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Guest Interview: Doug Bates of Bates Painting Company

Doug Bates, founder and owner of Bates Painting Company, shares lessons from his incredible 42-year journey growing his business. An artist at heart, Doug shares why he only hires artists as his painters, and the impact he believes that has on the quality of their work and on his business. Doug discusses some of the biggest mistakes he has made in his 42-year journey, and how younger entrepreneurs can avoid some of these costly errors.

Video of Interview

Topics Discussed:

  • Mistakes to avoid, learned by Doug through the “School of hard knocks”
  • How to leverage your current employees to grow your painting business
  • The flywheel effect of growth, and why it's so powerful
  • The difference between running a painting company, and being a painter
Audio Transcript

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Welcome to the Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast. The show created to help painting company owners build a thriving painting business that does well over one million in 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 Doug Bates Doug is the founder and owner of baits painting company, a residential painting company based in Kansas city Missouri that currently does over $1. 2 million in annual revenue. Doug discusses the journey he has had with bates painting company since founding it 42 years ago and he offers some very wise words of caution to help other painting company owners avoid costly mistakes that he himself has made on his journey. Doug shares an effective employee recruiting model he has created for his painting business and why he will only hire artists to work as his painters 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. Doug, thank you for coming on the painter marketing mastermind podcast. Hey Brandon, thanks for having me. Absolutely. So tell us a little bit about bates painting company. Well I could give you a thumbnail real quick. I started out as a painter, I ended up trying to run a painting company. I went back to the field as a painter and then ultimately I figured out how to run a painting company. So that is a 42 year span. I started in 1979 painting company, Bates painting company at the Kansas city Missouri metro area. Nice. And what do you guys offer you, you focus on residential commercial, what do you guys do? We're mostly red as well, you know what a lot of people like to call themselves high end residential and I'm one of those people, but mostly we're in the upper end residential and some commercial Uh more 10ant um influenced commercial like maybe doctors offices or banks or that type of on the commercial end. Sure, okay. And so you have been running this business for 42 years and you and I were speaking briefly before we started recording here and you said that that you think a unique value you can bring to this podcast is how to do everything wrong? Well, you know I've listened to several of your podcast and I know a lot of people kind of started out and or what you call self taught, I am completely self taught in both painting and business. So literally my for 1979 the year I graduated high school and I didn't, I had a job offer laying sod for $4. 50 an hour and my dad said to me, hey, how would you like to paint my house for $250? This is the house I lived in for my dad, 250 bucks. That's my first job ever. And that's 1979 and I have never had another job. So it went from painting my dad's house to painting neighbor's houses and then I didn't have a truck, I didn't even have a way to move ladders. I could only work far enough away to carry my own ladders. And then my dad ran an ad, this is way back in the old days. I'm like one of those Geico guys like don't, don't turn into your parents and I'm the guy you don't want to turn into right. But ultimately my dad ran an ad in the paper and the local can city suburb paper grandview Missouri uh, for, for house painting. But we could only, I just, all I supplied was the labor, I could only paint houses that had their own ladders. So that's the humble of beginning as you can get and that was my summer job through college and ultimately one thing led to another and I just kept doing it and I've really never had another job. I tell people I've never been to a job interview. But then I think about the estimates that I do by the thousands and literally I've probably been to thousands of job interviews because really every estimate there's a chance to to sell yourself or sell your. Yeah. Right. Yeah. I always said, you know, as an entrepreneur, as a business owner, we don't have one boss, we have many, many bosses. Yeah, yeah. So you started as a painter then, then you Owned a painting company and then you became a painter. Now you're in a painting company. What happened? That's that, you know what we're talking about 42 years here. So this could go a long time. Yeah. So I painted summer through college. I was when I started college as an art major and the artist in me really uh adapted well to house painting because I was really neat. I was good with custom, I was good with colors and you know, a pretty good personality and my dad had was, was helping me sell jobs and he had high integrity and kind of had, I was raised that way. And so I ended up with with with just a lot of repeat customers after four summers of painting. My dad, my mom and dad encouraged me to get rid of the art major and changed to a business major. So ended up with a business major and an art minor and I got out of school and I'm reminded of a quote from Picasso who said as a child, I could paint like an adult, but it took me my whole life to learn how to paint like a child. So I kind of think adapted that to my business uh ability and as a, as a college kid, I could paint like a grown up painter, but it took me my whole life to figure out how to run a business. So anyway, get out of school. I've got a lot of jobs coming from just the summer work that I've done. I decided to give it a try rather than get into business. I decided to be my own boss and continue