Guest Interview: John MacFarland of MacFarland Painting “System Beat Fear” Series: Episode 2

Published On: June 25, 2023

Categories: Podcast

Guest Interview: John MacFarland of MacFarland Painting “System Beat Fear” Series: Episode 2
John MacFarland

In this series titled “Systems Beat Fear”, John MacFarland of MacFarland Painting will be discussing how to overcome what can be scary chasms in your company’s growth journey through the implementation of effective systems. It is a 5-part series.

In episode 2, John will cover growth sticking points he has experienced while scaling MacFarland Painting Company.

If you want to ask John questions related to anything in this podcast series, you can do so in our exclusive Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast Forum on facebook. Just search for “Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast Forum” on facebook and request to join the group, or type in the URL There you can ask John questions directly by tagging him with your question, so you can see how anything discussed here applies to your particular painting company.

Video of Interview

Podcast Audio

Topics Discussed:

Episode 1
– Big Scary Chasms

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 PCA 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.

In this series titled Systems Beat Fear John mcfarland of mcfarland painting will be discussing how to overcome what can be scary chasms in your company’s growth journey through the implementation of effective systems.
It is a five part series. In episode one, John discussed team pay philosophy and how it sets the stage for accountability in his company. In episode two. This episode, John will cover growth sticking points he has experienced while scaling mcfarland painting company. In episode three, John will deep dive into the systems for his office and sales. In episode four, John will lay out the systems he uses to ensure success in his operations management and out in the field. And in episode five, the final episode, John will discuss his unique approach to meetings and how they have become the most productive part of his team’s week.
If you want to ask John questions related to anything in this podcast series, you can do so on our exclusive painter marketing mastermind podcast forum on Facebook. Just search for painter, marketing mastermind podcast forum on Facebook and request to join the group or type in the URL facebook dot com forward slash groups forward slash painter. Marketing mastermind. Again, that URL is facebook dot com forward slash groups forward slash painter marketing mastermind. There, you can ask John questions directly by tagging him with your question. So you can see how anything discussed here applies to your particular painting company.
We made it John, we got through it. How you doing, man? We’re back. I’m doing great. How are you doing? Well, brother, I’m excited for this. You and I are actually knocking out two podcast recordings this week. So we are on a bit of a roll. I feel like last time, you know, when you’re not connected about this uh this series and you talked about how, how there are different scary points in a company’s growth journey. Um and how you have found that you’ve had to kind of release control.
You know, I know Chris Elliott, he talks about uh e Os and he presented on that at PC X, but he, he talks about releasing the bind and how that can be a pretty scary thing. And I feel like in episode one, when we were talking about pay, we didn’t really dive into the fear of that, which I’m sure there was when you transition from, you know, an hourly model to OK, we’re gonna go to a, a pretty different model. Um But I’m excited for, for what we’re gonna talk about today, these growth sticking points where you had to essentially leap over, you know, a chasm in your business, which can be a scary thing.
Yeah, for sure. I think there’s a lot of them and, and if I think back, I mean, there were things that stressed me out, um, buying my second van was more stressful than purchasing the building that we’re in now at that time and the more that you do them and they work out, the easier it gets to do it again and again. And I just, I wish I had somebody to kind of tell me, ok, you gotta, you gotta get a little bit more aggressive and make these jumps and, and work through that fear and, um, you know, things will be fine.
You’re good at what you do. You got a good system, you got a good company, um, quit worrying about it and just do it. So, like you’re saying you were, you were a little bit more financially reserved or cautious than maybe you should have been. I just think I thought about stuff so much more. I mean, it stressed me out to think about not being at a job site. Right. Or at least like getting to every job site. That was probably the biggest one early was when we had two projects going on at once and I was the sole estimator sales person.
Um There are projects that I never saw after we had quoted and that always stressed me out. Well, did they clean up this right? Was this done? Right? Um And, and it really took kind of writing what we now call our curbside report. Um Training guys on. OK. How we park a vehicle? How do we do a pre job, walk through with clients? How do we do team introductions? What are we doing a staging area? Our, our shop in the home? And those things stressed me out when I was like, if we just write it down, it’s not that hard, you know, that I would wake up in the middle of night thinking did, did Tim Tim’s team do this.
And it’s like I just let’s just make a checklist and then not have to worry about this. Yeah. Yeah, I love it, man. So you were doing when you started, were you doing the estimating in the project management boat? Yeah, it was OK. And so the role that you released first was the project management. Yeah. And I think probably selfishly, I really liked the estimating. I liked that customer interaction. Um I wasn’t, you know, even early on I, I wasn’t uh a higher skill set than some of the guys that I had working with me.
So giving up that from a craft ship side was actually easier for me mentally um than the sales, the sales I really liked, I enjoyed, I felt like it was a way for me to get the project set up and kind of on a platter with, you know, at that time, they were just handwritten notes for the team of order of operations and um you know, what we’re doing when and what day and so I felt like that was easier for me once I got it on a platter with the day to day running of that project was easier to hand off than, than the sales.
So let’s was this the first major chasm? So you giving up the project management and not being able to keep on top of that? Was that your first jump or was there one before that? I think that’s my first jump because that happened before we started renting our first little shop space. You know, that was another one that was, was kind of a big hurdle for me mentally. Um And at the time, I mean, economically, it kind of stressed me out to have this fixed bill every month that it’s not like I, at that time, I didn’t run a storefront, so it was just kind of glorified storage.
Um And then after we’re in that for a little bit, we realize the culture gets better when we have this meeting place. And even though it was kind of a hole, honestly, it was nothing to, you know, broadcast online and show pictures of, but it was a central location where we met every day. Got game plans came back every day. That’s allowed us to start storing some materials. So, um, but that was after the giving up of the project management on every project. When did you get the second van?
Um, the second van would have been, I mean, years and years ago, but it would have been, we probably had four people when I bought the second van. You know, I still had my truck and trailer that I was, I was using. So we were, you know, kind of the, the two butts in the seat is my model right now still. And getting to that point where the expense and then worrying about, you know, driving in the billboard and what if there’s, you know, bad driving and, and all these other things I couldn’t control.
We got the second vehicle of about four or five staff. Ok. Were you still doing the project management then? I was, yeah, you were ok. So the, the scary second vehicle came before releasing of the project management. Yeah. But I kind of, they were kind of one and the same, you know, um, I, I did like a lot of folks do and you leave the job midday to go do some quotes. You do some quotes in the evening and, um, you know, but all of that started to get to be too much where I, I had to just eliminate some jobs that were simple enough or well run enough that I didn’t have to physically show back up to. Yeah.
So you, you, um you just, you purchased a building recently, is that right? Yeah, we closed on a building last uh February. Um just down the street from where we had three leases. Um We got our first lease in that area in 2013 and then kind of took on the neighbors over the, the last few years. The building we’re in now is 20123,000 square feet. It’s a big building, man. Yeah, our showroom here is about 4000 square feet in and of itself. So, wow. Are you guys renting out any of that or are you using all that?
