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March 1, 2023 | 28 Mins Read

Macro Themes Making Service More Strategic

March 1, 2023 | 28 Mins Read

Macro Themes Making Service More Strategic


Sarah welcomes Curtis Novinger, Regional VP of Service, P3 Services to discuss the trends he sees when evaluating businesses for investment on how companies are embracing opportunities to innovate and make service more strategic.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today we're going to be talking about some of the macro trends that are involved in making service more strategic. I'm excited to be joined today by Curtis Novinger, who is the regional Vice President of Services at P3 Services. Curtis, welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast.

Curtis Novinger: Good to be with you Sarah.

Sarah Nicastro: Thanks for being here. So before we get into our topic for the day, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, your role at P3 and your sort of journey in field service.

Curtis Novinger: Sure. Well, currently I'm Regional Vice President of Service for P3. P3 is a family of companies across the United States. We have HVAC, plumbing and electrical businesses, primarily in the plumbing space right now. And my job is to support those companies and help them grow and provide services that help them get better. So prior to joining P3, I was Vice President of Service Operations for Comfort Systems USA. That's about a $3 billion business. They have 40 companies nationwide, about 140 locations. I worked with teams in sales, operations, and then the last three years I was there, I was doing a lot of equipment as a service development, developing products and remote monitoring systems that allowed us to offer services, full service agreements. So prior to that, I got into the industry while I was in architecture school, I worked as a plumber nights and weekends. And when I got out of school, instead of going into private practice, I started a plumbing company. And then I sold that company in 2008 to Comfort Systems USA. I've got three kids, two of which will be driving next week.

Sarah Nicastro: Wow. Next week.

Curtis Novinger: I was doing parallel parking last night in the dark with trash cans as cars because we hit some trash cans. So I'll have a lot of extra time on my hands, but my insurance rates are definitely going to go up.

Sarah Nicastro: Wow, that's exciting and scary all at the same time. Okay. So when we were preparing for this podcast, we talked, you have quite an interesting background in terms of your experiences growing up and through school and how that, we talked a little bit about how maybe that impacts your viewpoints and how you look at things going on around you. Can you share a little bit about that?

Curtis Novinger: Well, I never thought that I would be a plumber. My dad and family, we worked on apartments that we purchased when I was a kid, so I would follow him around and fix air conditioning units and that kind of thing. But my mom was an opera singer. She passed away here a few months ago, but she was, had a master's degree in opera from Columbia University in New York, and dad was an international banker. So my parents got divorced. My mom said, business is evil, you should either play the violin, do something else. And so I went to school at McGill University and studied philosophy for four years, which I realized unless you don't want to be a lawyer, it's very difficult to get a job. And I had that same struggle. So kind of went back to what I did with my dad as a kid and started fixing houses and that's how I supported myself and until I went back to school.

But I think I studied philosophy partly just to try to understand some of the patterns behind how people think and what drives them. And I do that at work. That's just kind of naturally how I think and definitely enjoy identifying patterns in how the businesses operate and just how in general the market works mostly to identify biases that give people, if you recognize you have a bias and give you a competitive advantage if you can address it. So that's sort of what I've done over the last few years, both identifying ways in helping customers in unique ways, but also to build business strategy in a way that you're working in the blue ocean rather than staying in the red ocean with all the rest of the competitors.

Sarah Nicastro: And maybe that's how we got on that topic. My undergrad was in psychology. And I mean similarly, I feel like it leads into everything I do because I'm just very interested in understanding how people are thinking and how their mind is working. We had a podcast last week with an author who is a neuroscientist by trade and talking about change management. And it was so interesting to me to put that context to a lot of the challenges that the people we talk to regularly here have in terms of, well, we're trying to change X, but we're facing so much resistance. And then look at picking apart what's behind that. And I do think it's really interesting and it's a level of examination that maybe the average bear doesn't bring to those situations. And so having those conversations, understanding those perspectives can be so helpful in then working through some of those challenges. Or to your point, developing strategy or understanding biases, etcetera.

