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Guest Interview: Maggie Kuyper of Harpeth Painting

Maggie Kuyper, Co-Founder and Co-Owner of Harpeth Painting, shares her journey from $0 to $5.5 million in just 5 years. She discusses some of the emotional struggles that come with managing such rapid growth, as well as the unique challenges created by running a painting business with her husband. Maggie provides great insight about how she has built trusting relationships throughout her network, and why that has been such a critical component to the growth of Harpeth Painting.

Video of Interview

Topics Discussed:

  • Why you should “seek relationships, not work” when building your commercial painting business
  • The importance of hiring for personality traits and values, not resumes and skills
  • How to balance a family while running a successful painting business with your partner
  • Why there could be more opportunity in your future than you've ever imagined
Audio Transcript

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Welcome to the Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast. The show created to help painting company owners build a thriving painting business that does well over one million in annual revenue. I'm your host, Brandon Pierpont, founder of Painter Marketing Pros and creator of the popular pc, a educational series, learn do grow marketing for painters. In each episode, I'll be sharing proven tips, strategies and processes from leading experts in the industry on how they found success in their painting business. We will be interviewing owners of the most successful painting companies in north America and learning from their experiences on this episode of the Painter Marketing Master podcast. We host, Guest Maggie. Cooper. Maggie is the co founder and co owner of harpists painting a residential and commercial painting company based in Nashville Tennessee that does over $5. 5 million dollars in annual revenue. Maggie discusses how she and her husband Matt have grown harpist painting from zero to over five million in just five years and she provides sound recommendations that other painting company owners can employ if they want to achieve similar growth. She discusses the struggles of running a successful family business while raising three kids and Maggie provides some great insights into emotions that many entrepreneurs often feel, but few openly verbalize if you want to learn more about the topics we discussed in this podcast and how you can use them to grow your painting business, visit painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast for free training as well as the ability to schedule a personalized strategy session for your painting company again that you are Oh is painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast, Maggie, thank you for being on a painter marketing mastermind podcast. Yeah, I'm stoked to be here. Thanks for asking. Yeah, of course. So I guess Maggie, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and about harper's painting? Cool. Um Well, we are a women owned business. Um I own the company with my husband, Matt, we are located in Nashville Tennessee, so we pretty much serve the middle Tennessee area. We're a commercial high end residential Painting Company and this is our 5th year in business and we are moving and shaking and growing faster than I never anticipated. Well, that's good news, so growing faster than you anticipated. What was your revenue in in 2021? We finished 2021 at just shy of 5. 5, wow, Just right. And you said you're 15 now, five years old, wow. Yeah, that's amazing. 50 ml we ran a million a year since inception at that growth. That over, that was impressive, genuinely doubled every year. Pretty much. And my accountant told me that if we do that again next year, he's going to quit his job and start a painting company, wow. Yeah, like don't worry, I don't think it'll double again. You never know though. That's, that's really something for an accountant to say that I think accountants are generally pretty risk averse. Um Well, good for you guys, so not to dive in too fast here, but that, that growth rate is obviously impressive? What do you attribute that to? Oh gosh. Um you know, there's a lot of factors um I mean we have to call it what it is, Nashville is a hot place right now. Um there's just, you know, companies coming in, new companies um bringing their headquarters here and so there's huge growth both commercially and residentially, so um you know, it's just kind of, it's a blend of that mixed with matt and I are just super involved in the community and you know, our kid's schools were in the crossfit world, we're in um church communities, um neighborhood stuff, you know, so just the connectedness, I feel like there's always someone looking for a painter. Yeah, that's great. So you guys are commercial high end residential, what's the general split there? Probably about 60% commercial um from a management perspective it feels it feels a lot more half and half, but some of those commercial jobs are so big um that, you know, it kind of tips the revenue scale a little bit in their favor, but you know, a couple of our commercial jobs, we've had, You know, 6-8 painters sitting on the job site for three years, so from, from a financial standpoint, you know, that's a huge chunk of revenue, but from a management standpoint, they're pretty much self, operating so um but yeah, just over, just over half his lead with commercial. Okay, and is that kind of what you guys started with or did you really think we actually started mostly residential, matt has a lot of experience in commercial construction. My background is actually um high school administration, I was an athletic director um and he uh so his background is commercial, but it was kind of one of those things where the opportunities came with the residential, so and when your new business residential equals immediate pay, so it was an easier way to get to get started. Okay, so you guys started primarily with the residential obviously helps with cash flow and then matt because of his background, he had kind of a lot of contacts and knew that commercial space, do you have any recommendations? Obviously one of the, one of the big goals for a lot of companies when they're looking to grow is as they start in the residential and they want to sort of break into that profitable, you know, everybody wants to know what advice do you have if maybe they don't have the background that matt has, honestly, I I attribute our success and commercial to the fact that we seek relationships not work um the people that we work with in the commercial