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Guest Interview: Greg Flaherty of Colorful Remedies

Greg Flaherty, founder and owner of Colorful Remedies, discusses how he built a painting business that can now fully run without him. He shares his process for vetting potentially bad clients right from the start, and why he views that as a critical component to his painting company's success. Greg elaborates on how strategic planning has been a primary focus for him, and how other painting company owners can create their own strategic plans if they are serious about long-term growth.

Video of Interview

Topics Discussed:

  • How to make your painting business run without you
  • Why bad clients will kill your growth, and how to vet them
  • We are not in the business of doing favors, so structure your business accordingly
  • The reasons strategic planning matters, and how to do it right
Audio Transcript


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 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 paint marketing mastermind podcast. We host guests Greg flaherty. Greg is the founder and owner of colorful remedies, a residential repaint and remodeling company based in Westchester pennsylvania. In this episode, Greg discusses how he built a painting business that can now fully run without him. He shares his process for vetting potentially bad clients right from the start and why he views that as a critical component to his painting company's success. Greg elaborates on how strategic planning has been a primary focus for him and how other painting company owners can create their own strategic plans if they are serious about long term growth. 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 Greg, thank you for coming on the painter marketing mastermind podcast man, my pleasure Brandon. Thanks for having me. Absolutely. So talk to us a little bit about colorful remedies. So we are painting home remodeling company. We are based out of Westchester pennsylvania, which is the Chester county Um suburb of Philadelphia. We've been in business since 2000 And seven. I'm the, I'm the sole owner. I started the business right after college to getting a business degree and having had a summer job in the painting industry for a neighbor, I realized it was my best strong suit to um if I wanted to start my own business was painting was my skill set and I just ran with it. So Um here we are today, 15, 15 years later, I love it. So you, you started with painting and then now you've branched out into painting and remodeling, correct, correct. So, so I was very service oriented off the bat and I felt like that was part of what made us successful. I was, I was doing whatever I could to please a client, you know, to a fault, obviously you're, you're doing whatever they right? Yeah, I mean, and and I say now sometimes it's like I'm not in the business of doing favors, but doing favors was a large part of starting the business. So like things would come up, we'd be, you know, painting a front door and the the brick molding or the trim around the door will be rotted and somebody like, can you fix this? And I was like, no, I can't, I'm not, I'm a painter. So eventually I made a connection with the guy had grown up with who was working for another company as a carpenter and probably within the first two years we just started getting so many asked that he was, he was very intelligent, good carpenter and and we brought him on to essentially start a small carpenter division and we've had that for a long time and it's always been great for things like crown molding or custom trends or wood rot or you're getting outside and something's rotted. So the company evolved and always had a little bit of a carpenter division, but paintings driven our growth and really what we've been focused on and like I said, what the name is based on colorful remedies, people can hear that and think about it and understand that that's a painting business. Sure. No, I love the name, I love that line to um you know, I think it's something that, that would resonate with a lot of our listeners about how you need to be really clear on what you offer the value that you bring to the table and what people are paying you for and be comfortable that you're providing at least equal or greater value than what you're charging but you're not in the business of doing favors, You know, so often I hear I hear they're getting haggled on price or you know, people what can you do this or add that or do this and I guess, you know, oftentimes ends up being closing techniques, but at the end of the day you're running a company and if your marketing and selling a position yourself the right way, you don't need to be doing favors to kind of get deals through the door. But when you're starting you're starting. Yeah, and that's that's totally true. I mean it was you have to establish a report, you know, you know, the other thing is, you know, you gain leverage over time and confidence and you lack some of that or you get rid of some of that naivety when you're first in business. But yeah, that was part of the territory whatever. You know, if I was bringing in trash cans or grabbing the newspaper, we would give muffins out to clients when we first started, we show up on the first day and there was me with one of my friends who was with the business and we'd hand off a box of muffins to try and get ourselves in the door and um we don't do that today Because you know, I didn't have anything to work off of, you know, I had to make sure that the client remembered me and us right from the get go that way to hire us again because there was nothing that backed us. Now. We have 15 years of experience and you know a great staff and support system so people can see that and they respect that now and they know that. But when you're first getting going, I mean there's just you have nothing behind you. So you know, you've got to be eager and you have to do some favors. I think you're, you're out there scrapping I think in the beginning and I remember my, my wife and I have started a mobile auto detail business and that's kind of a long story about how I got into marketing. But we started mobile detailing business and we were doing the detailing ourselves and I remember the first time someone hired us, It wasn't even an expensive detail by any means. I think it was $90 or something. And I felt like I just showed them the world. I felt like I just, there couldn't be a smudge, There couldn't be, I mean we must have worked on that car for five hours. So you, that's 10 man hours plus materials for $90 that made zero cents. But you, this idea that you're scared when you start that, oh my God, someone handed you some money so therefore they are entitled to the entire world. And eventually as you become a more seasoned business owner, you realize They don't own everything and you don't have to provide them all these favors if they only give you $90. Yeah and I think you understand the value of what you start to provide a client as you get bigger, like someone's calling us for a reason, they need a service, you know completed at their house, we offer that service, they're um they're vetting us against other people that do the same services us um and you know that's our job to provide that service and get in and out of their door as quick as possible and for our crews to know that. Um But it does take a while to get there, but