In 2019, High-Performance HVAC Today magazine spotlighted Jerry Kelly Heating and Air Conditioning, a Saint Louis, MO area contracting firm focused on the residential service and replacement marketplace. At the time of that writing, the company had $12.5 million in gross sales, 67 total employees, and fielded around 18 service and seven installation vehicles.
They were two years into “living” in their new 21,000 sq. ft. headquarters building in St. Peters. The new building gave the Jerry Kelly team room to continue growing and building their brand in their market area.
Today, the company fields more than 50 vehicles, 68 employees, and is on track to hit $16 million in revenues.
According to co-owner Steve Miles, the company’s success has much to do with a professional approach to service, and strong efforts in streamlining internal and external processes.
When Steve’s wife and owner of Jerry Kelly Heating was forced to retire to care for her mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease, the company needed to beef up its leadership team.
“Today, we have a great general manager, Shelly Smith,” he says. “We helped build her marketing and operations team. And she’s got a good team. She handles many of the day-to-day operations, which allows me to spend more time working on the business.”
Miles says that, for now, this isn’t a retirement plan for him.
“It’s always good to set up the business to run whether you’re in the driver’s seat or not. I still develop initiatives, and then Shelly’s team executes them. By that, I mean, when I come up with an idea to streamline or grow the business, we’ll discuss it, and they do what it takes to put it into action and see if it actually works.”
The Art of Streamlining
Many of the initiatives Miles talks about focus on improving processes, working smarter, and taking advantage of the modern tools they use for managing the business.
He says the most significant investment they’ve made in this area is incorporating the Service Titan management system. It has many automation features like smart dispatch and other built-in AI-based technologies to smooth out operational processes.
“For me, improving our processes has always been a focus. I believe it helps us better manage the back end and helps our field teams be seen as more professional in the front end,” Miles explains. “Though artificial intelligence can be a little concerning if not used correctly, it takes the variability out of managing the business.
“Sometimes you lose a bit of the personal touch, but in the end, AI helps us help our customers to be better satisfied with their interactions with us.”
He says though AI has a lot of potential, it still requires his team to keep an eye on it. “The technology is still in its early evolution, so you must be careful with it.”
Professionalism And Training
One thing that hasn’t changed since our last profile of Jerry Kelly Heating and Air Conditioning is their keen desire to be the most professional company in their marketplace. To do that requires a lot of training.
“First impressions matter,” Miles says. “If a technician shows up to a customer’s home wearing torn blue jeans and a dirty T-shirt with unkempt hair and beard, that’s not the impression I want to make. I certainly would be uncomfortable letting someone who looks like that into my house.
“Appearance is everything. That’s why we try and keep our techs in clean uniforms. We require them to have neatly trimmed hair and beards.