industry, we trust, you know, it's the mutual respect and we both want to make money, we both want to have a good experience and we both want a happy customer. Um and if, you know I think if you get too focused on chasing the commercial um it's going to lead you to potentially, you know not good relationships but both in our residential and commercial we don't unfortunately have a niche customer. I could give you like eight buckets that our customers fall in. Um In the end we're really seeking customers with our core values um And that especially in commercial it's a little more doggy dog, you know, so I think that's huge just making sure you can trust them. Do you guys have a set of core values? We do yes we have five core values and it's um you're gonna ask me and I'm gonna I'm gonna ask you, how do you not know, how do you not know? Isn't this kind of one oh one. Listen, fun fact, it's actually like a something we implemented at the end of last year so like it's definitely become a little bit more of a focus but I do know my core values, they are teamwork, problem solving, gaining and maintaining trust, expertise and continuous improvement, wow. Yeah you didn't know him. I did, I got it, I just got a little nervous when you knew you were gonna ask through you on the spot a little bit there. Yeah 5, 5 is a lot as well. Um Okay great. What kind of commercial projects you guys really specialized Um so we do mostly new commercial right now we actually just brought on a new sales guy, Q4 of last year in hopes to grow the commercial repaint? It seems like a low hanging fruit, um, for us, but we have to, this date mostly done new commercial, we have about three or four GCS in town at, we have relationships with and um, they like to hire us for the tricky stuff, so not a lot of the, um, super quick, super easy. Um, multi family things. It's a lot more of the custom, office buildings, restaurants, um, you know, hotel banquet room type things. I guess that's where that trust factor comes into play. Yeah, absolutely. I mean there, they're relying on us to be the expert, you know, and I think that's, I think that's the big piece there that we try to push is, you know, this is not gonna be easy, but we can promise you we will figure it out and we will, we will get it done. Yeah. So yeah, this, this idea of being the expert, you know, it's obviously what everyone says, everyone wants to, it were the experts, were the premium painter, were this and that, um, I want to just kind of threw out a hypothesis of what I'm getting from you and you can tell me if I'm on track here or not, I'm getting that, that you focus on building relationships first and foremost, not viewing people as a kind of a pocketbook, but hey get to know them build that trust and then ultimately provide a quality product. Is there anything I'm missing in, in your formula there man? You just boiled it down pretty well. Okay. Yeah. I mean, the focus on the relationships, I think sounds really key. It does. And you know, I think to be frank, um, up until 20 21, it was me matt and the painters, um, or matt and I and the painters, you know, and so it was super easy to build your company on that. And it was also super easy to sometimes let profitability fall to the backseat. We were always profitable. We've always had great numbers. Um, but more recently that we brought on to PMS and a salesperson, we've really been challenged. How do you translate that hypothesis? You just gave us into other people, you know, as well as into a profitability that, you know, it's gonna incentivize them as well. And so, you know, it's easy for us to say, oh man, I'm so sorry, You know, we screwed that up. You know, we're gonna fix it, no cost. You know, we got this one on us, but that doesn't work. Um, as well when you have other people's livelihood. So we've definitely had to challenge, um, challenge ourselves to figure out how to keep that exact hypothesis. Well, you know, transferring it to employees and sales people. And um, so that's our new adventure. Yeah, I'm kind of amazed that you guys held off as long as you did with the numbers that you guys were posting. It's crazy. It's crazy. We are no one should listen to our numbers and our equation ever. Its terrible road map. Yeah. I mean you guys definitely lead with revenue. Yes, I mean that that is good. So okay. I like that a lot. Yeah. You guys are focused on building basically building your systems right now right. So you have the quality control and everything in place now. I thought it was really interesting when you said how do you sort of financially incentivize people because they don't own the company, they don't cooperate with you. So they're not ultimately as invested in along, they couldn't get another job. Absolutely. What have you guys thought about in terms of how to do that? Well, I mean obviously as cliche as it sounds number one as we're hiring based on those core values. Um we're not hiring um one of our new PMS for example was our nanny wow and we just saw so many gifts and talents in her um just inter personally she's just so good with people. She's bubbly, she's all over. You know, she has no problem with anything you throw at her and we just kept thinking man like these these skills are completely transferable um to be in the field, especially working with kind of that new and new high end residential with designers. You know you need someone who's okay with changes left and right. So um we chose to hire, you know based on skills, she has no resume, she's never stepped foot on a construction site. Um Yeah, I don't know anything about paint so um just really a first is finding people with traits and values, not resumes and skills and I think um that's definitely helped us at least get the right people in there. And now this year we are like you said we're focusing on it, we've got um Kind of two different financial structures that were toying with this year and RPMs are getting um bonus structure based on aggregate sales or aggregate productions of all the jobs they manage, the average profit is how they will get bonus, whereas our sales guy only gets it on um profitable jobs, so He will only commission on a job of a 40% gross profit. I love that. Just kind of seeing which one works and you know they're different, we want to optimize their roles are salesperson, we want him to figure out how to sell profitable jobs. Our production people need to figure out how to make up for bad jobs and you know to them it's more of an aggregate thing based on their job description. So we'll see if incentivizing accordingly works. Yeah. Well I think it's a it's a great, it sounds like a great start, I mean