now that's why people hire us um because they know they're going to get that professional service from start to finish um and then you know that you have to have a cost that that are that supported too. I mean we have to charge a certain amount to make sure we're covering all our costs and that's something you don't realize, you know early on to, you're happy to get a job and get a deposit and you don't worry about the numbers so much. That's like part of it. I feel like the growth process was for me and had I been more in tune to the numbers earlier on that probably would have supported faster growth but and less favors but you know, I think it's just kind of a learning curve to a certain degree too. Yeah. No, absolutely and you know there are a couple different kinds of customers out there and you say that that's a lot of why people hire you guys now as they know you're going to go in, you're gonna get it done right and then you're gonna get out right. It's, it's about getting the job done right efficiently on time, good customer experience for them. You're not kind of lingering or, or leaving the work site a mess or anything like that. And then there are other customers who are, who kind of approach it from the mindset. Well, let me see, let me see what else I can get. Let me see if I can, if I can get them to do this or get them to do that and ultimately, you don't want that kind of customer anyways. You know, it's about creating a business where your professional, their professional at least relatively professional and and everyone wins, right? And you're charging an amount of money where you can provide a quality service and quality product to them. And you don't have to try to figure out how you, how you can make the margin work because you under underbid that job. Yeah. You know, exactly, and you know, being being tight on that, knowing what your value is, is, is important. I mean, you hear you hear the term ideal customer um you know, how do you identify that? And I think that that is important and it lends itself more true on our remodeling side because those are long term relationships rather than, rather than short term relationship with a lot of our painting work where you're in and out a lot of time within a week. Um, you know, so you're gonna, you were setting up for spending time with these people were in their homes and um, you know, just looking for red flags or issues, um, off the bat, that could be a challenge. I mean that's become vitally important. And again, if you go back two years earlier, whatever, whoever will sign off on for whatever reason. And you feel like if they have a request, you're going to offer them that and try to fulfill it and now it's like, wait a minute you're asking me to do this, this and this. Well that's not really what we do. Um, you know, or no, that's not, that's not part of it. We're not going to move your grandfather clock or whatever little thing that that comes up that you learn over time that this is what we provide and you're the type of reversing that we're willing to provide it to. You know, I think it's something you learn you learn as well. So sure and yeah, I mean you open yourself up to liability and not example moving the grandfather clock if you drop that clock, that's gonna really hurt your business when you have to buy them a new grandfather clock or maybe it was irreplaceable because there's a family heirloom and imagine the kind of review you're going to get there or if you start over extending into services that you really don't do. Like, like carpentry work for example, and you don't have a connection that will do a good job of it. Well then you're going to get a bad review because you you did a terrible job at the carpentry work, but that's that you shouldn't have done it anyways. Right. Right. Exactly. If you guys, you know, you're you're saying it that this comes with experience, you know, figuring out who your ideal customer is, but but I want to try to get kind of get past that, right? Because because when on this podcast, we want to basically take your experience and help other people kind of learn without having to go through that that trial by fire, so to speak, so I have to follow ups for you. one is what, what does your ideal customer look like? Because maybe somebody listening who hasn't really fully identified their customer, you know what's an ideal customer and what's a non ideal customer? Yeah, I mean, I think obviously have to know your target market where you're located in the demographics there. I mean we're in a pretty affluent area and you know, we're working for well educated homeowners a lot of times busy families um You know, so the you really can start with the cost of the house. I mean most of the houses were in our 400 uh 1000 half million dollars up to, you know, 1,000,002 million, you know dollar houses um There's probably an average in there, which I don't know, so I think that's key because people have to have the money to pay for our services. You don't want to go into a neighborhood where you'd love to work for someone but they can't afford it so that you know the aptitude to be able to pay for the services we're offering is key. And then I think you're just looking for, you know someone that it's almost like someone you'd hire, you know like when you go out to do an estimate um you want to have a good report that person, you want them to respect the work that we're doing. You know, you don't want someone coming in undervaluing what trade you're offering is like, oh I could paint it myself, you know? You hear that a lot, It's like well then maybe you should, you know, because we're professionals and we're going to hire us then that's what we're going to get. So I think I think that's part of it and we don't have it dialed in where like it's it's a list that we go out and we look for that person, but our sales people um which is really me and someone who does the painting sales were good people um People, you know, we understand how someone should act. Um and how our guys are gonna feel working in someone's house and I think that's a big, you know you want to set up your guys to enjoy the workload they're doing um You know, so you have to get to a point to where you have enough sales where an estimate is coming in, where you can vet out the bad clients. Yeah. You know as well as if you're eager and you need to make a buck, sometimes you're working for those people, not necessarily because you want to, but because you have to uh So just just identifying what your market is, I think for people that are looking at that and the type of work that you really want to do and who's willing to pay for that is is what to look for early on and part of it is maybe being what's your specialty, you know, for us it's been residential painting and that's that's kind of broad um But like if some if you have a specialty service to knowing that and trying to get that type of work, you know? Um And maybe it's margin based too, you know, that's something we looked at way more closer now that I didn't early on is like what service am I offering that give us the best margins um And how do we do more of that um What are your margins, so on painting, We're trying to hit around 45 gross on On every job we'd like to see it get closer to 50, some are way more, some are way less more, and more they're very much on target with what we're looking to hit. Um you know, net were