We’re, we’re not using all of it, but we’re using enough of it in the way we set up the building when we did some of the build out that um the space that we don’t use is, is only a few 1000 ft and we felt like it was better to have that at our disposal and design the layout so that we grew into it rather than letting some odd corner of it. It just didn’t work out the way the building set. That’s astronomical. 43,000 square feet. So you were, you are less afraid of 43,000 square foot building purchase than you are for the second band.
Yeah, I think so because I have all the metrics now to know what makes sense when and you know, what is our tipping point from profitability? Um Here we have about 11,000 square feet that the cabinet division occupies. And so they’re doing 113 kitchens a week out of that. That’s easy to just say, ok, this square footage produces this or generally what we do. It was just storage. So it’s a little harder to kind of quantify that separating the cabinets from the rest of the, the company was kind of important.
Um, you know, just dust, dirt, odor, all those things. So they’re kind of their own little corner that’s, you know, got a couple sections of walls and hallways to get to uh their own access from the back parking lot and the side parking lot where they just drive their vehicles right into their own private area. It’s not intermixed, which is kind of nice and that segment was easy to quantify. Um The showroom is a, a big scary monster for us a little bit and how we’re using this and the amount that, that actually cost us.
Um But the traffic in the showroom is proving to be, you know, well worth that. And, and from a, a design standpoint, we have a full time designer now too. Um So is, is we’re still kind of weaseling our way through this and growing and figuring out what’s working and what, what gets people to leave their home and come and see us. Um There’s some things that definitely people have no issue driving, you know, 2030 40 minutes to get here to actually do that design work. And so we’re just leaning into that a little bit and eliminating some stuff we thought might work that isn’t working as well.
Um So that’s a little still up in the air. But again, that space is uh kind of situated that we could reclaim it and change it or parse that off into offices if we ever decided we wanted to go another direction, but it seems like it’s, it’s going in the right way. Yeah. Yeah, I love it. So you, so I guess the thing that made you less afraid of it was the data that you have. Yeah. And I don’t even mean that the, the money was there that, oh, this is a no brainer.
I just, I had enough data on projections to know where we were going and what things were going well for us that uh I felt really comfortable with that So, with you knowing what you know, now, you know, you’re a more, much more seasoned business owner. You’ve, you’ve grown a company, what you run now is not what you used to run. You have to be a different person as your company grows, you have to grow. If you could go back and you were buying that second van, would you, what would you tell yourself?
Would you think about it differently? Because you probably didn’t have as much data back then. You didn’t have the track record. You probably didn’t have as much capital. So there are real reasons to be a little more reticent. What would you tell your pass off? Uh Good question. I mean, for me, it would have been what is actually making you nervous or afraid of this and, and if it’s not controlling the van, wear and tear repairs, the driving billboard, it’s not the same for everybody. It kind of depends on your staff.
I think you can write rules and processes that take that fear away. You know, there was a time back then when I got those vans that on Saturday, I would drive up to the shop and then take the vans and go to the oil change places. Well, that’s a ridiculous waste of time for a business owner. And so it was really clear that we just have to put in, you know, scheduled appointments every three months or whatever was reasonable because I didn’t trust people to read the odometer either.
And so for me, it was easier to pay for an oil change maybe a little early and just do it on a schedule rather than expect guys to look at the tag in your window and say, oh, I gotta make time for an oil change that just became an appointment. You know, they come in and turn in the receipt and it was done every three months and, you know, seven and forget a type of mentality. Right. Were you out there washing the vs, I didn’t wash them, but that was another thing, right.
So, um, trying to schedule that because our vans have ladders and racks, they don’t go through any car wash is easy. Um, so we scheduled, you know, every couple of weeks, one of the power washing crews would, you know, come back and they’d be spraying down the van. So they were reasonably presentable and that just got scheduled, you know, so some of these things that are fears, I think if you just start to list them out and, and rank them in terms of importance, um, you can schedule those things so that it’s not, it’s not that intimidating.
Well, and I like your approach there a lot of asking yourself, hey, what about it is scaring you? And I think that’s something that most people don’t do really about anything that I’ve found helpful. Just not even just business, just any, anything if it’s making you really uncomfortable or nervous, if you’re sitting in and you focus on it and you try to peel back the layers can usually find something. A lot of times it’s sort of surprising what you end up finding. Sounds to you like it wasn’t, I mean, naturally I would think, and I think a lot of people would think you were afraid to buy the van.
Therefore you didn’t know if you could afford the van. You know, you, you were worried you wouldn’t have the money or the business would go under. But I, it sounds like it was more of a control issue. Yeah, for sure. My personality 100% you know, it was, it was all control and fear because I was used to having your hands in it and, and we start to take that away. Um, I have found with almost everything we did then and do now, the faster I take my hands out of it but have it set up that it’s gonna meet my expectations or functionally work for the staff or our clients, the better off it is because the, the crews take a sense of ownership in that and, um, their stuff looks as good or better than my personal truck back in the day.
And, yeah, that was something I was concerned about. So who sets this up? Like you, you mentioned his checklist, something like that? Do you, for every part of your company when you’re gonna step out. Do you set it up? Do you ever task people with setting it up? How does that work? Yeah. Now I task a lot of people with that. So writing our interior painting process, exterior painting, process, cabinet processes, the, the first iteration of those I had my hands in. Um And now it’s way beyond whatever I would have, would have provided them, you know, they’re revising those.
Uh I’m a pretty big believer and if you allow people some freedom in that, they have a lot better ideas than you maybe have because you did it your way because it worked for you. But it, it might not work for an employee. Um, you know, even from here’s a goofy example, but our business cards, we provide business cards to every staff member we have. Um I make the, the joke. We have a lot of guys with beards that look generally similar and in a house, a homeowner may forego a conversation because they don’t want to offend somebody and say, uh is it John?
Jake Jim? Tom? I don’t remember they get business cards. That’s a cheap thing that gives the our employees a sense of pride. But it also really just makes it easy for the homeowner to put a name to a face. Um, and maybe have a better dialogue about something. So, you know, for me giving them that type of control over some, you know, input on things. Um I’m getting people that really feel like their ideas are heard and then often implemented, you know, we’re gonna talk about meetings in depth.
But my favorite part of these meetings is I get ideas from people um, that are using the things we’ve been using that. I didn’t have, I didn’t have the electronic C R M and appointments and all these other things and emailing invoices and taking credit cards if I left a job without a check. Um It was very difficult to collect. I didn’t take credit cards until only five or six years ago. Uh Honestly, and so now it’s really simple. So that process of conversation has been written by the staff because my point as an owner of trying to get paid is very different than them.
You know, mine was kind of the scarcity of mine said I have to do this or I can’t afford X Y and Z theirs is, hey, uh sir, this is just part of our process gonna text or email you the quote or the invoice, which would you like. And then when we do our walk through, you’re gonna, you know, sign off that the work is great and you’re happy and you’re gonna make payment. It’s really easy for them, but they had input in, you know, some of those talking points of, you know, hey Brandon, would you like this text or email?
