Roofing, Productivity, Operations, Success Story

How ServiceTitan helps Guardian Roofing deliver its ‘Customer for Life’ motto

Brendan Meyer
May 13th, 2024
6 Min Read

To this day, there are two words that will send a shudder through anyone at Guardian Roofing: 

“Packet Party.”

It hearkens back to a time when the Seattle-area residential roofing shop used to print roughly 300 pieces of paper a day from its printer, named Matilda, to document and manage every job. That’s well above your average roofing shop.

That’s because Guardian, started by husband and wife duo Matt and Lori Swanson in 2005, has a “Customer for Life” motto. That means the company doesn’t just replace your roof. It will also repair and maintain, with no job too big or small.

And that was a problem when it came to paper.

“A company that just does re-roofs, they might have 40 transactions in a month,” Matt said. “Sometimes we have 40 a day. That's why the stacks of packets were so big. It created so much turmoil (and) inefficiency.”

A packet party wasn’t a party. It was panic.

Matilda was printing like a slot machine on jackpot, and office staff had to rush and file all of the pages into coherent packets, then place them in a filing cabinet for the technicians to eventually pull.

But wait! That was only some of the paper. There were also paper job-complete forms, paper service and repair agreements, and the stacks of packets that techs would bring every day that you needed to comb through.

“Inside those packets could be (notes like), ‘Call this customer, they want something different,’” Matt said.

“We found a few checks and some cash in these packets,” Lori said. “And also (crushed potato) chips.”

Too much paper caused a lot of stress and dysfunction at Guardian and, most troublesome, made it difficult to keep up with the “Customer for Life” motto. Yet, when they first heard about ServiceTitan and how it could simplify their business, Lori had one reaction.

“I was like, ‘No way. I don't want to change.’”

Humble beginnings

Lori is a second-generation roofer who’s been in the industry most of her life. She spent high school and college summers working at her dad’s new-construction, commercial and residential roofing shop.

“I was in stinky trucks with stinky guys that smelled like asphalt and BO,” Lori laughed. “It was hard when all your friends are out at the beach and I'm up on a roof in 100 degrees, sweating. But it does build character, and you really learn the power of work ethic.”

She and Matt, who comes from a construction background, started Guardian with humble beginnings.

“I think our first job that we did, we traded for a website and a logo and did a roof for free,” Lori said.

Another time early on, when Matt and Lori were living in a small rented house, they sat together during a heavy rainstorm and discussed how concerned they were about the lack of work and leads.

“And literally right at that second, the roof in the place that we rented started leaking on my desk,” Matt said. “And we called the landlord and we were like, ‘Hey, you need a roof repair.’ And he's like, ‘OK.’

“Whenever times have gotten really tough, it just seems like something has presented itself.”

Over time, Guardian grew and built a strong reputation in Seattle. But managing all of that growth, especially in the technological age, was proving to be unmanageable with paper. 

It led to frequent miscommunication between the field and the office. Techs didn’t have the full client history at their disposal. Office staff spent hours deciphering handwritten field notes and manually entering them into computers. There was a frequent disconnect between the field and the accounting team.

Maybe a software like ServiceTitan could be one of those Guardian moments when something just presented itself. 

After Matt and Lori saw the software in action at a plumbing shop, they imagined how it could be a potential game-changer for their roofing business.

“We didn't want to stay where we were at. We wanted to grow,” Lori said. “And so in order to grow and scale, we needed efficiencies and information to help facilitate that. 

“It was a must-have.”

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Changing old habits

Guardian went live with ServiceTitan in 2017, and Matt and Lori admit that, at first, it was scary.

“All of a sudden, we don't have paper anymore,” Matt said. “But I think you don't realize how much it's going to help you if you just fight through a solid month or two (of change).”

The first major change Matt noticed was that, without paper, Guardian’s billing moved up from weekly to daily. This resulted in building out better reporting figures.

“Before that, the way I got the reporting (numbers) was to look for myself and add stuff up on my 10-key calculator.”

Another immediate change was that techs were now able to update field notes in the summary section.

“Now if a client called, we could actually answer the question with the correct answer and not say, ‘Oh, we have to wait until we get the paper in and talk to the tech,’” Lori said. “We were able to … deliver even better service because we could resolve any questions.”

ServiceTitan supported the “Customer for Life” motto by providing techs with… 

  • The entire client history on their iPads.

  • By reminding Guardian when its membership customers had maintenance appointments due.

  • By empowering Guardian to manage its reputation via Marketing Pro.

  • By communicating with customers to let them know they were on their way. 

  • Guardian used ServiceTitan to easily add new business units like gutters and insulation, with robust reporting and job costing capabilities.

“I can't even imagine going back to pre-ServiceTitan because of how archaic it was and not having real-time information,” Lori said. “Having to wait until the end of the month to know your metrics is just not scalable. It's really hard to grow that way. You find yourself really reactive.”

Today, Guardian is one of the largest residential roofing shops in the country with a 2023 revenue just shy of $30 million. It’s tripled in size since 2015.

“There is no way that we could have done that (without ServiceTitan),” Matt said. “I can't imagine how many packets that would be.”

As for Matilda’s whereabouts nowadays? Rumor has it she was retired in the same style that the printer in the movie “Office Space” went out.

“She got a gold watch,” Matt said with a laugh. “And out the front door she went.”

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