ever working on because we're growth oriented, so there's always a new expenditure that we need to add um right now, you know, so it's it's that's part of it, I mean, and so yeah, that's about where we're at and what we're trying to hit on on an everyday painting job, awesome man. So yeah, that was super helpful, you know, going for those, those higher end homeowners um they have to have the money, you know, even if they value the quality, if they can't afford it, but you almost don't even want to take their business at that point um because they're making a bad decision. But then this idea that people saying I could paint it myself, that's the point, I love to bring up, yeah, you could paint it yourself, you know, most of the the residential repaint projects, people are are capable of learning it and doing it themselves, you know, some of the cabinet work and some of the finer work. No, you know, that would be more of a process, but but painting and interior exterior, you know, it's not rocket science, people could figure it out, People do it. So ultimately you're really providing the experience that you're like you said, you're a professional painter, you're gonna get in, get it done right and get out essentially you're taking a burden off of them, right? They're paying for me to take that, that load off. Yeah, 100%. So when you, when you have, um, you know, you, you gave a pretty good description there of your target customer and you guys have a feel, you know, a rapport. I think that's a big thing and it's not something I've heard from many other people. This idea of rapport and almost looking at them like, like, like you're hiring them, you know, because you are working with them in a way, especially interior painting, you're, you're going to be right there. Especially, you know, if people are still working from home or remote or whatever. Um, you said you guys look for the red flags. So I assume red flags being well, I want to, I want to know, I don't want to assume anything. I want to know what red flags are. And then I want to know what do you do when you, when you decide, hey, this customer is probably not a great fit, but they want to move forward. How do you handle it? So first off, if we identify that someone could be a tricky client for a number of reasons. They have tons of questions. They're talking about how bad the last experience was with a contractor, They, they call you the next day after you show up for the estimate appointments say where's my estimate? And I haven't gotten it yet When it's only been 24, hours demanding. Um and sometimes to, it can be like their houses super unkempt. Like it's just a mess and you know, who know they have dogs, cats and they obviously just don't care for cleanliness a certain degree and that might not be the right environment for our crews to work in. So I think all those things are there. We if we can before we go out will will eliminate a client whether it's too far, that's a big one. Obviously location. Um they're tough to deal with over the phone. They just don't seem to value our time. Things like that. We'll just bail on it. Um We just won't, will say it's not the right job for us and won't go out to look at it. So you guys will just say that you'll, you'll just say on the phone, you just say, hey, this isn't the right job. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We'll come up with some sort of reason why we can't go look at that job. And um, you know, you know, essentially for whatever reason it is internally to the client when we know that we don't want it. There's no sense I was wasting our time. What what can you give an example of the kind of reason because my fear and you know, the fear that I would have. And I think that a lot of people have is, oh my goodness, if you say, hey, I don't want to work on your project. They're going to go punish you online and leave you a one star google review. I think it's, it's, we can't get to it right now. Um you're not in our operating area. Um We're just too busy with current estimates. Um what, you know, just in a way where they can't really bring fall onto us. Yeah, we would never really just say yeah to a certain degree are estimators sick this week, we'll call you in the future. I mean, you know, he's super busy, whatever, whatever the reason may be. But that avoiding those bad clients is huge. And you know, sometimes you you want to take on a job because that client might be a good referral. You know, you know, they're in the right neighborhood, but but it's not worth, it's not worth dealing with a terrible client and terrible clients don't give you good referrals. You know, that's true. That's that's always something to think about. Like just because they're in the right neighborhood, you know, they could be, they could end up being more of a problem than hopeful. Exactly. So I mean that's that's the first step then once we go out, if we look at and we realize the job's going to be a royal challenge. but, but we're willing to bid on it, we make sure our price reflects that. Um, So one the client, you know, they're going to pay an added premium to get our our normal service because we know our guys are gonna be, it's gonna be tricky or challenging or whatever. So we build an extra cost for those jobs and a lot of times that can lead you out of getting the job and if you get it, you're covered for whatever added inconvenience you're going to deal with. So if we've gone out to look at the job and we realized we really don't want it, then then it's really it's like it's, we're just not interested in this type of job at this current point. You know, we're just be open and honest and so, you know, we're not we're not gonna be able to provide you with an estimate for the work we looked at were sorry for wasting your time and if someone wants to give us a bad referral or online review for for telling them that we're not going to give them an estimate, that's that's fine. You know, what what are you, what are you gonna do about that? Yeah. Yeah. So you you guys basically we'll try to weed them out in the beginning, If you can tell right right off the bat that this is problematic before we even do the estimate by via you're too busy estimator sick, you know, not in the service area. Things of that nature. It's it's us not you. Um if you go out there and then you figure out this is gonna be potentially very problematic. You know, you're probably gonna have some out of scope work or complaints or whatnot. Then you basically include a pain in the neck, what I call a pain in the neck tax um onto that. And so at least you you kind of cover your base a bit, although you could still end up in the whole uh and then at some point you'll actually just just say, you know, this isn't a good fit and kind of just let the dice uh land where they land. Is that right? Yeah. Yeah. I mean sometimes it happens where it's like you put that as a man on the back of the list. Um and and you don't follow up, you know, they're just waiting for the estimate and that's not necessarily the right way to go about it either. You know? Um because then they can't complain about that. They showed up and they never gave me an estimate. Um And I've been I've been faulty of that over over the years. Um just put put to the back burner at the job I don't really want to care about. And I got so many other things to do that that's just I just kind of let that client die off to