They’re not saying this big scary. Uh you’re gonna have to pay me at the end of the project and this uncomfortable conversation. It’s just a very easy question. We’re fine with either answer. Would you like a text or email? Um, and that was someone else’s idea. Not mine, you know. Yeah, that’s a great idea. I really like that. And I think when, as a business owner you basically have to be a jack of all trades. Right. So you, you kind of have to do everything when you’re starting and that means you’re probably not doing really anything the best that it could possibly be done.
You’re kind of hacking it all together, making it presentable, making it work iterating on it as you can. But then when you bring in people who you give them ownership over a certain domain within your company, they’ll of at least what I’ve found, they’ll often come in and, and basically make it a lot better because they are not doing the other 90% of things. They’re, they’re doing this 10% and they’re gonna knock it if they’re the right person and if you enable your team, they’re probably gonna knock it out of the park. Yeah. Yeah.
And that’s hard for, for me personally, that was hard to let go and I’m sure I’m very cavalier about it now and it seems like these ideas are great. I’m sure if you talk to people 10 years ago they would, the impression would be, I was not as open for their input and I was much more of my way and this is how we’re doing it. Um, I think part of that just takes time and maturity to let those things go. Um, but I will never go back.
You know, it’s one of those things and someone asked me, um, they were kind of balking at the price of lettering a vehicle and I said, once you letter a vehicle, it will never not litter a vehicle. It should have your stuff everywhere. I mean, that few $100 to, to wrap a car is not that big of an expense. Um, get over it, throw it on there, you’ll never look back. And, and for me that’s a lot of things are that maybe I was slow at that time in transition, I was hung up on the changes because I had done it a certain way.
Um, but, you know, that’s, I guess kind of the, the central point of advice is the faster you can let go of those and, and empower people to make the call and, and have some skin in it. Um, things just grow faster than you can do by yourself. Yeah, I love it. And I think it, I don’t think you’d be where you’re at if you didn’t change, you know, you, you, you were running a different company, then you were running a company of, you basically, you know, one brain and maybe maybe quite a few hands, but now you transition into a company that has a lot of brains because it work better.
Um, ok, cool. So your first major, the van I know was, was kind of like what we call a mini chasm. I guess your first major chasm, which was scary for you was releasing of the project management. So I wanna just, I wanna flush it out fully. What was scary about that? And how did you actually achieve it? Um I had kind of foolishly led myself to believe that the end of the job closed down and the, the detailed touch ups and that walkthrough that I did the best job only you can do it.
No one can do it as well as 100%. When I was on the job, I was being leaned on by the guys to do that. So it was just inherently my task when you removed me out of the picture, they did it just as good, but I had fallen into this. Well, this is my job to go through the detailed stuff out and, and, and when I stepped out, we didn’t have customer complaints, you know, at a higher rate than we ever did before. We didn’t have bad reviews.
We didn’t have callbacks. It was the same. Um So I was kind of almost blocking these people from developing and probably holding them down because I would grab the brushes and do my walkthrough and then tell the customer and have this big pomp and circumstance about how great does the job look is there are loading tools in the van. So I had kind of created that system of almost keeping them down and not giving them a chance to do that where they were just as capable. Yeah.
And so getting, getting my butt out of the way was critical to have them actually do even with not a really well written process of project closed down. Inherently, these were qualified professionals that could do just a fine job. But to me, it was stressful because for years and months or whatever, I, that was my role. So how else, how else am I gonna do this? Yeah. So in the spirit of, of the podcast of always trying to make things as actionable as possible, how do you make that checklist?
If, if somebody’s listening to this and maybe it’s not the project management, maybe it is, maybe it’s something else. Um and they know kind of what they do but, but this idea of a checklist or an S O P has been an intimidating one for them. How do, what do they do? Well, I think you have to carve out time to actually write them down, you know, and start with what you think you do the best and actually list out, you know, that S O P from a, a job set up and a client walk through and talking about things and write it out what we do as business owners, we get busy and we reinvent this wheel and we do it one off every single time instead of actually standardizing and just writing it down.
And so we’ll, well, I found myself talking to different crews and saying, hey, remember on this project, we’re starting Michigan’s cool in the spring, right? So we start in the sun on exteriors. We go from left to right because hand masters go that direction. That was a, a standard thing. And I found myself telling crews these things all the time where it’s like I can write it down once and then I just need to revisit it and refresh memories. I don’t need to handwrite notes on all these job folders about stupid things that these people will retain anyhow.
And so I would just schedule time, you know, you’re gonna write this down, you’re gonna spend a few minutes to do it, but it’s gonna save hours and hours over the next couple of months and hundreds of hours over a year. And, and that to me is probably the most useful time in a growing contractor’s life is to actually write that stuff down, get some input from your team, tune it up, make it where it’s really easy to read like that checklist format where it’s not a, a big binder of, of, you know, manual and then say, ok, let’s run with this and then every quarter, every six months we’re gonna sit down and edit it when we find that we’re not really doing it this way anymore.
Let’s just cross it off and edit it. Let’s give options on how to do something. If there’s realistic options, that’s fine too. But, um, I was too slow to write that stuff down. I got a business coach in 2012. Um, that was very helpful for me to writing this down and, and all the, you know, conventional business coach, remove yourself from the business, run the business, don’t manage the business, don’t just pay yourself to have a job. All those things. It took that guy uh working with him on a once a week basis to really have me say, ok, you’re right enough’s enough.
You know, my wife was pregnant at the time I saw what my days looked like. That was not what I wanted my life to be. And I said, I’m just gonna start working on this. So the homework that he gave me was probably that catalyst of me saying I really need to write this stuff down. Yeah. Yeah, I love it. And it took you being mentally open minded to it and looking at your life deciding what you want. I think that’s really important. I think for us business owners, entrepreneurs, we start down a path, oftentimes we want financial freedom or, you know, just the ability to navigate our own course.
Um And, and then you start down this path and sometimes you don’t reevaluate what, what you should be doing, what you want. You just do it because you do it because it’s your business, it’s what your business requires it. And, and you do need to take a step back sometimes, like you just expressed, you took a look, you step back, looked at what your day looks like as your wife’s pregnant and realized, hey, this isn’t what I want. And so you took the necessary steps. I think that’s really important.
Um OK, so that was the first chasm. You did get a, a business coach too. So I wanna wanna reiterate that. That’s been one of the big themes. We just had our, our last series with Michael Sutton Tools, the $123 million and he was very big on coaching and, and networking groups and learning from others. Most highly successful people are very big into that. So that’s another really important point I want to note, but that first big chasm project management, what happened after that? What was your next big scary chasm?
Um I mean, honestly, it was my brother um kind of transitioning from this other project management into some pseudo sales general operations stuff. But that was about the same time we hired our first office person, you know, um answering the phones became an issue because if I’m out estimating uh or running projects, I’m not available to take down names, addresses, phone numbers and set up quotes. And so that was a, an immediate need that we said, ok, we can hire someone to do this at a cheaper income expectation than myself or my brother as an owner.
