More than 45 million IoT and smart home devices were installed in U.S. homes last year, according to Statista. The annual growth rate of the industry is 22% year over year, yet only 12% to 16% of U.S. homes own smart devices. This is set to change as appliance manufacturers begin to implement IoT technologies into their offerings. In fact, according to a Whirlpool Smart Home survey, 86% of parents indicated that their next appliance purchase would be a smart appliance. This will have significant implications for the home services industry, specifically those that focus on home repair services.
Consumer attitudes have trended for a long time toward replace rather than repair. However, a few trends could shift the tide of this thought process. A younger generation of homeowners is taking over the market. The generation is tech-savvy and eco-conscious, acknowledging the importance of reducing waste. That said, it’s a generation that isn’t particularly handy, but is willing to pay for repairs. The promise that IoT-connected appliances provide is the ability to preventatively service a home appliance, rather than reaching the point of breaking.
An advanced IoT-enabled appliance will diagnose the issue and alert the homeowner through their smart device. Triggering the actual appliance repair could take two routes. The first is driven by the appliance manufacturer. With IoT capabilities, appliance manufacturers and appliance insurance companies can either provide repair crews to come out and service the appliance directly or contract out the work to small home repair businesses in the area — similar to the model that your local cable company, or even Amazon, uses. The second option will be for the homeowner themselves to coordinate the appliance repair, searching, finding and booking their own local home services companies. This change in industry behavior will affect small home services companies in three key ways:
Service calls vs. repair calls
In addition to the repair calls, there will be more emphasis on servicing appointments. How often does the average homeowner have their air conditioning unit checked? It is likely much less than the once a year minimum that is recommended. If your air conditioner sends you a notification that it’s running less efficiently and needs to be serviced, you’ll be more likely to make an appointment with your local residential HVAC company. Otherwise, it’s easy for this appliance to be out of sight and out of mind. The same concept can be applied to other appliances throughout a home.
Quicker home calls
Instead of home service companies booking appointments based on the crude description, such as an appliance is “making a weird noise” or “it’s just not working,” technicians will go into an appointment knowing exactly what the issue is. At the very least, they will have data to work off of in advance to shorten call times and plan more bookings within a day.
More sophisticated command centers
Homeowner expectations are already becoming more sophisticated when it comes to what they look for in a home services company. Consumers want to be able to book appointments online, have accurate arrival times, have options for payment and even have headshots of the technicians they can expect on site. These abilities differentiate small businesses today, but they will be mandatory in the future. A major appliance brand or appliance insurance company that partners with local service companies would expect this level of sophistication throughout its network.
Small business home service companies will need the proper software to organize daily operations, such as quoting, scheduling, invoicing and payment. Appliance brands, insurers and homeowners alike will want to work with the small businesses that make the servicing process as smooth as possible. Those small businesses will need to use technology that easily organizes the increased workload and capitalizes on the opportunity ahead.
It’s clear that IoT-enabled appliances will have a ripple effect into the home services industry. It’s easy to envision IoT used within air conditioning units, refrigerators and washing machines, but this may also extend to less obvious home appliances. One day a home’s electrical wiring and plumbing may have sensors at different points to monitor for problems. One thing is certain: home services companies must be ready to adapt to an IoT-focused future.
All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.