a certain degree and that can give you negative feedback too, because they can simply say, well, they came out but never gave me an estimate and that doesn't sound sound good either. Um You have to be careful of that. Yeah, I mean, there, I think the as hard as as we try, there's no way uh to always avoid negative reviews, there just is no way, you know, some some people are for whatever reason in their personal life, looking to give negative reviews and it's just it's kind of the nature of the beast, but I think you you offer a great service um consistently and in the end you net out very positively. Yeah, and then the review side of things too, that's something we've worked hard on it. It's super important is getting the positive reviews because you are, like you said, it's inevitable that someone is going to be piste off at some point and you know, go mouth off on some sort of online medium, But if you have lots and lots of good reviews, it's very clear to see that that's an outlier, You know, I can go on there, it's like, well, they have 100 good reviews and I think we actually do on Google's business page, I have over 100 reviews. Um and that's key and people really look at that, you know, from a marketing standpoint, you know, that's that's something that they want to see, let me look at their referrals, so yeah, yeah, for sure, that makes sense. So one of the things that's interesting about your business model that you and I were talking about is that you essentially don't really work day to day anymore really much at all in the painting business and you guys have basically built out this remodeling side and I know you're, you're finally a D B A and potentially gonna even separate that a little further, but you've got the painting company now to a point where you're not having to be involved and as you mentioned, you know, that's the goal a lot of times when you start a business is is you kind of grow this baby and you wanted to to sort of be able to go off to college or work or wherever and and kind of take on a life of its own, how'd you do it man? So uh yeah, I guess it's like raising a child at this point, I have a 15 year old that means, so I think that's a challenging time, right? You kicked him out, he's 15, he's a grown man. So, so I guess it kind of goes back to for me, originally I got into the painting business because I went to school for business and it was a skill set I had as a summer job and I realized that if I kinda wanted to start a business, went to school for business management and like what what can I do and I started thinking about it towards you under college and eventually like, well I've been painting for five summers, I'm pretty good at that, Why don't I start a painting business? Seems pretty easy. Um And I didn't necessarily start the painting business because I wanted to be a professional painter, I wanted to gain experience as a business owner. Um You know, you have these glorious ideas like I'll start a business and I'll be a millionaire in five years, you know? Um And obviously like real quickly I I learned that there's a lot of, lot of lot of work to do and it's not just gonna happen because because I think it's gonna happen or I or I get up every morning and work hard, you know, there's you have to have some strategy behind it. Um So so I tried really hard to start a good business and use my college experience um and my business background to like implement the different areas of the business from from human resources to marketing to, you know, my sales and operations and I was in tune to that, that at the get go and then real quickly you're in the thick of it, I'm on a job site everyday up on ladders, trying to do sales calls at night and it was like man, I'm I'm never gonna have any time, you know, like it was busier and busier and busier for me, but eventually, you know, it's, it's adding the right people staying, staying very organized as as much as you can for the process, you know, people, again, it's a service that we're providing, people are calling us because they need us to help them with something at their house. So we're focused on providing a high level service and bringing the right people. Um and uh we naturally grew, I think one of the things that helped me early on was getting in some networking groups as a small business, like being eyes and things like that to just really establish myself as a professional and get get the name out there and just get they call it third generation or whatever referrals just to build some, some burning outside of my network because it was largely just my network. At first I had a website and did some of those things, but I mean at this point, you know, we took to run a painting business on its own, you know, some of that's gonna take time and definitely strategic planning for someone who's just getting into it. And I think the struggle becomes that three Employees to 10 employees, maybe even 12 employees when you're in that mid range and you have a lot of expenditures and you're used to being very hands on, but at some point you can't be hands on with 3 to 10 employees, like there's always something else to do, you run around a good business and figuring out how to allow yourself that time while still getting paid for that time is key. And I think that's that's the one thing. So I've been able to set up the painting business where I don't work on the day to day but I very much get paid for the work I do on the remodeling side. So the model for us is I mean really we have, We have a dedicated estimator, we have um he does, he's probably he's probably an estimate on a million $1. 5 million dollars of work this year on the painting side. He was a past business owner himself and we essentially acquired him by offering him a job with our company and he does all our sales. Um I do some of the painting estimating and a couple other times we have a couple of people who can go out and look at stuff. We have a dedicated sales guy Now at this point to support both companies. We have we have we have an office and we have essentially an office manager and then an office assistant that are working in the office full time. So we're answering our phone calls every single day. So if you need to call us for a painting job, you likely are going to call the office and someone's gonna pick up the phone and tell you when your estimate is going to be set up and how it's going to go, that's been key answering the phone and responding quickly. You know, if you're a busy business owner and you're not answering your phone, you're missing work. And that was a problem for me earlier on, I couldn't get back to people when I was on a brush or on a ladder um or just had too much to do, you know, so that's that's key. People have to be able to find you online and there has to be a process for that as well. And then on the field side of things, we have one other office position and then that's a scheduling manager Because we have I think five, it's 5-6 different painting jobs a day open. And um that's that's 5-6 crews of 123 guys on on every single job and like we said, the turnovers within a week sometimes. So that next job has to be organized, a client has to be informed. Our guys have to have the information and to do all that. You need some sort of system. And we utilize a online scheduling platform called smartsheet, which we've had for years. And essentially we were able to set up our own calendar function and to play a dashboard where you guys can go get the job information, get the addresses, um see the job scope and that's how they get to and from the job and do their weekly weekly work. So the scheduling of all that and then on the field side we have project managers, painter 12 and three and then um we have one layer in between that as a production manager on the painting side. So essentially if you could call them the closer um you know, when there's little things that need to get done here and there, touch up the ladder, needs to get picked up, scaffolding, need to get dropped off, some very skilled, detailed oriented work needs to happen. Um you know, or we just need someone to go deal with a tricky client. Um he's essentially available to do that as our production manager, so we're not pulling project managers or the scheduling manager to go handle little stuff that's either holding up a payment or holding up a job starting. So um I mean that would be the people's side, there's tons of layers from the operational side, you know, how you're tracking your hours, are you providing benefits? You know, and a lot of the different things that a good business needs to do to keep good people on board and I think that's key, how do you keep good people around um you know, if you want to establish yourself as, as a business owner and I know the other the other strategy out there, which we've talked to a lot of guys that that do this and it's not really our model is subcontracting some people figure it out that way. I'm sure you deal with people Brandon that that are more sub based an employee based and that just hasn't been our model. But that seems pretty common in the industry. Um you know, so that's a different model. But, but I I can't speak to that too much because we've only really used subs on the painting side very irregularly. It's it's a different animal on the remodeling side, which I'm using a lot of different subs for specialty trades that we don't do. So anyway, I mean, and I could go on and on of the different things we have in place to be able to have the painting division operate with without me involved, but a sales guy for sure. Someone who's managing the schedule. Um, and then, and then definitely good project managers and then that operational system is key because you can't keep it all together yourself. You've got to realize when it's too much for you to handle and what system you need to, to have your business run efficiently. Sure. Yeah, I think um, I mean that makes sense. You, you gave a really good breakdown. They're basically what the team needs to look like. And it was interesting because you said, you know, you're missing leads. So you said a couple different things you said previously when you're not getting the number of, I call them at bats. So you're not getting the number of, of sales opportunities leads, you know, estimating opportunities, then you're a little more desperate to close the ones that you get. And so there's where you're, you get stuck in this idea of doing favors or cutting your price or whatever because you don't have as many opportunities and you need the money. Then when you, when you kind of fill your funnel, so to speak, so you get more leads and more sales opportunities, you can become more selective and become a little more professional in how you conduct your sales process. And then you said it's, it's really important to have someone answered the phone and I know a lot of smaller painting companies really struggled a lot with this a lot with, they don't answer the phone or they call them back at lunch or you know, that just doesn't cut it, that doesn't make you look professional. So if you're, if you're out there and you're painting yourself maybe you and, and you know, a couple, a couple of people, you know, or you have one crew and you're part of it or whatever kind of like how you started, what do you I mean, my recommendation, my thought would be get someone answering the phone as kind of an early early points, you get more at bats. What is, is that? Am I thinking about this the right way or would you think about it differently. I think that's when you're, I think it depends on what your experiences as a professional on who you're hiring or having do that role, you know, on the, on the remodeling side, we work with a lot of small businesses um and we see how they operate and it's not ideal and I can look back at how I operated off the get go, you know, a lot of times it could be someone's wife or mother that's helping answering the phone or yeah that contractors making calls at lunch or end of the day and they always seem to be rushed um and you don't want to present that to to a client and I think part of that too early on, I guess before you start figuring out who's answering the phone and what you want to do. I mean I've noticed too, a lot of people, they find their niche is just operating as a, as a small company. I mean maybe maybe you have to really analyze to it, like you have to know and want to grow and know what that looks like because sometimes it's just easier to really be a skilled professional on your own to answer the calls once a week on thursday, you have a system for that, you know. But um it's it's taking the right time to do it if you're the owner, I think there's value when you're just getting started of you being that person, you know when you're in your very early years if you're two or three, if you have two or three employees and you can have a dedicated salesperson then then you're you figured something out, you know like I don't, I think most small businesses, the guy running the businesses, the sales guy, so you have to just make sure you make time for that is what I would say. Um and you don't want the client doesn't need to know that you're rushed that you're new into business that you know you're having trouble making profit margins, you have to forget about that and present to them what what you feel like you can offer. You know, I don't like to say and but you hear fake it till you make it to a certain degree. You know you have, you have to be able to get in the door with the client and have them want to hire you and some of the things you have to figure out as you go, you know? But um growth needs to be intentional. I've I've definitely realized like if you grow by accident, you might not be prepared for it, you know, and then that can cause more problems than you want. Um and if you try to grow and you can't grow then maybe you shouldn't grow, you know, I think is a couple of things that I would recommend guys getting started thinking about. Yeah. Yeah I know this, this idea kind of fake it till you make it I think um is important in a sense because if you're, if you're relaying and I don't think most people are relaying it intentionally, but if you're relaying it by taking a long time to get back to people or, or seeming kind of flustered when you talk with people that you either have time issues or money issues or some kind of issues that customer is not really going to feel like you're gonna take great care of them because you can't even take great care of yourself, right? So it doesn't learn that you're in good hands. Yeah. You never want to go like to a client called, you're like, oh yeah, I've been in business for about six months and I'm figuring it all out as I go, you know, and I'm going to try to do a great job. But