Commercial and industrial service contractors were and continue to be hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Just how hard-hit? Data from over 600 ServiceTrade accounts and over half a million appointments since the beginning of the year tells a daunting, yet optimistic, story about the current trends in facility work.

Plotting the total volume of service appointments across all accounts by week shows two very interesting trends. First, from March 15 – 29, there was a sudden, 29% decline in overall appointment volume. Second, the initial impact appears to have subsided and the overall appointment volume has generally leveled off. 

Some states and counties have been more severely impacted by the pandemic and have much higher infection rates than others.  To analyze the impacts of infection rate, we combined the COVID-19 data collected by John Hopkins University and merged it with US Census data to determine the infection rate per capita in each county. Next, we combined this county-level infection data with appointment address details to determine the local infection rate where the appointment was completed. Summarized, that data shows that if the infection rate in your area increases, you can expect a more severe decline in appointment volume.

Obviously, the decline in appointment volume could be associated with a number of other factors such as the type of work performed and facility served. As can be seen in the graph below, most commercial and industrial service contractors using ServiceTrade follow a similar trend except for one particular vertical: kitchen exhaust cleaning. With most restaurants dramatically decreasing their volume and cutting their budgets, kitchen exhaust cleaners have experienced the most significant decline in appointment volume. Anecdotally, other types of service contractors that serve restaurants have told us that their business with restaurants has seen a sharp decline.

The charts above provide a stark warning about how drastic the impact of COVID-19 can be on your business if the infection rate in your area climbs above rates even as low as 0.1% – 0.2%. You can check out the John Hopkins interactive dataset to see your local infection rate. Despite the acute impacts of COVID-19 on appointment volume, data suggests that there is a glimmer of hope that work is returning. As of the writing of this blog post, quote approvals are up around 7% by volume from the low experienced during the week of 3/22/2020. Quote approvals are likely a leading indicator of work to come, so any increase is a great sign.

Data shows us that it’s in all of our best interest to keep the infection rate as low as possible to avoid its disastrous effects on service appointment volume. We’re all itching to get back to normal and quote approval volume suggests that we are, albeit slowly, on our way. Though work has not returned to pre-pandemic levels, data suggests that now is the time to get quotes in front of customers that are in a position to approve them. Make sure that you’ve sent a quote for every single equipment issue and deficiency repair opportunity your techs identified in the last year. Send out reminders for quotes that customers haven’t responded to yet. Get the pipeline ready so your company can get back to work (while practicing safe social distancing). Stay safe and stay well.

Related Reading:

Part 2 of this data analysis published on June 3, 2020

254,484 Quotes: Fast, Rich, and Easy – a post about how to optimize your quote approval rate.

4 replies
  1. Nick Rohan
    Nick Rohan says:

    This is really interesting data. Thank you! Another data point that is a positive might be to analyze average en-route time before and during crisis. In metro areas we have seen a drastic reduction in travel time due to stay at home orders. These are obviously temporary savings (along with gas costs) but we’ll take it given all the other challenges. We are lucky that some of our commercial customers are deemed essential and therefore so are we. I’m feeling for those who don’t have the similar circumstances.

    Reply
    • Shawn Mims
      Shawn Mims says:

      Interesting point about drive times Nick! I’ll have to work with Brian to get the right data into QuickSight to do the analysis on that one.

      We’ve definitely heard some interesting stories from the market about how companies have adjusted. From asking customers to bring extinguishers into the parking lot for fire inspections to using lifts to access rooftop HVAC units all to avoid going inside buildings. Adversity is the mother of invention.

      Reply
  2. Eric Christopherson
    Eric Christopherson says:

    These are great data to see. We too have seen some slowdown and have used this opportunity to dig into our older / ignored deficiencies. We have found several older quotes that we could adjust down. Due to vacant structures, we can perform after-hours type work during regular business hours. We mined quotes that were originally only available for (costly) graveyard shift hours. By offering the customer an opportunity to get the work done during the day for substantial savings we were able to create work for the team and keep rolling for a little while.

    Reply
    • Shawn Mims
      Shawn Mims says:

      That’s a great idea! We’ve also heard that a lot of school systems are willing to have work done right now since all of the kids are at home.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *