Image in modal.

Most software these days can do just about anything. So now it’s about doing it better. Customers are looking for ways software can help them out with tedious tasks (did someone say AI?) by eliminating steps, creating easy ways to access and save data, and finding more ways to digitize their business. They want software that can do it all, and then some.

“It is clear that IoT is here to stay, but it is unclear which platform in either the residential or commercial space will gain the lion’s share. What I do know is that HVAC systems don’t fix themselves if something is wrong. Building owners need contractors more than ever, and contractors need to be able to digest IoT communications and respond efficiently,” said Ben Hedenberg, vice president of sales at simPRO.



When the software a contractor is using is able to automate the more tedious (but important) tasks, it allows business owners and technicians alike to stay focused on providing quality service to their customers, said Angie Snow, principal industry advisor at ServiceTitan.

“From appointment scheduling to technician dispatching and even pricing, these automated capabilities are poised to help contractors increase sales, save time, attract new customers, and ultimately grow their business,” Snow said.

And a way this can be achieved is through noticing what AI can do for customers.

“So finding a way to leverage that and see if we can automate more things and help inform our customer so that they can make better decisions for their business, and we’re hoping [AI] can help us get to that point,” Snow said.

Titan Intelligence.

AI: Titan Intelligence offers a suite of AI options and capabilities specifically for the trade. (Courtesy of ServiceTitan)

In order to help its customers stay ahead of the curve, ServiceTitan launched Titan Intelligence, a suite of AI solutions built specifically for the trades. One of these beta solutions is ServiceTitan’s Smart Dispatch.

Smart Dispatch has the ability to ensure its customers are getting the right technician to the right job based on specific skills. It automatically dispatches high-performing techs to jobs with higher revenue opportunities, Snow said.

“Along with optimizing for profit, Smart Dispatch takes into account drive-time efficiency, which can help retain technicians,” she said.

Data collected by ServiceTitan has shown that longer drive times can lead to an increase in technician churn, which is a huge issue for an industry already facing a severe talent shortage.

As an owner of an HVAC business, Snow knows firsthand how important it is to book calls and dispatch effectively. And though hearing “AI” might initially scare a contractor or two, once they start using it, they usually can’t believe how much it’s going to help them, she said.

With a simple point-and-click, jobs can be extended, shortened, or rescheduled altogether using Smart Dispatch, and through ServiceTitan’s dispatch board, dispatchers can send and receive SMS texts to keep dispatchers and technicians on the same page, Snow said.

The dispatching software is specifically designed to help contractors maximize revenue through smart dispatching decisions and ServiceTitan’s “route optimization” features. The software also gives business owners transparency into technician job progress and performance of KPIs.

“A dispatcher in their day-to-day may not notice trends, and so if an AI can pick up on that, it can open [business owners’] eyes to a technician underperforming,” Snow said.

From there, the contractor can assign additional training in the areas the technician is falling short.

“Smart Dispatch also allows contractors to customize our software to address their specific business needs with settings like job prioritization and max drive-time for techs,” Snow said.

“It’s great for the companies to be able to utilize their most valuable technicians for the most valuable jobs.”



The old expression “You can’t see the forest for the trees” is a great way to describe this next trend that Hedenberg is noticing: too often, a software system only has one or two little niches, and lacks the support needed.

“Without an overarching system to tie the business together, owners can get lost in too much data, disappoint customers, and underperform,” Hedenberg said.

Bringing on a new technology and adapting to it takes hard work. Over the last 12 months, simPRO has launched simPRO Takeoffs, and displayed it at this year’s Expo.

SimPRO Takeoffs allows a contractor to create quotes directly from blueprints and move them seamlessly to a job, removing hours of duplicated data entry, reducing quoting errors, and allowing contractors to win more jobs efficiently.

“We’ve been working to build out a really strong infrastructure where everything's connected. So connecting service to dispatch to takeoffs, quoting — all in one place — makes it easier for contractors to do their business,” Hedenberg said.

The software was built with two workflows in mind: project and asset management. It provides business owners and project managers an overall view of projects and jobsites so no one is left in the dark.

“Techs can access only what you want them to be able to see in the field from their mobile app and all their notes are automatically updated to that project so everything gets tracked in one place. Additionally, techs can easily update which parts they used at a job site, and our integrations with suppliers make it easy to see what you have on hand and what you need to order for the next job,” Hedenberg said.



“You’d be amazed at how many people in this industry still use paper,” said Paul Carmody, president of Successware. “It’s not that uncommon to see QuickBooks plus Excel plus paper. But there's a big trend towards digitizing the whole workflow. People out in the field don’t want to shuffle paper, they don’t want to have to pick up their checks from the office, or have to go back to the office to get their dispatch orders.”

“But at the same time, customers don’t want to have to deal with paper either,” added Chris O’Grady, chief sales officer at Successware.

There has to be flexibility in the way customers are able to digitize and Successware does this through how they enable their customers to pay.

“The days of cash and checks are gone. People want to pay with a credit card, or through Venmo, or they want to finance it. But they don’t want to have to go through a separate process to get consumer financing,” Carmody said.

So this year at the AHR Expo, Successware introduced Successware Payments, a payment processing solution built directly into the Successware platform and leads its users to get paid faster.

Successware Platform.

AI: DIGITIZE ACCOUNTS: With Successware Payments, users can get paid faster, without the paperwork. (Courtesy of Successware)

“This tool makes it easier to collect payments from customers, reconcile invoices, conduct accounting, and see financial and operational reports in one convenient location. Successware also features consumer financing built directly into the platform and our mobile app. We know that contractors want to make it easy for their customers to say yes to costly, but necessary repairs. Successware has a fully integrated workflow to allow customers to apply for consumer financing directly in Successware Mobile and then use that financing loan to pay for critical work they need done,” O’Grady said.

By simplifying billing and digital invoicing, the platform allows businesses to send their customers a digital invoice with a secure online payment link, thus reducing declines because lost, stolen, or expired cards are automatically updated.

“Contactless payments are very important in today’s world. It also allows HVAC professionals to accept all major payment methods out in the field with competitive rates for processing. Business owners love the visibility they get into the health of their business when they use our centralized dashboard — called Successware Insights — to get accurate metrics and reporting,” Carmody said.



At this year’s Expo, FastEST had on display their FastWRAP Estimating Software, which offers an easy-to-use interface geared towards the plumbing, mechanical, site utilities, and industrial piping, and HVAC sheetmetal and ductwork trades, respectively, said Mike Postiglione, software sales/database manager at FastEST.

“We've taken the components from the piping side and the components from the sheet metal side, and combined them into one program with a database specifically designed for insulators,” said Patrick Wetta, account executive at FastEST.

Key features of FastWRAP include insulation-specific pricing catalog, jobs, and bids; support for a large variety of digital plans formats (including PDFs); specifications that can be tailored to each mechanical insulation job; on-screen takeoff performed directly on digital plans, labor rates based on industry standards that can be adjusted for job site conditions; material pricing that can be job-specific based on supplier quotes; and labor and material reports filtered and sorted as required.

“Our estimating programs offer an accurate, efficient, and affordable way to streamline a contractor’s estimating process … We are also one of the only mechanical estimating software vendors to offer a non-binding monthly lease option,” Postiglione said.