Running a small HVAC service business for more than 20 years, husband-and-wife owners Dave and Melissa Carlile stay focused on one important goal: Educating consumers about their heating and cooling systems.
They’ve learned it’s an absolute necessity in the HVAC industry, because most homeowners focus too much on trying to find the right HVAC contractor to hire without really understanding what they’re looking for, says Melissa Carlile, CEO of Dave Carlile Heating & Cooling in Trafalgar, Ind.
“They don’t really understand what they have or what they need,” she says. “Technology has just advanced so much. … They just don't understand their furnace and air conditioner is a computer now, and not pieces and parts.
“We want to educate the homeowner, so they know. Whether they choose us or choose someone else, they have what they need in front of them to make a solid choice for them, whether it be for their comfort level, for their budget, or just for their overall ‘is it even going to work?’
“We kind of feel like we're a customer-service business that just specializes in heating and cooling.”
Even though Dave Carlile Heating & Cooling never advertised, the company still managed to keep a steady customer base through word-of-mouth referrals. For 2020, the Carliles decided to grow the business by marketing to existing customers and attracting new customers online, but they needed a better way to keep it all organized.
“We live in a digital age, and we were (relying on) pen, paper, and memory,” Melissa says. “As you get older, and as you have more business and time goes on, your memory doesn’t always work that well.”
Instead of trying to pull files or depend on their own memories to find a customer’s service history, the Carliles decided they needed a digital platform to keep the information organized and right at their fingertips.
After researching various companies, they signed on with ServiceTitan in June.
“ServiceTitan was fabulous,” Melissa says. “What the whole program does, what it offers us, what it offers our clients—overall, we were very impressed. It just kind of fit.
“It's everything. It's freedom. It’s life-changing. It's total freedom from the chains of just not knowing or not having the information when you need it. It's all right there. For us, for me, it's totally been freedom. I feel like, ‘Wow, I can breathe.’”
We asked the HVAC CEO to explain how growing the couple’s home services company in a digital age works better with ServiceTitan.
Q: What was it like for you to onboard with ServiceTitan during the HVAC busy season?
A:I think it was a good thing. It wasn’t quite the busy season for us, because it didn’t warm up here until the end of May, beginning of June. We were onboarding, we were getting busier, and then we were able to jump in and be kind of operational, so that was good.
The onboarding process was simple. It was a lot of information, but everything we could ask for, we got. I never got a, ‘No, we can’t make that change,’ or, ‘We’re not going to do that.’ It was great to get the whole overall, ‘We’ll figure it out. We’ll work on that. We’ll work it out.’
It's not like the system is just set to only do this. If you need it to do what you do or work with you, there's a way to get that to happen. That made a big difference, too. The time, the attention, the flexibility, and then just all of the information that's available, and a lot of help.
You get assigned a person. He put up with my schedule issues … and never complained, never made it feel like it was an issue, never made me feel like I was stupid for asking a question or not understanding. He was always in a good mood, always helpful, and always went the extra mile.
Q: Did you work with only one person during onboarding, or with a team of experts for specific areas?
A: At ServiceTitan, everybody has a job, so it wasn't necessarily all on one person's shoulders to try and help us navigate everywhere. It wasn't just that one person driving it. He made sure everybody was kind of doing their thing or he would refer it out, but the people who would call from each department knew what they were doing and what their specifics were. I just thought that was really nice.
Sometimes you just get one person and you have to kind of do everything with them. Then I think you miss a lot, because one person can't know everything about everything.
It kind of made us think here … one person can’t do everything. We brought on a product specialist, somebody who goes in deep and understands the product itself. It can’t all run through Dave all of the time or it can’t all run through me—from me knowing enough to be dangerous sometimes. It’s got to be what they know, so that’s worked out for us really well.
Q: When did you go live with ServiceTitan HVAC software?
A:June 7. It’s fabulous. It’s changed our whole life. Like I said, paper, pen, memory … busy on nights, days, weekends. We didn't get any kind of breather. ServiceTitan has really given us an opportunity to breathe, especially during the busy season.
Are there issues and things? Yes. But from the moment the call comes in, all the way through to the end, it's there. We're still learning. We're still learning even how to use some of the intricate things that go into it. I would never go back to pen, paper, and memory. I don't know how we did it for so long.
Q: Besides better organization of customer files, what other immediate benefits have you found with ServiceTitan?
A:The biggest weight of an owner or someone trying to operate the whole thing is that you have to do it. You physically, mentally, everything you do goes into it. Immediately it said, ‘Wait, there's a place for it, and it's right there.’ Everything being in one place in that database, it's there.
Even as we go back and figure out as they're putting things in, it's still all going to be right there. I don't have to figure out where it's at, or get this done, or wait until I can get over to that file, or go look in the old files, it's all right there. Especially being able to bring it over from QuickBooks. … I was like, ‘Wow.’
It's such a relief. It's really a weight off of your shoulders.
The software also allows our techs to upload photos right into the software program, and eliminates the need to track them down each time. I get my information immediately from the tech in the field. I cannot tell you how much life that has given me.
Q: What other benefits have you gained?
A: It's been great. It makes my heart really beat. As a matter of fact, I started working out because I'm like, ‘I have time to work out.’ It really relieves the stress.
Is there still stress? Well, yeah, we own a business. We serve customers who are not always easy to deal with, but it's just not having to deal with: Where is it? Who's got it? How do I get it? The customer needs it. The whole train of it.
And we're not even really using it fully. I know that. I can't wait to see what it's going to bring me. … I can't tell you anything that's not good that we've come across with ServiceTitan.
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