my painting business. So by this time I'm starting to work my way up a little bit. I'm out of grand view by now I have, I have a truck, I can move ladders. I'm working my way into higher and higher end jobs, just basically organically off word of mouth around the Kansas city area. And uh, for about the 1st 10 years I'm in the field, you know, hiring friends of mine from college and friends of mine that are working summers and whatnot and I'm really teaching everybody as I went and I've really had a, uh, I don't know if it's like a calling or just a natural fit to doing two doing really fine work, so we we got a lot of jobs and we were didn't veteran, you know, nice or nicer painting worked as well ourselves up over about 10 year period of me mostly in the field ah to having a nice little well positioned painting company in Kansas city with probably doing about Maybe growth in $300,000 but but but getting on high end jobs and having a pretty small company and with me Alongside one crew and then alongside to Cruz and then splitting my time and then just organically we got, you know, the phone started ringing too much and it was hard for me to to to do the estimates and do the do the office work and run the field. So about 10 years later, about 1990 probably I got out of the field and started just managing a company and then probably over the next 25 years that company gradually started to do poorer and poorer work. And I feel like the analogy of the frog that is in the boiling water, I mean my guy, I couldn't see it, I was friends with all the guys I was making different hires. I was using kind of changing my position by running the company and not being in the field constantly. Uh to be honest with our work just started to deteriorate slowly, very slowly at this point, I didn't really have the ambition to be a painting company owner or to be a successful painting company or owner, it was more just a job for me and I was content to make enough money to pay the bills. And so what this, my wife is my office administrator and she's kind of, she's near me and she's a big part of that story. So Donna reminds me so I, I brought her on board about seven years ago. So this gradual decline of my company at which time we always did around three, 2, 300 to $400,000 gross. So I was still able to survive and make the living that I needed to to to get by. But I was just managing a painting company. In fact, I wasn't that hands on at all. Although I always had, I always ran it with high integrity. So we always followed through on all of our promises and made sure ultimately that the job was done right and the customer was happy. So there's a whole lot of stories in that period. But anyway, my wife comes on board. She had been a in a restaurant business and was very successful and she sold that business and was looking for a job and decided to jump on board with bates painting company. And she kind of took a good look at my company and made some really hard and necessary suggestions and she said, hey, you know, you're a great painter doug you do, you do when you have paint a house. It's art, she said, these guys are just painting, they're, you know, they're just getting by. I mean they're doing decent work, but not great work. She said, you're the best painter in the company, you need to get back out into the field and let me, let me take and show them how it's done. Let me take over the office. So Believe it or not. About seven years ago my, I went back out into the field after about a 25 year absence. Exactly. I mean, I had always been working, but I was just managing and writing a painting company. I wasn't in the field, so I really offloaded all that, even the estimates to my wife who, you know, she's, she's a very talented individual to say the least. And I went back out in the field and started doing the kind of work that I was called to do, you know, the, the, the art of painting a house or painting or selecting colors or, or applying at various applications. And then uh, we, we got rid of a lot of the old Deadwood. In fact, we kind of reinvented the whole company down to two guys. Only two guys stayed when I went back out into the field and then we just rebranded and rehired an entire company and I'll tell you what I did is I went from hiring painters and trying to turn them into artists to hiring artists and trying to turn them into painters and that, it seems like it might not, it seems simple, but it's hard to find the artists that are really committed to having a day job that are, are are really, I don't know, not flaky. So I, I would look for artists high and low that were, had integrity. And then I brought in guys that were that, that had that, you know, every good painter actually is an artist. So it doesn't matter what company you're working for, if you're a good painter, there's an inner artist in you, I assure you of that. But I went, I I tried to find the guys that had, that were artists like me, uh, and then started to teach them how to become painters. And so now I'm back out in the field teaching again and we just have completely rebranded. And at that point in seven years I've gone, I've gone from 300,000 to, we just cracked a million. Congratulations, Thank you. Thank you very much. I couldn't be more pleased. I'm kind of a reluctant million dollar gross guy. But in fact, my goal was never that high. But my wife and a couple of my lead guys are saying, hey, we can do this, we can do this, we can do this and lo and behold, we just started to, once we got the, some things figured out things just started to multiply And uh, you know, we've made a lot of good decisions and along the way, and then we've made a ton of bad decisions. So that's kind of where we are today. So how do you appreciate that, that background? It's quite a journey. How do you find artists? What's your criteria there? You know? Um that's a good question. And to be honest with you, we I tried when, when, when when I used to hire painters, we'd go through more traditional means by which to find them, but we have really uh just counted on our guys bringing in there guys. So I've got a couple