you know, it might be something new on your project that I haven't encountered yet. Like that's not how you want to sell it. So it's not necessarily like your facade in anything but your, you have to speak to what you're good at. It's like, oh yeah, I've been in the business for six years. I was eager to get involved in the trade and I'm I I started my own business, but I feel like I can provide a really good service. You know, that sounds a lot different than, than the other ones. So how you, how you talk to people and what you say matters and and you have to learn that, you know, um, on and you have to, again, I'll go back to the word intentional in your head, when you go out to do an estimate, you have to have the clients want to feel a certain way when you leave that. And that doesn't happen without a little bit of strategy. You know, even if you're good with people, you know, you can have conversations all day again, we're providing a service. And how do you want that client to feel when you walk away from your meeting? You know, you want them to be excited about hiring you. So your next job is just to get out the estimate quickly. Um, so anyway, yeah, that's owners should probably be involved in selling early on, I would think, build a good, a good business platform. Yeah, no, I agree. I think that that direct customer interaction, there's no substitute for that and you better understand how your customers think. You better can identify who your ideal customer is and isn't, you know, when you're actually speaking with these people, um, if you try to outsource the sales and and everything right away, uh, you just don't understand your demographic very well. It's it's almost impossible to do that, you have a business background. So that's a little bit different. You know, you got a degree in business. Um, a lot of, a lot of our listeners don't have a degree in business, you know, a lot of our listeners started with the painting and you know, there's a mix, but I would say most don't. So what do you, how do you think that that helped you and for people who don't necessarily have that degree or that official learning? Um, what do you think they could do to try to not catch up? But I guess compensate for that or at least get the advantages that you got. So really, I don't think it helped me run a better business or, or, or, or provide a better service. I should say from my business degree, what, what it helped me do early on was just understand the layers of business. And I think that's why I was excited to start a painting business because the guy had worked for was, you know, calling the pot and brush guy one off, no logo, no branding work by himself, neighbor of mine, ex rock musician, no college education. Um, and it was just a good painter. And um, but as I started to get a business background and work for him in the summer, I was like, where's the business like this? There's no, there's no business here. This guy just shows up and paints like he pays me cash and he doesn't even have a business card type of thing. So I started looking at it as man, if I actually tried to run a proper business, which business structure in place that, that I could, I could, I could do something more than what he's doing, he was regarded professional, but what I would say is um you know, knowing the numbers is huge and you don't necessarily need a business background to know how much money you're making on a job, you know, simple math to a certain degree, knowing your costs. Um that's that's huge. You know, so if you're not a financial person starting your own business, it could be a very big challenge. And that's not my suit as finance. I didn't go to school for accounting or anything like that. I'm more of a process guide. Tell me what it costs later. Um but but that's important, you know, for sure is knowing your numbers, knowing that you're making money on a job and that you have room to play with that some of that money and cover certain expenditures. So figuring out that state and I don't think you need a business background to do that. And then it's like get yourself to the point where You know that you want to grow a business. And when we spoke before, I told you that the one thing that I've gotten to a point where once we got over $1 million dollars in total revenue, We struggle between 1. 1, now near most years we've grown in a couple of years when, after we got to a million we maybe didn't grow, we remained stagnant. And I got to the point where it's like, man, I'm having trouble figuring out how to grow to the next phase, getting to a million, wasn't that hard, I just kind of had my head down, brought in the right people spend a lot of time and effort on it, but then where do we go from here? So we started looking into consulting companies and we ended up landing on a company called B. T. A. Um breakthrough Academy and they've been extremely helpful and that essentially what I've called it, it's like small business college. So I think at the point, you know, for a small business owner, when you get to the point where you do want to grow and you want to make, build it into a business, not just a job, I've heard the same. Um you don't own a business, you own your job to a small tradesmen and that's sometimes what it is because you have to show up every day and perform a service. But if you really, really want to grill to grow a business, there's tons of different platforms to help you grow a business and it's investing in it, implementing it, seeing value in that and that, that's essentially a a a better education for what I'm doing in the trades in my college, was this the Bt group that I'm in now, you know, there's other platforms out there depending on where you are. Um and that's what I'd recommend when you get to that point, when you know you want to grow and you want to make you know a success story for yourself or just something that can provide for your family that you gotta get outside help and no one knowing that point comes, you know, if you're struggling to get stuff done, you likely need help. Um So anyway that would be my recommendation on on the guys without education. It's definitely it's definitely not a necessity for sure. You know, I think work, work ethic, work ethic first and foremost is key if you want to start your own business, it's not going to be glorious. This isn't this isn't some start up with you know angel investors, you're getting into the trade, it's going to, you know it's gonna be hard work and you have to be prepared for that, but I've seen more and more through being in the networking group or I'm sorry the consulting group B. T. A. The success stories so you can have a million dollar business and and and it can be a struggle and a challenge and it might not like it's not glorified, you know, um but the growth, the growth can get you there and you know being around other people who have experienced that and going through that can be keep, so that's what I would recommend to guys that feel like their education short, there's there's other ways to do it. You just have to have to do it. Yeah, no, I love that. I can tell you my experience. So I also have a college education and business and I do not feel like it has really benefited me at all in terms of starting and growing a business. So anyone, anyone listening who doesn't have that you really don't need it. And I find that some of the most successful entrepreneurs