Guest Interview: John MacFarland of MacFarland Painting “System Beat Fear” Series: Episode 4

Published On: July 3, 2023

Categories: Podcast

Guest Interview: John MacFarland of MacFarland Painting “System Beat Fear” Series: Episode 4
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 4, John will lay out the systems he uses to ensure success in his operations management and out in the field.

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 4
– Operations Systems

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, John covered growth sticking points he has experienced while scaling mcfarland painting company. In episode three, John deep dived into his systems for his office and sales. In episode four, this episode, 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 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 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.
Uh John, not much. We’re back, we’re back, man. We’re back. Number 45, I am excited to get into your operations systems. I think it’s one of the easiest things to start to implement in a growing company. And it’s a little less scary often than uh hiring sales, hiring offices, you know, getting a building or a warehouse and things like that. So this should be uh pretty easy for people to start grabbing some things and throwing them in their uh their business. I love it, man. All right. Well, uh I guess take the lead.
Tell me uh where do we start? Oh, gosh, let’s start with phones. Phones was a scary thing for me. Um, I’m a bit of a admitted control freak at times and we all are gone. Why we do what we do, man and how phones and phone calls and handling that stuff and then not being able to answer the phones. Um, is one thing with an office, you get an office number, a voice number. You, you know, there’s a lot of services now that they weren’t around back in the day.
Um But employees having to communicate with customers is a, a critical thing. I have two philosophies and they sound kind of contradictory of each other. But one if you uh arrive on time as we’ve said and planned, there’s really no reason to communicate. You just show up at 83 30 when you’re supposed to and you finish at five when you’re supposed to. But, you know, so that’s part of this is just that accountability functionally that doesn’t work, right? Something happens, people aren’t at home, you gotta ask them a question.
Um And so I think having access to communications for your field staff um that you can have a, a finger on the pulse is critical. So we use an app that, you know, is a shared number of the company. It has a whole interface that our office staff can use and they can see when you know, someone texts a client, um you know, a message or calls a message, we get a whole transcript of that, that we can access, which, you know, sounds like, ok, you’re just making sure your employees are arriving on time and things like that.
That’s part of it, right? That’s the low a route. Um, but when that customer calls back the office and says, I don’t remember if the guy said they’re gonna be here at eight o’clock or 9 30. I think they had a stop to make in the morning. Our office goes and looks and says, hey, no, they said 8 30 they’re gonna, uh, hit the paint store real quick and then they’re in their driveway. Um, for us that saves us time. We’re not trying to track down the crew that’s on the project.
And if I was a smaller company, I’d know what my guys are telling homeowners when and how things are getting done. You can make sure that that dialogue is appropriate. They’re not late, they’re not missing appointments. They’re, they’re starting on time. So I think that Communication App of some form is really one of those foundation pieces. I think contracting companies need to implement pretty quick. So, is this when you say Communication App, would this be like Slack or is that kind of thing? We’re talking about what we use is called weave.
But yeah, all, all pretty similar. Yeah, you can text and phone call through it. Um Our staff’s numbers come through as that number. Not their personal cell phone numbers. Um You know, we tell, I said this in an earlier episode, you know, make sure your clients save your phone number. No one answers unknown numbers anymore. And so you’ll call them and, and need their paint color or need to do something and you’re gonna get their voicemail. Um You know, so if you do this, then when they’re getting a text, it says mcfarlane painting is texting you and our guys just sign it, you know, to see it at seven o’clock tomorrow morning from John.
Uh and it’s real simple and for me, I wish I had this years ago. Um I didn’t deal with a lot of impropriety from my, my crews out there in the field, but there’s always a concern, you know, we, we missing appointments, um was a contractor gonna, you know, call them on the side and see if they’ll paint a room, you know, on the side and on the weekend, you know, that stuff does happen in our world and, and this really just allows me to make sure that the communication is consistent and on time and the way we want it.
So is it when, when the homeowners are getting communicated with, are there different numbers that they are seeing or they all are seeing the same number? They all are seeing one number and in our file we could log in and I could put in your first and last name and every conversation we’ve had with you on there, um, would be listed. We have little initials on our end that shows which one of us here communicated if somebody didn’t sign off in the text. Um, and for me it’s just critical.
It’s a local number. Right? So it’s not a goofy 800 number or fragmented number. And, and for me that’s one of the cheapest services that we just couldn’t get with get by without. So it’s called Weave. Weave is what we’ve used. Yeah, we’ve tried a few. Um and, and weave seems to be the most friendly for what we’re doing, taking pictures from a client and they want to text you the color of the paint can or a match or something that they found. Boom, it right goes in, it goes into there and you’re not gonna lose it.
So I love that if we use Slack at painter marketing pros. But Slack is, you know, I don’t think it’s the best in the world for a painting company. The needs are a little bit different. It’s, it works great for a tech company or marketing company. Um But yeah, we’ve, I will, I will have to check that out. OK. So communication, standard communication uh protocols for how that communication occurs. A K A, you know, sign your name at the bottom, you know, make sure that you request for the homeowner to save the number so that you can get in touch with them when you need to, things like that.
Um And then ultimately just, just having that accountability throughout the company and really the almost like the paper trail of the communications that are occurring and making sure those communications are consistent because we get scared as business owners to give up that control. Those calls all went through us, the colors, the paint, it all went through us. So you’re getting rid of that. So there’s some solace in knowing, ok, I can access that information. Um, I know that it’s coming through a number that I’m gonna own you.
You know, I had a really great project manager who was good and, and, you know, he left on, on fairly good terms and went to start his own company. Well, if you don’t have things like this, they’re texting that guy, you know, and you may not care about it that, but you really might. And in my case I did, you know, we were successful because of we not necessarily this individual. And so I wanted to pull that information and that client file and I don’t want them texting my guys off hours and, you know, evenings and weekends and weird questions.
This professionalizes that a lot. Um, they could in theory check this app all hours of the day, but no one here does. Um, you know, we still operate 7 to 5. And so if something’s coming in after that, unless they’re expecting it, the cool thing about weave is you can actually assign clients with like departments or teams so that you won’t get notifications from other teams or other people in the company and then you don’t have to sort through a bunch of stuff. You just tag them to yourself, you know, and that’s kind of slick too.
That is like, you know, we had, I mean, we get 60 303 texts on that a day on top of our phone calls. And so it’s really key for us to sort that and have it all one spot. Is there anybody who is, is just kind of reading all of it or do you have any sop for that or is this just, hey, you have the date if you need it? Yeah, our, our office manager, Danielle has that screen up on her screen all the time. Um You know, she’s just kind of keeping a, a side eye on it and making sure that there’s nothing that sits out there unchecked for too long.