of really good artists that I think I was really fortunate enough to find guy by the name of Adam Peralte and a guy by the name of joe mcclurg. And uh mitch Mcdonald to I don't want to mention that, I don't want to forget to mention him. That came into me. I don't know if it was luck or, or hard work or integrity or prayer, but they came to to me and then basically we've worked by word of mouth to to to reach out to other artists that are that are actively looking to have a day job. So we've got some musicians, we've got a lot of canvas painter's we have, everybody in our company is a is a more or less an artistic type. Uh and so finding them, I think has been more through through the tentacles of other employees then through just random, random, you know, help wanted ads or indeed or whatever. Man, this is definitely interesting. Do you find that having this base of artists as your workforce? Do you find they take more pride in their work? Do you find what are the pros and cons of that kind of a workforce? Absolutely. I think they take more pride. I think if you're if you consider yourself an artist more than likely you're going to take a lot of pride and you're going to adapt to the art of painting. And so I think that's definitely the advantage and the thing about my company is that we do a lot of the what you would call artistic painting. So we do uh we do some lime washing and we do some venetian plaster and we do you know back in the day, I used to do a lot of faux finishing, we do some more of that now too. But I think they as I brand the company as your home is our canvas. That's my painting company's tagline. I think the guys kind of really appreciate getting to work in some, you know, but you know upper end homes and being able to create finishes that are sort of uniquely ours. And that yeah, you know, nobody else in town is doing exactly the same or nobody else in town is certainly doing any better. Sure. Yeah, I love that. Do you run into any issues, you know, this idea of using your employees um to help you find additional employees is not entirely unique. I've not heard it in this way of kind of, you know, focusing on artists, this is unique. Um what are the pros and cons of that, you know, because because do you ever, have you ever had an employee leave and then because it was your friend, you know, his friend that brought him, well then you lost to employees, or have you not had any kind of negative repercussions from that? You know, I haven't had a lot of negative repercussions, but you're always gonna have that to a certain extent, so yeah, everybody doesn't work out and yeah, I've lost a friend of a guy that works here and then, but we've, you know, I'm extremely transparent company and I'm 60 to 61 years old now, so I'm almost like a father to all these guys and I just try my best to make them a better person, you know, I care about all my guys, I don't wanna get emotional, but yeah, and they know it, so if it doesn't work out, it usually we can figure it out that it's just not meant for them and and and move on to the next, but, you know, you kind of tapped into a ongoing byline for painting companies is that fine line between coming friends with your coworkers and being their boss. So you don't, you know, now that I'm so much older, it puts me in a way better position, but it is difficult to, to work with friends. Sure. Yeah, yeah. And one of the things you had had mentioned to me that is important is your guys tagline and kind of what that means to you and your company. You let's touch on that. Well, your home is our canvas and I think probably in the Kansas city area anyway. And I know I've heard other artists, I've heard other companies to do this, but our specialty is color consultation and matching and sampling. So I, I used to Vienna for years, I thought that was a pain in the butt because it takes so much time and it's just difficult. And you know, a lot of, a lot of painters will just say, hey, when you decide on your color, give it to me and that's what we'll put on. But I'm not like that at all. I like to, I like to figure out what the customer is looking for and then suggest sample, suggests colors that I think are in there like a designer would and then suggest the right sheen and the right placement of those colors and I don't care, you know, yeah, I shouldn't say, I don't care how many samples I have to put up because some people will test me, but I love to put up samples and make sure we get the right color and the right sheen and the right placement that, that is what I embraced as an artist. I think at this point I'm still an art. I mean that's, that's what I am at heart. My painting company is definitely my day job. I'm an artist on canvas. Uh, that's what I do. That's my hobby. That's what I do in my evenings. That's what all of my guys sort of have that same sort of mindset. Uh, so I don't, I lost my track there, but anyway, the colors and the, oh, I know what I was, I know where I was headed. So you may or may not know of an artist named by the name of christo who he is. Uh, he's the guy that did the mountainside umbrella installation in California and that did imagine one in Japan and he's done a lot of wrapped buildings with, with, with, with curtains, big gigantic multi, you know, worldwide installations. Well he doesn't, he doesn't go out there and set A 50-foot umbrella on a mountainside. He comes up with the concept and then he hires a team that's able to uh, yeah, two execute his vision. Well I kind of figure now with 15 employees that's kind of the artists that I see myself, being as I spend as much time as I can, as as is necessary to meet with the homeowner or the business owner and, and, and, and recognize their vision and then turn that into something that we can do and then oversee that, bring in my team who all care about it as well and really execute the vision of the art of a paint job. And then and your home is our canvas couldn't be a better applicable tagline for our company. Sure, yeah, I love that. Now are your estimates this color consultation, do you charge for that or is that? No, that's another