And let’s do that, let’s hire an office staff. And the first person we hired was exactly what everyone thinks. You know, they did a lot of general stuff. Um, they were a very good first for me, but it became clear fairly on that they were not gonna be part of the long term solution of the company. They kind of exposed really what we needed in that job role. And, uh, that was one that was kind of interesting because it was the first hire that was a non producer or at least part producer, right?
It’s just kind of stagnant overhead and like, oh, gosh, what happens? You mentioned if we get slower, the business gets, has a rough patch. Um, you know, that salary becomes AAA giant issue now. Sure. And, and so that was, that was scary as well, you know, also giving up some control because they’d have access to most of my books and some finances and some things like that, that, um, was really intimidating at that point. Yeah, that stuff is scary. I wanna, I wanna touch on a couple of things here.
So you said that basically it was, it probably wasn’t the right hire, right? This person wasn’t, wasn’t the best fit long term. But, and, and I think that’s a big thing. That’s scary for people, especially when they’re first starting this hiring journey of, of bringing on more people. What if you hire the wrong person? How do I know that they’re, they’re the right person. I don’t know how to do the interview and bet them correctly. Um, you hired the wrong person. We’ll just say it that way, but they helped you expose what you need.
What do you mean by that? Um Well, they started to, you know, I had to put some systems in place to make sure that I was getting value out of them. So some weekly recurring appointments of when does that person post on social media? Um You know, and this is 12 years ago. So it’s a different world now, but a lot of it still holds true. Um How do we handle bank deposits? You know, now we have scanners on our desk. We don’t ever go to the bank at that time, we went to the bank and dropped off checks.
Uh Scheduling some of those things became important when I hired them. I wasn’t aware of how much I would actually have to script their job, I think because I was busy, I was hoping to get someone that would kind of come in and help write these um with this person, we really had to have that standardized. So that I felt confident that things were getting done in the right order for the business, the crews myself, our customers, everybody. And so, you know, just like the scheduling of the oil changes, we just started to schedule Facebook posts, uh, at that time and that was just a calendar appointment.
I got checked off 23 times a week. Um, you know, when things were turned in and how stuff with the little bit of accounting they did was done. Um, I kind of worked through that with her, um, because I felt a little out of control. I felt like I didn’t know what was going on and it was much more therapeutic for me to see a checked off task and know that those posts were done rather than search for them and find them. I kind of wanted to see that at one spot and with that job for me it’s kind of hard to come up with these key performance indicators like you can with field staff because it’s easy to look at production and things like that.
And, and with this job it was really intimidating because it’s so vague. Especially your first go at it. You know, it’s, it’s just very out there. Yeah. No, I mean, I’ve experienced it myself. You hire someone, you just kind of hope they’ll plug in and they’ll work or they’ll, they’ll figure it out or they’ll make it better. Uh, oftentimes they don’t, you know, especially when you’ve been, you’ve been kind of doing everything and, and then you’re, it’s one of your first hires and there’s no real clear onboarding.
There’s no real clear training. There’s not even really a super clear job role. You just know, like, hey, there’s a whole lot of crap that we’re doing at the office that we don’t have time to do. Can you do it? Yeah. Yeah. And I, I think it probably was the right thing for me. I hired somebody that was a general office staff type of role, a general admin role. Um her replacement who’s now my business manager has been with me for a decade. She came from a much harder, straight accounting role because that is a weak spot of mine.
I mean, reading the reports and doing that is not an issue. I, I like that now. Um but I needed somebody the replacement that was gonna be much more into inputting every transaction and sorting stuff through the accounting programs the way that we need it so that I can make decisions based on good data rather than feelings. And we, we kind of overcorrected um and took a little less, you know, general admin type of approach to it and more of, you know, a CFO type of uh mentality with it with Chris now.
And some of the, I guess you lean that direction after seeing some of the weakness of the first person that they just didn’t have that skill set because I felt like a lot of what we had that person doing, our project managers could do some of that, you know, the guys like sharing their posts, they like, you know, showing the world what they’re getting. And so that requirement was less valuable to me than getting the accounting. Exactly. Right and tight and where we wanted it so that we could make a decision.
Sure if you could go back this, this is kind of a loaded question. I’m not even sure if you’ll have a clear answer to this one. But if you were making that initial hire again, would you rather hire someone like the person that you did? Who’s basically gonna say, hey, this clearly didn’t work out the best you need to dial in some S O P s here for the person or would you rather hire someone like that second person who would maybe come in and actually actually could potentially succeed in the role and actually help you craft the role from day one?
Yeah. Good question. So, my opinion, you have to have the first person. I don’t think the second person, Chris wouldn’t have taken the job three years earlier. She just walk in and walk out. She would have said no thanks. And when she told me her income requirements and that she doesn’t work Fridays, I was like, what I got her from a referral network. She was a friend of an optometrist in a, in a network I was in and he said, I’m telling you mentally, you guys match up perfectly.
She’s 20 years older than you in a female version. But you guys think identically and you gotta, you gotta go with her. But I almost think it’s similar to dating. I mean, I, I started dating my wife in high school but I had girlfriends before that. Do you think you’re further off having no experience and falling right into your relationship with your wife or husband or whatever? Are you better off having a couple of failures to realize that that’s not what I want. This type of thing is important to me and I, I don’t know if you start off with the right one that you’re gonna not second guess it so much.
I think you gotta, you gotta have a little failure in there to say, ok, I like this and this about it. But man, next time, you know, we’re gonna go this way, we talk to our crews about that all the time. When we bring in a new hire, it’s an opportunity to kind of get back to what we know we should be doing. Eliminate a couple of bad habits and elevate our expectations again because we can kind of reinvent ourselves when we get a new person that starts a little bit and, you know, step it up every single time where it’s kind of hard to come in with the first one, I think and, and think you nailed it.
I don’t think it happens much. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, you know, I have never thought of it like that. Um, some, sometimes not, not every episode but sometimes on episodes I’ll get hit with one or two things that kind of stuns me and that one just did because I think back to all the hires that I’ve made and the lessons learned along the way and all the disappointments with different team members and it is like dating and you, you do get much, much better basically by figuring out what doesn’t work, what you don’t like, what doesn’t fit you kind of narrow into the ideal candidate is, is the journey I’ve experienced.
And I think with hiring that first office admin type person, I think having a list of things you believe you do well and don’t do well, kind of frames that higher and, you know, get to it thinking this is gonna be a great relationship that’s gonna last forever. But don’t hire on being like this will be the dog. You know, you’re temper, don’t do that. But I, I think if you do that, you’re saying, hey, these are some weaknesses that I have that are, are you capable of filling me?
And, and I asked Chris, who’s, you know, still with us now and, and you know, she has plaques on her desk that say business owner um, and it’s really not that big of a joke around here. I mean, if someone says, you know, I need to talk to the owner, she’ll grab the phone. Um, but if, if someone is comfortable coming in with a little less than stellar process, that’s who you have to have. Right. So, either a person that’s younger or newer in the workforce might be a great fit because they’re learning this too.
Their expectations are to come in to this polished, fine running machine, you know, they’re OK coming in and helping you work through some of these things. And so that was our first one and she was, um, I think the business just had some different needs and, you know, it ended amicably but um, it was clear this was not gonna be the right long term solution. Yeah. Yeah, that’s great. Ok, so first chasm give up project management. Second chasm the office manager hire. Um, we’ll call it office manager and what, what that kind of cause and giving up the control, opening the financials, whole lot of stuff.