Um, but we found our crews are so rapid for her to get back with people. It’s way better than even email. Um, you know, if their work email is on their phone, which it is, it’s not necessarily their primary, but they don’t have notifications on it sometimes if they’re not super active. Our, our project managers are not getting 50 60 emails a day that are work related. But in we, if they’re really looking for those little icons to pop up and you know, they can respond and hammer that out.
Yeah, I love it, man. All right. So we’ve communication, accountability, streamline that own it. Uh Everyone’s accountable to it and then you, you give people their time off so that people aren’t having, for example, their personal cell phones ringing or, or things like that. Um What’s next? Um I mean, for me, I kind of made some checklist that curbside checklist that we’ve had for, you know, a long, long time, um, standardizing how we’re arriving in the driveway where we’re parking, where’s our staging area? Our shop gonna go lawn sign out custom introduction.
Those are check boxes. Now they’re virtual check boxes, you know, through our app. Um, but we still have paper copies. I’m still at heart kind of a paper dude. And I like that actually have that in my hands and just go through, um, you know, stupid little annoyance for a homeowner is the guys get there. We told him we’d be there at 8 30. We park in the driveway. Um, somebody didn’t tell him we were gonna put back up in the driveway to offload our stuff. They’re getting ready to take kids to the school and we’re in their way.
Is it a big deal? No, but it’s kind of annoying. Right. And so that’s part of our week before phone call, we’re gonna say, you know, exterior season early in the season, we need water on windows closed, you know, breakable stuff, wind chimes removed and out of the area just like we would on the interior. Uh, we have a whole checklist for that pre job that we’re going through that kind of overlays to when we arrive on that job. Um, so that we’re giving people a consistent product because more issues that we’ve ever had come from like a lack of communication or being let down a little bit, we deal with very little.
This isn’t painted properly or I don’t like the way this finish looked. It’s all these softer skills and these personality, you know, traits and, and that communication line with the customer that is either gonna make or break a job in my opinion. Do you? And this might be sort of an unfair question? But do you think that what you just said, hey, the, the usual complaints or if there’s anything that’s negative, it’s likely to be not related to the actual painting project, but something else? Do you think that’s a normal thing for painting companies?
Um, probably not, probably not. For me, it’s kind of always been that, you know, every single issue we have starts with lack of communication. It could still be a painting technique or process problem that, you know, this didn’t cover in two coats and it’s gonna take a third. So we have a process for that, we’re gonna do a color bright whites are popular right now by us, they’re hard to cover. Right. That aluminum oxide has been stripped out of paint. They’re hollow. They’re just not what they used to be.
We’re buying $50 gallon product that covers like $10 a gallon product did 15, 18 years ago. That’s a problem. So, if we have a, what we perceive to be a potential challenge in two coat coverage, one of the first things we’re gonna do is do a drawdown on their walls, show them one, show them two and then show them what three coats is and point out say, I don’t think two is gonna pass. I think we need to do three. you know, the cost is gonna be this before we get started.
That does a couple of things. One, it eliminates the homeowners from thinking maybe we could have done this differently and put it on heavier the second coat. And why are we calling them now at 3 p.m. or it’s like a maybe like a bait and switch or something 233% on the whole time. And our sales staff and design staff has told them, you know, this is really bright white. This could be an issue. Um, so we generally in any of those situations, they already have a third coat line item is a, is an option for walls.
Um, but the other thing about that too in doing that is then we’re not putting a super high end finish for all three coats. We can go with our ceiling paint or a prime coat, you know, all the way down the wall, which saves us $2030 a gallon and dries faster and it’s a really nice flat finish. So the premium stuff is gonna stick to it like glue. So we just save some money and we didn’t have to find out later that. Oh, we need more, we need more of the wall paint.
Remember, my guys are paid a percentage of the job. They often have extra ceiling paint in a van. They very rarely have an extra three or four gallons of wall paint. So if we have something to burn or we might have available to us to save a trip, it’s gonna be that wall paint or that ceiling paint first coat on the wall. So, you know that part of walkthrough and that system of that, we call it a curbside checklist to me is critical. Um You know, we got so many people that we’ve worked for years and years ago, I want, I want it to feel the same even if it’s a different team in their house.
And that’s one of the ways to do that, make sure we have access to the parking in their driveway or whatever agreed upon or that we are gonna park in the street. Um Where is that staging area in your home? Gonna be, you know, we’ve already surveyed from our sales team if they have small kids or a puppy and dogs and active lifestyle, you know, does that stuff need to go in and out every day or can we put it in a room and shut a door?
Um, you know, all that box material. And so, um, that Curbside checklist, in my opinion, is probably the, one of the most unchanged things we have in the last 10 years. There’s very little edits to that. You know, how big is that checklist? It’s one single sheet, probably 2020 20 line items. Um, our crews at the bottom of that are totaling up their hours worked and actually determining the profitability of the job as they turn that in. And so we use, when we run our jobs reports every week of the profitability of jobs and any issues we ran on that Curbside report is checked off.
Yes or no. Um, did they do that? And if it’s a no, it’s, we’re, we’re really gonna get after them. It may seem like kind of not a big deal, but we’ll chase down everyone on every job and we don’t want to see one line all the way through the one side. I wanna see individual checks. If they’re doing it on paper, I think it should be done by a couple different people. Ours has generally a crew leader management kind of stuff at the top and then crew people at the bottom, it’s kind of split on some of the job duties so that everyone has a job to do.
You know, the, we talk about lawn signs a lot. I just had a conversation. We have a really kind of high visibility project near us right now and our sales guy went by to just do a site visit and there was no lawn sign. And does it seem like a big deal? I’m to me it does we get a couple $100,000 a year that the referral source? I would have a problem with that. So, you know, we, we were advertising, yeah, 100%. And you know, so we put a law sign on every job and we leave them corrugated plastic, they’re $4 apiece.
We get a smoking deal every job unless it’s a condo association that cannot have one, gets one. Um And even those will put it on and see if it last a day or two before someone ask for forgiveness, not for permission. Hey, we don’t know. We’re not in the ho A they are. So, um, but yeah, I think that that process is sign back in customer check in. You know, I do a whole sit down thing on communication and one of the things I talk about because we have different personalities.
I have people that own their own company are very professional thorough and I have people that are very quiet, introverted. So we’re starting to look for things to talk to someone about, you know, hey Brandon, I noticed we worked at your house a couple of years ago. That’s great. I wasn’t at mcfarland yet, but, uh, yeah, it looks really glad that you called us back. Um, oh, I see. You’re a hockey player, baseball player, bowl or whatever that may be, um, as in reducing yourselves and, and everybody gets a business card for me.
I got a lot of people that frankly at first blush just look like painters and look similar. That’s not meant to be offensive. And if I give you a business card, the customer is much more apt to say, hey, Brandon, that’s right. Brand. Can you, uh can you make sure that when you guys leave out here today, can you lock that door behind you? I’m gonna be gone for a few hours. I’m not gonna see it. Um, so that makes a difference and that’s all done in that pre pre job walk through on that curbside checklist that, you know, that introduction and, and what are we gonna talk about?