don't have it and and I think it actually helps them um that they don't have it. I think that that they come into it kind of focused on the right things and not kind of head full of theory or whatever. That that doesn't really, you know, when you put pen to paper, it doesn't actually do anything. And and I think your point about Breakthrough Academy absolutely love breakthrough Academy. I highly recommend them. But but whether it's them or if you're listening to the podcast most likely, um you are a member of the P. C. A. Or at least you subscribe to overdrive. That's where the majority of our our listeners come from. You're already investing in yourself. You're investing your time right now listening to this podcast. So you're on the right path, but position yourself with people. This is all tried and true. These are all proven processes. We are not a unicorn startup with angel investors trying to create a brand new industry. You're you're trying to build a painting company. Many, many people have come before you and build successful painting companies follow, follow the yellow brick road, so to speak. Yeah, agreed agreed. And that's, that's definitely, um, something to think about it and it's, and there, it's a, like I said, it's, it's a tough business to be in for sure, But, but if you do it right, it's never going anywhere. You know, I've always said, houses are only, they're only building more and they're only getting older. So like if you're servicing it on some sort of level you are, there's going to be a need and it's fun. It's funny. I'll go back to when I first started, I wasn't excited about when I first when I was 15 and I started working as a painter. Um, I thought about this recently, as my dad said to me, he said, no, it's a good skill to pick up. And I'm like, yeah, right, Dad, I'm just working for just working for a neighbor. I need a little cash in this summer. I'm never going to be a painter. What are you talking about? And you know, and I value it more and more that I've been in the industry longer. I feel like the trades are a necessity and good companies that promote the success of their employees are bettering the industry, You know, I think there's certain models out there. I don't like a lot of like the design build companies that they sub everything and the trade, the trades are almost a commodity to them. They're just looking at the trade as the number, they got to get something done for their clients, but there's value in working with your hands and pleasing people on a level that I feel we fall short of and other professions, you don't get to see how accepted someone is about a service you provide a lot, you know, it's the amazon effect, someone shows up at your front door. Whoever made that all they're worried about is collecting their paycheck. They don't necessarily get to see you put your hands on the product or enjoy that product. So anyway, I think there's real value in being involved in the trade with a good company and making a career out of it. And I think it's just an industry that needs good people too. So that's part of something that's always motivated me, um, is to create an environment where people want to work, want to learn and that are customer base and the outside world respects us for what we do because yeah, you go to college, you don't want to be a painter, How many kids heard that through the eighties and nineties and, you know, we don't want to be a plumber, you don't want to be a tradesman, go to college and like we just said, having a business degree, maybe it doesn't even add value to what we're doing in business now. So yeah, because I think by and large academia was not created to help people start and grow businesses, I think it was created to mold employees. Sure I agreed. And, and you don't learn that you can go to school for a business degree, but you don't learn how to run a small business with that. Um you're right, even even entrepreneurial courses and, and paths and everything in my experience fall extremely short of providing any sort of significant value and any kind of information you could ever want is free. You know, it's free or it's affordable, right? The pc overdrive, how much good, good material is there there? The, I mean youtube, Youtube think right, be careful about who you take the advice from because there's also a lot of bad advice out there, but breakthrough academy, they're not exorbitantly expensive. They are an investment, but everything you could ever want right there, right? So, and then you have individual coaching retreats and everything else. So it's, it's accessible if you want it for sure. And then the other thing that I see a lot of smart mines and the trade is doing is there a lot of times using audible or just picking up a hard back and reading, I mean the contents out there for, to evolve what, you know, personally, I don't read as much as I would like um but I mean it's powerful, you know, and, and, and, and if you need, if you need some sort, if you need some education to help you run your business, you don't need to go to college to get to your point. So how do you see the Painting industry, you obviously have a very long career in painting, especially for your age. How do you see the industry evolving in the next 5, 10, 15 years? So I mean I think as far as the service itself, it's not going to change much at all. You know, they're, especially from the residential side, I don't see any industry changing products, you know, or applicators, I think, you know, when you're working inside someone's home and you need the color needs to be changed essentially a refresh. That I don't, I don't think that will change much. I think the the service side from how you estimate um, how, how you present yourself as far as like using technology that can evolve. Like we use clock shark now to track our employees and you know, we can essentially have a map up in our office and know where everyone is and when they've clocked in, you know, so that technology I think will help the industry get get better. Um, but I think the service is largely going to remain the same. You know, there's, there was a time when sprayers when I was first starting, it's like, oh can sprayers are awesome, can we spray everything was like, no no no you can't, you know, you can't use a sprayer everywhere because it's efficient. Um sometimes so so that I think is largely going to stay the same. I think the biggest thing is for me as I watch it is how does the greater industry promote people into the trades? So there's there's quality and an employee base and then how do we also keep pay at a point where It's reasonable to join the trades, you know right now, like you know, you never see a sign up for less than $15 an hour starting somewhere, you know, so how do I make ar $15 our starting job Be more of an opportunity for growth and a better job than that other $15 an hour job, you know, so people are willing to join the trades and have growth opportunities. And that's one of the things that's definitely limiting the trade. You can go work for a great company, but that company is largely not gonna probably not going to grow to above where it's at, you know, if you look at the norm in the trade, I mean I don't I don't I know when I first started and I haven't looked at this research in a while that the average painting business is 123 employees, there is absolutely no growth opportunity in a