You were pretty uncomfortable with third chasm sales, sales sales. I did the sales even with, you know, running three or four crews. Um, and, and the office manager in place. Um I did 100% of the sales for a while and really liked it. Um I was successful at it and I enjoyed the customer contact. Remember I had worked myself out of being in people’s homes. So it gets kind of lonely being a business owner if you’re not in the job sites and doing things. And I held on to that.
Um, probably a little too long, probably about a year, too long where I, I started to work myself too much. Um, doing those quotes. Uh, I was not a big fan of ever doing things on nights and weekends, weekends, especially. So, um, I worked at like maximum pace efficiency from, you know, 5 30 AM to 5 30 or six pm during that with no room for air and it just wasn’t super enjoyable. So, hi, that sales person, no, you know, hiring that salesperson was another one because I really loved it.
I still love that, you know, if I can leave my office and go and do something, I’d love to just go quote projects. Um And that was hard to give up the first gentleman I hired for that, um, had some sales and construction background. He worked for a plumbing company where the service tech kind of quoted and did the work. Uh And he was a really good first hire for that job. Um He had some of the techniques on closing in the home and things like that, that I was probably soft in.
I relied on my expertise of what we do and when I left an estimate, they knew where, where we’re gonna start in the home, they knew how many days it were gonna take, they knew how it looked. I’d tell them at the end of the first day, your trim will be done and this will be done. I sold them through just comfort knowing the process where he was my first exposure and a little bit more of the sales techniques and trying to observe hot buttons and address them.
Um And, and do that because he didn’t, he had construction knowledge, but he didn’t have the painting acumen that I had. And so that was helpful. He made us better in really looking at this, more of that sales, you know, process of how to walk people through this and not create places for them to, you know, escape out of it without being overly pushy and you know, demanding that they sign before we leave the driveway. Um He was very helpful with that as it, would you say that your overall sales process now at mcfarlane painting, is it more reflective of the way that he came in?
No, I think it, it was reverted back to my way. It’s, it’s very soft from a real sales process. We don’t quote most jobs in the home. Um We, we email quotes within 24 hours. They have a tight proposal. Um But it’s very much we are estimators and not sales people. Um You know, the, our fifth sales guy that we hired has a sales background and he’s been really good in the room with the other sales staff that we have that are much more, you know, 703 year project manager types and a former insurance adjuster, uh writer who was very technically accurate in terms of measurements and takeoff in square footage, but lacking in the personal sales side of it.
And so that sales room now is pretty well balanced in terms of skill sets. We have a former P P G store manager, uh that we hired two years ago, we have a guy who owned his own company for a few years, worked for another large painting outfit out this way. Um who finally just one of the, the ease and predictability of this life. So, um, our mold for who that is, the skill sets are really pretty varied. The results are eerily similar, but we kind of sell, you know, they’re calling us because they need us.
This isn’t like a sewer backing up in an emergency. Generally, what we do is a luxury item, you know, with the exception of exterior painting, that’s a maintenance deal. It’s generally a want. And so we kind of sell it from the aspect of this is fun and exciting and you’re gonna love it. And, um, we’re gonna eliminate all the pain of X Y and Z to get this project to go through. You know, we’re not gonna be in your home for two months and in your way and, and we address those things and that’s really our sales focus now is, is much more of, we’re, we’re estimating what you want and telling you’re quoting what you want and, um, you’ll be happy with it.
So when you brought in another estimator because you were working too much, you, it was, I guess a little bittersweet because you really enjoy that part of the job. But was it scary? Oh, yeah. Yeah, because, and then the, the numbers are scary. So that person has a learning curve, right? And they’re not gonna come in and close at your rate. I mean, it’s in my case, the company name is mine and a lot of us have it that way, right? So it’s not that hard for John mcfarlane to hand a business card and sell a mcfarland painting job.
It’s a little different for Tom Smith to hand a card for this other company. And so their numbers are not gonna be as good as yours and accepting that was a challenge, you know, trying to come with a fair balance point of like, ok, I sold at this closing rate. Yours is here. What’s, what’s realistic and putting some of those systems in place to actually compensate them that way. Um was important early on. And so we implemented probably the second month they were here a closing percentage bonus because I felt like that’s their efficiency.
They can’t control how many quotes they do that much. That’s kind of on me um, and generally our market and our offerings determine the average sale. But that efficiency, they’ve already called us. Right. We don’t, we don’t force people to get painting quotes. So, what are you doing with those leads that when you’re in the home, um, that was the first metric that we put into place, uh, from a bonus standpoint that I think is critical. But for me, it was kind of hard to take my rate at 65 or 70% and walk that all the way down to 45 or 280% and be happy about that because my thought was, oh my gosh, I got all these, you know, crew members out here depending on us.
Um And this guy is not doing his part and, and at what point does this just run us dry where, where we’re not getting the same return on it. Um And so I that was terrifying honestly for a, for a good little bit, probably six months uh seeing those numbers, you know, and just being like, ok, they’re getting better but they weren’t getting better fast enough for me. Yeah. So how did you, I guess do it then it’s like for the, the project management, you know, the or the the building, you know, the data, right?
Um So I know you rely on data a lot, but when you’re looking at this estimator and, and it’s not getting there as quickly as you want it to get there. What did you do or what would you recommend that people do? You know, I got back in the car with him, you know, back in the van with them and, and did some training and had him follow me and, and, and follow my lead and, and, you know, the numbers even with both of us together, which is just inherently very awkward, um, were much more similar to my numbers than they were his.
And when we flip flopped and I tried like hell to keep my mouth shut as he was missing. Things that I felt like were critical to mention to a homeowner, you like the fish tank and, you know, moving that or things like that. Um, we’d get in the car and I’d say, hey, you missed this, we’ll fix it. I didn’t want to throw you off your game and say it in the home before we start the project, we got to talk to him about their fish tank or the grand piano or the whatever.
Um, and, and he got better at it but it took a little while but getting in the home and watching him do it. Um, in fact, I, I felt like there was almost a little bit of customers being turned off to the sales pitch where they kind of felt like ok enough, you’re trying to just gland hand me, I don’t really want to talk to you about the weather and my kids and all these other things, I want you to just be professional and do what I’m asking you to do and then get the heck out of my house in 278 minutes and give me my quote.
Um, they didn’t want to be best friends and I felt like he was misreading because he was such a nice personable guy to kind of accuse some clients that are like, I just want this to be a little bit more professional and I have stuff to do. You sound like a very nice guy, but please get out of my home so I can go on my day. Yeah. Yeah, that’s, that’s how I feel. I think it, and I think it’s how a lot of, um, the target demographic, you know, upper end homeowners, they’re usually fairly busy that you usually have things going on and they probably already have friends so they don’t need, they didn’t call the estimator to come out to make a new best friend.