You know, a lot of this is about your project for sure. But you know, our goal is to have somebody come in, give us 15 minutes in the morning leave and then not see them again until the end of the project for a 373 minute walkthrough because we’re gonna be in their way. They’re gonna be in our way, it just works best and if we’re organized enough that works for everybody, they know where we’re coming, what rooms we’re doing, they know who’s in their home, they’re comfortable with the whole thing.
Um, you know, they say if you need anything, call me and, you know, one of my jokes was always, if I need something from you, when your project’s going on, I’m gonna start with the fire department and then you can call your insurance company because I’m not gonna need you for anything. Yeah. And that just kind of puts people at ease like, oh, ok. I guess I can not be stressed and, you know, go do something else. Sure. Yeah. And I, I think you’re right, the business card does seem like a small thing but the devil’s in the details and I think it, it makes it so much more personable. Yeah.
And they hold on to that and that even a lot of our teams don’t even have company emails. It may be their project manager’s email on there, but it’s still their name and that’s enough pride. And then when we give them where they get a, signed an email, it’s kind of like a, a stepping up like, ok, cool. I’m now one of, I’m one of the guys here, you know, I’m, I’m one of the top people but for, for 20 bucks everyone can get business cards. Do you when you have a crew out, does every single member of the crew, give a business card or is it the team leader or how does that work?
Um, functionally, probably not everybody. I think there might be the team leader or the next person, you know, kind of the one and two. but II, I don’t know if they might be doing that. The other part of this too is, um, we pay a 3% finder’s fee for, for work. So when that neighbor comes up, it’s amazing. The different feel you get when you incentivize someone to get a job as opposed to. Oh yeah, I write down the name off the van and call the office. I don’t care. Whatever.
I’m gonna let you pay 3%. They come right down that, that potential lead gets a handshake and oh, this is what we’re doing here. Do you know Brandon? You know, you live in the neighborhood, this is what we’re doing his exterior. Um Well, they seal that deal where if they are standing on the roof and say, oh, write down the number, they’re not gonna write down that number, they’re gone, you know. So these are people you’re saying who the prospect in this case maybe is going by the house by walking the dog.
OK. Do you, you guys kind of canvass the, the neighborhood of your projects? Do you do anything like that? We don’t, I did, I did for a long time. Um You know, back in the day, I actually took the monument signs that were in a couple premium neighborhoods that I wanted to be in more. And I made a door hanger where that neighborhood monument sign was at the top. And then my information was on the bottom. So they saw Cherry Hill Village is one by us here in Canton.
It’s very recognizable and uh we hung up on all the doors. My sister-in-law at the time was probably 16, 17 and she would drive through there and just dish those things out. Um, it was worth the money to make that very, very succinct and very much neighborhood specific. Sure. I don’t think my general one would have done much good. It didn’t. And, uh, but when I put the neighborhood, you know, monument sign on that, it was like, oh, this might be something for the neighborhood up too late. I got you.
You’re reading it and now you want your house painted. So that’s a neat idea, man. Yeah, I like, but why don’t you do it anymore? Um, we’re busy enough with other things and I just kind of got away from it, you know. Uh, it’s, it’s been, it’s been a little bit since I’ve done it but it, it’s something I would go back, you know, the concept of 10 up and 10 down. Um, you know, when you’re, when you’re working there, I think we, um, we don’t do a fantastic job of that.
Marketing in areas that we’re, we’re working in or specific neighborhoods or mail carrier routes. Um, we’re, we’re busy without it but it’s something I think I need to revisit. Yeah. You’re an alley cat, John. Now you’re a house cat to get that. You’re well fed. So, that’s the problem. I can do door hangers with the best of them though. Yeah. But now, yeah, we’re, we’re seeing the opportunities here. Um, yeah. And you, you know, you do, you do get caught up in other stuff. You know, you have other challenges as you grow.
A business doesn’t mean it’s not something you’ll circle back to or isn’t a good idea, but you’ve also spent a tremendous amount of time building the organization sops. Um All right. So we have Curbside checklist, which I think it sounds like the, obviously there’s a lot that, that does, it’s probably a quality control aspect, but it sounds like the number one thing that really does is provide a stellar customer experience, ease of mind, right? They, they have the expectations, they know what’s going to happen. They don’t feel like they have to do work or keep tabs on you.
We have the business cards. So you’ve made it personal, you’ve given your paint painters pride. You’ve given that you’ve attached a name, not just, hey, it’s some random guy painting from this company. Um And then you have weave so essentially streamlining automating. Um and really centralizing your communication what’s next? Um For me, it’s kind of the end of project wrap up I think is, again, we’re talking about painting, but we’re not talking about actually painting, which is kind of interesting. But again, I think it’s where the battles are won and lost really doesn’t involve paint.
Um So at the end of the job, you know, we have a very specific process for this, um we’re, you’re gonna know in advance what day and time we’re wrapping up your project. If it’s a four day job, you’re gonna know, hey, the last day between four and six, we’re gonna need you and every time we talk to you, we’re gonna dial that in a little bit. Um I don’t want to cannibalize someone’s time. I’m not holding them hostage for all afternoon to do a walkthrough with us.
That’s not fair. Um So if we’re gonna send you an invoice before the job is totally done, maybe we added in some doors that you asked about. We’re gonna customize a little note and said, hey, Brandon, here’s your invoice. We added those six door slabs you wanted to add, um, take a look at this and make sure everything looks good. I’ll see you at our walk through at 4 30. You know, we’re still post COVID time. A lot of people working at home, but that’s better received than knocking on a home office door or texting somebody or, you know, yelling for them throughout the house.
So we’re gonna, we’re gonna dial in that time. Um, when we get close to that time, we’re gonna walk up to that client and say, hey, listen, we’re getting close. I’m gonna do my team walk through in a minute and then I’m gonna go back and grab, you got about 5003 minutes and I’m gonna need you to walk around. Is that ok? And you’re gonna say, oh yeah. Yeah, I’m just getting dinner ready. Just holler for me. We’ll get you make a big production out of the team walk through.
So we’re gonna have three or four people with different colors and finishes ceiling paint, trim, paint, all that stuff and we’re gonna go through, um, couple of things. One, I want them to know that we’ve already looked at this. It changes it where it’s not this tail light warranty if I don’t detail their work and then they’re not gonna come back. We want them to see that we’ve already done this. Um, obviously, I don’t wanna ask for a walk through with the client when it’s three quarters done and having been holy crap.
