Chris Elliott, owner of ONiT Painting, discusses how starting with the end in mind has allowed him to achieve massive success. He stresses the importance of being clear on your company’s mission, vision, and values, and how an abundance mindset that prioritizes employee growth has been instrumental to his success. He dives into what marketing channels have worked best for him, and provides concrete recommendations for painting company owners that are still looking to cross the million dollar revenue threshold for the first time.
Video of Interview
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Welcome to the Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast. A show created to help painting company owners build a thriving painting business that does well over one million and annual revenue. I’m your host. Brandon Pierpont, founder of Painter Marketing Pros and creator of the popular pc, a educational series, learn do grow marketing for painters. In each episode I’ll be sharing proven tips, strategies and processes from leading experts in the industry on how they found success in their painting business. We will be interviewing owners of the most successful painting companies in north America and learning from their experiences on this episode of the Painter marketing Mastermind podcast. We host guest Chris. Elliott. Chris owns on it painting a residential and commercial painting company based in Indianapolis indiana. Chris focuses his efforts on creating a company culture of abundance and he values the importance of starting his growth journey. With the end in mind a practitioner of the entrepreneurial operating system or E. O. S for short chris works to systematize on it, painting as efficiently as possible and believes that through effective systems and a clear company mission employees have a great chance to thrive. He believes the future of the painting industry will involve much more automation and marketing and that companies that embrace these changes. We’ll see great success if you want to learn more about the topics we discussed in this podcast and how you can use them to grow your painting business, visit painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast for free training as well as the ability to schedule a personalized strategy session for your painting company again that you are l is painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast, chris thanks for coming on the painter marketing mastermind podcast, man. Thank you for having me. Yes. Happy new year. Yeah, we’re filming this one december 31st productivity until the end. Yeah, so chris I guess tell us a little bit about on it painting. Yeah, sure. Um so on, it is a better known painting contractor um or veteran on painting company located in Indianapolis indiana. We specialize in residential and commercial painting as well as repairs uh specifically uh re paints. So everything we do is um directed to the consumer or to the business um and kind of built our team and our justice and processes around that. Awesome. And so you guys are residential and commercial. What’s your split? Their approximately. Yeah. So this year was probably 60 40 residential. Next year we’re projecting 50 50 and eventually commercial will be the dominant percentage. So we originally launched a business as a residential um painting company uh residential repaint company. And um as we grow, we will grow um to be more predominantly commercial. And where are you guys based Indianapolis indiana? That’s right, okay. And so you’re Indianapolis, what’s your service radius approximately. Yeah. So for residential, we cover Indianapolis in the surrounding suburbs. So about 30 mile radius. Uh and then for commercial we do all of Indiana and most of Ohio. But we primarily focus our efforts towards western Ohio. So you have a do you have a particular specialization with the commercial work? We do, yeah so we focus on multi family and manage commercial um So we’ll go outside of those market verticals obviously but that’s where we focus our attention. Those are the associations were in and the relationships that we’re building. And are you for the multi family? Are you doing purely exterior? Do you do apartment turns? What do you what do you do? Exactly what? Yeah, we don’t touch turns. Um So everything we do is Capex work. So we’re yeah so exterior repaint um into your common hallways, clubhouses and stuff like that. Got it. Yeah, staying, staying away from those turns. Huh? Yeah it’s you know we’ve been offered opportunity to do like high volume term before but there’s just not, it’s just not a great fit at scale. It’s a great fit for somebody who you know, they want to make $2025 an hour and have a helper or two. Um And paint the same units every day day in and day out. It may be a good fit but it’s not a fit for us. Not a lot of meat on that bone I think. No no. Um Alright man. Well do you mind sharing where you’re at revenue wise and how long you’ve been in business. Yeah so I launched the company in 2015 again uh launched as a residential repaint company. Uh right now we’re um are we forecasted three million this year? We broke that. Um uh thank you. Yeah, we’ve been pretty conservative in the growth. So we we did a million our first year. Uh and then I think we did like 1. 8 the second year, but then we’ve been pretty much planning about 25% growth uh each year. Uh and that’s that’s what we’re forecasting for next year. So it would be um Probably 3. 5 3. 6 is is a plan for next year. So I wanna kind of touch on this because we painted marketing pros. We have all different sized painting companies come through obviously with this podcast. All of the companies are doing over a million. But you said your first year, you did over a million. Right? And then your second area right up, sounds like almost two. And then we, You know, we have people come to us who have been in business for years sometimes and they’re at a few 100,000 or 400,000. What do you think made the difference? How could you come in and just make a million your first year. Yeah, that’s a great question. So my background is probably a little different than most painting um company owners. I’ve actually, I’ve never painted uh like anything ever. Right. Um so yeah, so I uh you know, my background, I was in the military um after the military, I went into the fitness industry, I ran large box fitness clubs, um, Eventually left that and I worked for a large corporation, uh, doing B2B sales, uh, had a lot of success, made a lot of money, but working for a large corporation that just didn’t have the culture. Uh, so it’s actually coaching my oldest son and youth football and met the president of a national painting contractor that’s located here in Indianapolis. Um, and he invited me into interview with his company and I was really looking to attach myself to an organization that had a great mission and purpose. Um, I declined his invitation with the justification that I didn’t know anything about the painting industry and uh, he stayed at me and um, I ended up going in, it was a great fit. Um, I did that for four