So, yeah. But then to your point, you know, you end up places you didn't really anticipate being and life unfolds and takes you in wild directions. But that's cool. Very good. Okay, so in your role at P3, you're helping evaluate a lot of different investments in service businesses. And so, kind of taking a look at not only to your point, how can we differentiate or how should we set a strategy that that's in the blue ocean, not the red ocean, etcetera, but really just taking in what's going on in these different organizations that you're having a look at or evaluating, etcetera. So, when you think about what you're seeing and also the experiences you had at Comfort Systems, so inside of the business, where do you think we are on this evolution of making service more strategic? So moving away from the very tactical break, fix, transactional type of service to what I know, you and I both have opinions on what it can be.

Curtis Novinger: And I think I can speak to my industry specifically. I think we're way behind a lot of the adjacent markets like aerospace, for instance, they're way ahead of us in that regard. Our industry is still very fragmented, which is partly why there's so much interest from private equity. There's about a hundred thousand plumbing contractors nationwide, give or take. And it's going up. It's becoming more fragmented even though there's a lot of consolidation. So what that means is that most of the businesses are small. They're run by a service plumber that struck out on his own, kind of like me. And he's not only just the plumber, he's the accountant, he's the bookkeeper, he's dispatching, and there's not a lot of time in a business like that to work on a business. So strategic thinking, if it didn't take place before he started and got in that gauntlet of meet and payroll every week and collecting money, then it maybe doesn't happen for quite a while.

But there's certain things going on in the market right now that's changing that at that level, that million to $5 million business, which makes up the majority of the market. Then there's the field service management software that's out there, Service Max, Service Titan, is doing much better job not just providing dispatch and routing, but they're offering workflows that allow you to structure a business in the most economical fashion. They have much better financial reporting. A lot of the dashboards give you insight. And once you have that system set up, that kind of strategy, working on the business, just becomes a natural part of how you do the work. So that effort, by and large, has been done by people outside of the business using processes from other adjacent markets to apply them to the plumbing industry.

The other thing that's happening, or I guess one of the things I said about, unless you start the business with a specific strategy in mind, a lot of times you're just being a generic plumber. So I look, when I'm looking at plumbing companies, I like to see a company that has a unique offering. Lots of businesses, you see the trucks on the street, they say they do everything. They think that that's a positive thing. They do residential and commercial, they do drain cleaning, they do boilers, they basically fix everything. Well, if you're working on everything, it's hard to be good at any one thing. So companies that start out, at least with a unique offering or a unique tool or a service that's provides them a competitive advantage, oftentimes they're built strategically from the get-go.

But as far as transitioning from break fix model to equipment as a service, we're a long ways away from making that happen globally in the industry, probably because of the fragmented nature of the business. And so a few of the companies that start out offering equipment as a service, and they evolve very slowly. I think the pressures in that regard are coming from outside the industry. So you have first tier distributors that are getting into equipment as a service and they're becoming direct competitors with their customers, the subcontractors. But that's becoming more commonplace. And I think that that's happening up the food chain.

So before that quote, say you're building a high-rise apartment complex before the actual construction documents get sent to the subcontractors, the equipment rooms are being pulled out of the scope of work and being given to a first-tier distributor. And so the subcontractors don't even see that scope of work. So they don't even know that their customers are, or their vendors, are actually a direct competitor. We have a lot of that here in central Texas with central plants being offered as equipment as a service and plumbing construction companies, they're putting in the piping, they, they're excited about doing the work, but the reality of the fact is that the highest profit scope of work in that high-rise building is the central plan.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Curtis Novinger: So I don't know if that answers your question about strategic versus tactical.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. No, it makes sense. So in plumbing, specifically, there's a long way to go. And it sounds like with what you're telling me is happening, that the progress that is being made is starting on the commercial side. Right? I mean, it's talking about building these new developments and that's where this concept that is likely mutually beneficial for the people that are building the infrastructure versus the suppliers that are offering the equipment as a service, even though I know they're leaving the contractors out of the equation. If you just take it a step up and look at how that relationship is developing, the people building these buildings know that there's value in being able to consume the equipment as a service. And the suppliers of that equipment are recognizing that even though they're not, the plumbing contractors aren't always recognizing that those suppliers are becoming a competitor. Right?