tying what they can directly control, you know, I think that's one of the mistakes a lot of companies make is they sort of tie bonus structures to things that really are not in the employee's control. Exactly. Yeah, exactly. And just, you know, creating that team environment because in the end um you know, we needed to incentivize the project managers because what's their incentive to help the sales guy having a profitable job if they're not benefiting, you know? Yeah. So would you mind or are you comfortable And if not, that's ok. Kind of getting into the numbers of how you've set that up for anyone else who's listening, who may be thinking about that but doesn't really know how to do it. Yeah. So we basically um we set goals for our our sales guy. We we hope that he'll produce two million in sales gross. Um And so we, his structure is he's got a base salary that we made a salary he could live on here in Nashville because what we never would want is for our salesperson to um to just sell as much as he possibly can and not focus on profit and also not focused on optimizing our schedule. You know, you don't want somebody just powering through a bunch of exterior work that we can't produce. Um and so really helping him have the comfort of a salary so that he can optimize our production calendar and so he will get on top of that salary. 6% of all, All jobs he sold that produced over 40% gross profit, he'll get six upset, Wow, that's pretty good. So that's 6%. If, if he hit two million, they're all profitable. Is that 100 20 grand? Um 6% of the prophet, 6% of the prophet. Okay. Got it was, I was going to leave you like sign me up. I was going to apply for a job with you right here. Yeah, we're gonna just ditch it. Let's go, yep. And then our project managers, again, they have a base salary. Um, and then there's will be paid out quarterly And it will be an aggregate profit of all the jobs they managed and our goal for them is that they managed two million. Okay, cool. So you guys have the production, the sales goals aligned. Yeah. Last one. I want to kinda take a dive um, into this idea of hiring for traits and values, not resume skills because you and I are about to meet actually in person, which is kind of neat. I'm so excited. Yeah, I'm so cold. It's going to be very cold. We are going to the ask a painter live when to retreat with nick Slavic in Minneapolis and we're doing the ice plunge together. It's not in Minneapolis and I will not, I'm sorry, 2. 5 hours away north of Minneapolis, three hours away north of Minneapolis colder. If, if it's even possible and we're doing the ice plunge. Oh no, you said you're not doing the ice plunge video. Okay, I'm doing the ice plunge, you're videoing the ice plunge. Um but this idea of hiring for traits, values is that, I mean, did you kind of get that from, from his decent human being model or is that something you guys really generated? So we're, we have these secret weapons in our back pocket matt and I do called our dads. Um my dad is an entrepreneurship professor. It's tragic, wow. And then his nitpick, is it? Well 5. 5 million that well that's not really good enough for how's your, No, no, my dad's, my dad's the opposite, he's like, weren't you happy at three, like, oh yeah, okay. You know? Um and so we've got him and then Matt's dad was, was a very successful entrepreneur had a factory that made office furniture and hospital carts. Um so engineering and business are his, you know, wheelhouse and so they both from the get go. So five years ago before we even knew, I think matt was following nick Slavic because he liked his shoes and his beard and you know, our dads were the ones that were like hire for culture hire for culture hire for culture. Um so yes, it was resonated then when we got to know people like nick and other people in the industry, but thankfully it was the advice from the get go. Um you can teach all the skills in the world, You can't you can't teach core values. Yeah wow that's great followed him because he liked his shoes. That is a that is a new one. Um It's not the only thing I took away from all that but it is what stood out the most. Yeah no that's that's uh I think you guys are going about it the right way. I think that 2022 is gonna kind of vet that out and improve that. It was the correct course of action to take your word for it. Well we'll see. Um so so you guys are trying to get above, make sure you stay above 40%. Are you comfortable sharing your average profit margins and commercial and residential? Maybe how those vary. You know that's a great question that I do not have the answer to. Well at least you know what you're aiming for. Hey listen yeah we job cost every job um but we have not, you know, pulled together those numbers are our most recent hire in january was a part time office admin. So um that is kind of on her, we don't intend to use her for the customer component, we plan to use her for the back end of you know creating reports and generating more understanding of job costing so we can hone in on things like yeah I mean we're matt and I are constantly embarrassed when we go to P. C. A. And everybody you know what is your percentage of this and that and what do you profit? You know people are like we do this on cabinets and this on this and we're over here just like I mean we're we're at 5. 5 5 years dropped mic. Yeah. Yes. Yes we did and and we have always maintained around 15% net profit at the end of the year. So that's you know we've we've had thankfully done well there. Um but again I don't know how it breaks down. I'm super sorry. Yeah that's okay. That's what that's what that hires for, figuring all that out. Exactly right. We know you know the big huge commercial jobs. We are thrilled if we job cost and end up in the bubble of 30%. I mean to complete uh you know 8 9 $100,000 commercial job with that level of difficulty around 30%. Were thrilled. But on the custom residential work with a lot of high end designers if we can finish in that 50 to 60 you know we're popping champagne but it's um much more likely to kind of hit those margins on those jobs. So with the custom high end residential, what exactly are you guys doing? What does your service look like? They're typically uh we're kind of two buckets there. We work with a lot of designers um direct to the designers And so in Nashville there's you know, just a huge world of designers going in and and then not renovating houses but you know completely redecorating. Um and then We have about four or 5 residential builders that we work with and they we priced from plans um ground up and it's all usually with designers as well. So lots of you know, unique