Justin Tarr is a self-described technology buff working in duct cleaning.
His work life began in self-storage, but as he sought to start his own business he began perusing entrepreneur magazines.
“I knew that I wanted to do something that provided value to people and improved their quality of life,” he said in a recent interview with ServiceTitan, the cloud-based software for the trades.
This all happened soon after the Pittsburgh-area native had moved from New York to the Atlanta area, part of an offer he had in self-storage. He didn’t want to be part of a franchise, but he wanted to make a difference–to his employees and his customers.
“I stumbled across air duct cleaning,” he said. “I had never heard of it, which was a plus to me because I didn’t want to jump into something that everybody else was doing.”
He felt like the work was in its infancy in 2007, and when he read how cleaner ducts could improve indoor air quality and help those with allergies and/or breathing problems like asthma, he became more intrigued.
It led to the birth of Daffy Ducts, a cleverly named business based in Snellville, Ga., (east of Atlanta and Stone Mountain). Its slogan is “Crazy about you” and it now has been providing cleaner air (as well as attic insulation and dryer duct cleaning) to homes in the Atlanta area for more than 15 years.
Not a straight line to success
There were hiccups, because the timing was tough. The recession hit in 2008, so Tarr returned to work in self-storage to pay the bills while he kept Daffy Ducts alive. As the recession waned, Daffy Ducts found traction.
In 2016, the business had one van and one crew. Tarr knew if he was going to grow, he needed to leverage technology. He tried various softwares, and eventually found ServiceTitan, which he implemented in 2019.
“I wanted to grow this business in a way where our trucks could become their own business units,” he said. “And how do I measure those things on an individual basis?
“None of the softwares that we had previously allowed me to do anything remotely close to that. But ServiceTitan had it all, and has added so much more since then that really makes it easy and effective for us to be able to manage the way that we want to manage.”
The man who focuses on task-level metrics, billable efficiencies and integration relationships now calls ServiceTitan’s addition of dynamic number insertion (DNI) a vital step forward, for him and his business.
“I just plug (marketing campaigns) into the website, and the DNI and program does everything else,” he said. “It sets up the UTM strings and tells us where people are coming from.
“I mean, that’s a whole job. I’m like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. We’re about to get all this?’”
Tarr was just getting started.
“On the financial side, the amount of money that I’ll be able to control and save, marketing dollars that I’ll either be able to put back into the company or redirect into our most successful marketing campaigns, that’s something I couldn’t imagine,” he said.
I've always wanted to be the company that is remembered for the experience that they deliver, not because now it's all of a sudden important because people are giving reviews."
Simple processes and automation
It all fits Tarr’s approach. He wants to simplify processes and automate when possible. The idea: to make his company’s approach lean so that the focus is on the customer.
“I've grown to become a very big fan of as many things as I can get under one (software) umbrella as possible,” he said. “I want to be able to log into my one thing, and go to whatever section I want to work on that day, and get it done.”
He admits Marketing Pro was not for him, but he said ServiceTitan provides other value–one of them a metric for reputation.
“We’ve been all about reputation long before it became a strong marketing factor,” Tarr said. “I've always wanted to be the company that is remembered for the experience that they deliver, not because now it's all of a sudden important because people are giving reviews. So that was big for us.
“Then they followed up with better reporting, better dashboards, the ability for the locations and the map and automation of the requests, the ability to put the request and the technicians in. It allowed me features and to utilize it in a way to really benefit our company and fuel our continued growth.”
Key features for success
Tarr mentioned three elements of ServiceTitan that allow him to leverage date for success:
KPIs, front and center. “One of my favorite things is the trend graph on the dashboard. Being able to look at where you're at this month. And if you hover over it, it automatically shows you the previous year and what percentage away from your previous year, if you're looking at a year-over-year growth. And then visually, we can easily see where we are compared to last month.”
Technician scorecards. “Looking at those from a real granular level helps us to kind of see where we've got our gaps in our processes or the adoption of our processes. And that helps steer coaching needs.”
Dashboards galore. “I love the marketing analytics page that breaks everything down, pulling in Google Ads into to show us the real numbers. We get a click, we've got a goal reached—whatever that is, a phone call, a click, a website visit or whatever. But what happened from there? To be able to complete that story and actually see the revenue that was attributed to that, and be able to dial it down to a campaign-by-campaign or ad-by-ad basis, man, that was spectacular. That was a huge win.”
An aggressive move during Covid
Tarr admits the Covid-19 pandemic hurt his business. That downturn prompted him to do a reset that led to an increased emphasis on company culture. Daffy Ducts invested in a classroom and lab to provide hands-on training and experience for new hires. Teaching and expectations now are complete and clear before a technician goes into a home. The emphasis meant shutting down the work for three months, but the effort was well worth it, Tarr said.
To gauge progress, Tarr takes advantage of the data ServiceTitan offers in one place. His focus in the scoreboard is on revenue completed, billable efficiency and customer satisfaction. On the sales tab, the focus is sales and options presented. He believes the combination of the right people, right culture and right data will drive revenue.
The technology buff added he could not have imagined when he first started the business that he’d be seeing what is available now through ServiceTitan technology.
“I want Daffy Ducts to be a household name for a company that improves the quality of life for people, both externally and internally,” Tarr said. “I want our customers to be able to feel like their experience with us and anybody that is involved with us has just made things better. That life is better because of my interaction with Daffy Ducts.
“Internally, which I think is just as important if not more, we want people that come to work for Daffy Ducts to feel like it was a life-changing experience. Going to work here helped improve my quality of life for me and my family, my work-life balance. Whether that means having weekends off, a company vehicle, the different perks that we offer—financial management and education courses to help people on a personal level.
“We're always looking for ways to make this the best place to work that it can be. And that in itself improves all of our people's quality of life.”
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