Pete Bradham's calculations tell him that acquiring new customers through advertising typically costs between $1,000 and $1,500 per customer.
That number goes a ways to explain the impact Schedule Engine, a recent acquisition of ServiceTitan, can make in helping trade businesses scale by having online booking available.
"With ServiceTitan and Schedule Engine together, we generally do not have to advertise to that person," said Bradham, Owner of Bradham Brothers, Inc. "That person probably did a search, then went to our website and recognized, 'Oh, I can book that right now.'"
Bradham was a devotee of Schedule Engine before its acquisition by ServiceTitan in the summer of 2022—and even before Bradham Brothers launched on ServiceTitan. To Bradham, Schedule Engine was an essential, intuitive and seamless way for customers to book online.
"It worked great," he said.
Now that ServiceTitan has added Schedule Engine, Bradham sees the same positives for his Charlotte, N.C.,-based HVAC company.
"The integration between the two is almost perfect," he said. "To be honest with you, it's more streamlined now."
User-Friendly Online Booking
ServiceTitan acquired Schedule Engine for the user-friendly way it offered online booking to contractors and the home service businesses.
Before the purchase, a ServiceTitan survey found, fewer than 5% of bookings with companies that used ServiceTitan were done online. But the survey also found that:
Most home service providers believe more than 30% of jobs will be booked online in the next three years.
More than two-thirds of home service providers plan to invest in online booking technology within the next year.
Ara Mahdessian, CEO and co-founder of ServiceTitan, called online scheduling technology a "must have" for a trade business. Mahdessian called Schedule Engine the most advanced and intuitive solution.
Customers Need Online Booking
When Bradham talked about the value added by Schedule Engine, he spoke about its importance to the customer.
"We're not a huge company; we don't have staff that works day and night," Bradham said. "People understand if they're calling at 11 at night that we're not going to come right out. But they can have the satisfaction of knowing that (the problem will be) taken care of, that somebody knows they need the help."
Bradham responds to online booking requests the following morning.
"That's what it allows us to do, to act like Amazon," he said.
While some customers have booked for the next morning, others have gone online at 2 a.m. to schedule for two weeks out—because while the work is needed, it's not an immediate priority. In a digital world.
But when pizzas or dinner or groceries can be ordered and delivered in less than an hour, it's imperative the trades take advantage of the benefits of online booking.
"I think we all have to accept that not every customer waits until 8 in the morning (to reach out)," Bradham said.
Acquisition is Cheaper, Too
It also matters to the health and well-being of the business. Bradham estimates that 80% of customers who booked online are new customers. That's new business that can be retained with quality work and communication. Each new customer brought in with online booking represents money not spent on advertising.
"I consider that a win-win," Bradham said. "If I can capture that work without having to go that (advertising expense) route. It's just way, way less of a burden on us."