finishes and crazy things and nine times out of 10 they become time and material projects anyway because they just change add. It's it's complicated. Yeah. Got it. Now with that kind of work, are you guys, I would assume that you guys are using W two or to use 10 99 or what's your labor force look like. So we are actually a sub model okay. Which is another yet another super weird thing that no one really should follow what we do, but it works for us working for you guys. Um We've always been a sub model but our subs work only for us. Um and that's not obviously in their contract but the nature of our relationship is that they're super happy. Um So we, you know, we we meet with our lawyer two or three times a year to always make sure everything is. Yes we are not. You know, we're not walking a tiptoe line. We are confident in what we're doing. Um So we have about five or six sub crews that work with us. So each of the sub crew leaders kind of serves as a superintendent for lack of better word and They vary in size. We have one sub crew who's got four or five painters, we have another who has 20 um and so they're all, like I said, they're all fully with us um for their choice, a couple of them will dabble with other companies um and we just keep them busy around and pay them fairly and they keep coming back. Would it be a fair assumption that your sub crew model is why you've been able to get to where you've been without really hiring so much internally, totally. Yeah, yeah, so until, you know, when it was just me matt and we did three point five or whatever that year was. Um you know, we did have four basically project managers because our sub crew leaders served as PMS. Um so yes, it's almost like we have more employees. Right? So now the project managers, what will their role will be basically supervising the PMS of the sub crews, yep, yep. So um trying to open up bandwidth for the sales people to sell um so our hand off would be at the actual production start, you know, our salesperson blocks the job hands the work order, work order to the PM and the crew and then ideally unless there's a change order or some type of relational hiccup that needs addressing the salesperson doesn't come until the end is kind of our goal, so that frees up their bandwidth to, to be able to. So we were, we were really thinking that our model was going to be selling produced, you know, and that people would just kind of have funnels um but as soon as we brought on a true salesperson to realize what they can do when you just let them go sell, our eyes are much, much more open to the idea of Oh okay, yeah, I think it's a game changer when you start bringing on professional salespeople, what is, would you have any advice for, for that, for how to, how to hire a good salesperson and I, you know, I say hire based on culture and core values and personalities and all that stuff, but the gentleman we just hired Kenneth is um has a background in sales, has had training in sales. Um and that's a game changer, I mean it's a game changer, He was in furniture sales, I think he worked for a lazy boy and then he did dabble in the painting world prior to us, but um to find somebody whether they've been in real estate or some type of true sales thing. I mean just the little things he does to close deals were like, oh wow, never thought about that, you know, he picks up the phone and calls a customer before he sends them the bill and he talks it through with them. So it's not this, you know, shocking pdf email that you open and um, you know, just little things that I would never have thought of because I'm not trained. That's not my area experience. Right? The training experience, he knows how people react. You kind of see these patterns so he's able to get ahead of them. Yeah. So your Nanny, she's not going to be salesperson # two. No, she's not. She's not. Okay. All right. I just wanted to say she's a PM and loving it. Okay, awesome. That's great. Um, your growth has obviously been remarkable and I understand the, you know, the relationships and background that your husband has with social. What did you do to grow your residential? Mm hmm. It's a great question. Um, you know, we started really with the residential repaint. Just your true copy paste suburban repaint. Like I said to you, it was cash, it was pretty profitable. The errors that we would face were minimal. Um, and so that really carried us for the first, I'd say 3-4 years. Um, and we really started exploring the world of designers, um, in the last year. And um, that has grown significantly. I mean, they're everywhere. Um, you know, and they're really wanting to to do that. And so we've really made efforts whether it's like deeming them on instagram, interacting with their posts. Um, you know, blasting them with emails, looking them up on facebook. Um, we haven't done any, you know, formal marketing just kind of a grassroots effort to, to get them to see and, you know, trying to post the variety of what we do on our projects, you know, so they can look at our instagram and see that we're not just painting um four walls in the bedroom every day. You know, we're doing Portola, lime wash and roman clay and Roma bio and all these kind of things that they think are so cool and yeah, trendy. Um so that's really been our focus the last year's kind of upping our, I mean we're not we're know that Kenny, like we're not blasting the socials with all this amazing stuff, but we're doing enough to kind of make it clear um what are residential niches, who who's kind of manning that, who's in charge of that? Um It's a community effort. We we need so many systems and if you guys spent a day with us, you would laugh hysterically. Our sales guy, it was like in stitches when he first came out and he was like, wait, so you're telling me you own the company, you did the job costing and you're putting checks in the bank every week, like what is this, like, I know it's called bootstrapping. Um So social media has been the same thing, like lucy our nanny turned project manager, she'll she'll take a picture and be like, can I post this and then, you know, matt will post something and then I'll post something and we're just whoever is nearest the computer. If you walk by, you need to do a social media post. Yeah. It's, it's super not systematic. That's funny anytime you use the bathroom, you have to do a social media posts the rules, Right? Um, okay. So, you know, a lot of things are going right. I'm sure not everything went right over the past five years. What are some things that have gone wrong and how did you guys handle them? That's a great question. Um, and I appreciate that you asked that