Jamie Johns, ServiceTitan’s new Senior Director of Customer Experience, Finance and Accounting, has made those two words central to his life.
“I've had this mission—I think I inherited it from my mother—to help people think better and to enjoy life more,” Johns said.
Many say they intend to love others well. Johns makes it his mission to live it. That often includes pushing counterintuitive, contrarian ideas that move people, including himself, forward.
He has loved well in so many ways already.
As a lifelong learner, with a PhD, MFin, MBA, and MA among his high academic honors.
As a university professor in the US, Kenya, and Scotland.
As a conduit between companies and an agent for change for employers.
As a minister to many, of many religions, around the world.
Now, his intention is to love well when it comes to the success of ServiceTitan and every customer, by helping change for the better the way accounting and fintech work for them.
For Johns, it’s just an extension of loving well.
“I just enjoy people,” he said. “I enjoy thinking. I enjoy learning, changing, being transformed—and watching folks be transformed by their better thinking.”
Johns joined ServiceTitan to “own the vision” for reimagining accounting functions across the board, and to improve the way ServiceTitan customers access and offer capital.
“I hope that I'll bring a lot of fresh thought and a raging, consuming fire to the Accounting and FinTech sectors of the platform,” Johns said.
Ever humble, Johns is quick to point out that others—software engineers and especially ServiceTitan Co-Founder Vahe Kuzoyan—bring ideas to life.
How does Johns explain what he himself called a “jiggedy-jaggedy” path to this moment?
“I never liked school, but I've taught on faculties in universities across the world,” Johns said. “I don't like the structure of businesses, but here we are. I’m a disruptor by nature, wanting to free people to think for themselves and to enjoy their lives more fully. I follow my heart.”
But no story about the way Johns loves well is complete without the beautiful but tragic story of his first wife, Mimi.
A different path to the trades
Johns describes the path of his life as being directed by teachers. First, there was his mother, who Johns said sacrificed everything for her children.
Then, there was Mimi, the sassy, keen tomboy who could do anything she set her mind to. Biting intellect. Fiercely competitive.
Engaged after dating for just three weeks, they married in college. She, like her husband, became a financial professional. By 25 he was a senior manager at KPMG CPAs and she was an institutional accountant with Merrill Lynch, then Howard Weil/Scotiabank.
Then, the accident.
On a trip home from the New Orleans lakefront airport, Mimi was involved in a hit and run crash, ejected from her car after it struck a concrete light pole, and left for dead on the road.
She was in a deep coma for 5½ months and hospitalized for three years with multiple injuries, including a crushed brain stem. Mimi had to start over, relearning colors, the alphabet, numbers.
Johns never got any answers about the accident But there was one thing that was never in question. Johns would love.
He took Mimi to every rehab and cognitive program that would take her. And although her cognitive level plateaued at that of a 10-year-old, she was able to travel. Johns took Mimi around the world as he searched for meaning through teaching and the ministry.
“I wandered into seminary and found myself in sort of a rhythm of loving people as a mission,” he said. “And I have enjoyed different ways of doing that.”
Mimi continued to teach him, even as she relearned the basics. For the next 33 years, until her death, Johns was her caregiver. Mimi was his teacher.
“I learned much about important stuff, human stuff,” Johns said. “I left what was my work life and sought content and context that might help me to love well.”
A return to the U.S.
Johns was living happily in Scotland, on the faculty of the University of Edinburgh, when a university search committee reached out to him wanting to start a biblical languages program at a university in Houston. They had been searching for about 3 years. What academic would even consider undertaking such an endeavor? Challenge accepted.
Back in the U.S., Johns started a not-for-profit organization in Houston to help young people with education challenges in East Africa, and he recruited others to help with the mission, often speaking at events and churches.
At one such Houston event, he met Don Valentine, owner of John Moore Services, which includes a number of companies in the trades, a finance company, and an investment company.
“Don just came to me after my talk, crying, and asked if he could help,” Johns said. “I had no idea what he did or what John Moore Services was at the time, but his family and I became close.”
Valentine helped out in Kenya. Johns, with his background as a CPA, CGMA, and CICA, helped John Moore Services with some business matters.
In 2010, Johns had completed the successful standup of his BA and MA programs and was ready to head back to Africa for a new adventure. Valentine changed that.
“Don had asked if I would be his pastor or start a church or something in that realm,” Johns said. “I had no interest there, but I agreed to join his corporate concern as a chaplain, full-time.”
“It was just this simple: The job description was, ‘Hey, we have hurting people. Help.’”
Johns did that, for about 400 families across seven companies, for four years. But he remained involved in the business side, and in 2014 became John Moore LP’s CFO, as well as CFO for all related entities.
That led to another relationship—with ServiceTitan.
‘An amazing story’
Johns met ServiceTitan’s founders, Kuzoyan and Ara Mahdessian, about 5 years ago, and was immediately impressed by the fact that they originally wrote the software to help their fathers, both of whom were in the trades.
“ServiceTitan is an amazing story,” Johns said. “Amazing people!”
John Moore Services used an in-house operations software at the time, but the system was expensive to maintain. And essential functionality, such as the ability for technicians to seamlessly present options in the field or to provide integrated financing, was non-existent.
“I was quite happy with the back-end,” Johns said, “But the front-end was costing us $400,000 a year. With no ROI in sight.”
