Angel Nava learned the air conditioning trade from the ground up, working as an installer and then a service technician for 10 years before deciding to launch his own company in 2014 as a one-man HVAC operation. He quickly discovered, however, that being his own boss didn’t necessarily translate into more profit for his business.
“All of a sudden, all of my customers were my boss and, just comparing money to hours, it wasn’t anywhere near what I was making before,” says Nava, who owns 24 Hour Air Conditioning & Heating in St. George, Utah. “So, that was a big surprise.”
With plenty of ambition and drive, Nava set out to grow his small HVAC business into a multi-million dollar operation by networking with others working in the trade, reading books on how to run a profitable business, and listening to inspirational podcasts by industry professionals like Tommy Mello, The Home Service Expert. Today, his company employs four other residential HVAC service technicians and is quickly approaching the $1 million mark in annual sales, according to Nava.
Early on, Nava says his business operations quickly outgrew the “old-school” way of tracking service calls using pen and paper or carbon invoices, so he started researching software options to optimize business efficiency. With only one or two service techs in the field at the time, Nava found a simple program to organize his customer list and send out estimates and invoices but soon discovered he also needed help with scheduling customer appointments, accepting electronic payments, and much more.
When he hired a third technician, Nava decided he wanted a “one-stop shop” kind of software that could handle all aspects of his HVAC business, from scheduling service calls and creating professional estimates to tracking membership plans and customer follow-up.
After using a software solution geared toward small businesses for several years and training his technicians on how to comfortably utilize new technology in the field, Nava says he made the decision in 2019 to play with the big boys and switched everything over to ServiceTitan field service software.
“A lot of people were like, ‘No, you’re still too small to move over to ServiceTitan.’ And I know that…but my big personal number is to get this company to be a $10 million company,” says Nava, who ignored the naysayers and signed on with ServiceTitan in December.
“I’m also a big fan of Tommy Mello and he’d always bring up ServiceTitan,” Nava adds. “I was like, ‘Man, if I want to be like Tommy Mello, I’ve got to make the switch now.’”
After using ServiceTitan for only a few weeks, Nava says he already sees a world of difference in how his business operates and the confidence it gives his technicians when working with homeowners.
“Before, we didn’t even have a pricebook. We just had a few papers in our folder that we would write options on and it wasn’t even professional. Now, the guys are using templates and other options, and they’re already selling higher-ticket jobs,” Nava says. “I can already see the value.”
As a new user of the ServiceTitan software and someone who’s tried other technology solutions and wants to grow his small HVAC business sooner rather than later, we asked Nava to explain why he thinks investing in ServiceTitan better positions 24 Hour Air Conditioning & Heating to become a bigger HVAC player in the future.
Q: What would you say to other small company owners who think ServiceTitan HVAC software remains out of reach and is only helpful to big companies?
A: People have a misconception of what ServiceTitan is and they think you have to be a really, really big company to go over to ServiceTitan. It’s like, “Oh, ServiceTitan costs so much money, only big companies are allowed to do it.” It’s totally the opposite of that. I feel like once you go to ServiceTitan, you turn into a big business. Maybe that’s the case, or maybe not. But that’s my thing.
I would probably ask [other owners] the average ticket total for each technician and their closing ratio on each ticket. If they don’t know, then I’m almost 100% sure that adding ServiceTitan would be huge for them.
Q: How did you get your start in the HVAC industry, and how big do you want your home service company to grow in 2020?
A: After I graduated from high school in 2006, I had to decide if I was going to college or something else. Our air conditioner broke around that same time…and I was blown away by how much it cost to fix and how quickly they fixed it although we were without air conditioning for a few days. I thought to myself, “Now, that’s something I can do and maybe even do it better.” So, I started as an installer and worked my way up to service technician. I worked as a tech for 10 years for a couple of different companies and finally decided to go out on my own in 2014. We haven’t broken the million-dollar mark just yet, but I personally feel like we can reach $1.2 million by next year.
Q: When you began running your own HVAC business, at what point did you decide to invest in a software solution to help organize it?