because, you know, it's easy to cheerlead through people and give them, you know what they should be excited about, I think what's been. Um, but I don't know if you can count this as a struggle. Um, but just the weight of growing that fast. Um, and I don't mean that to be like my weaknesses, my strength, but I genuinely mean, you know, I'm, I mean, I'm in counseling every other week just to sheerly, you know, keep myself about, we have three kids, You know, 10, 6 and three. So we're like, I mean, we're in the weeds of the parenting part of life and a five year old business and there's just a lot, um, to process. Um, and it's with my husband. So when we come home to the same house and the same kids and the same business, you know, the respite isn't there all the time and so just really, um, the emotional capacity of that and I know it's the flip for the other side. If we weren't growing quickly, we would have the same feeling just from an opposite angle. But um, it's a lot to, to temper that and to maintain our lifestyle. We just actually were on a call with nick Slavic earlier and just kind of commiserating about um how hard it is at that rapid growth stage. But then we're hopefully reaching a point where we are kind of breathing again and I can pick my kids up from school every day and not not have the nanny anymore. You know, she's taking some of that stuff off my plate. So, um, it was hard, it was hard to grow quickly. Everybody wants to grow, you know, but when you've got people barking at you at six o'clock at night and you can't shut it off and there's no one to hand it to, it's hard, it's a lot of pressure. I can tell you from experience, my wife and I ran an auto detailed business a while back that we sold and when you get the systems in place and you actually have that running smoothly that the load that it takes off of you is just remarkable. 2022 I I believe based on what you guys are doing right now, 2023 is going to be a really, really great, much less stressful year for you guys. Well thanks, I appreciate hearing that, but yeah, I mean you hit the nail on the head. We um we grew so quickly and we are so um tightfisted and careful with money um that we weren't just going to start hiring to hire and so yeah, like you said, you know, we didn't have time to put the systems in place, you know, I was up at three a.m. Most of this fall making, I called it my january journal and it was all the things that I was going to do in january when things slowed down, you know, when our new employees kind of had their footing under them and all those things. So thankfully we've done some of them. That's great. Yeah, I mean most people, you know do things like that and they don't do any of them, so that's true. Yeah, that's really good. Um Do you have, I guess, are there any marketing specific or maybe it sounds like a lot of this has been grassroots community driven. You guys have good relationships in your community, but are there any marketing methods that you've used, whether that's direct mail or facebook ads or anything that have worked well for you guys. So as the host of a marketing podcast, you may want to just delete my existence. We have never spent a dime on marketing, Maggie, I'm sorry, that's all the time. We have um we have recently invested um for the first five years. We we genuinely made it our effort to um nurture relationships um And it sounds cheesy but you know the christmas cards, the lunches out with big customers you know those I mean obviously that's quote unquote marketing but um you know we haven't done any formal attempts. So last november we invested in a new website and we're now putting quite a big chunk of money into um up in R. S. C. O. Back in blogging. Um Just kind of creating that presence to hopefully then better support our sales guy. You know again going back to the systems of it can't just be who matt and I know because who matt and I no want to work with matt and me. You know they don't want us to hand them off to the new sales guy and so really putting money to generate leads to kind if we've chosen to go with more of the S. C. O. Um website building google ads um for that so maybe I can come out and elite a year and let you know how that went. Yeah that would be great. That's um I think it's it's it's an absolutely great point that you made about if if the people come on because of you and matt then they're going to want to talk with you and matt. They're gonna want you and matt to be involved in in kind of every aspect of that job, You just can't be do you really can't be doing that 5. 5 million if you guys are going to 10 million, obviously that's just preposterous at that point. Yeah, absolutely, and, and you know, it's, and that may lose customers. I mean, you know, we have had a couple repeat customers that matt and I didn't have the bandwidth for and we handed to Kenneth and it just didn't go well and that wasn't Kenneth's fault at all, but you know, you're going to lose some customers along the way, unfortunately, I mean, your company is going to change and evolve and, and the customers that were fit before might not be a fit now. Yeah, exactly. And just learning to, to um yeah, that's a big thing is some of these residential repaint smaller jobs is just, you know, we've now created a relationship with another company in town that we're just gonna kindly let them know, you know, I'm sorry, we can't help with this project, but you know, we'll pass you to this person and they're awesome. Well, yeah, and I think that's a great point to, you know, the fact that you're not, you're not going to just say, hey, we're not going to do this job or this doesn't align with our business model, you give them something of value. You give them an alternative. J we vetted them, you trusted us, we trust them, they're going to take good care of you. Yeah. Well and the hardest thing, the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur is turning away work because you're terrified. It's not gonna be there. Um And it's taken, I mean I still am kind of nauseous in this current moment of conversation of you know, saying that we're going to turn away customers because as the as the owner of the business and the person who carries the brunt of it all, it's terrifying that if I turn this customer away, that customer and their potential referrals, you know, are null and void forever. And that's gotten me going back to your question that has gotten me in a lot of trouble is saying yes, two projects that we had no bandwidth and no business doing because I was scared we needed the revenue. It was that frantic like sell, sell, sell, take, take, take, um instead of slowing down and