As a CFO, Johns found the situation untenable. But when Johns met again with Kuzoyan he brought with him a hard truth: due to the volume and complexity of daily transactions, and due to the multiple entities managed in his consolidated group of seven, ServiceTitan would need to integrate with a more robust ERP.
Without that, John Moore Services and other enterprise companies like it were out of ServiceTitan’s reach. QuickBooks was not going to work.
ServiceTitan listened. Soon, John Moore Services became the first ServiceTitan installation with an Intacct integration, in 2017.
“I became a friend of ServiceTitan when I became a friend of Vahe,” Johns said. “He and I have remained friends.”
But that’s not the end of the story. In fact, it was just the beginning.
Another new path
Johns has helped ServiceTitan “from outside the fence” with many enterprise and mega enterprise clients in the last 4 years, explaining how the software was benefitting John Moore Services and helping enterprise clients with some of their ServiceTitan/Intacct transition needs.
He has also been called on to help private equity firms building home service company portfolio platforms. And Johns has continued to offer ideas about functionalities, workflows, and ways to improve ServiceTitan’s software.
“Our agreement early on was, ‘Hey, Vahe, if I pass you an idea and it's a cool one, a good one, please build it, and I'll keep giving them to you,’ ” Johns said. “And Vahe’s only constraint was, ‘OK, great. As long as it's good for most of our clients.’ ”
All those ideas are now a part of ServiceTitan’s software.
Recently, when Johns helped John Moore Services sell to a private equity firm, another opportunity opened.
“That allowed me to do what I want to do,” Johns said, “which is to think and to evangelize on behalf of ServiceTitan.”
Johns recognizes well the pain points that have come with ServiceTitan. He lived them at John Moore Services, strategized about them with ServiceTitan and major accounting and finance players in his role as a CFO, and now intends to own the “Reimagining Accounting” vision.
“There's a lot of accounting that will be worked on,” Johns said. “My charge is to own the accounting and finance vision forward. With my one voice among many, my one life among many, to own that corporate vision on behalf of our customers.”
“You cannot imagine how sweet it will be to have an end-to-end experience without all the blankety-blank accounting hiccups of the past—even more powerful and easier to use. As a practical matter, the noise needs to go away and our song needs to be sung on a tight melody of sweet success.”
Johns, in essence, will nurture Accounting and FinTech functionalities that customers will love well.
“I'm owning a vision that is going to make some very complex calculations and capabilities simple to use for our customers,” he said, ‘“and some reporting that will surface things that are, in many respects, hidden right now.”
And that $400,000 Johns said John Moore Services was wasting yearly because the company couldn’t run more efficiently? That realized gain is just the beginning of what’s possible, he said.
“Financing is way, way underutilized now,” he said. “That keeps average ticket values and close rates in a lower range than could be achieved if you had sharper financing tools, if you had more aggressive, comprehensive financing strategies in play live at point-of-sale.”
Financing is easy to offer in ServiceTitan now, with in-app integrations and instant approval for customers with minimal friction. But it’s not where Johns sees it going forward.
“(The financing integration in ServiceTitan) is a hell of a lot better at making consumer financing readily available to homeowners than it used to be,” he said. “What ServiceTitan offers now should be utilized more by all contractors. But I've come here to go well beyond that.”
“Optimizing financing choices for contractors, technicians, and their customers—I want the software to do it, not the contractor to have to set menus.”
“Not good choices. Not even great choices. Optimal choices.”
“Everybody will be better off. The homeowner will have more access to capital and a better loan. The contractor will have a better net income and more access to capital. The loan originator will have more volume and better net income. Every party involved may optimize their outcome, and all the hard work would be done in the background by ServiceTitan.”
The next step
Johns remarried 4 years ago, to Smita, whom he calls the best teacher he has ever known. He now has a stepdaughter who is 10, Kiran. She is his first child. They are Indian, from Mumbai and Brahman Hindu tradition. Smita is a brilliant software engineer who Johns met lecturing to an MBA cohort.
Johns describes his teacher, Smita, his second wife, as “always loving everybody consistently and broadly. Everybody. Always.”
“She is the most inclusive, nonjudgmental, deeply caring person I have ever known,” he said.
“Smita loves me unconditionally. Beyond that, I have no words.”
And now, he also has a ServiceTitan family.
“For me, this move is a part of my journey in learning to love well,” Johns said. “I hope to love well in my new work context, with all my mind can do, and with all my heart can do.
“I have intellectual gifts that I wish to give away as I envision, problem-solve, strategize, teach, and disrupt thinking broadly.
“More importantly, I wish to touch hearts in helping all to know that they are loved.”
For Johns, that means helping build the kinds of Accounting and FinTech capabilities that will make ServiceTitan customers wildly successful.
About that he has no doubt because of his faith in Kuzoyan.
“When Vahe sees with his heart's eyes, when he gets it, man, it's going to happen,” Johns said. “I want to be a helper, a servant, someone who can listen, learn, and love well.”
Despite all Johns has done, the path before him remains long. And challenging.
“ServiceTitan has barely begun to be a financial intermediary for our contractors,” Johns said. “There's a lot we can do to ease contractors’ historical financial and accounting struggles.”
And, if Johns has his way, the result will be something contractors will love well.