All Industries, Productivity, Business Tips, Webinar Recap

Unlock the Power - Prep Your Business for 2024

Patrick Doolin
November 30th, 2023
7 Min Read

Angie Snow’s favorite time of year probably makes many other service contractors groan: shoulder season. 

For Snow, co-owner of Western Heating & Air Conditioning in Utah and a Principal Industry Advisor at ServiceTitan, shoulder season is one of the most exciting times in running a business. It’s when things slow down enough to do annual planning.

“This is my time to plan,” Snow says. “At our company, January to December is our fiscal year, so we typically start putting our business plan together for the next year, two or three months ahead of time.”

Yet even a 15-year HVAC veteran like Snow knows optimism is tough for service pros right now. Customer demand naturally slackens during shoulder seasons. However, the post-COVID economy is worsening many contractors’ financial anxieties.

But Snow’s decade-plus of experience has taught her how to navigate uncertain times like these. In a webinar titled, “Unlock the Power — Prep your Business for 2024,” Snows explains how committing to the fundamentals of annual planning allows contractors to move from being reactive to proactive. 

“As leaders, we don't run from challenges, we embrace challenges,” she says. “As proactive leaders, owners, and operators, we stay aware of challenges that are coming our way and we put plans together. And when we do this, we can not only survive in difficult times, but we can thrive in difficult times.” 

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Know Where You Are: Break Down Your Last 24 Months of Data

Good business leaders are good data storytellers. They dive into their own business’s data to identify wins and losses, observe trends, and find new opportunities. That’s why Snow urges service contractors to break down their data. It tells the story of where their business has been, where it is now, and where it’s going.

“If you have at least the last year, you need that. But if you have two years or even three years of data to look for trends, to see if there's growth, or if you're falling behind and not growing in certain areas, that's helpful, too,” Snow says. 

To get the granular level of data needed, Snow recommends breaking your revenue down:

  • Per year: What was your revenue total for each of the last three years?

  • Per department: What percent did service, installation, and maintenance contribute to each year’s total revenue?

  • Per month: What percent of revenue did each department contribute on a monthly basis?

You don’t need to gather and analyze this data alone, either. “Each department manager should be able to pull the reports that paint the picture of where you've been,” Snow says. ServiceTitan users have an advantage, thanks to the platform’s built-in reporting.  

Snow also encourages bringing more people into the process. “This could be your leadership team, managers, consultants, or coaches. Sometimes I will even invite another contractor to come because they always have a lot of great tips and things that are working in their business, so I love that as well,” she says.

With your past one to three years of business data laid out, you can now query your data to find wins, losses, trends, and opportunities. For instance, a plumbing company might see they’ve done well building their client base, but have done little to re-engage existing customers to drive repeat business and upsells. 

It’s these kinds of discoveries that help service contractors define future business goals and create the budget to realize them. That brings us to the next step of annual business planning. 

Know Where You’re Going: Look Forward 1 to 3 Years

With clarity on your business’s past performance, you’re ready to create growth goals and break them down into measurable key performance indicators (KPIs). This is the point where you begin to separate from your competitors, many of whom likely skipped annual planning.

“If you don't know where you're going and what you want to accomplish, you're going to end up someplace else. I've worked with contractors before, they're like, ‘I'm just happy I have money in the bank. I really don't have goals.’ But you need to do better than that. We want to decide what our goals are going to be,” Snow says.

The key here is to set realistic goals. Let’s say you run a $10 million roofing business and want to:

  • Increase revenue by 20% 

  • Increase net profit to 15%

  • Increase referral sales by 25%

“Those are some great goals, but how do you determine what is realistic?” Snow asks. Her advice: Gut-check yourself by looking at prior numbers, your growth patterns, and any new innovations you've put in place.

“Let's say you have a goal of increasing your revenue by 20% per year. If you do, what do you have to know now? How profitable were you? If you want to grow your membership base, do you know how many members you had? Do you know how much you grew last year? What percent of your members are churning? All of these are really, really important things to know,” Snow says. 

For instance, an aggressive net profit goal might not make sense for a young construction company still building its client base. Growing net revenue would be a more realistic goal. A focus on net profit would better serve a mature contracting business that can find more operational efficiencies.

Now with your goals defined, it’s time to create an action plan. 

Create Your Action Plan: Turn the Dials That Drive Growth

Knowing your business's story and defining your goals opens your eyes to opportunities right in front of you. Instead of creating an annual business plan that wildly changes your course, you can look at your business-as-usual operations and ask what small adjustments would drive the biggest results.

Or as Snow puts it, “Let's maximize the opportunities we already have.”

“Why is this webinar called Unlock the Power? It's called Unlock the Power because I think a lot of times we get trapped and we think, ‘I need more jobs.’ Well, does that mean I need to get more calls? Not necessarily. Maybe you could just increase your booking rate by 5% and then you don't need as many calls. Maybe you could start using your follow-up tab and following up on some of those missed opportunities. And then maybe you wouldn't need as many calls coming in because you already have the opportunities there,” she says.

The only way to find these opportunities is to break down your business and articulate your goals. You can find clear targets to aim for by setting revenue for the year and breaking it down month by month. For example, increasing bookings might be as simple as investing in the right call tracking software.

“As you figure out revenue for each department, you can then break that down. How many jobs per day is that? How many techs do I need to complete those jobs? How many calls will I need to have booked? What's my closing rate? What's my booking rate?” Snow says.

The more specific your questions become, so do your answers. 

“Do you need a restructure? Do you need additional leadership, additional technicians, additional salespeople? What will you need to hit those numbers?” Snow asks. “Do we need to invest in something new or strategic? Digital marketing is something that is on the forefront of a lot of our customers' minds and how to use it to get customer demand. Where is that? Where is that coming from?”

Her last question is especially timely with the rise of all-in-one software for home and commercial contractors. In addition to data reporting that makes annual business planning easier, software today also enables service pros to automate their sales, marketing, and field operations in one place.

4 Ways ServiceTitan Supports Your Annual Planning

By centralizing your most important business data in one single platform, ServiceTitan gives you visibility over your entire operation, including what drives your highest ROI. That streamlines your annual planning while giving you confidence in your numbers. 

With your annual business plan in place, ServiceTitan empowers you to:

  • Get the right lead: Clean up your marketing data, automate your sales and marketing operations, and shift budget to your most revenue-generating campaigns.

  • Book the right job: Offer online booking and keep your Google My Business (GMB) profile fresh so you stay relevant while delivering a smooth online experience.

  • Send the right field technician: Designate job types, create batting orders, and automatically assign field techs based on their skills, performance, or zone.

  • Close the right sale: Enable field technicians to generate more revenue by proactively offering integrated financing and multiple plan options.

>>Learn more about ServiceTitan and how it can help you run a more profitable business with our library of live and on-demand webinars for service pros.

ServiceTitan Software

ServiceTitan is a comprehensive software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and substantially elevate the trajectory of their business. Our comprehensive, cloud-based platform is used by thousands of electrical, HVAC, plumbing, garage door, and chimney sweep shops across the country—and has increased their revenue by an average of 25% in just their first year with us.

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