This is bad. That’s bad. That’s bad. So we want to get it very close to being 1000% complete. Um We’re gonna tell them about the time we’re gonna do our team walk through, but we’re also gonna trade roles. So if you cut in ceilings, I’m gonna look at that ceiling cut in. If I roll walls, you’re gonna look at that wall cut in. Uh, it’s not an issue of ability to make something look right. It’s often just an eye and I think people get a little ahead of themselves when they did something and I think it’s good enough and then maybe even a guy comes behind and I can’t cut in as straight as you can, but I know that the ceiling line could maybe be a little tighter.
And so I say, hey, Brandon, that’s not, that’s not gonna work, hit that real quick. Um We do that as a team and I think it helps learn. I think a lot of us and I did this very poorly. Back in the day, you send your lower end guys out of the house to start racking ladders and shaking out, drop cloths and loading up the band. They don’t see this, this is the work. This is the last part of it. So if you have the lower end people or the trainees or the apprentices bail out of the house, they’re missing all that attention to detail.
And then how do you expect them to then be able to achieve that level of detail? And they thought it was done, you know, at 4 30 you didn’t come out of the house until five o’clock with a check because you were detailing all these little things out. So for me doing it as a team and trading roles is critical and I do a whole training thing with my staff on that exact thing. How does that work? You know, it’s really, uh, I, I think that’s genius. Yeah, it’s easy for us to just your eyes just gonna miss it because you’re already there.
You already did. You already saw, it’s so easy to miss, I think. And the idea that you’re, you’re basically apprentices or, or you’re kind of more novice trainers, they’re gonna have a hard time leveling up when, when the most important work, when the stuff that’s really involving customer satisfaction, they’re just being pulled out of that. How are they, how do you ever expect them to be able to, to level up and do a good job? That the only way is they’re gonna probably make mistakes when you actually have them level up. Yeah.
Well, I had a guy years ago who complained about the amount of time that I, I chatted with customers after the job was done. You know, they’re in the van, the ladders are racked. We’re ready to go home. And you’re saying that painter was complaining about it? Yeah. Yeah. And so I’d come out of the house and I was like, oh my God, what took you so long? Well, I got, I got two friends numbers, you know, for estimates. I’m calling them on the way home. So that’s why I did that 10 minutes, you know.
Um, I went into two leads. That’s a good, yeah. And they’re slam dunks. They close 100% you know, their, their, their friends already know the price. They live in a similar home. It’s just, it’s a done deal. Um, and so, you know, not rushing through that, I think you give people a bad impression when you rush through the end of the job. We talked about this before. What we do is AAA luxury type of item and it’s a feel good, beautiful thing. Um There’s got to be a little bit of celebration when you’re done, you know, so if you’re just throwing your stuff together and running out the door, I think you’re devaluing yourself.
There should be man, Brennan, your colors are great and damn, we did a really good job put on the wall, didn’t we look how great that is? You know, like, yeah, you guys are great. Um So that’s part of it. Our end of the job process, we talk about paint storage, you know, we’re leaving you leftover paint. How long is it gonna last if you put it in your garage? That’s a no, no, you know how to do a touch up when your kids inevitably throw something into it in two or three weeks and things like that, you know, add a little bit of water less is more, this is how you touch this up and, you know, not talking about a miss but an actual damage to the wall, how do you wash them?
You know, most homeowners impression of how you wash walls is nothing like the paint manufacturers or the painters. You know, they’re scrubbing it. What to death. And it’s like the softest cloth. A little bit of water will take it out or it’s not coming out of almost any paint. So don’t grade the walls. Um, we’re gonna talk about the review process then too. So this is one of the few things that we do that’s fairly consistently scripted. Um I can’t leave your house unless you can give us a five star review.
It seems like you’re there. Is there any reason anything you want me to, to, you know, hit again or go through with you? Do you want me to step out of the house? So you can look at it, you know, do you need a minute? But I’m not comfortable leaving you with anything but a five star job and the homeowner say and you can tell, right? Some people say, yeah, no, it’s good. Well, that’s not good. So they got the press if they say, oh, this has just been amazing and they start ripping off how good you are in these five compliments. Fantastic.
What you’re gonna get once you pay your bill, you’re gonna get an automated text response that’s gonna have links for review immediately and it be it mean a lot to me if you went ahead and just click that um, we have a different times and contests for staff, we’ll do $100 a month to the staff member with the most mentions their name. Um, that’s a popular one with the crew. You know, it, it cost me way less than $100 to pay that because they’re getting us in the process is so much better in the meantime.
Um, you know, but the guys will just say like it’s some of it’s just bragging, you know, we print really nice ones and put them on the shop. We talk about them in meetings, we share them in our, our company internal Facebook page. Um So part of this is just ego, you know, it’s really, you know, it’s great for you guys, right? And Google and Seo and all that stuff. Um But, but in house there’s a, a little bit of a challenge like, hey, I got four last month, Brandon.
I didn’t see you on one. What’s up? Are you a sleeper? Um And, and that’s like too, but we’re gonna tell the customers they’re getting it and they’re gonna personalize it. And my story for this, I had an appliance company come out and do new appliances in my house and they did a fine job, they delivered them, they set them in place. No big deal. And the guy says to me, he goes, you’re gonna get a review from us and if you could fill it out, I’d appreciate it.
And all of us are like, ok. No, I don’t care, you know. And then he said, um, we actually get like $5 for every positive one that we get in addition to this delivery. And I was like, oh, can you send it to me right now? And he’s like, well, no, you’ll get it later. And I’m like, no, can you send it to me right now? And he’s like, yeah, I’m like, well send it to me. I’m gonna do it. I don’t want to forget, I want you to get the $5.
I didn’t care about the appliance company whatsoever. But the two guys that took these appliances up the steps and even just a couple hours they were there made an impression that they’re good guys that were hard workers and I wanna get five bucks, not my money. And so that’s part of it too. You know, this is important to me because I want to beat my coworkers. Um you know, and, and that resonates because people don’t care about the companies. Uh if I’m doing this right company’s secondary, you know, they want to give John a review because John is great and I’m gonna mention John, I’m gonna mention Marsha in the office or, and, and those are things we look for too is how many different departments get mentioned in those reviews.
Um You know, how did the process go from start to finish? But we’re telling them you’re gonna get this from us and it is something we care about deeply. So you have, do you have them say that? Do you have them say, hey, we actually monitor this and, and I wanna beat my coworkers. Is that the standard line for them? Yeah, that or we have a contest going on right now. Um You know, or uh you know, I haven’t gotten one in a while and they’ll kind of, you know, joke around and be like, I just feel really left out.
I don’t know what’s going on. Nobody likes me, brother. Um But yeah, I think that one of those is all it takes, you know, that you actually will know when it actually gets sent through the, the, the painter will. Um And people have an allegiance to them. They’ve been in their house for 5003 or five days and, you know, been around near dinner and all these other things and it’s like, uh to me that’s, that’s all it takes. It’s just to humanize it a bit. Yeah, man, that’s great.
