Dave Smythe’s childhood dream was to venture into outer space. Today, after 17 years in the plumbing business with his wife, Wendy, he still harbors the notion that he could be the first plumber in space.
Yes, of course he’s chatted with the likes of Virgin Galactic.
Here on earth, the couple’s Out Of This World Plumbing company is based in Ottawa, Canada, and includes 13 employees (and three office cats).
Dave and Wendy changed the company from DS Plumbing to the current name and branding within the past two years. They wanted to reflect the big dreams they have for the business.
“At the moment, there are few Canadian national brands in home services,” Dave says. “I want Out Of This World to be a Canadian national brand. And, I’m putting in copyright coverage for the Out Of This World brand to also go into the States.”
For now, the company focuses on drains, water treatment and plumbing, but is also training up at least one service tech on heating.
As the Smythes look to expansion, Dave says they’ll never drop their level of professionalism.
“It’s about getting that professionalism across and showing the world that, OK, here’s a brand that really stands behind what it means,” he says. “I seem to find a lot of franchises go out and, as far as I’m concerned, (shirk) what they’re supposed to do. It’s like, well, I got the name and I'll get some new customers, and it’s just enough.
“I want to do more than that.”
Pivoting during the pandemic
Wendy says 2020 has been a “three steps forward, two steps back” sequence of events for growing the company.
“We’re treading water, but moving forward slowly,” she says. “Since Covid hit, it’s been interesting, and it's been a great year for us, actually. We pivoted quite a lot, we learned a lot, and we rebuilt the business back in April. We let some people go whot didn’t fit and we readjusted.”
Wendy credits ServiceTitan for helping with the pivot by “putting out wonderful videos and all that sort of thing for contactless (service) and everything.”
Dave says that business-wise, the coronavirus pandemic was a bit of a curse and a blessing. He says there was fear among customers and employees about quarantining.
“It was a blessing in disguise—because I didn’t have a team that couldn’t take the calls that weren’t coming in anyway,” Dave says.
They used the time for intensive evaluation.
“We needed to get back on track with what we wanted to do with our core values and stuff,” Dave says. “As it turned out, a couple of people weren't really the right fit. And they essentially took themselves out of the business, which worked in our favor.”
As people gradually came back onto the team, that coincided with an increase in call volume.
“It worked out very well for us and the culture improved drastically,” Dave says. “While people were off, this was the best time for us to get in focus and restructure how we were going to be measuring things and what tools we were going to use."
Out Of This World used the time to take a deeper dive into ServiceTitan.
“ServiceTitan adds so much value all the time that it's hard for me—or my team—to keep up with what's going on,” Dave says, “We’ve taken a closer look at some of the reports, which have changed. Now that our team's coming back, we actually have more measurements in front of them to hold them accountable.”
Coaching for success
Right before Covid hit, Wendy notes that they’d just signed on with Blue Collar Success Group.
“The team at Blue Collar Success Group is fantastic, and has helped us tune into what we need to do,” Wendy says. “We’d actually signed up with them before, but then we let it go. We found another coach, but we realized Blue Collar Success Group is so important because they're trades-based.”
Dave says that Blue Collar is a service partner that has emphasized doing much more training with the Out Of This World team.
Doing training is a challenge in the Covid era, but Dave says Blue Collar has stepped up.
“With all this stuff going on, they couldn't do their live events,” Dave says. “So, they were doing a lot of virtual, which again, helped our team get on board. There's been an increase in training, measurements, investments and closer looking. And, we’re still working on growth mindset, and how we’re going to carry on coming out of Covid.”
One other training-related program the Smythes have invested in is a pre-plumbing course at a local college in Ottawa.
“People can do this course to see if they actually enjoy plumbing,” Wendy says. “We have a scholarship for the top academic student in that course, and for the top female plumber.”
Dave and Wendy just started funding these scholarships within the past two years. The hope is that the course will become a funnel for future Out of This World employees.
To the moon!
With the investment in a college scholarship program, as well as trades-specific coaching, Dave and Wendy have set a flight plan for the future.
Dave adds that ServiceTitan is also a huge part of their success plan, and he looks forward to future changes in the software platform that integrate with Canadian processes.
“Canada is a large contingent, but I think for right now there’s a fairly small percentage of users of ServiceTitan,” Dave says. “I’m constantly working on getting my Titan score higher.”
It’s a work in progress—and Dave says it’s been his experience that the software platform is continually updating and expanding its range of services.
“Our team loves it,” Wendy says. “The techs love it and our office team loves it. It’s so intuitive, and has been a great investment in the company.”
Nobody’s promising ServiceTitan will take you to outer space, ”but it’s certainly like rocket fuel for companies like Out Of This World that are looking to blast off to the next level.”
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