A: It was the first year into the business. When I hired our first guy, I was really good about my paperwork. I filled out all of those little carbon invoices and turned them in. But he wasn’t as good at paperwork, and when he did turn in invoices, they would be all wrinkled and have pizza or soda spilled on them. Immediately, I said, “Holy cow! That can’t be a thing.” The first year, we worked through it, but I could foresee it was just going to be a problem in the future.
That’s when I started researching. I finally found a software I thought was simple and easy enough, and I ran with it. But we had to keep jumping back and forth between that software and Google calendars for scheduling or Square for card payments to make it work. When we hired a third person, I was like, “We need an all-in-one kind of thing.”
Q: Was it a challenge to find a one-stop shop software solution that suits your HVAC company?
A: Yes, I thought I found software that was everything all-in-one, so I gave the company a call and booked a demo. When we got to the end of the demo, I was more confused than anything else. They weren’t very detailed, and I was ready to run away. Following a second demo by a higher-level employee who offered a free trial, I decided to give it a try. But it was maybe three months or so before we actually started using the software.
I was the only one in the office at the time, and I was still not 100% comfortable with it. I decided to just jump in and see how it goes. It was kind of hard to get the other technicians on board, because they were not used to technology or using software on their phones or iPads.
Q: What did you like about the first HVAC software you tried?
A: I liked how easy it was to use out in the field. It felt really modern. Sending a text to customers to let them know we are on the way was a whole new thing for us. We really liked being able to do everything out in the field, whether that was putting together an estimate, selling a new system, or servicing a brand new customer.
Q: Why did you decide to quit using that software and transition to ServiceTitan?
A: Others in the HVAC industry were telling me I was too small to move to the big leagues, so to speak, with ServiceTitan. They told me it was hard for companies with even 10 or 20 service techs. I just thought, “I might as well do it now.”
The other company also promised new feature releases, such as integrated financing, but it was just taking forever. It seems like they were just putting all the emphasis on the one-truck kind of company and making it easier for the owner-operator who works out in the field. I felt like where we were headed, it wasn’t going to work out.
Q: Describe your experience when switching to ServiceTitan.
A: With our previous [tech] experience, we were set up for success with ServiceTitan because we were familiar with how to use software unlike guys who just go from paper to ServiceTitan. It’s taken us, myself included, a little while to get used to it on the office side, just because there’s so much to it. We do pay more with ServiceTitan, but I can already see the value…just with the features and options my team has.
I feel like it’s taken stress away from them, because they don’t get the feeling they’re trying to sell things. It’s simply, “These are the options and you can make the best decision for you as a homeowner.” ServiceTitan has an integrated pricebook and you can just pick your options. We didn’t use any kind of digital pricebook before.
Bryce Sweeney, our Account Implementation Manager at ServiceTitan, was super-awesome and very patient with us during the onboarding process. We spent several days practicing with the software and ServiceTitan emailed me links to our recorded calls, so I could go back through them at my own pace, which helped out quite a bit.
Q: How is ServiceTitan changing the way your service technicians do business?
A: I can now post real-time metrics on a TV screen in the employee break room. As soon as you walk in, you can see everybody’s total revenue, average ticket sold, and maintenance memberships sold. My guys are competitive with each other and they’ll start boasting, “Oh, look at this day. My average ticket was $600 or $700,” that kind of thing. The next day, another guy will try to do better by selling more club memberships. That’s created a cool little vibe here at the office.
Q: What future do you envision for 24 Hour Air Conditioning & Heating over the next five to 10 years?
A: We haven’t broken the million-dollar mark yet, but that’s our goal for next year. My big personal number is to elevate this company to a $10-million company and, once I get there, I will decide if I want to sell, keep it, or pass it along to my kids.
I still do a service call here and there, just because we offer 24-hour service. But I want to take myself all the way out of the field and be in the office 100% of the time. That’s one big goal for me. We also want to add a salesman, or dedicated comfort consultant, out in the field.
We only do residential HVAC right now, but I want to expand into plumbing and electrical, as well. My dream would be to own the home, pretty much, and be a one-stop shop for everything in terms of residential services.
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