customer demand drying out.
Tips for small businesses to market themselves better to potential clients
For small businesses that want to leave the best impression on potential customers, Billy provides the following tips:
- Do a video consultation to align with customers’ preferences for online engagement and to maintain social distancing where possible
- Take a small deposit to secure your job
- Build an online presence, whether it’s on Facebook, Google or Oneflare, make use of all the platforms available to you
- Extend your business to other relevant services if it’s practical
- Encourage customer feedback (both good and bad) in the form of online reviews
Tips for consumers to choose the right business for home improvements
Billy’s top tip for customers to choose the right business for their job is to do their homework. Customers should be looking for businesses that are not only qualified but credible. “Having honest and transparent reviews on the platform are extremely important to consumers. You need both good and bad reviews. My advice is to really rely on reviews to determine if the business is fit for your work,” says Billy. Let other customers help you evaluate if a business will suit your needs.
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