thing I put in my estimate is that's color consultation sampling matching all provided. So, you know, we're we're a higher price company but that's that, you know, that's the that's the secret sauce that you're getting if you hire based training company, I really have a lot of design. I mean it's natural to me because I paint a lot on canvas. As a matter of fact I mix uh house paints in with the vast majority of my canvas paint because that's what I know, that's what I was weaned on is the oil base, you know, Benjamin moore and Sherwin Williams, oil based paints. So I kind of work in the popular colors into my canvas scheme and it really keeps me fresh and current with all the all the ongoing colo rs. In addition to that we work for a handful of top designers in Kansas city. So I'm always I'm always around all the color the frequent, you know, the current color trends that gives me a good opportunity to suggest and I don't even charge for it, it's just part of my bid for painting your house. Yeah, I love that. So how are you getting the majority of your work now, is it Word of mouth referral? Yeah. You know what I would say the vast majority is word of mouth. Even the days that my painting company was substandard, I always, I always was very well respected because as a, as a business owner and as me doug bates, I was, I always made sure that we got it right in the end. So word of mouth has gone a long, long ways in Kansas city. It does everywhere. But the other thing that I will mention is we have, we came up with a good logo that says your home is our canvas and paid to have, you know, paid to have my autograph embellished into bates painting company. And uh, we've wrapped four trucks with that logo and that bait your home is our canvas. And I'll tell you what, I have got probably more positive feedback and calls off of people that have noticed our brand name on our drugs than anything that I've ever done marketing wise, wow! So the rap trucks has been a bit of a game changer then I say that's it. Yeah, it's been a huge game changer and we have a nice website that we had put together and then the, you know, ongoing organic word of mouth is probably the number one thing, but the rap trucks, if I was gonna give tell somebody that's getting out there, getting to start, uh, that's, that's a killer. And what I do, I don't own the trucks. I offer a monthly stipend to my guys if they're gonna, if they'll buy a white truck and, and wear my rap and so it's kind of like, you know, you can do that for a lot of different companies, but I offer enough that they take me up once and now there's four of them around Kansas City area, wow. Do you mind sharing what you offer for that? Yeah, I offer $150, a month. 300. Yeah, that's pretty good. So then they just, for as long as they're working for you. As long as yeah, well there's a little bit more to it than the rap truck. They've got to have a ladder rack and they've got to be able to haul things too. So there's a little bit more to it. But basically you can, you know, there's a, there's an insurance, the way that you can keep that protected and you know, my wife, like I said, I'm the, I'm the majority of the front office, but my wife is my office administrator and so so some things I don't even know that she knows, but I know that I know that it's important in in hindsight to make sure that you're covered in every possible way insurance wise. So you know, the the value of a good night's sleep, that's what I call it. You don't want to get out there and be uninsured in anyway. So what do you, what's your role now? Are you primarily then training the guys or what, what are you doing day to day? You know, that's a that's a great question. It's kind of hard to pin it down, but I do the vast majority of the estimates. So I'm running 15 guys with my wife as the office administrator and I really don't have another field person, although I'm probably right on the cusp of adding another person that's, you know, that's not painting full time. I have a couple of guys that do estimates for me as needed. But basically the biggest, the majority of my time is sales and estimates. And then I try I try to have four or five crews that are really well managed so that I have four or five really good crew managers, but I ended up going by the jobs, you know, more than I probably should. But I just like to I like to I like to know what's going on. So I just like doing an art installation. I like to make sure everything is just the way I sold it estimates and management of kind of my combined uh what I do now sure The other quality control. So you've you've obviously grown quite a bit recently, you know, for for such an established painting company, you're entering new territory here, you've broken past a million. What are you finding to be the most challenging with this new scale? Well, I'll tell you what, continuing to expand the company and uh and and just keep up with the demand that we've created. I mean, I read a book I think was in a book called Good to Great, which is probably the best book that I've ever read in terms of being a business owner. Bye. What's the obvious jim Collins uh and talks about the flywheel. And so once you get the flywheel spinning, it takes a long time to get the flywheel spinning. But then once it spins it's got momentum and then it's hard, then it's just gonna keep spinning up by its own momentum. So continuing to keep, You know, at this point I have 15 painters that I could use 20. So that word of mouth hiring new painters is uh and that's difficult. That's probably the most difficult is adding painters to the staff. The second thing is trying to figure out enough away by which they add another person. That's not a painter, a helper to me, another manager slash estimator and plugging that in. So as I continue to grow, which we're forecasting for about 1. 