years and primarily I left because there was a lot of travel, um, and just was kind of over the travel accident. The company uh, and launched a residential repainting um, business. So, um, that there was just to kind of avoid some conflict there. So I think that starting out with the fact one I just recognized, um, there was an opportunity for a professional painting company, um, one that, like, we built our company around this idea of providing extraordinary customer experience, right? Because I think a lot of tradesmen, they get very focused on the workmanship. Um, and, and quality, of course it matters, um but the experience matters to write, and I think that’s something that’s starting to evolve in the trades, but if in my opinion, if there’s a leaning, the leaning is towards the experience, right? Um the quality is a permission to play, that’s an expectation. Now, if you want to make that your um if you want to make that your value proposition and you want to be the greatest craftsman in the trade, you can absolutely do that, and that’s a great fit for some companies. That’s just not what we’ve built our company around. Again, we’ve built it around, we’re gonna, we’re gonna provide an extraordinary experience, it’s going to be hassle free. Uh and it’s gonna be built around our exact target customer. Um someone who cares about value, but they, you know, they just wanted to, you know, we, our target audience for residential is, is busy professionals, like someone, you know, they say, the author writes a book that uh for what they need, right? So someone who’s uh needs time management, they seek it out and they become a master of it and then they watch or they write a time management book, right? I built a company um that I would buy from. Right, so my wife and I we care we like quality. Um of course we want it to look great, but just like, take it off my plate, man, I’m busy, right? So, so we kind of Absolutely, so we we built the organization around that. So I think just that person coming from a different background and and um focusing on uh focusing on the the process of for the customer um having a bit of a business and sales background plus like, you know, most most painting owners start as a technician, right? And it’s really hard to come out of that because typically start painting because they enjoy it or they launched a painting company because they enjoy the act of painting, right? Um I didn’t start with that, you know, when we were early in, if we got into trouble, you know, as most planning company owners do if they get on the wall and start painting, we got in trouble, I got in the field and start selling, right? So um now that’s been a that’s been a progression for me is for me as a technician, that’s for me that sells. So I’ve had to discipline myself to as we’ve grown as a business to come out of the field as a salesperson, because, you know, again, if the road starts getting bumpy my um what I typically want to do is just get out there and insert yourself back into the business, supposed to focusing on it. Yeah, so that’s a that’s a really great point. It’s something that we honestly, it’s been a recurring theme, probably the biggest recurring theme of the podcast, is this idea that what you’re really selling is a customer experience, you know, I can tell you it’s how we built painter marketing pros because ah and and there’s a difference between kind of a mix Lockwood, he disagrees, but I think there’s a little bit of a difference between a painting mindset and a business ownership mindset and ultimately, especially residential painting, I mean one of your substitutes, one of your competitive substitutes is literally the homeowner doing it themselves. So when, when they can literally do it themselves, it becomes obvious that you’re not selling a paint job, you’re selling an experience and like you said, taking it off their plate, them knowing you’re going to do a good job, the fact that you’re going to do a good job, that’s just a that’s just a given, that’s just a right like permission to play like you said, but that’s not the differentiator. Sure, Yeah, so Slavic and I have actually, he wouldn’t disagree with you. Now, we’ve actually had extensive conversations about that, his love. So I did not start out in this business because I love the trade, right? I fall in love with the trade for guys like nick Slavic because the guys like chris small, I mean you get around them and their passion is so great um you know, there’s a, there’s a quote that says um set yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn and like, man, like if you lead with that passion and they have that passion for, for the trade, it was like really inspiring for me to get around that. But what nick’s learned is like he has to compartmentalize that, that love for the trade, but he’s brought, I mean he’s one of the best business owners in the, in the trade because he’s, he’s now grown as a business owner um, and and found that passion for that as well. So, um yeah, I think that again, I think that the quality, I think it, it definitely is a factor, right? I always use an analogy of a steakhouse, right? So if you go, uh, if you go to a steakhouse and you get a great steak, but the experience leading up to it was awful, there was nowhere to park, there’s smudges all over the glass where you walked in, no hostess at the host stand, uh your server server was mean and and didn’t pay attention to you, but but then you get this steak and it’s awesome, you’re probably not going back there, right? The quality of the food was good, but the experience was awful on the flip side of that, you have an amazing experience, right? And everything is just as you expect and that, but the food comes out and the food is awful, you’re gonna go home with a bad taste in your mouth, literally, right? So you’re again, you’re not going back, so there is a balance between the two. Um So we want to provide a great quality, but we also have great quality but great, great service and great easy experience as well. You know, we always say um painting is our painting is what we do, it’s our commodity, right? Our product our product is peace of mind, that is what we’re building, that’s what we’re selling to the Custer. I love that. Yeah, yeah. Ultimately it’s your selling them, trust, you know, you’re selling them, hey if you hire us you don’t have to worry about it anymore. You don’t have to follow our our painters around or wonder if it’s gonna hold up or you’re taken care of? For sure. Absolutely, I love that. So you have, you have another thing we’ve noticed is kind of the sales first mentality, you know, focusing making sure you’re doing a quality job, but that’s not really being the primary focus, primary focus being building, selling. Um What advice do you have? I guess this is kind of a two part question. So you have a background in operations because when you’re running a big box Jim, I would assume that that there’s a fair amount of operations there and then you also have B2B sales, you have a sales background. My first part is what do you think has been the