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Inspiring Possibilities Change the Plan for Canada’s Coastal Heat Pumps

User IconPat McManamon
Clock IconAugust 24th, 2021
Glasses Icon7 Min Read
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About three years ago, Ashley Gulevich was ready for a change from her job in the airline industry. She went to visit her parents in Victoria, British Columbia.

“I’m going to move to England,” she told them.

Their response: “Why don’t you come on a business trip with us?”

Naturally.

Gulevich agreed and, joined by her sister, found herself at a Service Roundtable functioning as the eyes and ears of her parents as they tried to absorb all the information they could for their heat pump company. Three  years later, Gulevich is the Operations Manager at Coastal Heat Pumps in Victoria.

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“My sister and I got really excited and inspired by possibilities of what could be with the company,” she said. “So I quit my job pretty immediately, canceled any plans to move to England, and I’m sitting here today.”

England’s loss is Victoria’s and Coastal’s gain. Rather than spending euros and driving on the other side of the road, Gulevich is guiding Coastal through a frenetic season spurred by record heat in Western Canada – and enjoying the fact that through the trades she can make a difference in people’s lives.

“Health impacts,” she said in a recent Zoom interview with ServiceTitan. “They have allergies, and they’re not in a proper-circulated home and whatnot, and we’re able to change that. Comfort’s not a tangible thing, and we’re able to sell it and provide it to customers.

“You get to create it and bring in your own excitement and bring your own personality to the company, which is really cool.”

No pun intended, of course.

The trades have been in the family for a long time. Ashley’s mother and father started a refrigeration company in 2005.

“It was my mom and dad in their living room,” Gulevich said. “And Jordan, who’s been with us since. My dad was the salesman. Then they hired another salesman and a technician and they just nurtured that and grew that.”

When the couple moved to Victoria, the business became 24/7.

“He would sometimes be looking at kids for bedtime, and then he’d be out working on a grocery store on the roof in minus 50 degrees Celsius,” she said.

Minus 50 in Celsius is minus 58 in Fahrenheit. No, they do not kid in Canada.

Eventually the business shifted to heat pumps.

“The business model that my dad created is all about quality of life,” she said. “How family comes first. We do whatever we can to allow our technicians to have quality of life. Extra days off or whatnot.”

That didn’t lessen his responsibilities.

“I remember as a teenager going to Disneyland and he was on the payphones at the rides calling to check in on how work was,” she said.

Bonus points to all who can read the word “payphone” and know what it is. 

Even as her dad eases toward retirement, work is intrinsic for him. He loves talking heat pumps, loves his customers and loves the idea of sharing the business with his daughter.

“It’s a huge passion of his that he truly doesn’t see as work at all,” she said.

But it’s also something she said he never is able to turn off. Recently he took a four-day camping trip. She turned off his emails and took all after-hours calls.

“He just kept telling me it was really quiet,” she said.

ServiceTitan makes a difference

Typically in Canada the busy season is the winter, when those well-below-zero temperatures lead to heating needs and improvements. British Columbia also has an initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 2007 levels by 2030 and 80% by 2050. There is much ground (air?) to cover to get there, so B.C. is pushing rebates and grants, which has spurred business.

Then came the record heat, which put the business on overdrive. Victoria’s Inner Harbour hit 100.4 (Fahrenheit) in June 2021, the highest temperature on record (which goes back to 1874)  and 18 degrees (F) higher than the previous record, set in 1951. British Columbia, like Portland and Seattle, is a part of the continent where people never install air conditioning.

“We were used to getting maybe between 40 to 65 calls a day,” Gulevich said. “More than 170 came in one day.”

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Which was when having ServiceTitan made a difference in its customer service and especially in its productivity. Coastal signed up with the cloud-based software for the trades shortly after Gulevich joined the company. It guided them through the challenges of Covid in 2020, and has helped Coastal double its techs from four to eight while refining the working model.

‘A huge, huge win’

Gulevich said she’s seen several specific areas where ServiceTitan has made a difference, starting with operational efficiency; for years, the company had been working with paper invoices and filing cabinets.

“So, just being able to create workflows and have one stream of communication going through and have one piece of information available to everybody in the company has been a huge, huge win,” she said. “We've been able to just take on so much more demand.”

That allowed the company to hire two more people to take calls. Coastal also subcontracts some of its work, and ServiceTitan allowed it to put the subcontractors on the technician list to better track schedules and workload.

“It's just a hard industry for scheduling, and subcontractors are even harder when they only deal with text messaging. So, it's allowed us to hold them accountable,” she said.

The ability to track all data has also made a difference.

“That's given me a lot of peace,” she said. “But also we're wanting to extend back. There's potential that we want to extend back into refrigeration, and we want to grow the company into different fields again, bring on oil and gas servicing. And that would have given me just total paralysis by analysis previously. But knowing that we have so much to grow into ServiceTitan, it brings me so much calm knowing that we're literally using this much of this program and it's designed to help us out to infinity and beyond.”

Buzz Lightyear would be proud.

Dedication, support and five-star reviews

There are differences between the U.S. and Canadian approaches, along with basics that prompt adjustments for both Coastal and ServiceTitan. Gulevich points out the conversion rate (each U.S. dollar converted to $1.26 Canadian in mid-July) increases the cost to Coastal compared to what it would be for U.S. companies. Sales tax in Canada also is different from the U.S. system, with every province having its own taxes (and first nations not paying any tax). Also, Canada uses postal codes instead of ZIP codes.

Those concerns are offset by the dedication and customer support of ServiceTitan, something Gulevich hasn’t seen in any other company.

“So the value of it to our company is significantly greater,” she said.

Joining spark sessions and the torch network and taking part in engagement has helped overcome all challenges. She looks forward to taking part in more of what the software offers, mentioning Marketing Pro and Forms Pro specifically.

“There’s nothing that compares to ServiceTitan,” she said. “For a Canadian company, the value is there.”

It even prompted her to turn on Google reviews, which is part of the integration with ServiceTitan.

“I was petrified,” she said. “But the amount of five-star reviews that come in … still to this day, every five- star review, just kind of makes me blush a little bit. And it's a huge pat on the back to the work that everyone in this company has done. Because it's a lot of work and it's kind of like drinking from a fire hose and it's not always pleasant. And there's been a lot of stressful moments and a lot of breakdowns, but every breakdown just comes with a breakthrough.

“So, if you can push through, then there's huge rewards at the other end.”

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