Curtis Novinger: Correct.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay.

Curtis Novinger: And 10 years ago, if we came up against, say, a train distributor in a new construction job and we realized they were also bidding the equipment, we'd call them and say, "Hey, we're a bid on this," and they would back out. Now, they're not in that situation because that scope of work isn't even offered to us. And so we're not in a situation where we can ask them to back out because we're not competing with them. They already have the work.

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Curtis Novinger: That's how they're dealt with it. And that was 10 years ago. Now it's just a generally accepted practice. And I think, in some ways, subcontractors haven't realized how much work has stopped coming to them.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that's interesting. So let me rewind back for one minute and then we're going to come back to talking a little bit about the as a service. So when you're looking at different organizations for P3 to potentially invest in, I want to talk about what stands out to you in terms of indicating that they're a good candidate. And then, on the other hand, what are some red flags that make you think, "We'll stay away from these organizations?"

Curtis Novinger: Well, when we do our market analysis of businesses before we even call the companies, we're checking the size of the business, the financials to a certain extent, and identifying whether it fits our investment model. But once we get to a point where we're doing site visits, if I'm going on a site visit, I'm looking for things like a lot of trucks in the parking lot. If there's a bunch of service vehicles that aren't out on the road, they're sitting there, that tells me about how the business is being run.

If I'm meeting with an owner, if they answer their phone every five minutes and they can't take an hour away from the business, that tells me about the fragility in some ways of the business. When we look for a company, we're definitely looking for businesses that have some kind of succession plan. They have a strong second that's working in the business, and the owner is in a position where they can step back and the business will continue operating without him or her. Things that concern us, believe it or not, rapid growth over the last year or two is something that we worry about. Sometimes it takes a while for growth like that to be absorbed into the natural processes of the company, and it can put it at risk of falling back to reduce in size once we purchase it. So we like to see regular sustained growth over a number of years as opposed to rapid growth over the last couple.

Sarah Nicastro: That makes sense.

Curtis Novinger: We look at employee retention, got great employee retention, says something about the culture. And then, of course, once we start getting into the due diligence piece of it, we're looking for any kind of legacy legal issues or high risk safety, OIR ratings, that kind of thing.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. All right. Okay. So let's go back to talking then about some of these macro trends that you're watching, that others are watching, that are going on. So going back to the conversation around as a service. So, we started talking about where things are today, particularly versus 10 years ago, and what's kind of going on right now at the equipment supplier level versus the plumbing contractor standpoint. So, what I'm interested to hear your thoughts on then is, what is the untapped potential? How can this play out? Because I obviously don't know a ton about the plumbing industry, in particular, and so I'm thinking, I'm interested to hear how this is going to evolve or how you think it could evolve in the most positive way. There's obviously a lot of opportunity, and so whether it takes 10 years, 20 years to really see that opportunity land, what do you think is going to happen?

Curtis Novinger: Well, so I think of that in two terms. So in terms of what's keeping the brakes on growth and then what are the opportunities for maybe a different strategy or some kind of new business, new growth and it's no secret that the skilled labor shortage is causing an issue. So I feel like companies that can solve that problem better or faster or uniquely are in a competitive advantage and then have the opportunity to grow. It's 47% of the workforce is female, but less than 2% of the workforce is in our actual trade. And even smaller number is physically working in the field. They might be in dispatch or in accounting, but they're not working with their tools. That is a huge miss on our part. And you shouldn't be talking about a labor shortage without addressing that opportunity to fix it. How do you reach out to women and get them excited about working with their hands in the field?