No. And so we script time, I mean, we have that now. We didn’t have it as tight then, but we actually, you know, have some numbers that we say, ok, if this is a straight exterior paint, you know, it should be 2100 minutes door to door in, in your car to back in the car. Um, you know, and how we do that is we actually walk through how we want that done. And so when you’re turning this over, you have to write down what you do and you think you do well, and for me, homeowners can be a little bit of a challenge over your shoulder.
They start talking to you. You start missing measurements or stop writing down stuff, you start talking about stuff. So I would do a walk through with the homeowner and make a list of what I’m quoting and then I turn them away and say, give me 22012 minutes. I need to do some data retrieval. I need to do some measurements. I need to do some calculations. And then I’m gonna walk you back through and say, ok, so I noticed this piece of wood here, here, here needs to be replaced.
That’s how I’m gonna write it down on the quote. And so we wrote the process to follow that because I feel like, you know, our first sales guy was doing this more like his other job, um, where it was different. He sold plumbing stuff. So people had a failure and they wanted it repaired that day. And I think it was a little easier and maybe the approach of being a really nice likable person might have softened this expense for a hot water heater. Ours was a different product that we’re selling.
So it, it, that can’t be done the same way. That’s interesting. Yeah, they, they’re, they might almost be looking for a reason to not hire him when he comes out for such a pressing need for painting. I mean, they can really take their time. This is a luxury item. Yeah, for sure. And so we scripted what we think to be an appropriate amount of time. Uh, and with our, we have six people. Now we had a, another woman start on Monday. She’s selling cabinets only. Um, but with our other five, it’s a pretty big discrepancy in the amount of time.
Some of them are in the homes and a lot of that is personality based. So we, we can give a little bit in that, you know, we have one gentleman who’s got 211 years field experience, he’s short in a house. Uh but his go to is people can tell he’s done this 212 different ways and there’s nothing he hasn’t seen and remedied and that’s what he leans on. Um, the guy that was a former, you know, big box, uh paint store manager. Um He’s got much more of a personality and he wants to talk to people about things and both work and they work similar, but that rough framework of the amount of time and then doing the talk with the customer.
You know, now they’re giving the customer a tablet or a photo book on cabinets and some options and things like that to kind of politely move them out of their way and bring them back in and say, ok, I got what I needed. Um This is how I’m gonna quote this, this, this and this, does that make sense. Um, but we, we actually have scripted that down where, you know, they’re doing it the way that I did it where, when I turned him loose I was really kind of enamored with the skill set and I gave him too much freedom and then, you know, irritated, he wasn’t performing really well.
So. Yeah. Yeah. Got it. Ok. Uh, for interior or interior and exterior. How do you, do you guys have timing on that? What does that look like? Yeah, we do. I mean, standard appointment is a half an hour. Um I will tell you that half of our guys use every second of that and half don’t. Um And, and we, I like a half an hour because I feel like as a consumer more than that, you get that feeling like you talked about, I’m busy and I like you, but no offense, I have other things to do.
So see you later. Um If you’re organized, you should be able to answer all the typical questions. How many days does this take? What are their response possibilities? What are our responsibilities? When are they getting the quote? How does the process of actually accepting the workbook? Um How far out are we booked? What about colors? You can do all that, very regimented in less time than 603 minutes and still get good data. You know, our, our sales staff takes photos and makes notes of every room or space.
Um And so that stuff takes a little bit of time. Uh And then kind of a recap at the end to say, ok, did I miss anything? This is what I’m gonna quote, you know, um, so that we don’t have the, oh, they get three estimates and they forget that they didn’t take us into the, you know, the, the formal dining room and the kitchen area because, you know, they’re kind of on autopilot and, and then that’s missed off a quote. So we go through and we recap that.
Then we’re trying to do a half an hour for a pretty standard interior paint. Our average interior paint project is about 260 bucks. Uh, average exterior is about $2000 in our market. You know, depending on how many rooms we’re painting or what we’re doing. Um, and so that half an hour model works for those. We have some while we’re doing interiors and exteriors or it’s a giant house or it’s cabinets too. And so maybe that goes to an hour. Um, but generally 215 minutes for us has us in a good position to get what we need without bothering folks.
Yeah, I like it, man. It sounds like you guys haven’t really dialed in. So those are three pretty big chasms. Are there any others that have occurred? Um, sounds like these, these are all basically hires, they’re all hires. I mean, so the, um, part of the control. So right now we have an operations manager and they deal with most general small headaches that business owners do. Um, that was one person that we had in the field as a project manager that got a promotion through our growth.
Um, and I will tell you that’s one person that I think personality matters way more than the systems. Um, he’s impervious to stress. He doesn’t get rattled, he doesn’t make rash decisions. He’s very calm. Um, he drives me nuts because I think he’s slow at times, but he balances my immediate solve this and get on to the next, you know, type of mentality. He kind of softens that, which is helpful for us. And so that’s one that a personality of giving up that stuff and not knowing what’s going on.
Um, you know, I don’t really want to admit it but we painted a project in my aunt and uncle’s last week and I had no idea what was going on. Yeah, I would like to pop in and say hi to them. But honestly, it was probably better for everyone that I didn’t. The crews knew family. It was friends and family referral source. The note said, you know, John’s aunt and uncle and, and they gave him a 10 out of 10 project and, you know, they messaged me and they were elated, but until I got their text I had no idea we were there.
Um, I knew that we voted for him and, and to me, um, as weird as that sounds, that tells me we’re doing it right. The systems are running itself. I don’t have to run over there and say, hey, it’s my very picky aunt and uncle guys. Please make sure that we, you know, don’t leave dust behind and we don’t do this or we do this. Exactly. Right. Um, where I was guilty of that before, you know, just having too much control and, um, the, the painters find that irritating and they don’t want you around honestly.
So, yeah. Yeah, let them, let them uh do their job essentially. Wow. Ok, cool, man. So these, these are pretty big chasms. I guess. What overall thoughts or suggestions do you have? Sounds like for you, it was less of a fear based mentality. Oh, I guess it’s all kind of a fear based mentality but more around control versus the finances or it’s gonna break or something like that. But for people listening who are hesitant to hire certain positions may be hesitant to employ certain automation, maybe hesitant to change a process, you know, they’ve estimated for a certain way for so long and now they’re trying to do a different, different method of job costing or whatever that is.
How can they mentally approach that? Um, for success? Uh I think, I think if you, again, if you feel like you have a good way of doing it. There’s some things that are non negotiable but remaining open enough to letting someone put their own stamp on it. If you’re hiring a salesperson, let them try it, run the numbers and see where they’re at. Um, same thing with project management if they feel like they have a little bit of a different personality and they want to do things a little differently, you know, what’s negotiable and what’s not, you know, two coats and everything, this type of prep, that’s non negotiable.
You know, that, that is what it is. Um, but, you know, do they like using a certain type of tape or not? Let it go see what happens and you have to do some site visits and check on those things if you’re making concessions. Um, I think there’s some business owners that expect this to be turn key and get hands off too quick and get themselves in trouble. Um, so I think you just, again, you make a list of things that maybe you’re a little uneasy with and those are the things you actually go and get eyes on and evaluate safety concerns on outside.
