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Real-time data helps Lawton Group keep rapid growth from feeling like herding cats

User IconPat McManamon
Clock IconSeptember 1st, 2022
Glasses Icon5 Min Read
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Shane Jaeger understands the herding-the-cats challenges that come with fast growth.

“You really have to keep a good, firm grip on everything when you’re growing fast,” said Jaeger, President of Operations at Lawton Group in Carrollton, Texas. “If you’re not watching the numbers closely and getting those real time, you’ll be out of control before you even have the numbers in front of you.”

Jaeger oversees an operation that runs multiple locations for multiple businesses. The group includes residential, commercial new construction, commercial service and residential service. It uses ServiceTitan, the cloud-based software for the trades, for both its commercial and residential business, and will be adding ServiceTitan for new construction work by early 2023.

» Find out more about ServiceTitan for Commercial

“We're geographically separate locations, too, and multiple call centers, so just having one system that we can all access regardless of where we are, that's huge,” said Howard Blair, HR Director and Vice President of Lawton Commercial.

Lawton Group includes four entities: Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, Lawton Mechanical, Lawton Commercial Services (commercial plumbing, HVAC and electrical) and Buckaroo Pest Protection. Before taking over the group, Jaeger had worked as Manager and Vice President of Ben Franklin Plumbing from 2003 through 2019. Before that, he had been a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch.

In 2020, Lawton had 135 employees and $23 million in sales. Jaeger said Lawton is headed to $25 million in 2022. When the four businesses merged under one organization, Jaeger said the business went from $40,000 a month in sales to $40,000 a day.

The key to bringing different companies together under one umbrella in a fast-paced and fast-growing environment?

“Streamlining,” Jaeger said. “Increasing your efficiencies, getting your workflows down real clean and crisp, and then just training. Continuous training.”

Finally, add accountability, at all levels of the organization.

“That’s helped us have a consistent engine that drives us through the organization,” Blair said.

Always know where you stand

Blair said ServiceTitan allowed the company to set expectations for revenue generation and provide feedback with specific reports.

“We can sit down with (techs) on a weekly basis and give a scorecard of where they’re at and where we can improve,” Blair said.

That kind of instant information is provided by ServiceTitan’s technology. The most accurate information is available faster, which streamlines all operations, one of Jaeger’s keys.

» Find out more about Titan Intelligence

But the technology goes deeper for each facet of Lawton’s work. The software’s technology provides information that uniquely applies to commercial and residential work.

“We're able to share pictures and videos real time with the project managers or the location manager, and we can actually show customers the problem and they can see it real time,” Jaeger said. “They see what we're trying to explain to them, and a picture's worth 1,000 words. If you show them video, that's even better.

“They know you're telling the truth. They can see how dirty it looks, and they don't have to go up on that 200-degree roof and look themselves.”

More problems? More solutions

ServiceTitan also helped solve the complexities of Lawton’s call center setup.

“We really couldn’t get detailed information until we got the (software),” Jaeger said. “Now we know our conversion rates, how many leads are calling. That’s been probably one of the biggest changes that’s helped us.”

Taken in the aggregate, Jaeger said the software provides Lawton with one key ability: “We become more efficient as we grow with the technology,” he said.

Looking forward, Jaeger said he is “super excited” about developments like AI, machine learning, and data aggregation.

“The integration of Google to actually track the pay per click per word all the way to the invoice level, that's been a game changer,” Jaeger said. “We're going to know what words are worth paying for, what's not, what time of day it's worth paying for. That's really going to give us a leg up on the competition.”

He also looks forward to project billing as well as Smart Dispatch.

“(Adjustable Capacity Planning) and having that tied to Google Local Services and online booking, and having the customer be able to see real time, is great” Jaeger said. “I'm excited about the Schedule Engine purchase, too. I'm really excited to see if that will help.”

Staff efficiencies have increased, including the number of people needed to run the business. Marketing money is being spent more wisely; Lawton uses Marketing Pro, which Marketing Manager Lauren Kallas said helps expand the company’s reach to target more customers, and have it all integrate in-house.

“I don’t think any industry could have envisioned what technology’s done, especially in the trades,” Jaeger said. “Way back when, if you had a bar scanner in your warehouse, that was 21st- century stuff.”

As Lawton grows, ServiceTitan adapts. The 22nd-century developments come in the form of regular software updates.

“Things I never would've thought of and just great ideas that they implement,” Jaeger said. “They put a lot of effort and time into developing these modules. Sure, some of them work for some companies, some don't. But you pick which ones you want.

“They're always rolling out with new stuff. That's really impressive how often they do that.”

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