Chase Hoagland got his start in the residential carpet cleaning business a decade ago when he joined his future wife's family-owned business in Huntsville, Ala.
“When we were in college and dating, her family had started this business, Safe-Dry Carpet Cleaning, in one location,” Hoagland says. “They talked of one day selling franchises, and I was going to school for business entrepreneurship so that enticed me to get involved.
“I started off as a technician, just going out to customers' homes, bidding jobs, doing cleanings. It was a summer job, and I just never left.”
Service technician led to management, and management led to Hoagland being named a company partner in 2012. He helped Safe-Dry sell franchises for a few years until the management team decided franchising the business wasn't the best route for growth.
“We greatly underestimated the initial cost and support required with new franchisees,” Hoagland says. “It was more than we anticipated.”
Safe-Dry switched gears and began focusing on opening new corporate locations. Today, the company employs about 30 carpet cleaning technicians at five locations—Huntsville, Birmingham, Ala., Nashville, Tenn., Atlanta, and Greensboro, N.C. A sixth site, in Raleigh, N.C., is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2020.
Hoagland says his Safe-Dry technicians used “old-fashioned schedule books” until about 2015. As the company grew, so did confusion in the office when it came to scheduling service calls for multiple office locations.
“That was our moment when we realized we've got to do something if we're going to expand here, other than pen and paper,” he says.
With three locations at the time, Safe-Dry purchased its first software program to better coordinate dispatching and scheduling. “It wasn't bad. For a small business, it worked well because it's not very complicated,” Hoagland says. “It did the job that we needed it to at the time.”
As Hoagland stepped away from day-to-day operations and took more of a leadership role in opening new Safe-Dry locations in other cities, he found the software too limiting for where he wanted the business to go.
“The phone recording was very limited,” he says. “You really couldn't customize reports or create custom invoices. The pricebook was limited. Just everything. It's good for someone starting out a small business, but as we were starting to grow and add on technicians, it was just too simple for us.”
After searching online and watching five or six demos from other software companies, Hoagland signed on with ServiceTitan in March 2019. Now all of the Safe-Dry locations use the home services software.
“ServiceTitan just seemed to be what we were looking for, and it looked like something that we could grow into,” he says.
We asked Hoagland to walk us through a typical day for a carpet cleaning technician, and explain how ServiceTitan helps him grow Safe-Dry Carpet Cleaning.
Q: You started as a carpet cleaning technician. What types of jobs did you do?
A: We primarily focus on residential cleaning. We do very little commercial cleaning, because commercial is one of those things where you need a crew who can go out at night. You have to be all in, or not do it at all. We target middle- to upper-class homes that have a lot of foot traffic, homes like my own, with kids, pets, and sippy cups upside down more than right side up.
Q: What's your most popular service, as a carpet cleaning company?
A: Our most popular service is probably our pet odor removal treatment. We do carpet cleaning, rug cleaning, upholstery cleaning, but we advertise our pet odor removal because that's a very in-demand item. We also offer a 100-percent satisfaction guarantee on our pet odor removal. We guarantee we can remove it, or you get your money back.
Q: How long do carpet cleaning jobs typically take?
A: Our technicians typically go to two to three jobs per day, which is not the norm in the carpet cleaning industry. A lot of companies stack it on, and they try to get technicians to four or five jobs per day. We want our technicians to build a relationship with the customer, build rapport and trust, so the customer uses us again in the future and recommends us.
So, we don't rush them in and out of jobs. Depending on the size of the job, I'd say the average appointment is closer to two hours.
Q: Is your focus on customer service one of the reasons the family business succeeds?
A: One thing that probably differentiates us from other carpet cleaning companies is we care about the small details. We try to provide the best possible service for the customer. We set exact appointment times. We tell you, "Hey, your appointment is at noon. If our technician's running even 15 minutes behind schedule, we'll call and let you know."
The process we use is different than 90 percent of the cleaning market out there. Steam cleaning is still very much the common cleaning process (but) there's more advanced technology out there. We use a process that dries in an hour's time. It's a residue-free cleaning process, so there's no sticky, soapy residue left behind. We also offer the money-back guarantee on our cleaning. So, it's those details that do set us apart.
Q: How was your experience purchasing and installing the first software program?
A: There was no real setup support. It was kind of, "You pay for this. Now, here's your login. Here's your account." You could call in and ask questions, but there was no structured training or account manager there to help you. You just kind of had to figure it out.
Q: What was that experience like when you onboarded with ServiceTitan?
A: Our account manager for onboarding was fantastic. I never would have continued with ServiceTitan if there had not been an onboarding manager or account manager helping me right away. Even though I had experience with the other software, it was a little bit overwhelming just because of all the functions and abilities of ServiceTitan. There's just so much stuff that you can do with it.
Q: Once you went live with ServiceTitan, what were some of the immediate benefits you discovered?
A: I think the reporting was amazing, being able to customize and look at the reports. Having the call-recording features right there, being able to share that with our office staff so they can pull up a customer's account, and go back and listen to the recordings. That was a great benefit. The pricebook and invoicing seemed to work pretty well for our technicians, and they seemed to transfer to it pretty easily. We offer different packages to customers, so the technicians are able to go in and show the customer various options in the price book. With ServiceTitan, that's an added benefit.
Q: Do you use the technician scorecard in ServiceTitan?
A: We use it a little bit, internally. We offer technicians incentives for getting reviews from customers. As part of the technician's base-pay structure, for each review he gets, he gets a certain amount of compensation. If he achieves a certain number of reviews without any negative reviews or callbacks, there's another compensation he can get. We just have different things we're constantly throwing around to keep them excited, to kind of motivate them to get those reviews and feedback from the customer.
The beautiful thing about that is, when they're trying to get the review and trying to get that bonus or extra money, they're doing a good job for the customer, which is building a repeat customer base. So, it's kind of a win-win situation.
Q: How are you using the reports in ServiceTitan to grow and scale the business?
A: It's really nice to be able to go into ServiceTitan, and say, "Hey, this is the number of jobs that we did in this area last week." Or, "this is the number of jobs we did in the last month in this area." By quickly pulling that information, I can also make the necessary adjustments to our advertising campaigns. We do a lot with Google AdWords and building SEO, so it's really nice to be able to see whether a campaign in a specific area is paying off or not.
The reporting is very easy. It's been very time-saving for us, especially with running payroll. The main thing is just looking at where our work's coming from. This is how much we've spent on an area and this is how much we got in return. I pay more attention to the number of jobs, because that's more of a true measurement of whether we're going up or down.
In the past year, we've seen about 30 percent growth, as far as the number of jobs. We've seen our cancellations and reschedules drop below 10 percent. Our ticket average is about $20 higher than it was last year.
We've got other things we're doing to try to make those numbers better and better, but I think ServiceTitan has played a contributing factor in that.
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