most helpful piece of your background to growing this business and then secondly for anyone listening who maybe doesn’t have that background or maybe they are a technician and they’ve been a painter and they’re building their business, but they don’t have a you know, extensive operations or sales background. What can they do to kind of get past that? That hurdle? Yeah, great question. Um I think my answer to that is always you have to start with the end in mind, right? So where do you want to go? Um and once you’ve established that destination, then you can then you can define who we are. So then you know as an organization, who you are as a company and what you care about and then you know what you can sell to the customer and you know how you can acquire employees right? You have to define what’s your mission, what’s your vision, what’s your values and then you then your customers and your employees can know that. Okay, do I believe what this company believes? Do I believe that customer service is important in the paint job, right? Or if you’re hiring um someone who is that master craftsman, Maybe you believe that that that amazing craftsmanship is what you’re buying and what you want. Then again it makes it clear so you can you can easily align with them. Um So then once you once you determine who you are determined where you uh where you’re at right now, so then you can determine what what what’s your strengths and your weaknesses, what’s your opportunities for growth? Um, then you can lay out a path Again to, to, to get to that destination. Um, where do I want to be in 10 years. Okay. And where do I, if I want to be, you know, for us, we want to be a 10 million in revenue, 10% net 33 locations in three states. Okay, so that’s just, that’s our destination point. Well now I have to define that, the closer I get to today, I have to define that in more detail. Um, so then I then I create a three year picture. So if I was gonna take paint and put it on canvas, I paint out what that three year looks like. And then when I get to this year, I, and then I have to get a really believable and tactical plan together for myself and my team so I can execute, but again, I think it all starts with understanding who you are, what you care about and what you’re bringing to the marketplace. Yeah, absolutely. So you, I love that. So that’s a big goal. Do you have that 10 million goal when you started or is that a problem? You know, I, I honestly, I think I did develop that. So we run our business, we run the entrepreneurial operating system. Um, so us attraction if you’ve read it. Um, so that the 10 year target and three year picture and the one year plan, that’s part of that process of traction. Um, So I think that we defined that through that process. So that’s been our plan for a few years now. I knew early, early into the business that I wanted to grow a larger business primarily because I get my energy from people. I want a team. Um believe me, if I love painting and you know, I could probably relieve a lot of headaches. People, there’s one thing predictable about people. They will be unpredictable. So if you don’t have a passion for working with people, you probably don’t want to add people to your team. But I have a passion for working with people. I love, I love building teams. I love working with people. Um, So for me the revenue has um A lot less to do with financial earnings. Um and a lot more to do with hey the, the, if I can get the $10 million, I can have a bigger team. If I have a bigger team that shares with my set of values, then I can increase our impact on our marketplace in the communities in which we work? Yeah. I love that kind of the Simon start with why model? What’s really driving for? Sure. Yeah. So why do you exist? Right. What, what, what does your company exists? What do you look into um, achieve? I think that’s a big part of, of um, talent acquisition, right? Like people want to, of course compensation matters, right? It’s a part of the factor. It’s not everything right? People want to attach yourself to a purpose. They wanted to ask yourselves to something that’s bigger than themselves. So the the clear clear you can articulate your why. Um the clearer you can, the better you can cast your vision. Uh the easier it is for someone to to determine whether they’re a good fit for your company. Um You know, and then all of a sudden, you know, a labor crisis isn’t such a big deal, right? And I know that’s debate. I will agree on a macro level. There’s probably a labor shortage for sure. But on the immediate in your face, um you can fix that today. You can you can um determine a prospecting pool today. You can determine what their wants and needs are and create a message and and provide a position inside a company that has a purpose that cares for them to to to to want to attach themselves to. Right? So again, you know, back to the employees want more than compensation. They want that purpose. They also want opportunity for mastery and economy. So there’s a lot that you can, there’s a lot, especially the trades. I mean what a perfect example of like offering someone an opportunity for mastery, you know, teaching something that you know a trade or a skill acquisition that they can make a living for for their entire life, right? So yeah it’s not, it’s not flipping burgers. They’re learning something really valuable, right? Yeah there’s single man painters out there making six figures. Yeah. Yeah. And and I think that kind of conveying that I think is really helpful. I agree with the labor shortage. It’s a real thing but but it doesn’t have to be a real thing forever for your company. You know you so can you for for companies that have not figured that out, you know that don’t have this really well crafted mission and vision and values. Can you kind of dive into maybe some specifics of yours or how how they the process of how they could maybe go about doing that and attracting the right kind of employees if they just don’t know where to start. Sure. Um Is your question the process of establishing vision mission values or acquiring here here’s what I’ll start with the employees. Um I will not say I haven’t figured out. I will it is hard and I’m not gonna deny that. It’s hard but I’m also not gonna, yeah, I’m not gonna use a national labor shortage as an excuse either, right? Because that again that’s on the macro level it on the immediate in your face level. It’s no different in acquiring a customer, What’s your need, what’s your message? What do you have to offer? And and um and then on the backside of that is. And so this is a good segue into, uh, have you taken the time to determine exactly what your business is? Why exists. As we talked about what this vision mission and values are. So for us again, we were built on this idea of creating an extraordinary customer experience. So that is echoed through our mission, our vision and our values. So, um, our vision is to be the most dynamic customer central painting company in the markets we serve, right? Our mission. So the vision is your destination, your mission is the vehicle