company of that size. So you know that's that's that's I think is key when someone and and then what's that person do when they're involved in that small company, they get really good, they start their own business and then it perpetuates the cycle. So um I don't have any quick answers for that, but I feel like it's a larger and smarter organization that's very, very trade oriented, that promotes trade education and proper paying the trades and and all that that I see is key. So I see that as a potential maybe threat and opportunity within the industry but I don't have a solution on that one. Um I think it's just providing the service, you know, especially in the right areas is always gonna be there, you know, good times and good times and bad times paintings one of those low cost um items as well are remodeling division would have a different struggle in in a recession or you know lesser economy right now in our area things are are our booming were extremely, extremely busy but on and I started my business in the recession when left and right guys were going out of out of business. So you know, you always have to be prepared for that and as as well and know things are going to change and that's something we can't predict, you know, so um I don't know what a recession looks like again now in our current environment, what people, you know at some point you feel like you're going to run out of work because they've been doing so much work over the past couple of years, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Sure. Do you feel that I know relative to remodeling you would say yes, but do you feel that painting is a relatively recession proof business? I I think there's, I wouldn't say that the industry it's going to be affected obviously, but, but if you can operate at a higher level than the next painting contractor, then then you're more recession proof than the next painting contractor. So, you know, how are you out competing your competition? Because in any sort of, I mean, even, you know, even I was talking about accounting during Covid, you know, he told me it was amazing how many people went out business. So in any sort of struggling time, it's going to weed out the weak, you know, I'd say, and the strong, the strong will survive goes the phrase and I think that's important. It's like if you feel like you're not operating at a high level compared to your competitors, then then you're likely going to struggle when the industry struggles. So that's, that's probably what I feel like is most important there, you gotta, you gotta run a successful operation. Um, you know, to make it through the, the times when there are going to be struggles because there are going to be struggles, that's just that's inevitable and now it's probably a good time, you know rising tide lifts all boats and I think the past couple years we've had a really a rising tide in the painting industry now is probably the time to make sure that you are getting those processes dialed in because the economy is not going to to stay amazing, the housing market is not going to continue to boom forever. Something's going to happen at some point. I know that the feds raising the interest rate and probably won't really affect anything right now but at some point something's going to happen right if you know, God forbid the Ukraine conflict continues to escalate or who knows? But I think this idea you need to be you know the kind of the week get cold I guess in a down economy and you can actually end up further ahead you know, as as maybe ruthless as that sounds. That's the reality. You can end up actually strongly benefiting from a recession because you end up taking a lot of business from from other people. Yeah for sure for sure and it's it's definitely something to be be aware of as you're as you're going making sure that you're constantly trying to improve and getting better and you know have a legit model that you can push when when you know, S. H. I. T. Hits the fan for lack of a better for lack of better terms because it's it's definitely I mean and sometimes I'm just an internal struggle, maybe you created it, you know, like it's you cause yourself a problem because you took on around wrong job or someone made a mistake or whatever, um you never know what's going to happen and you have to be able to push through those things and not let them frustrate you because the end of the day, you're running a business, you know, and you chose that, so about it, um then then then you should get out and just go work for someone, so you don't have to talk about the problems that a business owner has because you're gonna have problems, yep. Yeah, I love that. Yeah, any anytime a really negative thing happens for me or for the business always just say that's entrepreneurship, you know, chalk it up could be as bad as it is, you chose to get in the ring, you're going to get hit, it is what it is, there's outside your stress for, for for sure. And yeah, I think that's important too. If you, if stress gets to you and gets under your skin and you don't like pressure, then then then think about that real hard before you start to grow a bigness, you know, because I think that's part of it too, you can have, if you're a trade guy and you don't want the pressure, but you want to have sovereignty over what you do and just maybe being a small one off contractor is a great place and I think that's okay um as well, but, and figure that out early on, that's, that's the key. And if you want to grow, then then being very intentional about it. Um, you know, as we have this conversation, that's what, that's what sits with me. And I guess what I've seen over the years too. Yeah, but it always looks greener on the other side, right? And then, and then as you grow, you realize how small problems start to become bigger problems as you get bigger, yep. No, no doubt about it. Um, Greg, this has been incredible. Do you have anything else that you would like to share with our listeners? No, I don't I don't think so. Um yeah, definitely fun to speak with you and just talk about the, the industry and my, my experience, um you know, like I said to me, let's make the industry better. You know, so the people you're dealing with and that gets to listen to this podcast, I mean, there's great companies all over this country in our industry. Um and my my promotion would be that let's make the industry better. Let's let's set up process where we can train guys that have good jobs, guys and girls, I should say, you know, um, in this, in this industry, all trades because because it's a, it's a valuable thing that we do and we deserve credit for that. Um, you know, both as business owners to the guys in the field, to the bottom guys on the totem pole that are just shoveling and sweeping or standing in the painting industry. Um there's there's value in that. So you know, that's all, that's all I would say is you know, work to treat your employees right and do good by your clients. Um and uh good luck to anyone out there who happens to listen and hear my, hear my story. I love it. Well, Greg, thanks man for being on the show and and thanks for all your insights. Yeah, no problem. I appreciate Brandon. Yeah, it was good to good to be here. What 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@Painter MarketingPros.com. And I can give you personalized advice on growing your painting business until next time. Keep growing.