and making sure it's something we can manage and what ended up happening. Did you end up having dissatisfied customers or how did that play out? Yeah, I mean it ended up forcing us to to bring on sub crews that we weren't able to properly vet. Um It forced us to hold on to those sub crews longer. Um Out of the desperation of, well we can't we can't produce next week without him, you know, and um Yeah and those, those were always the jobs that didn't go as portly, which in the end, then you lose that customer anyway. I mean, right, Yeah, they weren't they weren't a good fit to begin with and they're not gonna be in the future. Yeah. So, but it's it's a true fear of of all entrepreneurs is that you turn away, workers won't be there and and there's a time to not turn away work, you know, our first year we said yes to everything, Everything. Yeah. Right. So I think, I think your your your point about kind of the pressure, the stress of growing that quickly and meeting the needs, the fact that you've grown so quickly, but you're still afraid of saying no, I think it's something as entrepreneurs we don't really talk about, you know, generally we we kind of talked about numbers and metrics and these are the systems and processes and, and don't give up. But it's not like, oh crap, this is really scary. You know, So I'm actually really glad that you brought that up. It's terrifying. Um, we were, uh, you know, our number one thing when we started this company was that we would always have enough cash in the bank to survive a year if the company just halted in existence. So that was kind of our number one thing is, you know, that nest egg and you know, and then it grew to, okay, well, we're gonna have enough to operate our cruise for a month, you know, without work for, you know, however, you know, we just kept building that nest egg. Um, but in the end it's still terrifying because it's your reputation, it's your name, it's your baby. It's your, you know, It's everything that you created and yeah, we don't talk about that fear and you have it at five million. You have it at 500,000. It doesn't matter. Um, and it only gets worse with more people. We have a Christmas party last year and this sweet little hispanic painter um sat on a paint bucket and in the most broken english. I don't think I've heard him ever speak besides, you know, Ola, he said, look at all these families that are provided for because of matt and Maggie and as touching and heartwarming and fulfilling as it was. I don't think I slept that night. I was like, what am I allowed to say ship bullshit Like now I gotta make sure january is sold, you know, all of a sudden way increases the pressure man. Yeah, that's a blessing and a curse I guess there. That's right. Yeah, wow. Okay. Um, so what, what it right now I, I guess what is your company doing the best with what would you say you guys are knocking out of the park with, whether that's operations, that the kinds of projects you're doing just what, what is going the best. I'm gonna give you a funny answer that I think what's going the best right now is the core team that we have? I think we've really created a sustainable work life balance for them. Um and I don't know if that's just because that's how matt and I are leading it, but our sales guy and R. two p.m. Um you know, they they've got it made, you know like they make a great living and have the hours of a very comfortable, you know, person, they're not answering phone calls late at night. You know, they're able to take off weekends as they want and you know, leave to do mission trips or go hunting whatever it is that they want to do. Um And I think that's because matt and I have really put our foot down that we're not going to all be workaholics. Um and we're really trying to do the same with our painters, they would work seven days a week if they could. And we're like, you know, take a deep breath slow down. It's, you know, that's part of our culture is just being a happy person and you can't do that if you're working all the time. We're not driven by, You know working 24 hours a day. Yeah, that's great. Yeah, you'll you'll build a lot more loyalty that way for sure. And people, I don't know, some of the painters wish they worked more? Yeah, I can see that, What is there, is there anything, I don't want to say what's going the worst. But that's basically the question, What needs the most improvement or what do you guys struggling with the most right now? I think we really need to hone in on our, on our specific customers. Like I was saying just kind of realizing that we need to let go of, of some of the things that aren't, um, aren't best for us and that, you know, right now we're scared to do that because like I said, we don't have the numbers. I don't know what our profits are for cabinets. I don't know, you know what our profits are for commercial repaint. Um, and so figuring that out and making sure that we're narrowing in on the profitable projects. Um, I think it is. I mean we're, we're not doing that at all. Yeah, whatsoever. We don't know. We're just shooting out of our pocket and saying yes to things flying by the seat of your pants a little bit. So kind of focus on customers. What is the biggest customer blunder that you guys have ever made and how did you handle it? Oh, customer blender shoot. Um, Well we had a project recently, um, for a repeat customer of ours. Um, kind of one of those awesome customers that says come and get it done. I don't care what it costs. Um, She's from a more of a prestigious old money part of town, which means oil. Um, and so repeat customer super easy. So we decided to just toss one of RPMs were like, we don't need to sell it. She doesn't care about the price. We'll just have the PM get out there and you know, get the pain organized and get it started. And so she, um, there's obviously a little bit of paint shortage you haven't heard. So we were trying to figure out the product to use and I said, well why don't we just use the fine paints? Um, Holland lack, right? And you know, it's there oil product and it comes in a satin sheen that she wants and off we go. Um, the PM doesn't know these things. And so they ordered Holland like brilliant. Which is the super shiny. Yeah. Oh speaking of Zach Kenney. Um, and our guys, this was for her closet. These are like built ins in her closet. Our guys brush enrolled Holland like brilliant in some lady's closet by bedazzled in her closet I guess right. Four days into the project. They weren't even close to being done because there were runs everywhere. The guys were trying to figure out what's going on and she came home from vacation, just pissed. Like you