and your values is the gps. I would say map, but I think that’s our thing in the past, Right? So, um, so our vision, again, to be the most dynamic customer center painting company in the markets, we serve our mission is to create an extraordinary customer experience while delivering the highest standard of quality and service. Okay, So then you, you see how that’s starting to echo throughout. Um, and then our, our values, number one focus on the customer, right? That gives everyone in our organization of lens. So if there’s conflict, it’s not saying the customer is always right. It’s saying, are we gonna run this through the filter of, is this the right thing to do for the customer and for for the business. Um, number two is deliver on your promises, right? Such a weakness in the trades over promise under deliver. Hey, I’m gonna get this proposal out and we win so many jobs just because we simply send a proposal, we wouldn’t unbelievable. Unbelievable. Right, unfair. Yeah. You come in and you do things half right? You’re just already there. Yeah. Go back to the early, like when you ask me how we got to $1 million, we, we answered the phone when people called, we showed up to the appointment. We were professional, you know, uh, this idea of running a professionalized businesses more than showing up in a polo right? It’s, it’s answering the phone when the customer, when the customer calls, it’s calling, letting them know that you’re, you’re heading to u 30 30 minute ahead call, um, showing up on time, uh, not parking in the driveway and, and taking, you know, the risk of getting oil and someone’s gone, someone’s conquered having a process. Um, that’s another big thing is, is if you have good systems and processes, um, your, everything becomes more predictable for the customer. And at the end of the day, that’s what, that’s what they’re after. They just want a predictable outcome. They don’t want you to come in there and mess up their house Off the plate, man, make it easy, hassle free. Um, so deliver on our promises. Our is our second value. 3rd is take ownership and everything, right? So it is so easy when there’s conflict to place blame on the other person. Uh, mainly because when you do that, it relieves the burden from you of having to fix yourself, right? So so, but if you just take ownership, I’m gonna own this, it’s you know, somehow this was my fault, then it gets you to that solution so much quicker. Um and then for fourth for us is per group pursued growth and happiness. Um For me, you know happiness is fleeting and you’re not gonna walk around with a smile on your face all the time if you did, people will probably think you’re a little crazy. Um so so I think you really have to find happiness through growth, you know, through process. Um you know, success is a journey, it’s not a destination, so you have to fall in love with the process and find um you know, find your happiness by doing really hard ship, you know? Yeah, I love that kind of falling in love with the process of growing the business if you really want to grow the business, not this is a hurdle and I just want to get to where I’m making all this money because then you’re you’re always kind of mentally fighting it as you go through it, right? Yeah, I think that’s a big and you know, I’m sure I’m I’m guilty of this too, but I think that’s a big weakness is a lot of people just um they start moving without whatever determining the destination right? And if you do that, you just think about how far off course you can get, if you just start moving in a direction, then you never know where you’re going, right? You never determined this is the final destination for us. So even just throwing out that 10 year target thinking through that, it doesn’t have to be extremely detailed, but it at least gives you a direction that you can start moving towards, have a point out there in the horizon. And then I I really like your idea of filters to so we do that at pan american President actually do in my personal life as well because things will come up and and you know, someone will will do something that you didn’t expect or maybe you’re displeased about or or there’s a hard decision to be made and you can kind of make these decisions beforehand, you know, what are your values? Um and then run them through the values. So then rather than kind of in the heat of the moment or there was an issue with a customer or you know this this employed at X, Y or z. Well, okay, there’s no need to react, run it through the values. But what’s the process? Yeah. Yeah. It’s yeah, those two things great. You just nailed it. It does it is it aligned with our values And is it is it within our process? Right? But you have to first start and establish that process and and um you know, you can’t you can but you don’t want to build your business around an exceptional person or exceptional people because those are hard to find, right? You can always, right, it’s not scalable. So you wanted to build your business around exceptional processes have been simplified um documented, illustrated, make it easy for your people to succeed. Then you can hire people in and teaching those exceptional processes and then they become exceptional people are exceptional employees. But going out there and trying to build your your your business over around one person, even if it’s yourself again, a great thing with me, never never painted before, I can’t paint so so you know, I can’t rely on it. Yeah, I get I stay focused on leading the team and business development. Um because you know if I was out there pushing a brush, we wouldn’t make it very hard. Yeah, no, that’s great man. So you you kind of you know find find people who align with your vision and then you know, good employees want to be a part of a company that’s growing to feel like they have growth opportunity, where do you typically find your employees? Yeah. So within our process, um you know, we always put out when we’re looking the field position we put out an ad um as soon as the ad is launch, we then go to our network. So then we go within our personal networks or social media networks and um at you know ask our network if they have somebody of course always ask from your team, the easiest way to build a great culture if you have a great culture is to grow off the people already in your business. So kind of our processes. Um So I guess I should say that in reverse. Well we’ve launched to add because it kind of triggers it triggers that hey, this position is open but then we try to hire out of our either out of our employee base or our network. Um and then last resort resort or the ads on the job boards. So that would be someone that comes in that that has no connection to our company. But if it’s a continuum, it would be employee ah personal or professional network than ad got it. And and those ads, are you putting them on? Indeed facebook, where are you posting those? Yeah, all the above. Yeah. So so social and um as far as job boards we use indeed. Got it. Okay. Yeah, I love that kind of relying on the people who who already are a good fit to know who