Um What is your, what’s your success rate? So how many, how many of your projects? What percentage of them do you get a five star review from? Gosh, the newer system we’re using, I feel like it’s a little bit better. Um Probably about 10% we get a review on and they’re five stars. Um We just got a four star about a week or two ago. Which I think is fantastic. It was a four star job. It wasn’t perfect. I, you know, I think society has gotten so weird where it’s one star or five stars, one or five, man.
Sometimes the ball drops a little bit and you still pick it up, but it’s four. and those are fantastic. You know, one stars. You’re a real company and it’s probably a real person, you know, the, the ones and the fives sometimes they’re just a spammer or whatever, leaving something. Oh, yeah. Well, we see those, you know, we have a couple of companies near us where their, their Facebook stuff and their, their followers are just, you know, in the thousands, but there’s like two likes per post and it’s like, ok, those are, those are suspicious.
Um Yeah, we get about 10% back. Yeah, I think it’s probably something that our crew doesn’t do a good enough job of asking for or in indicating the importance, you know, I think would be fair, fair enough, fair enough. Ok, so we have the, the review generation and I did wanna, I was actually gonna ask that and, and you already proactively talked about it, but you said you make the walk through at the end in event, you know, it’s like an event and, and I think the way that you phrased it, I get it, I could see how some people might be hesitant, you know, it might sound like, oh, they’re bragging or something.
But I know you do it in a certain way. You’re not really bragging. You’re saying like, man, your house looks great. Like, wow, this and you can kind of make the homeowner the hero, you know, like, oh man, I’m so happy you selected that color for your kitchen. That just looks absolutely stupendous. But yeah, I think this, this idea, it’s a luxury, especially, you know, in interior you probably didn’t need it. It’s a luxury you wanted it and we should celebrate it. Have a toast to how beautiful your home looks.
Well, we’re getting after photos too. So that’s part of that closed down, you know, branding your house looks so nice. You guys did a great job in your colors. Um You know, can we get some after photos of this? I think people are gonna like to do. This is bold, you know, and our crews will be honest, we’re painting a ton of whites and grays and it’s nice to post great color out here. It changes my day, you know, look at my pants, they’re all white. I got white and light gray everywhere and now I got some red on them.
Um You know, and so that’s part of it too. We want to take some photos and hey, you’ll see these on our Facebook and stuff the next couple days. Um The problem with us is a lot of jobs that we complete on the inside, the furniture is not back, the furnishings aren’t back and it just doesn’t, we take afters but we don’t market for them. Um Because the room just kind of looks plain, you know, and still not complete. Um But if it’s a pretty good size job, I mean, we’ll send Elizabeth out there to take some photos of those.
Um And we don’t have people say no to that. I mean, there’s a, there’s like a, a sense of accomplishment in my house. I did such a good job designing this and picking my colors that, you know, these guys want to use it. You know, that’s a badge of honor, I think for most of our clients and um they don’t sweat you on that, you know, get those photos. That’s cool, man. So you when they give the business card, do they tell the homeowner that they get a commission for referrals?
Is that something that said or no? Uh Probably some, it’s not standard for us. You know, I think I have some people that would be very uncomfortable with that, but they would just say, hey, your friends and family ask for me. You know, I got painter, painter turned salesman here. Yeah. Um but we have some people that do uh you know, we had some people, a guy who didn’t have a business card in his truck and had one of his coworkers and took a sharpie crossed it off and put his first name and said a hustler.
He said, I don’t have my card. He goes make sure you tell him, Anthony sent you not Kyle and the, the customer just died laughing and you know, they’re like, I gotta have these guys, they’re a rider, you know, Anthony’s gonna get it done. Yeah, he did. I like Anthony flagging people down at the entrance to the neighborhood and giving them whatever it takes. Yeah, Anthony’s get getting it across the finish line. Ok. Do you have any? So we’ve done the project. We have a curb curbside checklist.
We’ve all the, the centralized communication. We, we have the five star review generation, the end project. Um wrap up, you know, we make it a big deal. Uh We have the, the different painters check each other’s work, catch different things and now the project’s done. So we’ve, we’ve sent them the last stuff we sent them. The review generation. Is there any kind of referral campaign? Is there any kind of database reactivation? What happens to that person now? Yeah. So we do have a referral campaign. We pay $100 gift card to every referral that closes.
Um We do it as a a we do it for a job over $2000. Our average job is 4000. So, you know, if you do the math, it only costs us 50 bucks. Technically, you know, we don’t get a lot of jobs at $2005. So, you know, we’re getting a little bit more bang for our buck out of that. Um That comes on their invoice. It says, you know, we have our referral program and kind of explains it. The crew often explains that in the home. Um We send out quite a bit of those.
That’s one of the few things that we do really old school. Uh I got fired from handwriting the thank you cards because my penmanship is not the greatest. Um So Elizabeth does that, but it’s, it’s a customized deal. It just isn’t just stamped through. It says, you know, brand and the guys really loved it. I saw your red walls and um, you know, here’s a referral card from Mrs Jones or whatever that you refer us to. Um, you know, she said that to, to go with you guys.
Um So those go out. Um We don’t do a, a really good job of drip campaigns and email newsletters and stuff like that. Um I mean, honestly, we’ve been so busy the last few years. It’s hard to really dedicate time to that because I think we still get so many referrals at that end of end of job close that we haven’t needed it. You know, we spend an insanely low budget. My marketing budget is less than 4%. Uh and that is, I’ll just cut, I’ll just cut this part out.
John, keep going and keep going. But if you do what Brandon tells you to do, you, you don’t need to spend as much either. Uh, and it’s so low because I think if you do that stuff in the home, you end up two fold, right? You get a, you get a, or a job from it, you also get the type of customers you want and we’ll tell people flat out you were great to work for. I want to work for all of your friends and family. This has just been a pleasure.
You had all of your stuff. That’s a nice compliment too. Yeah. And you know, you, you brought us in lunch, you had coffee in the morning. It doesn’t take much to make guys go over and above for people. Um, the little things and they’ll just say this was just so nice to work for you. You know, not the guy before you was terrible, but they’re just gonna talk about where you were. Sure. That’s, you know, that’s, that’s what we’re doing. It’s like, uh, this is like a reverse sale.
I mean, people want to feel valued, even if they are the ones paying you money, they still wanna feel valued and you’re essentially valuing them. You’re validating them. You’re, I mean, this is gonna sound kind of weird but you’re basically telling them they’re a good customer and I don’t think anyone’s like, I wanna be a crap customer. I don’t think anyone has that in their head. No. And I don’t think people want to be crap, anything, you know. So, it’s nice to feel like you’re doing a good job.
