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Bradham Brothers — Part 8: Accounting Angst

Mike Persinger
June 15th, 2021
5 Min Read

Bradham Brothers, an HVAC and electrical company in Charlotte, N.C., is going through onboarding with ServiceTitan. With 50 employees and about 20 trucks in the field, taking on a new software can be a challenge. This company took ServiceTitan along for the journey. 

Part 8: Accounting Angst

When Shelby Bradham started working with her husband, Rodney Bradham, and brother-in-law Larry at their Charlotte-based HVAC company, what is now Bradham Brothers Inc., everything was on paper timecards, index cards and in ledger books.

Progress, at first, was with Peachtree accounting software.

“I liked Peachtree,” she said. “I knew what I was doing in Peachtree, how to do it, when to do it.

“But it was a struggle. I don't have the accounting background, so everything I did … if you said do that, I did it. That's pretty much the way I still do.”

A few years ago, Bradham Brothers switched to QuickBooks accounting software, which was better able to handle the growing business.

“They recommended that we go to QuickBooks and I did it,” Shelby Bradham said. “I'm not saying I know exactly what I'm doing, but I did it.”

Sometimes, she said, change comes with kicking and screaming.

“When you're training yourself and teaching yourself, it's a struggle,” she said. “It's been that way with all of our computer programs. You find the program or you do what they say to do, and then you just go at it. That's the only way to learn it, just to muddle through it.”

The latest change won’t be away from QuickBooks, just a different integration—ServiceTitan’s cloud-based software for the trades. That integration will be the new part. Bradham Brothers did not link its old ESC software to QuickBooks.

”We tried to link it, but it did not work out well,” she said. “This is going to be new to me, to have it linked.”

Her son Pete Bradham, now the Bradham Brothers president, went with ServiceTitan to further modernize his family’s company. But he said he knows it will be a struggle for his mother.

“I love my mom. She's the greatest person, but she is not a change person,” he said.

“That integration with QuickBooks has always been a stop sign for us. Not for me; I don't have to do it. But for her it's always been an uncomfortable situation with connecting the two together. I want to get past that. But it is what it is. We'll work through it.”

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Shelby Bradham’s desire to support her son will make that happen, even if the change makes her a bit nervous.

“I'm anxious to see how this will work and how it will affect me,” she said. “I don't know how it works. I don't know if it's going to be basically the same.”

“It’ll be easier,” Dana Bradham, Pete’s wife, promised.

Shelby joked about what would happen if it’s not.

“If it's going to be a lot different and if you take my job away from me, I will cancel,” she said. “I will cancel ServiceTitan totally.

“No, I'm just teasing you.”

A division of duties

Shelby and Dana Bradham divide the accounting functions at Bradham Brothers. Dana handles payroll and wears a lot of other hats. Shelby handles the books.

Two weeks before go-live, Shelby Bradham said she hadn’t looked deeply into what the ServiceTitan integration means for her.

“I haven't looked at anything on the bookkeeping side,” Shelby Bradham said. “I know Pete's probably sent me things, but I have not sat down and looked at them.

“When you get down to the basics, I don't think it's going to be hard for any of us to learn. Just try it out, see what you do.”

Both of them expect a similar wait-and-see approach to payroll and ServiceTitan, because of a bad experience with that process and another provider.

“Pete married his mom,” Dana Bradham said. “I'm a lot like her. I don't change well, and I'm very comfortable with the company I'm with.

“Anytime I need anything, I can call them. I get them on the phone, just like that. They answer any questions I have and walk me through any problems I have. That's probably the reason I won't change because of the disaster we had with another company.”

They are just getting comfortable with another provider, but another change might be coming.

“I looked into some of the (ServiceTitan payroll) stuff a little bit, but I'm not really sold on it yet,” Dana Bradham said. “You get comfortable where you're at … “

What could change Shelby and Dana’s mind? Easier tracking of SPIFs, for one. ServiceTitan streamlines that process.

“I have to go and pull it each week for one SPIF, then another group of guys sends me an email of their SPIF, and another group of guys email me over their group of SPIFs,” Dana Bradham said. “Then I have to check through all those, too. They're coming from all these different directions. There's a lot.”

Pulling a report and using it to do payroll in the old system might be the solution in the short term, even if it’s another step, “until we get enough backbone to change that,” Shelby Bradham said.

“It'll be hard for us to commit to changing that,” she said, “but whatever Pete and Dana want to do, that's what's going to happen.”

Just not yet.

“We'd have to balance out whether it pays off or not,” Dana Bradham said. “Right now we don't pay a whole lot (for their current payroll service). I think we've got a pretty good price where we're at, so we have to see.”

But wait and see is one thing. A sense of panic is quite another. And that’s what’s happening with the Bradham Brothers office staff, with one week to go before go-live.

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