else might be a good fit for. Sure. Yeah. Are there any as you’ve grown your business to now doing over three million. Are there any mistakes you’ve made along the way or our customer blunders that might might make for a good story or anything like that, Nope, not a single one. You’re you’re the first guest who has been flawless in his execution. Lots of lots of mistakes, lots of mistakes? Um, so, you know, we’ll stick on this hiring theme we’ve made, we’ve made bad hires and I can tell you from personal experience, it’s painful. It is really, really painful. Um, but it’s a great, it’s a great lesson to learn, right? Pain plus reflection equals progress. Um you go through a couple of bad hires, not only from the financial expense, but the energy, um, the emotional expense. Um, it’s tough. Right? So you, I, I’ve learned, um, right people, right? See, right, And that is it, It has to be both and you can’t have right person and it’s the right person is culture. Are they fit for your culture? Do they align with your values? Do they believe in what you believe as an organization as far as, as far as dies and then um right fit is um is it, is it a position fit for them? Right. Um Do they get it, is it natural? Right. So, um, somebody who has a sales personality profile is not going to succeed in a, in a project management position and some of the project management personality profile is not going to succeeding in its sales position. I’m not saying they can’t do it for a period of time, but they’re not going to excel, It’s not natural. So do they get it? Do they want it? Right. So they do they do they genuinely want to be in that role? And do they have the capacity to do it? And that’s spiritual capacity, emotional capacity, um time capacity. Right? So if it’s a if it’s a position that requires a 50 hour workweek, but they can only give 30 they don’t have the capacity to do it. I can tell you I don’t have the capacity to be a project manager. I get a lot of fulfillment, like I love leading and I love selling, right? So I get a lot of fulfillment. Um art, nobody calls our project managers when they just want to tell them something nice, they call our project managers when they want to be upset about something. Right? So I don’t have the, probably the emotional capacity to handle. Right? So it takes a very specific personality profile. So I would say um be very, very intentional um in your hiring, make sure it’s the right person, they fit your company uh and make sure it’s the right fit, but they fit the position. Yeah, yeah, that all makes sense. And so as you’ve grown too, um this level, what are some of the marketing channels that you’ve used that have been the best for you? And then what are some that maybe haven’t worked out so well, yeah, great question. Um So I’ll answer it separately separately for residential and commercial. Um So for, for residential, uh we have um had a lot of success with digital marketing. So pay per click. Um We put a lot of effort in sc oh, so a lot of content creation optimized content creation. Um I think that’s the work. Okay. All right, that’s good to know. I’ll turn it back on on our end. Thanks. Okay. Uh So yeah, so digital um we do some traditional print um so direct mail. Um What else do we do? Um um Trade shows, we’ve had a lot of success with trade shows. Um and um we get into a lot of associations, so we do all of our reps. RNB and I groups. Um So we found um with residential um we are typically hiring someone not right out of college but typically someone earlier in the to their sales career for ourselves um are for our residential sales reps. Uh So the b and I group, it has a dual benefit there one we are capturing leads and revenue out of those groups, but it also helps them build their their professional network, which has been we’ve got a lot of success with that. Um And then um for uh uh what we haven’t enjoyed from residential side is, you know, we went through a period of Home Advisor. Uh you know, and we made we made money we made money with them, you know, I typically look for a 5-1 Uh ratio of return with my marketing channels. We we absolutely have four or 5-1, but you’re you’re having to do a lot more work To get the same to to get that revenue. So we’re are typical conversion rate of lead to estimate is like 90 or higher for every other lead channel. Our lead to estimate conversion for for home advisor was 70%. Right? So we’re only looking seven out of 10 leads um then are are closing percentage was like 30-40%. Where on all of our channel other channels, it was greater than greater than 40. And even, you know, probably closer to 50. So, so you’re just doing, yeah, you’re making money, you’re getting a return on investment, but you’re working a lot harder to get that return. Uh so we you know, we we phase that out a couple of years ago. Um and you know, we really most of our most of our efforts are digital and in print and then on the commercial side it’s it’s all relationship development. Um So we uh we joined uh in sponsor uh in a lot of associations specifically within market verticals, so the way that we approach um commercial uh is very much from like a B two B standpoint, like we’re we’re expecting our our reps to go out, build relationships become experts within their market vertical um and become a face that everybody sees within that industry. Um So if you’re if you’re vertical as multi family, ah Anyone who’s attending the multi family events or association events are going to see you and are gonna wanna know your name and and then again we do a lot of trade shows within those within those spaces as well. Yeah, so there were a couple points. I want to kind of dive deeper in there. We actually get a lot of customers that come from well now angie because of what you’re saying, you know low quality leads, you know cost sensitive customers and low conversion rates. The when you mentioned that, I mean you said something really interesting there with your sales people that you get, so you get them right out of college and then you said they go to the B and I group and you guys get the benefit of you get some leads, you know some professional networking there. But then you mentioned something that didn’t really seem tied to your painting business, you said that that is helping them build their um professional network and you didn’t really tie that back. What? Which I found really interesting. So is this essentially you giving them opportunity for growth and you may be conveying that in the hiring and not all being, hey what’s it gonna do for me, but I also want to make sure I’m doing it for you. 100% 100%. So part of our value proposition when we are requiring employees is that we’re gonna help you grow, its in built into our values, right? So if I say we bring that we’re going to pursue growth and happiness, then I have to be able to provide that within our organization. So and it all isn’t about what we’re going to benefit. Um it provides an opportunity, so for me that’s something I’ve always um No one taught it to me. I just felt a natural um calling to to building a network. So