Well, I think what we do is, I mean, it’s personal. Right. We’re into somebody’s home or on the outside of their home for a few days. You know, it’s, it’s a, a little intrusive, you know. Um, we see and hear things that most people don’t want people to see and hear at times and, um, you know, and, and arguments between spouses and things like that. And so we’re part of the family for a minute and, and that’s important. And I think for most of our clients again, let’s say the paint jobs look the same.
They’re gonna just remember that part of it forever and say, oh, the crew was so pleasant. They pet my dog. They were joking around with my kids and they shot baskets with my kid on their way out of the project one day and, you know, or something like that and, and, um, I, for a while I had t shirts that I would give kids, um, that were just like our t-shirts with our brand on it and it’s a junior project manager on, on the left. Um, we still have clients from 10 years ago whose, you know, kids can never fit into those.
They’re like, I still had that t-shirt. I couldn’t get rid of it. Um, those were at 5003 bucks apiece as a lead behind. Um, because for most people with Children, if you, it’s like dogs and pets, right. If you, if you pass the kid test, then you’re good for sure. If you are engaging to the kids like laser, we talk about laser tape measures. Um, I do my homework and then I’m gonna give that to the kid and let him blast the walls and run around with it.
Um It does two fold, right? It gets him away from mom so I can talk about paint and it keeps them entertained and it’s showing that like I get this, I know that, you know, Johnny’s an important part of your family and I don’t want to say, hey, can you put him in another room or put him on the, you know, place him in the room? We’re gonna, we’re gonna work around them, you know, it’s fine. So we can cohabitate, man. That’s great. So do you, so you don’t do the t-shirt leave behind anymore though for the kids?
I don’t, it’s been a minute. It’s something that’s on our list of stuff to reintroduce. Um Yeah, we, we don’t, but I just didn’t know if there was like a, any kind of weird thing or like a parent got upset or it’s just something that just kind of stopped happening. No, it just kind of died out. You know, we ran through the couple orders and I just didn’t do it. Life gets busy and, you know, I, I, somewhere I do have a binder of all those things that we did or ideas that I, I really need to go back and kind of revisit.
Um You know, we do really, really well with word of mouth networking groups in terms of regeneration and stuff, we are really good on client stuff. So some of the other things, you know, trade shows we do, but those are no one’s favorite. Uh My guys don’t love those. Um I think they make us better at our job because you got to do an elevator pitch and get attention real quick and be dynamic. So for me, if we get a couple of jobs, it’s great, but it’s actually a better training tool than it is a lead generation tool.
It just kind of stinks to think about two days at a big, you know, busy arena area to, to do some training. But, you know, in my opinion, it’s more training than leads. I like that mindset though. It is, it’s, it’s more difficult and you’re around a bunch of people who are selling. It’s when you’re at a, a homeowner’s house, it’s just you, you don’t really have to be phenomenal to stand out, especially, I’ll say this as nicely as I can. I guess competing with other painters, sometimes the bar is kind of low in terms of the actual sales process.
You go to a home show. It’s not just painters that are there. So that bar is usually pretty higher, um, you know, a fair amount higher than it is just in the painting industry. So, I actually think going to plumbing shows and, and like H VAC Roofing, I think watching the way that they do some of their marketing, the way that they do some of their sales. I actually think it’s really educational because they’re, they’re pretty dialed in. Oh, yeah. Well, I have, I have one guy with a phenomenal sales background and if he’s working in the booth you’re not going to get talked to, he’s gonna catch everyone’s eye.
He’s like, there’s just no way Jim’s gonna get him. Um, and, and, but that’s good to learn because he, he’s really quick to assess, you know, husband wife, two small kids, you know, he, he gets the giveaway for the kids a little pop or fidget spinner. He’s gonna say, here you go just enough to get the parents to stop and then say I got something for you too. Mom and dad, here’s a flyer on cabinet painting. You know, that’s, you got my most intense sales pitch. Like, well, no, actually we, we, we were interested maybe in this and, and he gets people to stop, like, like no one I’ve seen.
Yeah, that’s a great education to watch too, you know, other, the other guys watching Jim go because you’re not gonna be out there with Jim when he’s selling. But you are next to him at the home show. I love it, man. Ok. So we’ve covered a lot. Are there other, any other big time ones with operations or out in the field that we should cover in terms of other systems or software or, or kind of what you’ve set up here? Um, you know, other systems like with Van Van, set up, van Organization for us is a big one.
The, but the last thing on that checklist that they turn in is did you clean up and set up for the next day? Um You know, our crews get here at 7 30 in the morning is their start time. So some are here earlier, but at 7 28 I have very few guys that come in functioning at a level 230 at 223 237 everyone comes here at that time, but they all don’t come back to the shop at the time. So if you need space to move some stuff around and fill a truck or, or clean something out that afternoon from 2500 to 2500 o’clock when the crews are trickling in is a lot better process and you get guys that wanna go home and are motivated.
They’re not coming in early in the morning talking about the basketball game and this and that and drinking coffee and going slow. So for me setting up for the next day, the day before is critical, um, back in, in the day at our old shop, I, I literally had a air horn that at 5003 2500 I would just start blasting, um, because it does not take more than 24 minutes to get in. Clock in, get your keys, get in the truck and go. I would hate that. Yeah. No, I was obnoxious.
But, you know, again, in, in our, our pay system they’re incentivized to get out there and get after it early. So I don’t have to do that as much anymore. Right. It’s not hurting cattle and getting them out. But I do setting up the day before, you know, inventory your van. Um, we have lists of those for each van. We have a couple of different versions depending on the project manager. If a crew does their own wood replacement or they have another team member do it. Is it a large van or a little transit?
You know, the list are different interior season, exterior season. Um, so that they can go right down and know what they need or don’t need because again, in our pay system in any pay system, it’s just gonna cost the owner in the conventional way. Um, they’re short a couple of rolls of tape and they run to Sherl Williams. Well, that, that tape, that was five bucks is now costing 215 bucks because no one did anything. Um, you know, and so we get very concerned with our paint wraps and we beat them up for this bulk pricing and then you piss it all away because you let guys drive to the store for an hour, not doing anything.
It’s like you can afford to buy tape retail and not our prices if you just would clean up the system, you know. So, prepping is a big part of me. I’m a big prepper and, you know, our crews are looking at, um, I kind of want to get into meetings because it’s a segue, but I won’t do it next time. But the, um, they’re, they’re previewing their jobs, right. Those pictures, they’ve all been assigned to them. They’ve done that the week before. So they know on this job we’re gonna need a little giant ladder for a foyer.
That’s kind of a weird set with a stairway or a ladder pivot or, you know, an 8 to 16 ft on the inside of the home or something that maybe they don’t have in abundance. Um, they’re setting it up the day before so they don’t need to, you know, think about it in the morning back in the day. I used to just handwrite those things on the folders and I’d hand them to everybody. Right. So that was better than forgetting it. But now with our system, we can put those notes in at any time.