You know, I had one of my top exterior guys. Um, he’d make every insurance guy run for the hills because he’s reckless and he’s never had a problem, but he’s damn well, not the guy that’s training our guys on exterior painting because I can’t make his method standard all the time. Um Controlling him is a, is a, is an issue hanging off the roof with one arm hanging off the roof and reaching too far ladders and just doing stuff like that that, you know, admittedly we’ve all done, but as you get a little bit bigger and there’s more at stake, you can’t, you can’t do it the same way.
You know, those safety protocols have to be put in place so that you’re protected from a lawsuit or someone getting hurt or anything like that. And, um, you know, so for me just being real with yourself and actually figuring out what you need to still be involved with and checking in on those and, and until you get some data, what’s the worst thing that happens? You hire somebody, it doesn’t work out. You say, hey, gosh, I, I was ready to get up sales and I’m just not, the numbers aren’t there, but I think the next one you try to hire, you’re gonna be in a much better situation to figure out, ok, that person or that person didn’t work because of this and now this is non-negotiable.
That person that I’m gonna hire needs to be highly organized, independent or, or not, or whatever is important. You are our sales staff. Uh One of the biggest issues we deal with, one of them is he runs early, two appointments and I feel like it’s almost as irritating to be 15 minutes early to an estimate or to call somebody to move it up as it is being five minutes late. Um, and so that’s one thing we deal with with him a lot. I can check our C R M and I can see his pictures and stuff and I know the log time and it’s one thing we’re like, Brad, love you.
But, you know, calling these people to move up, my wife who has four kids, she would be as irritated by that as somebody being 10 minutes late and they may not tell you that. But you’re kind of starting off with this. This guy doesn’t respect my time. We said noon. He’s calling me at 11 and wants to come at 11 0003. I want, no, that’s what I scripted my day around, you know. Um, so those things like we have standardized time, we don’t do our blocks, we say noon, we’re there at noon.
We don’t say between noon and one. Um, I feel like that’s paralyzing for the consumer. You know, I got to sit around and wait, I can’t get into mowing my lawn or doing laundry or doing something with the kids. I can’t run errands. Um, if I have this one hour window. Um, so we’re not negotiable on that. I’ve had sales staff that’s been hired in saying, oh, this would be a lot easier if we had some flexibility. Now, the system dictates that, you know, our current office, staff schedules our routes based on geography and they, they know our area and they give people adequate time.
If you’re doing 30 minutes in a home, you have more than enough time and nine times out of 10, you’re probably stalling, uh, at a Starbucks parking lot and roughing out some figures on your notes or responding to emails way more than you are running late to an appointment, you know, or pressing to do that. So, you know, for us, those things being non-negotiable, that time was one of them. Uh I said in the last segment, you know, our biggest sales tools are competitors. My line back in the day was, did they arrive on time?
Were they professional? Do they answer your phone calls? Did they send the quote on time? Um Are they licensed? Are they insured? Do they have good reviews and references? And if they can check those boxes, then we’ll talk about a price match. Um, very few people can check those boxes. And so that was kind of my go to, to just let them know, hey, get another quote. I love that you’re gonna have mine today or tomorrow. Um You’re gonna have to call the other guy back and wonder where your proposal is generally.
And if that’s how it is, you know, to give us the money, what is it gonna be like in a year if you have another problem or something pops up or you notice a touch up that we all missed on a walkthrough. You think that guy’s gonna be responsive? Probably not. Um, and so some of those things that we, we scripted into, um, some general talking scripts for sales staff, I think is important, especially if you feel like you’re good at that and you’re gonna hire more of a person to just kind of check boxes and do a process, then help you invent your sales process.
Um, you probably want to have some of those things in there. You know, how do you introduce yourself? What’s acceptable conversations on friends, family? You see a picture, you know, do you really want your guys talking about? Well, you, you family and kids are not, uh, I’m ok with it to some regard, but that first estimator, uh, he had four kids as well and that was his fallback every single time was to talk about Children and kids. And I, I think at times people, um, felt like that might be a crutch and a lack of confidence in what he actually was there to do and they don’t want to talk about Suzie’s T Ball and things like that necessarily at that time.
Um, you know, they just want to quote. So, yeah. Yeah, I mean, you just give us a lot to unpack. I really appreciate that and I appreciate the fact that it’s not all just ok higher and let it go, you know, that’s basically what the majority of this episode has been about. But there are certain things that are non negotiable you as a business owner ultimately are still responsible for everything. So you can’t just abdicate responsibility or, or just hope, you know, it works out and we’ll go kiss, kiss a few frogs.
Um, kind of deal. There are certain things that are non negotiable that must be protected, you know, and, and like liability and, and other things like that that you were talking about. Uh I think getting really, really clear on that and then also kind of the allowing some of the other stuff to be a little bit more fluid, potentially, at least for some amount of time, you know, maybe ultimately, you, you get it kind of like the mcdonald’s mcdonald’s model and, and you’re just real smooth. Um and it, and it’s pretty consistent but for when you’re starting hiring and you’re starting scaling what Super Super matters, what are the things that really, really matter?
Focus on those 20% the other 80% have them roughly sketched out and then continue to refine and improve as you go. Um John, do you have? This is excellent, man. Do you have anything else to add any other thoughts uh prior to wrapping up the second episode here? Um I, I think in terms of these chasms that you’re talking about, one of them is, is expectations of time, you know, and I’ll give you an example of Chris. She’s been with me for about nine years now. Um, I have never once received a phone call, text or, or email when I’m marked off on my calendar.
Not once. Uh, and to me, I do the same thing. I don’t text if I find out a project manager is texting his crew off hours. That’s a big deal. Um, that’s gonna be hammered down with us because we don’t do that, the systems, the calendars in place if you need to tell somebody, oh, I’m changing this job and you gotta go here and do that. It doesn’t happen at 78 o’clock at night. It doesn’t happen on a Sunday afternoon. Um And so for me kind of setting those expectations of when we’re on, we’re work, I’m all in, you need something.
Let’s go, I’ll drop everything I’m doing. Hop in the truck, get to your job site, troubleshoot it, fix it, help you finish it in time, whatever it is. Um But for me that was critical too to have that go both ways that work life balance. We sell that to our new hires a lot. Um because these are people that have been text in the morning, the address you’re supposed to go to, no one wants to work in that environment. Um So standardizing that expectation because I did it for myself and they knew not to bother John because they were gonna get backlash.
But then I found out a couple of years ago that they’re doing it with their subordinates and it’s like, no, they’re not calling you uh with problems in the evening. I don’t want you texting and calling, you know, them off hours. It just that, that shows me we have a break in the chain of organization. Let’s fix that because I don’t want to do this one off every single week with people. And so I think if you’re, if you’re letting go of some of this control setting in those expectations, um generally us entrepreneurs are control freaks at first.