One of the effects of having a bunch of small businesses in the plumbing industry is that the people with the financial decision power come from the field, because the companies aren't large enough to go hire a CPA and put them in a position where they're an operations manager or a CFO. It's a small business of maybe 10 employees. So if the majority of your industry is made up of small businesses in the one to 3 million revenue phase, then, and most of the decision makers are men because they came out of the field, then, the industry as a whole, has a bias against just seeing the world through a male lens. So not only is it an opportunity to solve this skill shortage by bringing women into the industry, but you bring in a whole new perspective of how to run a business, how to treat employees, what kind of strategies to use.

And in the residential space, 85% of the decision makers in the home are women. And so, why wouldn't you have women running the company so that they can communicate with their customer in a way that men just don't know how to do? So I think that's one opportunity. One of the, I was thinking about this, and of course there's a whole bunch of obvious answers to this question, but one of the things I've seen happen just in the last two years not only in Texas, but throughout probably the world, is two weeks ago we had an ice storm. I didn't have power for eight days, didn't have water for a while. It's not a good thing for your wife to say, "You're a plumber and you're the only one on the street that doesn't have water. Go fix it." But what is that? And two years before that, in Texas we had this massive snowstorm.

So within the space of two years, we've had two storms that were worse than anything else that's happened in the last 100 years. What's happening right now is the insurance claims are finally hitting market two years later. And so premiums are going up and people that are building high rise buildings have risk management programs and they're saying, "Look, unless you have a smart pipe system or this project, your umbrella coverage is going to be 10 times less or your premium's going to be more, or your deductible is going to be a lot higher." We just started construction on a 53-story high-rise apartment in downtown Austin, and the umbrella for leaks was $40 million. But then when they started doing the risk management program, they said, "Well, no, we're going to reduce, unless you have some way of shutting the water off if there's a leak, your umbrella coverage is $4 million."

Our personal deductible was $50,000 prior to the storm two years ago. It's now $250,000. So what's that mean? Where does that, what's that do? I don't think that trend's going to change. We're going to continue to have unusual storms that are going to cause wide scale damage. Insurance premiums will continue to go up. And so where's the opportunity for plumbing? Well, obviously, applying technology to piping to predict failure is an opportunity, and that's something that we've gotten involved in pretty heavily. We're installing systems on our construction sites that allow us to turn the water off at night if sensors, and we're also metering the water to determine whether or not there is a leak. And then we have a whole team of people that are monitoring those systems remotely. And we're offering that service as, that equipment as a service. So we're offering that as a program where you hire us for X number of dollars per month and we'll take care of the security of your water system while the construction is in service.

So other trends, ChatGPT, I'm going to throw it out 'cause it's all over the market right now. So how does that apply to plumbing? Well, a lot of decisions are made online right now, and when we hire a marketing company, unfortunately, they tend to create organic content that is just rotten because they have to throw in all these keywords and it has very little value. And what I see happening is that content's going to get better, but it's also going to become more common. So organic search is going to change rapidly over the next few years and figuring out how to be successful in that space is a limiter to growth. If you can't figure out how to be one of the top 10 search results for a new customer, then you're going to, you're not going to have a growth opportunity that you should have otherwise.

So I still think that there's space for true content and not only just to increase your results in Google, but to build culture and build family, build rapport with your employees and coming up with a program to generate that kind of talent content, celebrate your employees, document your potlucks and show people that your training opportunities is increasingly important. But ChatGPT is going to make it easier. We were just writing bios for our guys. So one of the opcodes when we dispatch the technician that sends a picture of the technician that's going and then a brief bio of who they are.

We use ChatGPT to do that. It took us 10 minutes. The bios are amazing. It was written by someone, one of the dispatchers where that would have taken all kinds of time going back and forth and editing it then. I mean, they're good. So, another thing I think that's going to happen is flat rate pricing is ubiquitous in the residential space. I see it going, I see it happening in commercial service really soon. It's already apartment complexes, multifamily businesses, they're already asking for it. I really think that that's going to expand into the commercial market, which means that the hourly employees in commercial service will be given the opportunity to work on commission. I think I see that expanding.