And, uh, and then what happens if they have to go into the file to retrieve those notes, they’re looking at the pictures by themselves. And so it’s just like the guys doing the whole team walk through, they don’t need those notes as much because they’re just seeing the pictures and they like, oh, yeah, I’m gonna want to fold the ladder for that. That’s gonna be kind of a pain without it. Um, and they might not even get to the notes that are outlining that stuff. Right. Yeah.
So with this, with all this, um, you know, all these systems that you built and I really like the, the, uh, reference back to the pay scale and kind of how that has set the stage for this whole thing. And that’s why we started it with episode one because otherwise you’re stepping over dollars, you know, to save pennies, which is what a lot of people do, but you obviously have a lot of systems dialed in here. You have a lot of stuff that you’ve thought through pretty extensively that I think, uh, uh, most companies haven’t really even considered, uh, standardizing.
Was this something that you just proactively sat down and, and just kind of grinded through? Was it something that just sort of organically happened over time? Like, hey, that’s a good idea. We should, we should do that. Hey, that’s a good idea. Do you have some sort of process for iterating in the future if you come across another idea? How did we get here? Yeah. No, I didn’t sit down and just write them all out. They generally happen one at a time. Right. I have an issue with crews not coming prepared.
So it’s like, ok, this is dumb as heck. Let’s write what we want, bans down and be done with it. Uh, you know, I have an issue with, we weren’t getting reviews or we weren’t getting referrals. So let’s make sure we dial in this end of the job process. Um, you know, we had, we have big stack of lawn signs. I bought 1000 lawn signs. We’ve done $800 800 jobs and the pile is still a mile high. I know we’re not putting a lawn sign on every job. What gives, so I think you do it based on the need and you start with the biggest ones or the ones that make sense to me the most are the ones I did first.
You know that, um, checklist was one that made sense to me. When I was in the field. I drove a, a 16 ft enclosed trailer and an f 43 50 crew cab long bed. So parking was difficult for me. That was part of my process with. I really need your driveway. I’m driving a fairly long rig and I, I don’t really want to take the paint materials up the driveway from the street. Um, so can we have that cleared when I show up at 8 30? And, and then when we started driving smart of vehicles.
I felt like and I wasn’t making those phone calls that got lost. And so we had these homeowners that were probably just this much irritated because we parked them in and they got to move their cars at the end of the world. No, but it means the world the week before when we say brand, I want to get there at 8 30. Can I park on the side of your driveway is or what side do you want me to park on? You know, can we do that? And you’re like, oh God, yeah, I park here.
Um, we thought of all these things. We, this is not our first rodeo. This again. We talked about this in an earlier one. Most of our clients, even the most affluent ones have only had a house painted a couple, 23 times, right? This week alone, I’m doing 37 jobs. So if I’m not better at this than you are and I’m not preparing the homeowner for the easiest experience, then I’m not doing my job. You know, we’ve been down this, we know the hiccups, we know what’s gonna happen. I know that your dog can’t be near open paints of trays of paint and things like that.
Um, we’re just gonna talk about where we’re putting that stuff because I really don’t want to move it in on your house. I’m losing time and doing that potential for a problem or a spill loading up in the vans. That’s a time suck to us. So we’re just gonna ask, where can we put it in your home? Is there a room or area? We can put this to stage? And we don’t have anyone that says no, they all have a spot. They may not be, you know, right in their foyer, but it’s gonna be in their house somewhere.
Um As long as you ask, that’s great. You know, you don’t ask and they come home from work and they have this giant shop area with four drop cloths and paint trays wrapped up in plastic in the middle of their living room. That’s gonna be a complaint for your paint can look perfect. But that’s gonna be the bitch, you know, you’re gonna get an email on that. Yeah, I think it’s these little things, you know, and you guys being so proactive about it and I think it, it would be easy to think.
Well, if the homeowner only gets, uh, a painting project maybe three times in their life or something, then maybe they won’t even appreciate how different we are. You know, the fact that other painting companies are gonna do that. But to a homeowner, I say this all the time, I think it ruffles some feathers, but I believe it to a homeowner painters aren’t special. They’re, they’re in the line with the plumbers, they’re in line with electric. They’re, they’re home service company they come out. So that means that you are being compared consciously and subconsciously to every other contractor that has arrived at the house.
How many of those contractors do you think are asking these questions? Are this focused on the customer experience? Probably not that many. So for me that it’s important to know like you are differentiating yourself for sure, we don’t come across many, even the other big ones well established that do a great job in a really well-known area. We don’t come across many that customers say are even close. Um, from the first contact on, they’re like, I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that question ever. Like, where do you want us to park?
I don’t think that question has ever, they’re, they’re sometimes on the street, there’s sometimes I have no idea where they’re gonna be sometimes on the door. And I, I don’t know that I’m like, who’s knocking on the door because they parked around the corner. I don’t see the car. I never know where somebody’s going to park. Yeah. And, and, and to me, like, it’s just like arriving on time, right? Being early is more inconvenient, but especially with most people being busy, it’s just expectations and if you have to give them a range, they go and give them a range, but don’t be at the backside of the range, uh, you know, for arrival time and stuff like that and, and I think our, our estimators do a really nice job of telling people if you listen to me, we’re gonna make this super, super simple and we send out with, you know, their, their receipt of their deposit.
Um, it’s in their folder that we give them on site, but it has a whole customer responsibilities. One side’s interior, one side’s exterior, you know, um, the first month of exterior painting season in Michigan, we deal with people whose hoses are still winterized and that water shut off. You know, in three years ago we pull up to a house and go to plug into it, turn it and then nothing. Well, it’s April and they didn’t charge the water yet. Like those lines get blown out in cold weather states, you know?
Well, you just wasted hours and they’re gonna call the homeowner, the homeowner’s pissed because they gotta come home and let you in and turn that on and they may not even know how to do it and it just creates the strife. So, you know, windows close hoses on breakable things off. That’s exterior phone call. Yeah. For power washing every time. Yeah. It’s a collaboration. You guys are working together for a successful project and a smooth project and an easier expe easy experience for the homeowner. Yeah, John, this is excellent.
As always. Do you have anything else you wanna add before we wrap up this one? No, I’m excited for the meeting once because I’ve been excited for that one. It’s, it’s my, and I, I think the point is I can show the value of the meetings where you, you outlay these things. You know, we kind of talked about processes. I was writing a process actually right before we met here, um, trying to dial in our, if there’s something that’s left off a quote scenario, right. How do we dealing with that?
And kind of, if, then, um, and, and I got a meeting tomorrow morning with all of my sales and all my project managers where I’m just gonna hammer this out. Um This will be the third version of it. Some things are very similar to the first one, but as we’re going, we’re finding like, oh, there’s a little hiccup here that didn’t work quite right or, you know, that seemed like that disenfranchised the customer to deal with it over the phone, you know, sales guy calls and say, hey, you know, but we didn’t talk about that over the phone.