it’s something I’ve always stayed involved with is building a professional and personal network for myself and and I’ve reaped the rewards throughout my career because of it. So because I have seen success in it, I want um if I can help someone who comes a part of our company again, I’ve said this before, but like not everyone in your company, it’s it’s unrealistic expectations. I think everyone’s gonna stay forever, Right? Sometimes it’s just a stop, sometimes it’s just two years and if you can make an impact on their life, if you can take someone who’s 25 years old and you can lead them in a way to set them up for success for success throughout their entire career? I mean, is there a greater legacy for yourself? Yeah, I love that that that that focus on making an impact on people’s lives. Yeah, but chris aren’t you worried that if they go and they grow their network, that they’ll leave you, isn’t it better to keep them bottled up so that they’ll stay with your painting company. No, I don’t think you should follow anybody else that’s not gonna leave that, that’s not going to lead a happy voice. You know, that that would fall in line with a scarcity mindset, which I think makes our trade, you know, uh, there’s so much opportunity out there again. If you believe there’s a, hey, I can’t find good people and that’s just, that’s the story you tell yourself and that’s just what it is, right? There is no good people out there. That’s a lie. That’s a lie that you’re telling yourself every day. Um, that falls under scarcity. Um, there I, you know, I can’t grow my business, you know, whatever, whatever the story you’re telling yourself, I can’t grow my business because of my market size or I can’t grow my business because the franchises are, are taking over my market. Um, those are all just, um, again, they just fall in line with the scarcity mindset. Um, so you want to grow your people because if you grow your people, you’re going to grow great people and great people make a great organization, right? And yes, some will leave. But the last thing you ever want to do is bottle somebody up. Yeah, yeah. There’s um, there’s a, I forget exactly what the, what the quote is, but it’s like, oh well if I, if I train them, they might leave me and it’s something along the lines of, well, if you don’t train them, do you want them to stay with you? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I mean you can provide them that opportunity. Well then they’re looking forward will, wow, this company really cares about me. So you build a building the loyalty, you have a better employee that’s more connected. And now they’re they’re gonna wonder what else you’re gonna provide them. You know, it’s not, you don’t just give them this one carrot and that’s it. You you kind of grow with them for sure. Yeah. Yeah. If you great, if you train a great painter and they leave and they become a competitor, they become a they raise the bar, they make it better for you, right, because they’re putting on a better service at a higher price point. So then you can charge a higher price point uh and you can gain more profitability for your company and then you can provide more impact to the employees within your business. So hiring great people that leave you is not necessarily a bad thing if they do great things in the market. There’s an abundance mindset if I’ve ever heard one, you know, actually welcoming a competitor who’s directly competing with you because then you can both raise your prices for sure. That’s awesome. Just kind of raising the industry bar overall. For sure, man. Um All right, so you you kind of dove into the marketing. Digital marketing is work best for you. But you guys are, you’ve done some direct mail, You’ve done PBC, you’ve done sc Oh, all that stuff requires money for for smaller companies that have a limited budget, where would you recommend that they start? Yeah, I I 100% starting your network. Right, So word of mouth can take you a long ways. Um you know, eventually there’s gonna be a diminishing return from from just cleaning into your network. Um but that’s definitely the best. That’s the cheapest place to start. And and and if you, you know, if there’s a lot of ways again, there’s many groups, there’s other um uh networking groups that you can attach yourself to and not saying those produced the biggest, but the, you know, do as much as you can um just within your your network. Um you could get busy really quick just just leaning into that kind of the grassroots grassroots marketing efforts. So what kinds of, what kinds of jobs do you guys find most profitable? What do you what do you guys wish you had more of? For sure. So, you know, it’s been a journey um as we’ve progressed, you know, when you start out early, you’re willing to be all things for all people, you’ll go everywhere, then you’ll do everything, you know, So I think that, you know, over time, what we offer has begotten smaller and what we don’t has become larger, right? So you just learn yourself and what you’re great at. So like, you know, pretty much everything we offer is coming into a similar gross margin. Um but that’s just because we’ve become become better at defining, you know what’s in it for residential, What’s the geographical area will cover? What’s the demographic of that demographic, what’s their psychographic? You know what again? So if we’re focusing on, you know, we have really two buyer personas that we’re focusing on uh we’re for residential, once a busy professional and the other is a retiree. Those are two very different cycle graphics, right? The busy professionals like, hey yes I care about good job but I really just need you to get this off my place so I can get back to work the retiree. They want to, they want a great job. They probably worked with contractors before. They probably had bad experiences before they want someone they like and trust a whole lot more because they’re gonna be in the space with them the entire time, They’re not leaving to go to work. Um So you just get, you know over time you get better at defining again who you are and who you serve. Um It’s just like the title of your of your podcast right? It’s very easy to understand um uh painting, painter, marketing uh marketing mastermind podcast right? So now I understand the demographic immediately, write your, I understand this. This is gonna be a good podcast for me because it’s for painters and it’s covering marketing, right? It’s clearly defined. Okay, now I found myself on this podcast and then, right in the entry you’re talking about this is this is again geographical area. You’re interviewing um painting contractors throughout the, throughout north America to help to, to talk to a million plus revenue models or businesses to help guys that are under that to grow right now. I know exactly what I’m getting into. I know if this is going to be a benefit for me or not, we all need to do that. We need to strive to do that with our businesses. So kudos to you, man. Yeah, Well, thanks man. I appreciate that. That clear messaging. Uh you know, she’s confused mind doesn’t buy