A vast majority (93%) of tradespeople have introduced new ways of communicating with their customers as a result of the pandemic, according to new research from Yell Business.

The research looked into how small businesses have adapted to survive in light of Covid-19 and how the pandemic is changing the way businesses and consumers communicate. 

It reveals the scale of the challenge that business owners have faced in recent months, with three-quarters (76%) of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) introducing a new service because of COVID-19.  

The tradesperson industry was found to be one of the most adaptable sectors, with 90% of tradespeople surveyed having introduced a new service. Of those new services: 

  • 41% started taking online bookings 
  • 40% started doing online video consultations 
  • 36% started home delivery services 
  • 33% online video tutorials 
  • 27% introduced contactless payment systems.

According to the research, nearly half (46%) of tradespeople who introduced a new service said that it was crucial for them to be able to survive the pandemic. 85% stated they plan on continuing the service post-lockdown.

Among these new ways of communicating, instant messaging platforms have come to the fore. The research found that 26% of tradespeople have started using Facebook to communicate with customers as a result of COVID-19 and just over one in five (21%) have started using WhatsApp. 20% of trades have started using Twitter followed closely by Instagram at 15%. 14% have also implemented chatbots. 

Despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19, businesses in the trades sector remain positive for the future. 81% of business owners stated to Yell that they are optimistic about the success of their business in 2021 and, on average, 84% said they were more prepared to deal with another lockdown. 

Claire Miles, Chief Executive Officer of Yell, commented on the research results: “The last six months have been incredibly tough for tradespeople but it’s heartening to see that the majority of the sector remains optimistic in the face of adversity.

“Our research highlights not only the sheer adaptability of tradespeople but also their ability to find the right way to communicate change to their existing and potential customers. It’s clear that during these uncertain times, instant messaging services have been a real lifeline to businesses in the sector who have had to adapt and adjust their models quickly.

“Instant messaging, as we are aware from our own developments with Apple in this area, facilitates timely and conversational communication between businesses and consumers and as the findings show, many businesses will still be relying on these services to succeed post-pandemic.” 

The research comprised multiple surveys. A survey of SME owners was conducted in September 2020 by Censuswide on behalf of Yell Business to 1,006 UK SME owners. Additionally, a survey of tradespeople was conducted in September 2020 by Censuswide on behalf of Yell Business to 124 business owners and a consumer survey was conducted in September 2020 by Censuswide on behalf of Yell Business to 2,009 UK residents aged 16 and above.

Find the full results of the research here.