2 This year, we're probably going up about $200,000 a year since we've kind of reinvented ourselves? Yeah. So how are you, you know when, when you have your employer and you are running W2 employees, right? Yeah. You know what and I talked about, you know what? And I like If we want to go back 42 years, I will tell you everything you could possibly do wrong. But I uh yeah, I'm all W two now and I I see the advantage in 1099 and subcontracting work, but it's really been important to me to keep my bait spending company label on all of our work. And there's subcontractors that can do your type of work. But there it's just a slippery slope because it's hard to get a guy to come back and redo something and redo something and redo something until he's got it perfect, you know, for you when he when he thinks it was perfect, you know, six hours ago. So that's the, that's the thing that's the slippery slope of of of 1099 vs W two. But all my guys are hourly paid employees and we have a we have a couple of bonus structures set up, but mostly I I want to make sure that I can get the the finished product is just like I have in my mind in my vision and sold to the customer? Sure. Do you have any incentives or bonuses or anything that you pay employees who successfully recruit other artists to come be painters for you guys. Yeah. Were you sitting on in on this morning's company meeting? Uh Yeah. We just talked about that and I think I am going to offer maybe even like a $500 bonus if you can bring somebody in the last two months or something like that because I'm in a desperate hiring need now and I think part of it is part of it is just the success of my company that we have a better uh we have a solid management structure but I'm just trying to be competitive with whatever's out there. So rather than just waiting for your friends too come along, try to get my guys to go out and recruit and I'm trying my best to, to kind of To bring them in. But I'm glad you asked that. I think that's a, I think that's the direction we're going to go. Maybe a $500 bonus if you can bring in a guy that lasts two months along that nature because we are, we're in a we're in a place of expansion. I think the housing market is so strong in nationally that it kind of affects every facet of the housing market. So people that all of a sudden their house is worth $200,000 more than it was two years ago. All of a sudden they can really validate spending a lot of money on, on redoing their kitchen or or painting their exterior or what or whatever. It's just a strong housing market affects every facet of of construction in my 42 years experience. Yeah, Yeah, I think you're right. Um and I think you obviously definitely have the experience to know. So what what advice you know, you say you've made kind of every mistake you can make. Um a lot of companies listening have been around for a lot less time than you've been around. What what are some guiding principles, I guess in some ways to avoid some of the biggest mistakes that you've made, some of the some of the biggest pains that you've had to endure. Alright, so Here's one thing I can tell you so many anecdotal stories. So, let's start with one of those being self taught. All right, let's go all the way back. I'm fresh out of college. This is back in the early 80s, mid 80s. Uh They didn't have any internet, you know what you learned about painting? You either asked at the paint store or asked another painter and I'm all about sharing with other paintings. In my opinion. There's plenty of work out there. It's just trying to figure out how to manage it. So, I love this. I love what everybody else says. I love what guys around Kansas city have to share. A couple of my competitors are good friends of mine anyway, where was a lacquer. Alright. so I heard a guy talking about stripping lacquer and I've had to strip the job before. But let me tell you about the very first time I ever sprayed lacquer, I have got a job for painting in the insurance office. There's a small office no bigger than a maybe 1200 square foot. Uh and this guy wanted his woodwork stained and lacquered, but I don't even know what lacquer was. I, I'm seriously self taught and just out of college and I had a little bit of familiarity with paints from my art background, but I didn't know anything about anything. So I bought a spray rig for this one job and I decided that I was gonna go paint spray this lacquer on the weekend because I didn't want anybody else there. The other construction trades on this small insurance office remodel, I didn't want him to know that. I didn't know what I was doing. So I got it already and I got everything taped off and I was ready to spread the cycle with my brand new spray rig. And so I start spraying this room and I mean the lacquer is going on good and it isn't 10 minutes and I didn't even realize that you are supposed to wear a respirator mask to spray lacquer, that's a super harmful fumes that comes out of lacquer and in a, in a closed in area, you've got a without a mask, You're doomed. So as great as far as I could. And I thought I can't, I can't go on. I mean, I went through, I'm by myself on a weekend out in this back parking lot after spraying lacquer for about 45 minutes. Seriously, no longer than that. I thought I was going to die. So I can't, I called the paint store and I said, what's wrong with this paint? I I said, I can't even breathe it. And they're like, well, you dummy, you know, you can't spray lacquer without a without a respirator mask. What are you thinking? And so that's how self taught I am. I mean, another thing that I get that I figured out is it's super hard to break from the field to the office. So you've got to have X number of guys doing X amount of work before you can afford to pay. You know, a guy that's not actually producing painted work. Uh, and I found that at about seven painters. So I think I could run a company off of seven painters with one office guy and I'm running 15 now. But that's also, I've got my wife working. I think that's a truth that was a slippery slope for me because as long as you're out there working with them every day, you're getting great where you're getting sometimes you're getting twice as going to work out of a guy is when you're not there. And so I, I just think every company, every painting company owner that I've talked to faces that same struggle as soon