the confused mind, doesn’t trust. Right. Right, yep. And people can’t buy what you don’t market, right? I mean if you if you offer, you know, I think, I think I’ve heard this on one of your other podcasts. Someone else said this, but like it’s amazing how many times you’re you go to home to do an interior painting proposal and then they were like, oh, you do exteriors too, right? Like we sure do sometimes. I mean there’s a lot when you’re trying to get a lot. So that’s another thing that messaging is just making it really simple, clear and concise uh and compelling and easy to understand. But you know, we forget that people do this once every five years. You know, we’re meeting, you know, our residential reps are meeting five people a day. Right? So they can start saying using language that maybe we use that maybe the customer doesn’t quite understand. It kind of goes over their head. Um So we have to we have to remind ourselves and not become complacent and understand that they do this one time every five years. Um So we got to make sure um we make the best use of that time. So help them understand um what other services we have to offer. So again what gets marketed gets sold. So if you’re if you’re painting company but you also offer power washing, if you don’t market that to your customers will never know to buy it. Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s a great point. We’ve actually run into similar issues with paying marketing pros or we’ll be throwing, you know, we’ve had to work on it as a team, we’re throwing around technical jargon or you know that painting company or like, okay, well what is that? Right? You gotta you have to tell the homeowner why it matters to them. You know, you don’t start getting into the technical specifications of the paint, they don’t care, They don’t understand it, but it doesn’t make it. Yeah, we’re gonna roll this on at 4 to 6 meals. That’s going to drive down the I was worried about that. I’m so glad you said that. I was really wanting to know your now I’m gonna hire you guys because I totally understand. Yeah. Um All right. So you you are an Indianapolis, so obviously a lot of painting companies struggle with winter slow season. Do you have you found any ways to successfully combat that? How do you deal with that? We’ve we’ve tried both strategies of trying to market through the winter spend through the winter and then we’ve also went with him through the winter. I can’t say that we’ve seen a measurable result either way. Um You know, so for me another us earlier advice for painting companies want to scale. Um I would say document everything. Yeah, you provide yourself as many data points as you can. That’s not, you know, don’t make it, you know, too cumbersome, but we’ve we’ve recorded as much as we could over the years. So when I’m forecasting for the for upcoming year, the what I I look at last year’s performance, then I look at month, monthly, year over year. Uh and that becomes really predictable for me to to forecast upcoming year. So I just take the previous year. I look at the trends, I add my growth and now I can forecast. Um So I think what I’ve seen from that data is our strategies really haven’t changed it too much, but here’s what I say, we don’t lean too hard into trying to grow through the winter. Um And we do, you know, kind of produce an eight month sprint for ourselves, but we’re kind of built, we were prepared for it and we’re built for it. Um We really have more leaned into the winter for an opportunity to realign, reevaluate, reassess um fix what’s broken um and get everybody drunk, you know, pointed in the same direction again. Uh So for for us it’s kind of kind of a little bit of a breather and it’s a chance to sharpen our tools and get prepared for another year. Um Look at our successes from the previous year. Uh You know, what what were our greatest accomplishments? What what where did we fail, what could we be doing different um and uh implemented a new plan. So I spend most of my december, I’m really digging in uh two previous year and and preparing for the new year. Uh Last week I just did my two day um leadership um planning session. Um Now after that I’ll be working on uh packaging the plan for our team, and next thursday we’ll be doing our kickoff for the year, so and that’s a pretty typical. Um And then uh typically third week of january, we start our trade show season, uh then you get into february and March and everything starts kind of waking back up. Um So really well for us the first quarter, it’s starting to put out a lot of the marketing that will start starting to plant the seeds um for for that early spring season. So so we don’t, my wife works within the business, she runs our financials, she hates the winner. But I, I don’t hate the winter near as much because it gives us an opportunity to, to play and train and develop. Yeah, yeah. I’ve spoken with brad nelson and I guess he’s, he’s leaning into a direct mail approach this winter and seeing how that works out. I think, I think Nick Slavic, um, I’m trying that or kind of recommended it. So we’ll see how that plays out for him. Yeah. Yeah, I know Nick only markets in the winter. He only, he uses all his spin for the winter. Uh, and I know that’s been successful for him. Again, for me, it’s more of a Jessica personal preference if I ever feel like we need to, you know, we again are our 10 year target is three locations across three states. One of the states is going to be south, we might be, you know, so really for me, I’d rather combat the seasonality of our, of our location with a second location, then try to fight something that’s always going to be a fight. The company that I actually came from. Um they, um, they do all, you know, again, international work all commercial, um, all based on relationship development. Um, but they are there for, they, they’ve launched all their additional locations have been in Southern States. So they have, I think like 434 or five locations now, everything is pushed south. So they have their central location in India, So I’m not saying we will follow that same path, but one of them will probably be south. Just definitely have that opportunity for sure. Yeah, yeah, and it’s where, you know, so I think another thing, so this goes back to what we were talking about earlier is like when you get serious about scale, you, you have to start organizing, organizing your, your business and your life accordingly. Right? So when I knew I wanted to scale a business, I’ve organized my life in a way that’s been able to um positioned me to have that growth and to grow it from even from now to 10 million? Um I’ve eliminated hobbies. I’ve eliminated relationships. I got really focused on uh what’s gonna move the needle. So my wife and I have positioned ourselves to, in 3 to 5 years, if we wanted to launch a Tampa location, we’re in a position to do that. Right? So you really gotta think it through all that again, it’s get, it wouldn’t have the capacity to do it. So you want to grow from 500,000 to 1.5. Do you have that, do you have that desire to do it? You get it, is