David Britt was sitting at his office desk in Waynesboro, Va., explaining just how many hats he wears as the owner of Solutions Mechanical and Plumbing. Then his phone rang.
“Hold on,” Britt said, seeing that it was one of his techs calling. “I’ve got to take this.”
The Virginia man has been in the trades for 18 years, earning three master’s licenses in plumbing, HVAC and gas, not to mention a vast amount of experience in sales, service and contracting. Ten years ago, he started Solutions Mechanical and Plumbing out of his garage, using his wife’s car for service calls. Today his small residential construction plumbing and HVAC business has grown to roughly $2 million per year, three locations and seven trucks on the road.
To aid and spur more growth, Britt switched to ServiceTitan in February 2022. But he’s currently short-staffed. That means that while Britt is the owner, he’s also sometimes the customer service manager, dispatcher, bookkeeper, office manager and resident plumbing expert.
“Hey,” he said, picking up his phone to chat with one of his techs who wanted Britt’s thoughts on a problem he encountered with a customer’s well. Britt listened intently and asked more questions. After a minute of problem-solving, he went to the dispatch board and checked everyone’s schedule.
“Alright, I'll tell you what,” he said. “Go on and complete that out and request another appointment. Let me get with Darrell and see when we can get over there and check the well out.”
After a few minutes, Britt hung up the phone and took a deep breath.
“Now you know why I'm so tired,” he laughed.
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Data is the key to success
Of course, these extra hats are only temporary. Britt is in the process of hiring more techs, a bookkeeper, CSM and a dispatcher. Once they’re fully onboarded and familiar with ServiceTitan’s software, and the company has more repeatable and efficient processes, Britt can focus on his ultimate goal: growing the company to $5 million a year.
That’s why he switched to ServiceTitan. Britt, a self-proclaimed “computer nerd” who at age 8 used to type magazine programs into his TRS-80 Model II knows how important good software is.
“A database is only as good as the data you put into it,” Britt said.
And after years of entering his company’s data into a software that wasn’t scaling with his business, Britt’s service manager insisted they look into ServiceTitan, the all-in-one software for the trades that puts data from all parts of the business in the same place, powering great decisions throughout the business.
“Steve, our service manager, had used it before and tried talking me into it for about two years,” Britt said. “Switching softwares is a headache and I just didn't want to deal with it. But then I finally said, ‘(Our current software) isn't doing what we need it to do, let's look at it.’”
That software was bulky and not exactly technician-friendly, Britt explained. And since it only partly used Quickbooks for its accounting, it made finding an accountant very difficult.
Britt said it was a leap of faith to try ServiceTitan. His headcount had fluctuated due to burnout and a lack of techs in the industry. He knew he’d reap more benefits from a software like ServiceTitan if he was fully staffed. But taking big swings is something he’s learned in his 18 years in the trades.
For example, two years into Solutions Mechanical and Plumbing, Britt traded his garage for a 2,000-square-foot office, even though he was still the only person at the company. He knew he’d eventually grow and need more space. About eight months later, with business steady, he hired his first office person.
“When you do this stuff, it’s almost like you've got to step off a cliff and just do it,” Britt said.
Going, going, live
Britt took that leap and switched to ServiceTitan. There’s no sugarcoating what happened next.
“Onboarding was hard,” Britt said.
That’s because he was still wearing too many hats within his business. He’d spend long workdays tending to his numerous responsibilities, and then long nights working with ServiceTitan’s onboarding team.
“I had a really good onboarding team,” Britt said. “And since we’ve been live, I’ve had a really good customer success manager (CSM).”
Whenever he has a question or runs into a problem, he reaches out to his CSM or searches ServiceTitan Masterminds, a Facebook page for customers only, for someone who has run into a similar issue. Britt likes that there’s a built-in community of support within ServiceTitan. He also loves some of the immediate effects the software has had on his business. Here are a few:
Job costing: It’s as simple as Britt going into an invoice, hitting the job cost button and making sure that number is where it needs to be. “Prior to ServiceTitan, we were getting into a little cash flow crunch because we weren't charging enough,” Britt said. “If we're less than a 50% margin, we're going to be losing money.”
Proposal templates:Britt has only scratched the service of making proposal templates to offer options to customers on common services, but he’s excited about it. “Soon, we’ll go the true flat rate route and say, ‘OK, here's what we've got, here are your three options, which do you want?’"
Techs collecting payment: Britt knows his techs don’t want to deal with money—but they have to. ServiceTitan has made it easier for his techs to collect payment on-site and avoid doing free favors for customers, arbitrary discounts and delayed payments. “You can’t do people favors,” Britt said. “It kills the schedule, kills production, profit, everything. We're just out here trying to fix people's houses and get paid for it so we can take our wives out to dinner.”
Paid Online: Speaking of payments,Britt loves when he’s sitting on the couch at home after a long day, relaxing by the TV, and gets an email notification saying that a customer has paid online. “It’s the simple pleasures,” he said.
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Building for the future
Britt’s current project has been an 18-year quest that’s been difficult to master: getting the inventory squared away for his trucks and his business.
“I actually just turned on inventory last weekend, but I only have 20 items active right now while I learn the work flows and stuff,” he said.
The next goal is to split his business into departments — between contract and service, HVAC and plumbing, and use ServiceTitan to individualize those departments.
But long-term, his goal has remained the same.
“The simple way to put it is I'm trying to build a company that will be here after I'm gone,” Britt said.
He’s striving to hit the $5 million a year mark, and hopes that ServiceTitan will get him there. He’s excited to do more research on ServiceTitan’s task management, about which he’s read rave reviews on the Facebook group. He dreams of one day owning a 1972 Corvette and buying a home near the river where he can sip tea amid the tranquillity and unwind after a long workday.
But first, he needs to hire and train a few more techs, a dispatcher, a CSM, and anyone else that will help him scale.
And wear fewer hats.
“I’m looking forward to the day when the business is not working me,” Britt said with a laugh. “And I’m working the business.”
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