as you're checking on the job once a day rather than being there eight hours a day. That that's just that's just a tricky tricky situation. Good hiring, good help is uh a blessing. Yeah. Your numbers start to slip a little bit there. They do. They. I mean, seriously, when you heard about a guy talking about how much more effective a guy was paying uh subcontracted rather than as an employee. And I get that, I mean, essentially I've been subcontracted my whole life. You know, I never got paid hourly. It's all, I'm always calculating the cost of the job, but painting hourly is a little different. And you know, you kind of have to lay out the amount of work and or an expectation of work that can be repeated, you know, five days a week for the year. You can't just go blow and go everything and then get your money and then move on to the next job. So you kind of have to manage everything differently when you're the only one getting paid by the job and everybody else is getting paid by the hour, you sort of have to empathize with that or understand that that that mindset, What has led you to decide that the W two route is the path for bates painting. Well the primary thing is to keep all the taxes straight. So I I have I I I did 99 to everybody. Initially, Uh initially as I learned how to run a painting company and just paint hired friends of mine, everybody was a 1099. In fact, I didn't even, initially I didn't even pay anybody hourly. We used to just split up the job at the end. And I would take, I would divide the percentages of the job between the guys that were working and I just take a little bit higher percentage than everybody else. So in fact, all the way back to the beginning, I would even subtract the labor and even the cost of, you know, supplies. So I would like if we had to buy a brush that came out of that job And and move on. So that was all 1099 at first. But really there's uh There there's a slippery slope tax wise between having a 1099 employee and having a W2 employee. And, and I can see it either way, But 1099 employees. The problem is they get in a lot of tax trouble if they're not keeping them themselves up insurance wise and tax wise, both they need to pay their Social Security and they need to pay their own insurance, you know, theoretically. And I just feel like the umbrella of providing all that is all the insurance and all the Social Security is probably been the best scenario for my company and like I said I like to I don't I don't want to say I micromanage but I like to make sure that everything gets done perfectly. Yeah and and that means if we go have to go back and redo something because it's not as good as I thought it should be, then we're going to do it and get that gets slippery too when you're, when you're subcontracted a guy and he thinks he's done and should be paid and you think he needs to work several more hours to get it to the way you see it. Sure that answers your question and sometimes I guess. No it absolutely does. I mean I think pros and cons to both. I think there are two and I see the pros you know what a great company to subcontract is valuable because you know there's human nature if you're getting paid $1000 a job versus $20 an hour for the job, you're gonna bust that job faster at $1000 than you are at $20 an hour in terms of total time spent. Yeah. Yeah aligning incentives. Um What is the, you know you you talk about how the quality slipped and you guys um ultimately you made everything right. What's the biggest customer blunder that you guys have made and how did you fix it? Okay so guys? Alright 42 years probably 10 candidates. Uh but I've always fixed them so I gotta I'll go back to another one a lacquer again and I'm not a huge lack of spraying company but you can see why. So we did a lack of job. I don't know if you remember, you probably don't remember you weren't even born yet. Eighties, mid, late, mid to late eighties. Alright. There was there was white stain that was super popular in fact it's probably coming back. Uh So used to staying this this wood white and then you'd lacquer it, but there was a special lacquer that you use called Water white lacquer. Alright, so I got I was actually doing an architect's office and he wanted all this white stained wood. Uh it's a pretty big job too, so back in the mid 80s, a big chunk of work for me. And so all this wood had to be white stained alright. Um and and then it had to be lacquered. So the lacquer, they make it they make a lacquer that's clear, that doesn't yellow. Alright. That was called water white lacquer back in the day, I don't know what it's called now probably you you'd use an acrylic product but or an acrylic lacquer but anyway back then I just used the lacquer, that I that you know the amber colored lacquer, that I'd already that I always used. So we get that that all stained white sprayed lacquer, you know fine finished and it was just had this you know, gold, greenish gold cast because that's the color that the, that the non clear lacquer is and I had, this was in an office building downtown Kansas city, I had to go back in there and strip all of that lacquer off and then redo it the right way And I probably got 10 stories that rival that one, but I'll never forget that because that was a pain. But you know, I've always seen it through, I've lost a lot of money on some jobs like that, but I've always stayed there to get it right. Yeah. So I take great pride in that. That's excellent. So you, one of the things you guys are struggling with, probably the thing you're struggling with most now is keeping up with the demand, you know, because you created that flywheel effect, What would you say is going the best, what are you guys knocking it out of the park with right now as a business? Mm hmm. I would say I would actually say that probably the best thing is the business that we're doing is color consultation and color placement aside from that Donovan remind me, you know, the way that you structured the company is the best thing you've done ever. Yeah, yeah, as a business, as a business, probably the way that I have, the company set up is going the