Sarah Nicastro: And how do you think that will change, not change, but impact the recruiting of new talent?

Curtis Novinger: It definitely increases the compensation for the employee. It takes the uncertainty from the employer away from paying an employee a lot of money. So it's, a lot of times there's a risk to paying an hourly employee a lot of money because it's not directly tied to revenue or to gross profit. Whereas in a commission based model, it's directly tied to profit. So if you set it up properly, if your plumber is making money for the company, they're making a lot of money and everyone's happy. And to a certain extent also the customer's getting better value because they have someone that's talking to them about their options. They're getting pricing before the work is done, and they're in more in control of how to spend their money. Whereas in a T and M model, the customers are buying a state not knowing what the market price is and they're sitting having to pay for it even if they don't like the state.

Sarah Nicastro: Makes sense. So one of the other things we talked about when we were chatting for this session was around leadership. So how does that factor into all of this?

Curtis Novinger: Leadership, in what context?

Sarah Nicastro: So we talked about plateaus caused by leadership. So what that makes me think of is that there's some really traditional old school leaders in place that aren't maybe as willing to see some of the potential or try new things or think differently, etcetera.

Curtis Novinger: Yeah, that maybe I'll get at it. We can probably get at this a lot of different ways, but one of the things I think about is when you grow a business, there tends to be revenue plateaus. There's a plateau at a million dollars, at $4 million, at $8 million at 15, 30, 50, 100, 150. And a lot of times each of those plateaus require, in order to get through a plateau, it requires the leader to evolve and develop new skills. So the $1 million plateau to the $4 million plateau is that leader has to get out of his truck and trust other people to do the work and take care of his customers for him.

For the $4 million to $8 million plateau, the leader needs to find someone in the office he can hand, or she, typically he, right, can hand off control to. So they can focus on marketing, growing sales, developing technicians. Oftentimes the reason $4 million businesses fail is because their business, they're not being run as a business. When you get into the eight to $15 million range, it's about bringing in multiple trades, multiple offerings. There's a different business strategy. You have to, over $4 million, maybe you're offering HVAC as well as plumbing or you're moving into a different market.

So being able to structure an org chart that's that much more complicated requires another skillset. But as far as leadership goes, I think some of it, leaders that can make that transition that can grow are leaders that are willing to spend time being ignorant, really, really being spending time going, "You know what? I don't know how to do this." Reaching out for help or just genuinely some reflecting and saying, "Man, I just can't seem to get past $4 million. What do I need to do differently?" And that's not an easy skill to develop, right? No one wants to feel ignorant, and yet being able to lean into that space is one of the main limiters to growth.

So leadership, in general, what does it mean? I think one of the struggles with transitioning from traditional break fix models to equipment as a service is having the guts to act on a very risky, scary transition. And we've talked about swallowing the fish and how do you deal with drops in revenue and cash flow issues when you're growing a new business? I think in our market, really, that's why I think that work will go to adjacent businesses or companies that start out with the goal of being in equipment as a service business and having backing perhaps from private equity. I don't see as many transitions taking place in the smaller fragmented market that makes up most of the plumbing industry.

Sarah Nicastro: And that was kind of a point I was going to come back to because when you were explaining what's happening right now with the suppliers starting to take that on and the plumbing contractors not even necessarily being aware of that competition. I was going to come back to that and ask, so can that even change, right? Because it kind of seems to me like that will only snowball. I mean, the more those suppliers see the benefit and the value of those partnerships, the more then they're going to do. And I don't see a plumbing contractor being capable in most senses, of taking that on. You know what I mean? Like winning that competition. But maybe that's just limited view. I don't know.

