BNP Media’s Clear Seas Research sector has completed the second wave of their Industry Perspective on the Challenges of Today research series. Wave two of the survey was conducted the week of April 2 covering the level of concern and actions taken by businesses among seven different sectors. Here, you can find specific responses from the mechanical systems industry, applying to BNP’s Plumbing Group publications; Supply House Times, Plumbing & Mechanical and PM Engineer (pme).
Respondents for this mechanical systems survey are 35% contractors, 21% salespeople, 12% owners, 7% engineers with the remainder of respondents falling in other categories of job functions. The majority of these participants come from companies with less than 100 employees; half of which are from companies with less than 25 employees. Baby Boomers make up this group by 52% and Generation X is 28%.
Overall, industry areas of concern largely mirrored the wave one survey results where the top responses indicated that main concerns are the current economy and business goals. 72% of respondents say they are concerned with the current economy, 65% are concerned with business goals over the next six months, while 64% say they are concerned with achieving business goals over the next three months, dropping significantly from the previous wave’s response of 82%.
Concern about themselves and family members becoming infected with COVID-19 remains almost the same with 47% of respondents saying they are concerned with contracting the virus themselves and 61% saying they are concerned that a family member will become infected.
Business stability and outlook
In terms of concern for business stability, 66% of participants say they are worried about the next 12 months and 64% are more concerned about the next six months. 58% are mainly concerned about supply chain management while only 32% are nervous about employees not showing up for work.
When asked about their business outlook, 48% of respondents say that active business is on schedule while 36% say that it’s delayed. Only 16% of respondents indicated that active business is cancelled, which is a bit higher than the previous week’s 12%. 41% say that planned business is on schedule as opposed to the 46% who say planned business is delayed. The percentage of respondents who say that their planned business is cancelled went from last week’s 10% to 13% in this week’s outlook.
Business development and spending
In terms of business development and spending, 80% of respondents have decreased development activity and 77% say they have reduced their business spending. 34% indicate that they have not changed their marketing budgets while 61% have decreased marketing budgets.
The CARES act and SBA loans have come into play over the past couple of weeks. 41% of the mechanical system survey respondents are applying for a small business loan while 31% aren’t sure yet; leaving 15% stating that they do not qualify for the loans and 14% who qualify but choose not to apply.
Use of online resources
There are some changes with how the mechanical systems industry is using information online to make business decisions. 53% of respondents are using email communications and 45% rely on government sources. 18% state that they are using general media dropping significantly from last week when there were 48% relying on general media. Manufacturers’ websites prove to be a source of information for 18% of participants. 17% of respondents say they are using social media to make business decisions and 16% are attending webinars.
When asked about actions they are taking to keep employees safe and healthy, mechanical systems respondents indicated that hand washing and encouraging social distancing are still the top efforts, coming in at 84% and 83% respectively. 79% say they are providing hand sanitizer and 73% have increased frequency of cleaning around their facilities. 66% of respondents are reducing or eliminating face-to-face interactions while 59% are halting vendor and customer visits altogether.
Customers and marketing
Communication with customers has continued to shift to several different virtual options. 85% of participants say they are using phone calls to reach customers and 73% say email communication is key. 51% are actually texting customers. Social media and business website updates are other ways that approximately 35% of respondents are feeding information to customers.
In terms of what marketing message mechanical systems companies are putting out, 42% now say they are primarily trying to communicate that they are open and available through this time. 36% say their marketing messages remain the same while 35% are sharing updates on how they are prioritizing the health and safety of employees and customers.
Participants were asked to address their activities of focus now compared to six months ago. 46% say they are focusing on incorporating additional health and safety measures into their business plans. 34% are attending more webinars which is a large jump from wave one of the survey when only 19% were attending webinars. 30% of companies are reading more industry publications, also a leap from week one of this survey. 29% of respondents are increasing marketing efforts in order to remain at the top of consumers’ minds. 23% are using this time to focus in non-billable and lower priority projects.
To download the mechanical systems report, visit: https://www.clearseasresearch.com/product/mechanical-systems-ipct-report-fieldwork-april-2-6-2020/