Transitioning from commercial and new construction plumbing to a residential service-only model four years ago, Big B’s Plumbing knew it was time to move from the pen-and-paper method to a modern software program if they wanted to grow and run the business more efficiently.
Owner Brandon Mageno says he first chose a basic home services software that worked fine for a few years. That is, until the software crashed several times, essentially leaving his techs stranded out in the field.
“It would go down and we wouldn't have any access. We just froze,” Mageno says. “There were a few times where it happened for a half day or longer. Our guys didn't know where they were supposed to be. We lost all the info on the computer or tablets, or they couldn't get in.
“I mean, it just completely shut us down.”
The downtime—combined with a lack of functionality to accommodate a growing company—served as the impetus for Big B’s Plumbing to switch over to ServiceTitan 18 months ago.
“The other software didn’t have enough for us, as we were growing,” says Mageno’s mom, Kathy, who helps run the Murrieta, Calif., company’s business operations. “We started to get busier and busier, and the downtime just froze us. We couldn’t function that way.”
With ServiceTitan’s robust reporting system, Big B’s no longer worries about digital downtime for its service techs. The program’s offline functionality eliminates that problem.
The mother-son duo says ServiceTitan also helps them make smarter decisions about how to grow the company and where to spend marketing dollars.
“We’ve been able to make a lot of business decisions based on numbers instead of gut feelings,” Brandon says. “That’s been huge for us. It has really helped us move strategically versus on impulse, and that has been big.”
We asked Brandon and Kathy to explain how they utilize the ServiceTitan software to grow Big B’s Plumbing.
Q: How did mother and son get into the plumbing business together?
Kathy: It just sort of morphed. I have a business background … he’s the plumber and all that. I just helped him incorporate. As things grew, I got more and more involved from a management and business operations perspective. Brandon was out in the field, up until the last couple of years. As we've grown, we've desperately needed him out in the field, so it's been a transition for him to get (back in the office) to really be the visionary and person guiding the ship.
Brandon: It was a huge transition for me to go from being a plumber out in the field to being a business owner and running an operation. It's two completely different things.
Q: When you started Big B’s Plumbing nine years ago with a focus on new construction and commercial work, you weren’t using any type of software?
Brandon: We were on pen and paper. We had contracts, written estimates and stuff like that saved in our computer. There was no CRM. We had three technicians at that point.
Kathy: Most of the dispatching was done by Brandon or myself. We didn’t have anybody taking phone calls. We basically had a cell phone we shared or forwarded back and forth. We got to the point where we had so many technicians running it was hard to schedule. It was hard to know what we needed and where we needed everybody to go.
Q: How did you discover your first software program?
Brandon: We were looking online, researching different software. At that point, we were only three trucks, so I don’t think we even came across ServiceTitan.
Kathy: When we were smaller, it really was quite simple from a software standpoint. It had everything we needed without being complicated, and it was reasonably priced.
Q: While the first software was simple and easy to use, what made you decide more tools were necessary to help you grow the business?
Kathy: Besides the downtime issue, the main reason we started looking (for new software) was because we wanted more reporting. We wanted it to be more robust and to help us track more things.
Q: Why did you switch to ServiceTitan?
Brandon: Multiple things. No. 1 is the phone system and being able to record calls, attach them to invoices, and track the calls within the system. It gives us everything at the click of a mouse, which is great.
Next, the reporting function. I realized how important it was then. But now, after 18 months, I realize it's even more important than I ever could have imagined as we grow. That's been huge. We actually started with the Nexstar network six months ago, and we have a really intense, very data-driven format of how we're coaching our guys and how we’re tracking the numbers, our sales and everything.
Now that we've done the data work, our reporting is amazing. We can see exactly what each technician is doing based on everything we want to see.
The advertising campaigns have been another big thing for us. On a daily or monthly basis, we're able to go in and see what each campaign is doing and what we've made. ... That's been huge for us, too, just knowing exactly what we're getting out of each campaign and putting our marketing dollars in the right place.
Q: What was the transition like from the first software to ServiceTitan?
Brandon: I think just getting used to the new software, rolling it out, training our people on how to use it and learning how to use it ourselves, it was a lot of work. I think we also tried to do it too quickly, which looking back I don't regret, but it definitely added some stress.
I wouldn't say it was smooth. I think it was successful. We got everything transferred over and we were able to start running on ServiceTitan. It's definitely a jump, but well worth it.
Kathy: That transition day was pretty hard on us, and I think we didn’t quite know enough.
Q: Would having an on-site trainer for ServiceTitan be something Big B’s would have been willing to pay extra for?
Brandon: If it cost $2,500 or $3,000 to have a dedicated person to literally sit in our office and help us through the transition, it would have been worth every penny.
Kathy: I certainly would have invested the funds in that kind of a consultant, plus travel expenses or whatever. That would've been a no-brainer.
People are more willing than you think to make the transition piece go smoothly, because anything that interrupts our day interrupts our cash flow. We have every truck bringing in $1,500-plus a day on the road, so if we even stopped them for half an hour because we're confused, we're losing money.
Q: From your perspective, what are some of the reasons people might hesitate to switch to ServiceTitan?
Brandon: Cost. And when I say cost, I don’t mean that we don’t think it’s valuable or worth it. We do. Getting them to be OK with the cost is going to be a hurdle for acquiring new customers. That’s something we deal with, too, on the plumbing side.
Kathy: It's not an easy transition and it’s expensive, but it’s worth it. Some people may be a little intimidated by ServiceTitan.
Q: How would you sell ServiceTitan to someone who thinks they can’t afford it?
Brandon: I would talk about those three biggest features I like—phones, reporting and advertising campaigns. Those are the things that are really helping us change our business.
Kathy: That’s what helps you grow and make more money. The marketing is huge, because marketing dollars are one of our biggest expenses, after people.
Q: How quickly did Big B’s see the effectiveness of targeted marketing dollars placement, essentially paying back the ROI cost for ServiceTitan?
Brandon: Probably six months. If we would have rolled it out properly from the very beginning and had a better grasp, then it probably would have been sooner, but six months to a year.
It's saved us quite a bit on advertising money and efficiency, because we’re sending people to calls where we're making money instead of advertising campaigns where we're not generating any income.
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