Curtis Novinger: No. I think of, like when you look at the, I'm trying to figure out how to unpack that. I guess I agree with you. I think in general that's going to happen less in a lot of equity money that's been hitting the market for decades now has been focused on aggregating fragmented business, showing value by buying a lot of companies. That's what Comfort Systems started doing in '99. So it's, I'm sure there's MBA terms for this, but you're essentially aggregating a bunch of fragmented businesses. I think the money that's going to change and help us transition to equipment of service is going to come almost from venture capital, angel investing where they say, "Look, let's start this whole new platform. We're not going to buy an existing platform. We're going to give you money to go play in equipment as a service and grow the business from the ground up."

And it might be that you take an existing company that's been doing distribution, you say, "Look, let's start and build a service business, but instead of just doing break fix, we're going to use your warranty team and we're going to do new installs as a service." I think that's where the main change is going to happen, unfortunately.

Sarah Nicastro: Do you feel the demand is there?

Curtis Novinger: Yeah, it makes sense.

Sarah Nicastro: It does.

Curtis Novinger: It just makes sense.

Sarah Nicastro: It does. And so much else in our world has already moved to a subscription model. I mean, it does make sense. Same the example you gave about the pipes and offering that as a service monitoring, etcetera. I mean, it's just, to me, consumers, whether those are individual consumers or commercial consumers, want the simplicity of just saying, "Yes, we will pay you if you worry about just making sure this works." You know what I mean? "If you can just tell us our building won't flood and that X, Y, and Z will happen the way it should tell us where to sign up, we'll pay you monthly for that and all is well." And there's obviously, in the examples that we've talked through on here, there's a lot of ways that that setup is equally valuable to the provider of said as a service, if they're understanding the opportunity for what it is.

And that's the challenge with what we're talking about is who's capable of transitioning or is it more, to your point, new entrant. If you think about just a couple of the stories we've had on this podcast, we did an podcast with Care in Singapore, and they have over, I think it's about a decade, converted their entire business to as a service. Really cool story. We did a podcast with Baxi in the UK and there're earlier on in that journey, but doing something similar. Now, there's some differences though in the sense of there being nudged significantly by environmental regulations. So it's like there's this additional pressure to react where if you strip that out, would they still be where they are on that journey? But then you think about, another one we did was with Koolmill. Now different industry. They're a rice milling company, but they are a disruptor in a very traditional industry who came in to your point, and Alec from there, and I even talked about the fact that he has it a lot easier not having the legacy to overcome.

I mean, this is how it was begun. It's different. He's not saying it's easy, right? Because he still has to navigate the existing way of doing business with the people he's selling to, right? It's still different for the customer, but that's one battle. Instead of being a company that's transitioning who's battling that plus a whole internal battle of, "No, this is different than what we do, we do this." That sort of thing. So, I guess I've seen examples on both sides. Care is one that did a good job of transitioning a legacy business to as a service. Koolmill spoke about the advantages of being a new entrant and not having to do a lot of that evolution. But I think what's clear is the demand is there and will only continue to increase, and the opportunity is there for someone to take, right? It's just a matter of who and how.

Curtis Novinger: No, I agree. I think there's another way of going at this. Well, first of all, a lot of the money going into our industry from private equity particularly, is being invested in that aggregate model as opposed to coming up with a unique business strategy, like equipment as a service. And there's still a whole lot of good work to be done there and efficiency and the better training, better safety, there's a whole lot to be done there. So I think that will continue.

If you step back and you ask yourself from a customer's perspective, what conversation do you want to have as a customer when you have a broken system? Do you want to talk about the plumbing? No. Most people don't care about the plumbing. And yet, back to the whole fragmented nature of the industry, most of the people coming to talk to the customer want to tell you all about the experience because they're proud of it. That's what they want to talk about. And so there's this natural disconnect right at that interface between the customer and the technician, between what the customer wants and what the plumber wants to talk about. That's why I think the solution's not going to come from our industry, it'll come from an industry that knows what the customer really wants and what they care about, which is for their air to have cold air.

