BNP Media’s Clear Seas Research arm in partnership with 43 of the business-to-business publishing giant’s brands, recently conducted a COVID-19 survey with readers across seven different disciplines, including mechanical systems, which includes Plumbing Group brands Supply House Times, Plumbing & Mechanical and PM Engineer (pme). The survey was conducted the week of March 23 and provides a comprehensive snapshot into how the current pandemic is affecting business operations.
In terms of total industry concern, 69% of respondents say the economy is of concern, followed by achieving business goals over the next three months (68%), achieving business goals over the next six months (61%), friends and family becoming infected by COVID-19 (60%) and business stability for the next 12 months (60%). Supply chain interruptions was next at 54%.
Those numbers differ from the mechanical systems survey respondents who listed achieving business goals over the next three months as the highest concern (82%), followed by the current economy (77%), business stability for the next 12 months (67%) and achieving business goals over the next six months (67%).
When asked about active business, 55% of respondents said it’s on schedule, while 30% said delayed and 15% said cancelled. With planned business, 52% said on schedule, 35% delayed and 13% said cancelled. Those numbers are similar in the mechanical systems realm where 54% noted on schedule for active business and 34% said delayed (12% cancelled). For future activity, 53% said on schedule, 37% delayed and 10% cancelled.
In terms of mechanical systems respondents when asked about change in new business development activity, 75% responded activity had declined, while 13% reported an increase. When asked about change in business spending, 81% said declined, while 2% said increased.
On the subject of online formats used for business decision-making, 40% of all respondents said they rely on the general media, 28% noted manufacturer websites, 24% said social media and 24% said websites of trade media and magazines. Twenty percent responded eNewsletters and webinars/virtual events.
With actions being taken to keep employees healthy, 85% of total respondents said encouraging hand washing, while 82% said promoting social distancing. The same 74% total applied to increased frequency of cleaning/sanitation procedures and providing hand sanitizer/antimicrobial soaps.
Twenty-eight percent of all respondents said they anticipated no workforce changes in the next three months, while 25% anticipate laying off some employees, while 21% said temporarily suspend employees with pay. Nineteen percent said temporarily suspend employees without pay.
When breaking the workforce question down to the mechanical systems group, 31% responded that they anticipate laying off some employees, while 24% anticipated no change and 21% anticipated rehiring previously suspended/laid-off employees.
With employee mass communication tool implementation, email was the top response for all groups at 85% while 62% said text messaging.
With customer engagement during the pandemic, 67% of all respondents listed phone calls as the current line of communication with 51% responding with email marketing and 36% using social media. That number with the mechanical systems group shot up to 70% communicating via phone calls and email marketing was next at 44%.
Mechanical systems survey respondents were asked what changes in marketing and advertising have occurred during the pandemic and 35% said communicating their availability during this time, while 30% said sharing how employees and customers health is being protected. Forty-percent of mechanical systems respondents reported no change in messaging.
When asked about activities of greater focus today relative to six months ago, 38% of all respondents said incorporating additional health/safety procedures into business plans, 25% responded with investigating new technologies for future business applications and 25% responded with reading more industry publications.
To download COVID-19 survey reports, visit www.clearseasresearch.com.