best and day to day at work, Probably the colors that, that people are are now now that I've now that I'm offering the servants and is getting out there, there's people that are calling me just to come and pick their colors for them and I couldn't, you know, I think I'm speaking as the artist, I couldn't be more proud than when somebody comes and lets me really just just throws it open and says, hey, I trust you pick these colors, picked these sheens and uh that to me that's what blesses my spirit. I think probably the way that were the most successful because the way we have created a structure for the business, but that, that's not necessarily what blesses me the most. I never have really been like, I almost think I told you earlier, I'm a reluctant million dollar gross guy kind of never set out to do it now that I'm here. I see the advantage, I see where I'm headed, but it kind of came uh Yeah, I was always happy when we went over 500,000. I was delighted then we went over six, I was happy there seven, you know, so on and so forth. So I'm just, I just feel blessed by the, by the whole thing. I feel like I'm really, you know, 61 years old. I feel like it took me about 35 years to find out what I wanted to do in life. I mean I was always doing painting and I was always running a painting company as a job. And just now, I feel like I'm, you know, I'm I'm an artist, I'm an artist that's painting houses and I feel like that is probably the overall reason that were that, that we're having the success that we're having. Do you guys have any, any kind of written company values? We've got a lot of things that were kicking around. So we've got, we've got a company handbook, we've got some company values. I don't, I can't read a mission statement to you right now. So I just I asked because you have such a you have such a strong present. You know, like I feel like I could probably, after this podcast write a mission statement for your company of some kind because it just seems that strong and I'm sure it's ingrained within your culture, but it's, you know, we've had a lot of podcast guests, but but very I'm not sure I've ever felt such a strong mission, I guess from from one company owner as I am right now. Gosh, what a what a what a kind thing to say. And uh yeah, I'm gonna hire you to read that statement a little freelance mission statements. I don't think I I don't per se have a mission statement written out. I mean, I've got a lot of the policies and whatnot. But but your home is our canvas. Pretty much sums it sums it up, it's our, as the way we approach a paint job. Yeah. I really have a lot of, you know what I was circling back to the question I asked earlier about hiring people, I read an article from uh, that Warren Buffett wrote and I like to read stuff like that where you know, I'm not that well read or that well educated, but I like as it comes across, I like to pick the nuggets up where they go. But he said one of the, there's three criteria to, to hiring integrity, enthusiasm and intelligence and he says by far the most important is integrity because if you're enthusiastic and intelligent, you're really taking the company in the wrong direction many times. So, and I feel like that entirely like I like guys of high character and I think that we, I have got a bunch of guys that I, you know, I almost feel like they're my sons, but I've got a bunch of guys that I can trust and that that are really doing things the way that I would like to have them done and that that is just, you can't put a price on that. Yeah. What's your interview process? Like you know when when these guys come in to kind of vet them, I usually vet them with three men and I'm quick to hire because I don't, I think a lot of times the guy can bluff his way to an interview. But I don't think a guy can bluff his way through a couple of months of work. So it's, if, if the, if a guy comes and I just have a good feeling about him, I don't care if he can paint at all. Uh in fact, a lot of times it's better off in my company to bring in a guy that can't paint, but wants to learn then together that learned how to paint the wrong way because some of these guys, it's hard to break their habits. So that kind of goes back to the way I used to be, but I'd almost like to, I'm looking for a guy with high integrity that I just have a good feeling about and anything else, if he can, if he can get there, if he's willing to work, if he has a good attitude, That's 75% of it, I take a guy with a good attitude over a guy that that can pay good, you know, assuming that it's acceptable because that those bad energies, those bad apples spoil the whole bunch in a hurry. Whereas the guy, if a guy has a good attitude, at least he's keeping things moving and eventually, if he's, if he's not cut out for this, it'll, it'll work itself out soon enough. So anyway, back to the interview question, I have to bring to two of my top guys in with me. So we bombard a guy with three guys and then usually you can just, I just get a good feeling for. So it's way more about, it's not about them testing themselves, but it's always better if they're available So you can hire them and say, go start tomorrow and we'll have you worked with this guy and then we'll see what we'll check back in in 30 days or whatever. Yeah, awesome. What, what changes do you foresee in the painting industry moving forward or, or do you see the industry changing? Well, I saw this on the questionnaire and I think that I'm, you know, with, with my vast experience, I've always been big on, on estimates by appointment only. So the people who want me to do a drive by and tell them how much their house is going to go. I've always tried to stay away from that because I don't feel like that's my market. I'm, I'm all about selling high end job, not, not about giving it the lowest bid out of five. Uh, but I'm seeing more and more, there's people are starting to get the idea that they can get a house bid and, and sometimes even done without ever meeting anybody face to face. So there's all these, you know, real estate apps and whatnot that you can see a virtual tour of the