Finding Your Business Path
Chris Barrett, owner of Capital City Heating and Cooling in Richmond, VA has been pleasantly surprised this year by exceeding even his own modest expectations. After his time in the Marine Corp, Barrett established his career in the heating and cooling industry and stayed for over 15 years. A self-starter, he worked as a mechanic and fast tracked his career; getting his journeyman’s license after only 2 years and his masters license after 3 years.
After several years as a mechanic, Barrett started the move into management – moving from Service Manager to General Manager in one company. Building on his prior success Barrett was offered a leadership role in a maintenance company that was struggling, and after only one year, turned that company into a general contracting company and “righted the ship”.
Barrett says, he “always knew that business ownership was something [he] wanted and planned on.” However, after being diagnosed with cancer in 2011, those plans had to take a backseat. As a survivor, Barrett was poised and ready to tackle small business ownership and in January 2016, Capital City Heating and Cooling was founded.
Benefits of Small Business Ownership
Barrett’s path to becoming a small business owner is a slightly unconventional but highly successful one. Barrett comments, “People tend to start their own company, especially in this industry, at a younger age. I’ve done it almost backward.” But, the experience he gained working in management for 12 years, allowed Barrett to learn how to run a successful business. Barrett continues, “I learned how to do both the mechanic job as well as management jobs. That’s what gets some companies in trouble – when an owner is young and doesn’t know or fully comprehend the business end of things.”
The “backward” path to business ownership has allowed Barrett to hone his skill set and really understand what it takes to create and run a successful company.
Since Capital City Heating and Cooling is still a new company, Barrett is able to “be involved in every aspect of the business.” This allows him to differentiate himself from the competition. He has also brought trusted co-workers alongside him this year. Half of his employees worked with him in his previous management jobs, so transitioning was easier.
Having been involved in the local Richmond community has helped drive Barrett’s success. He started a local wrestling club that grew so much, they eventually were able to be housed in their own building. “People know me in this community, in addition to the wrestling club, I coached little league for several years,” adds Barrett.
Being known in the community helps current and potential customers know that Capital City Heating and Cooling is a company to be trusted. “I’ve always been in the Richmond area and customers have known me in this industry.”
Creating Excellent Customer Service
Providing exceptional customer service is an important feature for the success of any small business and Capital City Heating and Cooling is no exception. “I make sure that I take the time to explain the issues. I want to be very clear about the situation and pricing so there are no surprises to my customer.” Barrett continues, “It is also critical to me that we respond as promptly and efficiently as possible; trying to resolve issues on the same day or a 24-hour period at the most.”
Of course, customers are always pleased with “fair pricing and quality work,” a hallmark for Capital City Heating and Cooling. Because of this crucial focus, the company has not yet had to do any advertising. “All of our business has been referrals and word of mouth,” muses Barrett.
“I’ve been shocked at the fact we have surpassed our projected goals by 1.5 times in our first six months,” says Barrett. His reputation and dedication to customer service obviously make a huge difference.
Using Technology as a Small Business Owner
Barrett shares, “I planned and projected, but I didn’t anticipate for business to pick up the way it did this summer. It’s a great problem to have.”
With Capital City Heating and Cooling’s speedy success, Barrett wouldn’t be able to keep up without the use of technology and software tools. His team uses dispatch software on their mobile devices to manage service requests and automate invoicing for customers. Barrett comments, “My customers love the paperless invoices – how they are automatically emailed and I can take credit card payments in the field. At the end of the day, I just review calls and sync the software. It has helped tremendously with paperwork and invoicing, allowing me to focus on my customers.”
Barrett also started using SERVUS after being introduced to it by one of his regular customers, Dodson Property Management, a residential property management company in the Richmond area. Dodson started using SERVUS to help their employees funnel vendor communication out of emails, text messages, and voicemails and into one easy-to-use software.
“I like being able to deal with all the work orders and service requests within the app – it speeds everything up because it is less time consuming”, Barrett adds.
Capital City Heating and Cooling has even been so busy with work this year, that they haven’t had a chance to get their website up. That is next on Barrett’s list once the fall season comes around and he isn’t as busy. For now, you can reach Capital City Heating and Cooling at (804) 608-8007 and follow them on Facebook.
To learn how Barrett and other leading business owners/managers use SERVUS to deliver exceptional service to their customers, please visit our site or schedule a live demo here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.