Jeff Wilkins, CEO and director at Motili
Originally published: 07.01.18 by HVACR Business Staff
We sat down with Jeff Wilkins, CEO and director at Motili, a platform that connects property owners with contractors and was recently acquired by Goodman. Wilkins discussed the entrepreneurial spirit, managing a start-up and providing contractors jobs, not leads.
1. Can you tell us a little about your background?
I am serial entrepreneur. I’ve started and sold seven companies in the e-commerce, enterprise software and Internet advertsing/marketing industries.
2. Have you always had the entrepreneurial spirit?
Yes. The best business opportunities often occur at the seam where traditional economic assumptions in an industry are upended due to rapid technical innovation. I’ve always thrived in fast-changing industries where a nimble start-up has a potential advantage over incumbent competitors.
3. What’s the biggest challenge to managing a start-up?
Focus. The temptation is great to pursue too many things and not do any of them well. Start-up organizations typically operate in a resource-constrained environment. Focusing on a defensible niche with a clearly defined customer value proposition dramatically increases the odds of success.
4. What’s your management style?
It’s impossible for one person to envision every twist and turn in the life of a start-up. I focus on hiring smart people with the passion, curiosity and drive to find the answers. With the right team in place, the management exercise clearly becomes articulating goals and objectives, empowering employees to succeed and monitoring and measuring their activity.
5. What is Motili all about?
Motili is a company that serves the repair, replacement and maintenance needs of property owners and managers of large to enterprise commercial, single-family and multi-tenant properties. Our customers benefit from robust technology that quickly connects them with a national network of skilled technicians associated with Motili. We provide the simplicity of a single point of contact across the U.S. Motili delivers savings to our customers through more efficient sourcing and automation.
6. Have you worked with the HVACR industry before joining Motili?
No. Motili was my introduction to the HVACR industry. I am fortunate to have a diverse management team that includes executives from the HVACR, plumbing and building products sectors, as well as the technology and financial services industries.
7. How does Motili work with contractors?
Motili provides work to our contractor network. We provide real jobs, not just leads. Moreover, it costs HVACR contractors nothing to join and participate in the Motili network.
8. Do you target mostly large commercial properties, or do you handle multi-family residential as well?
We are active primarily in institutional clients across the single-family residential, multi-dwelling, home warranty and commercial property segments.
9. So, essentially, you’re a broker for contractors who are looking for facility work?
We serve as the general contractor on customer projects and sub work to our network of independent contractors.
10. How many HVACR contractors do you work with?
Currently, we work with more than 1,800 firms across the U.S, employing more than 10,000 technicians. We have deliberately chosen to avoid overexpansion of our network, so we can provide a steady stream of jobs to participating contractors.
11. Do you have geographic restrictions on the contractors with whom you choose to work?
We are active in all 50 states. As part of the on-boarding process, the contractor provides details of their service area. These are loaded into our platform, which dispatches jobs based on trade type, geographic proximity and other factors. We also screen to ensure contractors meet the various licensing requirements in their states, as well as have appropriate certifications and insurance.
12. What’s the biggest benefit to contractors?
First, we provide jobs, not leads. Second, there is no cost to join the Motili network. Third, we pay fast. Because we provide jobs, our technicians can allocate their marketing budget to improving and expanding their business. We take the sales piece out of our contractors’ hands and allow them to focus their time on providing the best quality of service. Finally, we often provide access to clients and jobs that our technicians would not be able to land on their own.
13. So, you’re recruiting partners both on the contractor side and the client side?
We do connect the two, albeit in a different manner than a simple referral service. We manage the work across our network of independent contractors.
14. Is it fair to say you almost use an Uber model?
When we started, we had a vision of being the “Uber for HVACR.” That tagline has been tarnished a bit with all the issues at Uber. The biggest similarity is our use of innovative technology to connect service providers and end users. The biggest difference is that both our technicians and our clients financially benefit from using our services.
15. Do you work with manufacturers and distributors?
We’re able to provide clients with a competitive product, differentiated by our technology. Equally important, we’re integrated with manufacturers’ and distributor partners’ ERP systems. This provides visibility on where inventory is in the channel and how to source it in a timely manner to meet our clients’ service level agreement requirements, as well as removing costs throughout the system for everyone involved.
16. Tell us about Motili’s recent partnership with Goodman?
It was a partnership that made strategic sense for both parties. We were introduced to the management at Goodman, and they shared a common point of view about clients’ pain points and the evolution of the industry. Motili needed a true supporter that offered the ability to expand the business. Goodman was looking to continue their strong growth in the HVACR business.
17. How will that impact contractors?
It is great news on two fronts. First, we’ve been able to implement a fast pay (Net15) program for contractors. We hope to reduce that even further in the future. Equally important, our growth allows us to increase the volume of jobs we can offer our contractors.
18. Will contractors you work with be exclusive to Goodman products & equipment?
No. Contractors in our network are free to work on any other jobs, using any manufacturers’ products.
19. What other plans do you have for growth?
We have an aggressive category expansion plan. We recently rolled-out plumbing and have plans for other skilled trades.
20. What does your ideal contractor partner look like?
The ideal contractor associated with Motili delivers high-quality services and meets or exceeds clients’ service-level requirements. We measure both through our platform and independent client assessments. In addition, our contractors must follow the Motili workflow and adopt our web and mobile technology.