And it's not even cold air. They don't care about cold air. They care about the conference room being the right temperature for when they have visitors come in or they want their plumbing to work when Aunt Melba comes over and they're having Thanksgiving. So I think, and just to give you a concrete example, about five years or so ago, we had a national program to increase the full service agreement sales at Comfort Systems. We had this major effort. We spent a lot of money, Comfort Systems spent a lot of money training sales staff.

We took a bunch of sales staff that was used to selling preventive maintenance or scheduled maintenance and brought them in and trained them on all these new tools about how to sell full service, which is the first step towards equipment as a service. It was a complete flop. It did not work. And because it was fundamentally a different conversation that had to take place about financial benefit and not taking care of the equipment and just checking off the task list that the manufacturers recommending you do. So how do you make that transition? I don't know. I honestly don't know how do you do it inside the industry for those two reasons.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So we definitely don't have time to get into this today, and it may be a bit too deep, but when you were talking about how this may evolve, and you said about how customers don't care, they don't want to hear about the plumbing details, they just want it to work. And how, ultimately, we could find ourselves at a point where it is as a service, it's just, "I need this thing to work. I will pay you to do that. I don't care about any of the details." What I started thinking about is, and this is deep, so bear with me, is how does that compound the challenge we already have getting people into the trades?

Because you're essentially taking a situation where historically, and maybe even currently, you have trades, usually men or women, running these companies that take a lot of pride in what they do, but the less interest the customer has in that trade, and the more it becomes this kind of just high level, no, you just make it work conversation. Does that exacerbate the challenge we already have today to get people in? Because at the end of the day, that work still has to happen. You know what I mean? You can include remote monitoring and even remote resolution and you can modernize it, but there's still going to be a need for a plumber that goes to a building and fixes X, Y, and Z. So, the less interested the customer becomes in the details, does it become harder to get people that want to do this invisible job? You know what I mean?

Curtis Novinger: Yeah. That's such a good question. I love...

Sarah Nicastro: Like I said, we might have to park on it and come back, because we are almost out of time. But that just got me thinking about the path this will all take, and maybe it's worth thinking about and coming back and talking about how do we solve for that, right? What's the answer? I don't know. But it's interesting. And this is how someone with a degree in psychology...

Curtis Novinger: I was going to say, it's a psychological question.

Sarah Nicastro: For sure, for sure.

Curtis Novinger: But there's opportunity there.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And it's just something I guess to be aware of. I mean, it's one of those things that we might not be thinking about all of the implications of what I think is a huge opportunity, don't get me wrong. I think as a service is one of the coolest opportunities that exists for companies that are installing and servicing things. Because when it works, it's so mutually beneficial and it's really, really cool to see it come together. But I'm just wondering if, from a marketing perspective, I always say we have a field service branding problem, and will that branding problem be amplified as we get further down this path? So.

Curtis Novinger: I have one comment, it's a psychological comment, so maybe I appreciate. When a plumber arrives on a job site and there's something broken and they're able to fix it, they get an emotional charge. I mean, it is so much fun to be, and I could tell you stories about it, right? So if that system doesn't break, how do you give that same employee that same self-satisfaction? There is no, he's not the superhero coming in to save the day. And I think that's something that should be acknowledged.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yes. So good food for thought. All right. Okay. So Curtis, we've talked a lot about your viewpoints on the industry and what's happening and what will continue to happen, but if we just look inward for a moment and think about your own experiences, what would you say is the biggest lesson you've learned from being a leader in service?

Curtis Novinger: I think ultimately, and this is my hope, but I think there's some truth here. People genuinely at their core want to help other people. And I saw that with the ice storm. All the people helping each other get trees out of their houses in their front yards. They genuinely want to. And fundamentally, that's what the service industry is all about. It's providing, showing up, and being of service. And if you can, as a leader, maximize the amount of time people can focus on that and minimize the amount of time that they're worried about politics and detail fixing processes, then you'll have a much happier company and much happier customer.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that's very good advice. I like it. Well, thank you so much for coming on today and sharing your thoughts with us. I appreciate it.

Curtis Novinger: Thank you.

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