house. People are requesting pricing on, you know, just by without even an appointment and I think I'm quick to pooh pooh that, but nevertheless, I kind of feel like that might be the way things are going. So I have been, I've been known to, to do a bit, in fact, I'm starting to kind of give some ballpark estimates on just google view based on an address and the look of the house because if I'm going to do the full, the full meal deal with debate spanning company, I'm going to put a lot into that estimate, that whole proposal. So, So I, I really think that's the way that things are gonna change. If I could think 10 years into the future of 15 years in the future, there's probably gonna be a lot less face to face interaction, a lot more online and zoom and all this. Yeah, all this crazy stuff that your kids are so good at, where we didn't have cell phones. So yeah, it's a kind of kind of that technology. I really think that that's a, that's going to be a part of every painting company moving forward and probably not too far from now. Yeah. And that's been a theme that's come up again and again in the different episodes of this podcast is embracing technology and it kind of has, it hasn't come up as much as, as the way you're bringing it up, which is really in conducting the estimate in the sales process and kind of ease of use for the homeowner, you know, we're all we get are Uber eats and our amazon and, you know walmart now does, you know, 99 bucks you get free deliveries for the year. You know, I feel like I don't have to step out out of the house. You can hire a painter, hey take a picture of your living room and I'll give you a quote. We'll come out and do it next week. It's all done. You know, I walk out of my house, I don't know, maybe I'll go outside in two months from now whenever I feel like it and there will be a new paint new paint color on the outside of the, you know what I mean with based on After 42 years of doing bids. I mean seriously I can almost, I can do a lot of them from the street. You know, it's really more about the feel of the job and the feel of what of the depth of which they want that job done that. It is the square foot or counting windows are counting doors, you know, that was that was that was great when I was young. But it's, it's kind of a more experiential now. Yeah. Now it makes sense. Do you have any other advice? Any other thing you'd like to add for for any of our listeners? Okay. Yeah, I do. I made some notes. So all right. I'm old time guy. Right? So I make sure that I return every single phone call every single day. So I don't clock out at the end of the day and my end of the day might be 5:00, but I make sure that I've returned every phone call that I received that day every single day and text And then even emails, I may not return every email, but I returned every email within 24 hours. So I like to get everything uh you know Mark Cuban That he's the same way returns every all of his emails every single day. So I like to keep that precedent because I think people really appreciate that. I like to make sure that I get a bit an estimate turned over within 48 hours. So some people give an estimate on the spot. I usually kind of resonate on it and and send them a page of details. I'd like to make sure that they get that properly because when the person calls you for an estimate more than likely they're ready to hire, they don't start getting painting estimates until they're ready to have a paint job done. So that's another thing, I like to get the estimates in promptly. I like to gosh, I shouldn't have wrote all these notes, I like to do an estimate. Alright get this, this is good. I wish somebody would have taught me this when I do a walk around the house with a nessman interior extra with the homeowner, I try to clue in on key things that they say like if they call a, you know, a Korbel Korbel or if they call a brick molding a window frame, I like to cue in on the keywords they say and then write that as a detail in my estimate. So a lot of estimates are just checklist. I like to line itemize what we're gonna do just, you know, without being too wordy and then in the notes, I like to include all like let's say a persimmon tree must not be trimmed or persimmon tree trimmed away from the house. I'd like to re regurgitate that right back in writing so that they know that I listened to them and I paid attention. Yeah, that's a big differentiate, that's a, that's a gold nugget. If there ever was one right there, I like to set up my monday morning on friday afternoon and then I like to clock out and close down from friday afternoon until monday morning. So I know in this day and age and to be honest with you, I'm always available on my cell phone so I don't really do it, but I've tried to preach that to my guys. So listen, unless there's a limb that's missing from a body or you know, the severe bleeding. I don't want to be bothered over the weekend If you can wait until monday, bring it up on monday. I think that's important because you can just get overrun by running a campaigning company or any kind of company. I think it's just important to me to have my, observe my sunday as a sabbath and to spend the all the way from friday evening to monday morning off work. Yeah, and that's how you last for 42 years right there. Well hopefully I got a few more than me. I like I said I'm going strong now. I'm really enjoying what I do and you know what they say, if you enjoy what you do, you never work a day in your life. It's just now becoming fun to me. So I I don't even think about how many hours I work, man, that's amazing. Doug, thank you for this. This was invaluable, Really appreciate you coming on the show and sharing all that. You definitely have a unique perspective, definitely a longer timeline than most of our guests here. Um Yeah, thanks man, this was amazing. Hey Brandon, it's my pleasure 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. 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@PainterMarketingPros.com and I can give you personalized advice on growing your painting business until next time, Keep growing.