said, this is going to be done. This is a disaster. What in the world happened? Well matt shows up on the job and he was like, who in the world sold this job and who's in charge of it and we were like none of us, you know, it's a perfect example of like we didn't follow our system. We didn't have, you know, the salesperson come in regardless of if she wanted a price, it's still their job to define the scope, you know, no, the proper material to use and then make sure it's ordered and ready for our, for our production team and we just didn't follow it. So we had to understand, you know, 100 square foot closet full of holland, like brilliant on all these shelves and built ins I think were there for three weeks. So thankfully she's had us back again since, but it's a huge blunder cost us a ton of money. I think we were Total cost into that job was about 22,000 and rebuild her about 10. So definite mistake but goes to show you know, had we had somebody just go in and follow our system, we tried to make it easy. That was a bad idea. Yeah, I think that's a great point. If if a customer comes sort of outside of your normal system and that can happen with repeat customers. Especially ones like that. I don't care what it costs, just do it. You still need to put them into your funnel. Yeah, absolutely. That's great. Yeah. And make sure all the quality control and everything is, is conducted as it should be with every customer. That's a great point. Um I kind of want to want to touch on this idea almost for my own edification, because I have two kids as well, I mean 33, I have a one year old and a five year old. Yeah. Talk to me about, I guess your routine, you know, how do you manage um having a family with running a business? How does that all work? That's a great question. Um you know, it's a it's hard and I hope everybody breathes a sigh of relief that hears that. Um we really don't want, I had a pastor say this, his wife would only come to one service on sunday, I think the church had three, and she would bring the kids, and he said at one point, he said, this isn't my kids job, it's my job, they don't need to spend their sunday mornings at church for seven hours, and I thought that was such an interesting point, um you know, of, just as a parent, like it's not their job, but when you're an entrepreneur and you own it, that's super hard, because you also want to be like, family business, let's have buying, you know, I was trying to have my 10 year old clean the shop once a week, I was like, I'll pay you to, you know, mop the floors and clean the toilets, and like she hated it, you know, and she was like, I don't ever want to work for harper's painting, you know, so not going into the family business. Yeah, and she'll say it through and through, she's like, you know, I'm not working for the company, right? Um so that's not really what you asked, but we've really tried to walk that fine line of this is our family business, so guess what? Sometimes it is going to be hard kids, and guess what? Sometimes mommy is going to be answering emails instead of, you know, playing scrabble with you or whatever, um and so just that fine line, but at the same time teaching the kids, you know, you're welcome, like this business is why we can, you know, take you to your basketball tournament this weekend and be there and present, and um so like I said, my my biggest goal this year was that I am able to take the kids and pick them up from school, It sounds simple, it's everything, it's everything, it's everything, it's everything with kids. Yeah, and it's it's healthy for us too as entrepreneurs to have a boundary, and so I just, nothing gets scheduled outside of that time, um Yeah, during that time, so I think that's when our family dinner is huge for us huge, and so we do that, you know, without question um except now our kids are in sports, so what bridge that yes, it's definitely makes things more difficult, totally. Yeah, totally, and so, I mean that's, you know, we talked to our kids about our painters and their names and they, you know, they'll come to the shop every once in while, when school's out and you know, just kind of just trying to find those ways to keep them involved, make it a family business without Pissing off the 10 year old. Yeah, exactly. It's just probably a delegate line. Well, yeah, I appreciate you sharing all that I've definitely, I've found for us setting a schedule, the dinners is absolutely key. It is hard to turn it off as an entrepreneur mentally block block those times. I mean, I literally have to put my phone in a drawer. Sometimes I put it in a drawer and I say this, this is for the next hour. Um, my job is these kids. Yeah, yeah. It's hard to switch that for sure. Especially if your brain is spinning about what's going on in the drawer. Yeah man, what if I'm missing in that drawer, reality is, it doesn't matter because you're not missing what actually matters, which is, you know, your kids and your family. It's really hard to tell yourself that not everything is an emergency. Yeah. My counselor in fact just told me last last session. She goes, I really just hope that your favorite customer fires you and that you just see what it feels like. Yeah, I mean, I was like, like I was like, excuse me. And she was like, you just need to get over this fear of that. The work won't be there. The customer won't be like, she's like, you need to have some massive failure and realize you're fine, you'll come out of it. You know, if my biggest blunder is that we painted an office or a closet the wrong color, that's pretty sweet. Like, you know, I mean, So she's just, yeah, I mean, and she's probably right. I probably need to, you know, put my phone in a drawer and have, you know, a job site burned down. Um, and get on the other side of that. Yeah. Well, I mean, I think this is a great point though because a lot of Our listeners are certainly not at $5. 