That’s one thing that I feel like we’re getting a little bit of pushback on even if it’s black and white. So game off, get your butt to the home. If you have an estimate appointment, someone else takes the estimate appointment. That’s your quote unquote punishment. Um, for making a mistake on one job, someone else is gonna do the other estimate for you. You can’t put that off. So you’re gonna lose a sale. A potential sale to go deal with the problem. We don’t let our guys go and start new work if there’s a call back or a touch up or a problem, same thing with sales.
And so this is two years we’ve had this process. It’s been written kind of once and now I’m dialing it in even further and it’s still not gonna be perfect. Something will come up that will change it. But I think every warning label, every fine print, every everything is because of a problem. Somebody exposed a problem in a system that was apparently good. And now we have warning labels on coffee right there. It is everywhere but it’s the same thing. So I think you’re right it loose and you, you roll with it and you figure out what works for you, your personalities, your crews, personalities, your morals and then you dial in where you need to.
Um, and there’s times that I’ve wrote stuff down that it’s, we don’t do it anymore. It collected dust. It’s, it’s a, you know, and I’m not opposed to that too. I don’t hold them that dearly that I’m offended when people say John, this is crap. I don’t know what, what you were thinking when you wrote this but it’s no one. Yeah. And that’s good. You know, it’s not if it’s written down doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but you’re gonna keep trying to iterate. And I think one of the points you made that was really important.
And I’ve talked to Jason Phillips about this pretty extensively is, is people when you think about systems or process or sop people kind of freeze like, oh my God, I’m not like, uh, I don’t have an NBA. I don’t know how to do this. But you said, hey, just start with the big things, you know, for you, the curbside checklist, that’s a pretty big thing, you know, just making sure, hey, we start this project, right. Let’s write. It’s one page. It’s one page. After all the iterations you’ve already done.
It doesn’t even have to start at one page. It started one bullet, but just start somewhere, start with whatever you think is the most important thing and then just iterate and iterate and it, it doesn’t have to be this intimidating, scary, massive feat. Just start documenting what you think is important. Well, even with people we’ve had for a long time, but I don’t expect them to have all this stuff memorized. Yeah, we have books. I have, I have binders with this stuff from meetings and notes that and I wrote it and I couldn’t, I, I couldn’t articulate every word of it.
So if we’re getting into exterior season, one of their meeting topics is prepping for power wash water is turned on. You know what I mean? Things like that. I don’t expect everybody to remember everything. So all of our crews have their own personal binder. Where it’s meeting notes or it’s this company bulletin or it’s whatever that they’re putting in there that they keep that back by their offices or their, their vans and they can go back and review that, you know, change order request. When do we get a written, change order or not under tune dollars?
I don’t care, over $500. Absolutely. Between two and 500 dealer’s choice if you trust the customer and think it’s fine, go ahead and gamble. That’s not the end of the world, but over 500. Unless you’re willing to pay the 500 bucks, they don’t pay, have them sign it. Um You know, liability release, we had to move a piano last week. Um It was really sweet. The estimator told the client expect to see this a liability waiver for us to slide your piano over and you’re gonna have to sign this on the job site.
It was super easy when the guys got there because they said, oh, well, and you know, and they’re like liability waiver. Got it already told me sign no big deal. Um We don’t memorize this stuff like you gotta go back and revisit it. Um And I, I always write them in a way that I’m leaving room and margins so that people can put notes or a little personal spin on it. And if it’s kind of a script and say that that just, that’s so awkward for me to talk about, you know, this reviews.
Um I can’t say that I wanna beat my coworker. So some people just say it’s, it’s our company policy that you’re gonna get a review, they’re more comfortable with that. Ok? I don’t care, that’s fine then run with that. Um But you know, so those binders are constantly evolving and when we get to the point that everyone’s has a lot of text in it, we turn them in. I go through them, I rewrite it and I usually put the new stuff in a different color font just to trigger people with, hey, this is the most updated stuff.
Um You know, you kind of know the old stuff, but here’s what we got to pay attention to and people love that. I mean, I feel like it provides a sense of, you know, you know, where you’re going with the company rather than, hey, Brandon, here’s a paintbrush, start painting. Don’t ask questions. We get most of our things get better from the meetings with people and their own take on it and their, their customization and like, you know, that might work for you, but I can’t just say leave a check on your counter if you’re not gonna be home during a walk through, you know, that doesn’t work for me.
I’m not you, I’m not comfortable with that. So, you know, I’m just asking him, do you want your invoice text or email? That’s my leader. That’s a question. I don’t care your answer. I’m good either way and boom. Then, you know, as the client like, oh, I can click here to pay. This is great. I don’t need to be shaken down or whatever. I was actually gonna ask you how you, how you solicit feedback. And I know that I’ll probably get into the meeting stuff, but that’s a really cool way to have people be able to basically leave it live because that, that’s going to be the best way for them to leave it.
Otherwise they’re maybe gonna forget little things, hear little things there that make them uncomfortable or they, they, they can just jot it down right there in the margin, you collecting them and then it’s, people are building the company together too. They’re building the, it’s not just John’s processes, right. It’s everybody’s, and there’s a sense of pride and ownership. I think that goes with that we talk about in the meetings. I mean, no one’s sacred in our meetings. I don’t have managers and meeting with crews. I like to skip them and, and you know that everyone’s gonna be uh put on blast.
And um, we had a question of what mats to put down on Harwood floors in their ladders. And it’s like guys, I’ve refinished hardwood floors because I’ve fed them up. So if you don’t want f them up, can I just provide some advice like this isn’t because I’m a above approach. I’ve already learned. I spent thousands of dollars refinishing a guys 4, 15 years ago to know I’m putting a rubber mat down and you need to as well. You know, it humanizes it because you get to the point where they feel like, oh, these are Johns and he’s gonna hold them so tight to the best.
He’s not going to be receptive to new opinions. And so you have to just expose yourself and say no, these are all here because I’ve screwed it up. You know, I made a mess of this before so I love it, John, thank you brother. Appreciate it. Go as always you make my life so easy. I do appreciate that man. You come prepared. Uh episode five meetings, meetings is kind of the the thing we’re not supposed to have, you know, meetings is, is what all the guru says.
No more meetings, keep your meetings really short. So I’m excited to your your contra culture. I guess a lot you go against the grain. So I’m really, I’m very very pumped up to hear what you have to say about meetings. Remember in our system, you’re technically kind of clocking out for the meetings. And so I get people to show up for one that they’re really not getting compensated for a dam will better be good. I love it back to episode one pay scale. Sets the stage, right?
Sets the stage. Thanks John. Appreciate it.

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 URL is

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Keep growing

Brandon Pierpont

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