Brett Sumpter wasn’t trained as a teacher, but he has learned the challenges of the classroom.
As a trainer of HVAC technicians, Sumpter holds ground-up classes for as many as 30 eager-to-learn members of the HVAC trade at a time.
“Everybody’s counting on you to have the exact, correct answer,” Sumpter said in a recent interview with ServiceTitan, the cloud-based software solution for the trades.
Teaching brought him to the realization that he had to communicate vital realities “to people who really had never even thought about electricity other than they plugged their iPhone in to charge it.”
Sumpter, who runs the training program for a residential heating and air conditioning company in the Southeast, came to teach the trades after growing up in them. His father was a contractor, his uncles were roofers, electricians, painters, cabinet makers.
“Every trade that you could possibly think of,” he said. “So it was expected, and I wanted to get into the trades.”
Sumpter’s first foray was with a NASCAR team as a pit crew member and mechanic.
“Then I saw that I needed a career, not just a sport,” he said. “So I stumbled into heating and air conditioning.”
‘It takes some critical thinking’
Sometimes people stumble up, and in Sumpter’s case that’s what happened. The scientific side of the work drew him to HVAC.
“It really takes some critical thinking,” he said, “and diagnosing electrical problems. And an understanding of electrical theory, and how electrons move, and how electrical meters work, and how motors operate and use the magnetic field created by electrons moving. And all these technologies that we don't typically expose ourselves to in everyday life. And so the electrical theory, refrigeration theory, the science of how heat is moved from inside our house to outside our house, just always fascinated me.
“I like to tell my students that it's sixth grade math and fifth grade science, but it's looking at it in a completely different way than we ever have before.”
Sumpter also has spent the past two years working as a consultant on Pricebook Pro, a ServiceTitan add-on that simplifies pricebook management, saves time and provides peace of mind to owners seeking to get the most out of every job.
Pricebook Pro provides ongoing updates to pricing, marketing descriptions, videos and images, as well as adjustments to sold hours and suggestions for upgrades. It helps technicians present and explain options to customers, using only their mobile devices.
“We live in an age of technology,” Sumpter said. “Whatever we need, it's at the tips of our fingers. And one of the greatest traits that I tell technicians they can have is to be resourceful and to use some of that technology.”
Building a better pricebook
Sumpter, who has helped build HVAC Pricebook Pro for ServiceTitan, described several benefits of the software.
1. Customer-friendly descriptions that include photos.
Sumpter described Pricebook Pro’s emphasis this way: More is less, and less is more.
“(Descriptions provide) all the technical information technicians need to know so that they (are) selecting the correct repair, but then also offer great photos for the customer to look at,” he said. “For a customer-facing explanation of exactly what was done, no fancy language or words that they wouldn't understand.”
2. Constant improvement driven by a team of experts.
One of the main benefits to a company using ServiceTitan’s Pricebook Pro and not having to develop and maintain its own.
“Do you want to build a pricebook and pay somebody to just work on a pricebook every day, all day for the entire year?” Sumpter said. With Pricebook Pro, ServiceTitan does that for customers.
“With Pricebook Pro, you're not just getting a one-time pricebook. You're getting a pricebook with a team of folks behind it that are constantly looking at the averages and the performance of the pricebook, and then figuring out: How can we make (Pricebook Pro) better for the user technician? How can we make sure that it's performing well for them, not just from an inventory standpoint, but performing well from a sales standpoint?”
3. It keeps up with changes in prices—and the business.
While Pricebook Pro can be used for service repairs, it has been upgraded to apply to new equipment installations as well.
Sumpter described the process with Freon, the refrigerant being phased out by the government because of its effect on the ozone. That led to fluctuations in price, which Pricebook Pro tracked. It also tracked the fluctuation in price of electrical items during the pandemic.
4. It averages costs, though users should be sure to double check fluctuations.
Pricebook Pro uses an average material cost, but encourages users to check to “make sure it’s close to what you are actually paying,” Sumpter said.
“The difficult part from our end is, let's say, what a ServiceTitan Pricebook Pro user pays for a capacitor differs based on where you are in the country,” he said. “(It depends on) what supply house you buy it from, how good of a relationship you have with that supply house, and, often, how much business you do with a supply house.
“We encourage our users to still check and make sure that everything is in line with what they're paying, and it's really easy to do. But we keep up as well. It's not just a willy-nilly, pie-in-the-sky price that we come up with. We do keep track of what the average user is paying so we can stay as close as possible to what's actually happening with the users.”
5. Pricebook Pro leverages technology.
Think ease of use. For anyone.
“I think that you get buy-in by showing (technicians) how it's going to make their life easier, how it's going to make their lives better,” Sumpter said. “Not just saying, ‘Hey, this is what we're going with and you're just going to have to deal with it and learn how to use it.
“And it helps when you're using something like Pricebook Pro that's really, really easy to use. There are some digital pricebooks out there that are almost as difficult as a paper Pricebook. That was what we were trying to get away from.”
6. As a selling tool, it’s powerful.
Sumpter said one question he and developers tried to answer while developing Pricebook Pro was whether it would be merely what the name states, or whether it could be used to increase sales. The need to emphasize increased sales was evident.
“That’s really what it comes down to,” he said. “We've looked at it from not only a technical standpoint of everything that I've talked about—making it easy for technicians to navigate and all that stuff—but also a selling tool or an education tool for the customer.”
7. It touches many facets of the business.
Sumpter realistically said some view a pricebook as the item that technicians shove under their seat and never use. So he and others who put ServiceTitan’s Pricebook Pro together decided to give companies an item they’d be proud to use, one that would make their lives easier.
From sales, to better inventory, budgeting and forecasting, and maintaining profit, it saves time.
“Let's start looking at the pricebook as a tool for making our business better,” He said. “For a long time we’ve thought about a pricebook as something like an old Sears catalog, and it's actually not.
“(Pricebook Pro) actually can be a huge selling and education tool for the homeowner.”
8. The right repair for the right price is assured.
Sumpter sums this up adeptly—and in doing so sums up what Pricebook Pro provides.
“If you're charging the right price, you can stay in business to continue fighting the rest of the stuff,” he said. “It can be a huge problem if your inventory is not right. But if you're not charging the right price, you're never going to even be able to battle that inventory fight in five years because you're going to be out of business.
“At the end of the day, it all comes down to, ‘Did we make money on that job?’ Because if you don't make money on that job, you don't stay in the fight.”
ServiceTitan is a comprehensive HVAC business software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and achieve growth. Our award-winning, cloud-based platform is trusted by more than 100,000+ contractors across the country.
ServiceTitan Pricebook Pro is a premium product that provides the only integrated flat-rate solution to simplify pricebook management in the trades, saving time and helping contractors get the most out of every opportunity.
Ready to learn more about what ServiceTitan can do for your business? Contact our team to schedule a demo today.