that natural for you to, to, to come out of the bucket and, and, and to just run a business, Do you, do you truly want it or just doing it because you think you have to and do you have the capacity to do it? Um And then maybe that’s just, you know, so um so those are all things I think you have to consider. Yeah, it um it requires sacrifice and focus. My wife would always say do what other people want. So you have what other people don’t, yep. Yeah. All right man. Well we’ll just got a couple more questions. So I guess how do you how do you see the painting industry changing in the future or do you see it changing? Yeah, I do. I think we’re gonna continue to see growth. I do think that businesses um which is, I feel like we’re so behind like even like another, unlike, you know, well generally unlicensed trade um like roughing, right? We’re even behind um there, so I think there’s gonna be a lot more technology, a lot more automation. I think businesses will get bigger. I think they’ll get more professionalized. Um I love there’s some, you know, some titans in our industry um that are really leading this charge of uh helping professionalize the business, helping grow great painters like that. I think for us, again, one of our biggest obstacles is how do you hire painters when like I’m not a painter right? I can’t go teach them right, I have a production manager who is a 20 year painter, but he’s busy running our production team, right? So like, so I have to, so we want to, so we run a full sub model or not full but mainly um um 1099. And so how do we start to integrate painters into our business? Um and be able to make sure that they’re great painters and to be able to offer them that same development that I can offer a salesperson. Um So seeing some of these courses come out, that’s really, really exciting. Yeah. Yeah, I think, I mean PCH just has awesome content on all this stuff when you, I do want to kind of dive into that for a second when when you said you’re using primarily 10 99 painters, how do you, you’re not knowing painting really very well and and the are not not really being not doing it and not having someone who’s really training them, how do you ensure quality control? For sure. Yeah. So first um I don’t know how to paint but I know a heck of a lot about painting, so so I’ve educated myself so I know it, I know, I know I know the products inside now, I know the application methods are just not, probably not the fastest person. So we were just talking about, we’re we’re challenging some of our production rates yesterday um and we were talking about doors for example like six panel door and so we’re uh you know having fun with it, but you know, you asked my production manager was like opening a door in 15 minutes, you know, it’s like, okay, well that’s great, but what’s our average painter painting a door and you know, um So uh yeah, so uh I it’s about becoming expert, being experts and thought leaders within our industry, right? So we know how it should be painted, I’m just not a very good painter, so I painted one door that since we’ve been in existence and I think it took me like half a day, uh and I made a mess, so um but then again, like you you can’t build a business, you’re not going to be, You’re not going to be the best fit for every role within your business. Uh I hired a 20 year painter for a production manager because I’m not one, I’m not a project manager and two, I don’t have 20 years of experience running painting projects, he does right. Um And then, but what I am great at is I’m really great at putting systems together, I’m really good good at developing a system where it enables somebody to have success that’s repeatable and predictable. Um So we implement the system and then I put someone who knows what they’re doing and knows what to look for in the position to manage that and manage the expectation. Um and then, you know, we develop a system that if it’s followed, there’s only one way we don’t get a predictable in a great outcome for our customer is if we lose discipline to the process because our process, especially for a residential it is, it will 100% in with a satisfied customer and a great product, a great quality product if it’s followed right now that’s taken years to develop um but that’s you know that’s part of professionalizing the business um is implementing that process that your people can be successful with uh and then having people in positions to lead, manage and hold them accountable. Yeah. So I love that the cyst having the systems and the delegation. Yeah. Um well thank you for that. Do you have any any more advice for other painting company owners that are looking to to get to your level or maybe even have your same vision of 10 million and beyond. Yeah. You know again um I think taking the time to decide what what you, what you really want. Um and I think um I think that implementing great systems, hiring great people um casting a vision um so that people can align with you um and um putting out a great product um that customers will be happy with and providing a great experience um if you can do that. If you can make it repeatable and predictable then you can sell it. Yeah, chris this was amazing. This was um Yeah, I had a great time man. Yeah, I appreciate you coming on the show. I think you dropped some serious knowledge bombs and it was, it was a great way for me to end the year for sure, awesome me as well. Yeah, we’ll try to get you on the show again. Yeah, I would love to have you repeat because I don’t think we left a lot on the table here. Yeah, yeah. I would absolutely love to come back and uh can’t wait to catch up with you at the pc a conference. Yeah, yeah. I’m looking forward to it man. And anyone listening to this. If you’re not going to do go March March 2nd to fourth little pc a plug there for him. Yeah. And I will, I will say I’m actually going to make that my advice get in, get into your trade association, make relationships, gain that experience in that exposure. Um the pc expo two years ago is where I fell in love with this trade and I have been in business for three or four years. Yeah. Amazing. Thanks Chris Absolutely man. If you want to learn more about the topics we discussed in this podcast and how you can use them to grow your painting business, visit PainterMarketingPros.com forward slash podcast for free training as well as the ability to schedule a personalized strategy session for your painting company again that you are l is painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast. Hey, they’re painting company owners. If you enjoyed today’s episode, make sure you go ahead and hit that subscribe button, give us your feedback, let us know how we did. And also, if you’re interested in taking your painting business to the next level, make sure you visit the Painter Marketing Pros website at PainterMarketingPros.com to learn more about our services. You can also reach out to me directly by emailing me at Brandon at Painter Marketing Pros.com and I can give you personalized advice on growing your painting business until next time. Keep growing.