Lowe’s Home Improvement continues its focus on reaching more industry pros, this time with its new annual State of the Pro report, which dives into homeowners’ needs and wants in addition to capturing contractors’ views on today’s challenges.
The report aims to help home improvement professionals grow their business by providing relevant data on industry challenges, what customers want from contractors, how homeowners feel about trades, and what trades think of themselves. Lowe’s surveyed 1,000 homeowners and 1,000 pros during Q4 2021.
Homeowners’ Opinions on the Trades
The Lowe’s study confirmed a known idea: that Americans care about their homes more now than ever.
It also found that half of the homeowners surveyed said renovations are needed to keep up with the housing market. And 46% of homeowners say those renovations will be done by a hired professional.
This pandemic-induced boom in residential construction has not just boosted contractors’ business, but contractors believe it boosted the reputation of those in skilled trades, according to the survey.
Sixty-seven percent of surveyed pros said the pandemic improved their reputation, while 24% did not agree nor disagreed, and 10% disagreed. But overall, 92% of surveyed pros reported feeling satisfied in their job, and 71% said that satisfaction increased during the past year.
On the flip side, 69% of surveyed homeowners agreed they have a greater appreciation for people in skilled trades now than they used to. Just 5% disagreed with the sentiment, and the remaining 26% neither agreed nor disagreed.
More homeowners (78%) say home improvement professionals deserve more respect.
And the majority of both sides agree that now more than ever, there’s a need for more home improvement professionals, with 80% of contractors agreeing and 73% of homeowners.
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What Homeowners Like About Contractors
Older homeowners (Gen X, Boomers, Silent Generation) and younger homeowners (Millennials and Gen Z) differ with their decision-making, the survey found.
When in a position of deciding between two bids that are equal, older and younger homeowners both say communication will sway them toward one pro over another, yet how much it would sway them differs. Sixty-eight percent of older homeowners would choose the better communicator while 46% of younger homeowners would.
There remained a similar split for the pro with better references, with 65% of older homeowners selecting the highly referred pro and 41% of younger homeowners.
Virtual tools are favored best by the younger generations, such as online scheduling, customer service, and interactive project trackers. Younger homeowners would also be slightly more likely to choose one pro over another if they offered project renderings.
What Homeowners Dislike About Contractors
When in the project, homeowners, unsurprisingly, cite money as the greatest headache. Sixty-one percent of homeowners say unclear project costs are a major challenge working with pros, and 21% said it’s a minor challenge. That’s followed by delays, communication, and organization.
Here are how all the challenges rank:
Courtesy Lowe's Home Improvement State of the Pro 2022 Annual Report
Project Types Homeowners Think They Can DIY
Homeowners generally enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when completing a DIY project but also agree certain projects are best for professionals to handle. Yet the survey found that homeowners would hire a pro to handle just two types of projects the majority of the time: a whole-home remodel and building exterior projects.
Lowe’s offered 16 different project types and asked if homeowners would hire a pro, do it themselves, partner with a pro, or are undecided. Whole-home remodels would be done by a pro 72% of the time, and building exterior projects would be done by a pro 56% of the time.
For the 14 other projects, homeowners would hire a pro less than half of the time. And they’re most confident in completing living room renovations than any other area of the home.
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Photo: courtesy Jacob Lund | stock.adobe.com
Contractor Technology Use
No surprise, but 75% of pros surveyed said their job has become more challenging since the beginning of the pandemic, but pros are looking to technology to help ease stress.
Of the professionals surveyed that said workloads increased in 2021 compared to 2020, 42% say technology will help them manage their projects. But the tech pros are most excited about? Tools.
Battery-operated tools, distance-measuring lasers, and gear for work trucks were the top three exciting tool advancements for pros. But pros are overall intrigued by technology, and 50% said technology use day-to-day has improved since last year.