And so you might want to text them or email them and ask them how that estimate went. But if it’s past six pm or whatever your rules of engagement are sit on your phone, throw your phone away, get rid of it. Um And, and I’m, I’m huge on that here. You know, we have uh those expectations are, are really, really important because at times you feel like why am I doing this? Is this worth all the effort? And it’s not if you’re getting phone calls and texts and emails when you’re supposed to be unplugged and, you know, doing something with your kids or family or to yourself or whatever you’re doing.
Um So that’s a huge thing here that I felt like was really important. And then honestly, it didn’t happen until I heard Chris um because my mentality was, I was ok with those I wanted to be in the loop and she said, when she hired in, you will not hear from us when you’re gone. Um, her first couple months we had a crazy job guy, bought a new home, um, builder painted all of it, but he wanted us to do car on walls. There was an issue with, he didn’t actually close in time and he wanted us to go in there and just start painting when he didn’t actually own it.
And she just said, no, um, customer went ballistic real high end home. He was a doctor and thought he could just, you know, push his weight around and she said, there’s not a chance this is happening. I don’t care if you fire us or whatever, I’ll deal with John next Tuesday when he comes back. Um, and, you know, not that it wasn’t stressful for them, but she said, hey, this happened. I had to make a call and I said, nope, you’re 100% right. If the, the, you know, builder wasn’t gonna sign off and say it was fine for us to paint.
And that’s all we asked for. Just write us a letter saying, you know, the closing is not done, but you guys can paint. Well, the builder said no way in hell. And so we’re not doing that. Um And, and so getting people like that, it’s kind of a weird balance. You have to at different times. I hired people that had skill sets that Phil needs and then you have times where people that have skill sets that are more cerebral that you don’t need or they take something from you or they control you.
I know, you know, hiring Chris in that office staff caused me to be much more fiscally responsible. Um And, and I was accountable to them because they, they knew the money. So if I was charging stupid stuff or buying, you know, an extra truck cap for my truck that was not work related, um, I was uncomfortable doing that once they knew those things and so it forced me to be much more responsible or maybe it was hard for me, you know, in my late twenties to, to do that.
I wanted some new mud tires on my car and work was gonna pay for them and this all made sense and let’s just do this. Um, when you have that open level of accountability, it’s not as easy to say. No, it’s definitely a business expense. I had to, I had to have this and I had to definitely did not, you know mcfarlane Penney would not be where it is today if you didn’t have that. Yeah. And that, and that was a little uncomfortable for me too because I was, it’s my money.
What are you talking about? It’s your kingdom. I want some accountability. Yeah. But, um, you know, so that was kind of a challenge. Too to get comfortable with, you know, letting go of that absolute control and I could do whatever I want to do. And if you do that then there’s plenty of money to buy a lift kit and tires for your truck. Sure. But it’s, you’re not doing it the way that we all did it before where, you know, you’re kind of scamming on everything or taxes just, and that’s how you’re actually profitable is because your taxes to death.
Um, you know, I got a great, so that’s another one. The CPA, I mean, I transitioned CPA. S about that same time, 2012 and I went from coming in and having a guy who would just go more or less up and down, um, and see what I had at the end of the year and that tax to much more planning and I was intimidated because I thought this CPA is gonna think I’m an idiot. He’s not gonna wanna work with me. That’s all of their clients. And he said, no, we’re gonna, we’re gonna make you more money just planning.
We’re gonna have good plans. I’m gonna be able to tell you when you can, you know, lease another space when you can buy another van if you should finance outright or, um, do you pay cash for a cheap used vehicle and, and just do the repairs? And so, you know, that’s part of it too is just realizing that there are some resources that are gonna get you there faster if you just check your ego a little bit and say, hey, I don’t know what I’m doing. I need some help.
You know, my previous CPA allowed me to just do this totally haphazardly and I need someone to kind of tell me no. You know, can you be that guy that I’ve been with for 11, 12 years now? He is that guy. He, he will say no. And then they’ll also say, hey, your meals and entertainment are wildly low. Go spend it, you know. You know. So sitting down with those people in, in October, November is much more critical than doing it at the end of the year and coming in with your pile of receipts and saying, hey, I got four grand to pay in taxes.
I didn’t pay my quarterly stuff. How do I do this? But we all did that, you know, but it’s not the right way to do it. And it’s, that’s stressful in itself. It is. I, I what kind of liability you have waiting for you? Right. And then, you know, and at that stage when you’re doing it, you don’t have the resources to get out of it where now it would, it would be a blip on the radar. You come in and look at whatever you want, you’re not gonna find enough to matter.
So it’s not stressful. But when I had more control over it and I was probably a little bit embarrassed about the lack of profitability in the company and I didn’t want to be open and honest, that cycle of like fear and not being open with these professionals, um kind of creates this thing. You just can’t get out of until you say, you know what, I’m not good at that part of it. I need someone to actually tell me yes or no or when or how. Um, because I don’t have a, a degree in tax and I, I need someone to really, really direct me.
So that was important too. Probably before you start hiring because if they’re good, um, they can take away some fear and say, hey, I know you don’t have an extra 70 $60,000 at the end of the year to hire this office admin. But if we do a couple of things, you’ll have it the next week to week to get them in and then things will get better. Your company will help you financially forecast it. Yeah. And so, um, you know, things like that I think are just can’t be understated.
I think it’s, it’s wildly important for me to have those relationships, um, with people that know way more than I do and just tell me yes or no or, um, you know. Yeah. And being willing to, I guess, look or feel stupid, you know, just, hey, this isn’t my area of expertise. That’s why I hired you and not and, and I guess being willing to be a little bit vulnerable so that you can get the help that you need for your business. Yeah, John, that was good man.
That was deep. That was deep. Yeah, I really, I really, really enjoy this episode quite a bit man. So on uh that was episode two. What do we, what do we got? What did I say? Episode three is coming up? Um We will be covering systems for your office and sales. I am looking forward to that, especially now that we got a preview of basically everything that went wrong and then how, how it got fixed. Yeah. And I think that you have to know if I came on and just said, oh, we do X Y and Z. It’s like holy cow.
How do I implement all that? Well, everyone is through failure and you do learn more from the ones that don’t work out. The, the people that work out. It’s just like the great good customers. They get forgotten about it. Unfortunately, it’s the people that were total nightmares that you can recall their name and street address. And I can tell you paint colors from 15 years ago by people that were miserable to work for. And there’s been thousands of just great people that are. Yeah. Well, that’s just what we expect, you know.
So those failures is what allows you to start to do and hopefully I can try to keep things in kind of chronological order for the systems but some of these things that, you know, I’m, I’m throwing in there, um, they happen as it evolves. Like the time in the home was one that we had to figure out what was not working before we figured out. Ok. No, we’re just, he’s spending too much time in the house and he’s just irritating folks a little bit and you know, it’s got to be more exact.
No more T ball, no more T ball talk. No, that’s, that’s fine at the end. But customers that want to talk about it will lead with, you know, they’ll, they’ll open that door, you know, they’ll save you have kids and then game on, you can talk about kids. But sure, it’s just a weird kind of uh it’s a weird crutch if, if it’s not appropriate. Yeah. All right, John, really appreciate your time, man. Excited for the next episode. Thank you so much for this. Thanks, bro.

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Brandon Pierpont

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