5 million dollars and entrepreneurship is a head game. You know, it's a head game and you are still struggling with the head game and that's okay. And I think it should be, if anything inspiring to other people. Well, hopefully hopefully we just all, hopefully we just all acknowledge we're in the same battle no matter what size, no matter what. And I say that all the time, if you're not scared, then I'm scared for you? Yeah, that's good. I like that. Do you have any actionable advice or important advice that you would give to entrepreneurs to painters that are smaller, Let's say they're under a million and they really want to get To where you're at, you know, to, to over the five million mark. Yeah, shoot. Um, so one of the things that my dad took us through as an exercise early on it was called, he calls it bottom up growth and he basically says, you know, you figure out what you want to make, like what is your ideal salary, what do you want to live off, what is comfortable, what's the end goal? And then you add your operating expenses, your overhead your tax, you know, all those things and then you basically from the bottom up create a funnel that tells you what your end revenue should be. Um and instead of just arbitrarily saying I wanna be a $5 million company or I want to be seven or I want to be too, which is unfortunately kind of common in this, you know, you hear it well you will be in Orlando P. C. A. And everybody's gonna be like, what's your revenue? What's your revenue, what's your revenue revenue? Profit is sanity. Yeah. Yeah. But also you know matt and I have a certain salary want to live off of and we could live off that salary selling 3. 5 million. You know that wasn't our driving point of growth unfortunately. But you know that exercise was eye opening for me. We were, I think we were 2. 4 when we did that exercise. Um and I mean I wanted to poke my dad in the nose and be like seriously, this is not like where is this Ben? You know, for us to just say it was so free to realize this is what I want to live off of and this is what I have to sell to do it. And that should be where you create your revenue goals. Not because the dude next to you with a nice beard has, you know, four million or Slavic shoes. Yeah, I was gonna say, cause Slavic nice shoes has, you know, instagram following or whatever. You know, it's got to be you and your partner and your family and what they need. That's a great point. Kind of the starting with why and what are you really trying to get a good book? Yeah. Yeah. I love that book. Um, Maggie this, this has been amazing. I want to ask you one more question. Do you well, no, I'm sorry. I like two more questions. How do you see the painting industry changing in the future or do you see it changing in the future? Mm That's a great question. Um, I'm pretty stoked um, about the things going on with the P. C. A. And with all these little subgroups, um, of, of people trying to professionalize the industry. Um, I know that's like the ping word right now is everyone's like, we're trying to professionalize the trade. We are also part owners in a hardwood flooring company and I can, I can speak that there is nothing like that happening in that industry. Um, you know, our partner has no peer groups on facebook, there's no, you know, forums with just, there's no podcasts like this. Like there's just not the same energy of elevating what's going on from a professional standpoint. I would argue flooring is a little bit more professionalized in general. Um, but I'm just stoked, especially as an outsider. I'm not, my backgrounds, not construction is education and you better believe there's a million resources for educators like that, you know, so I just, it's, it's so heartwarming that, you know, I'm chatting with you on this podcast, We're gonna go hang out in Minnesota. You know, I've, this is my third zoom call this week with peers in the industry. Just, you know, checking in on each other, sharing best practices. Um, it's pretty amazing the community that's forming. Um, I think it, it's more unique than people realize. That's amazing. Yeah, I'm really excited for our ice plunge together, Maggie. Uh, do you, Yeah, cool. Look kind of looking at the water down. Do you have any other advice or anything else you wanna say for other painting company owners? Um mm hmm. I probably should have prepared something. I think you've, you've given quite a lot. I just like to throw it out there just in case there's anything else you want to add, I guess I just want to add like, um, you know, this isn't where you are today isn't your forever. Um, whether that's being a painting contractor or the size of your company or the struggles you're facing today or the celebrations you're having today. Um you know there's just I never in my wildest dreams that I mean I have my master's in teaching and um quit my dream job to stay at home with the kids and now here I am running a $5. 5 million company. This is not the trajectory I expected when I was 22. Um so Lord only knows where I'm going to be in another, you know 20 years and so um I feel like we as entrepreneurs, it's easy to get nichd into, you know well this is where I am and this is where I'm stuck right and um to just you know that's not always the case and it may be you may be in the same spot in 10 years and that's awesome. Yeah, but we don't know, we don't know what's coming, that's a really great point, yep. The, you can surprise yourself with your own success if you just kind of keep going right and open your mind opportunity. Yeah, yeah, absolutely Maggie, this was amazing. We definitely touched on some, some topics that we have not touched on in previous episodes and I'm very grateful for your time and what happens when you bring a girl on right? Yeah you're our second your second female but it wasn't just that you were a girl morgen Sedwick of Jedi Jedi pros. Her Jedi pros painting. She's actually in Hawaii. Oh cool! Ha ha! I I don't know she I said it incorrectly. That's not how you don't say Hawaii, I don't know. But yeah that was that was a really great podcast and I'm gonna have to, that is not one of the ones I listened to. So I'm gonna have to go check that out and find here on the socials. Yeah. Yeah. It was it was really I learned a lot about Hawaii. I'll be self conscious for the rest of my life. I think until I figure out how to say that word. But I learned a lot about Hawaii and kind of the unique struggles there and I do not want to open a business in Hawaii after that. Yeah. Good luck getting that shipment in. Yeah. Oh my goodness. Yeah. You think we have a paint shortages here. Yeah. I can't imagine Hawaii but morrigan, thank you Maggie, I'm sorry. That's crossed up. Thank you for your time. Thank you. It was amazing awesome If you want to learn more about the topics we discussed in this podcast and how you can use them to grow your painting business, visit painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast for free training as well as the ability to schedule a personalized strategy session for your painting company again that you are l is PainterMarketingPros.com/podcast. Hey they're painting company owners. If you enjoyed today's episode, make sure you go ahead and hit that subscribe button, Give us your feedback, let us know how we did. And also, if you're interested in taking your painting business to the next level, make sure you visit the Painter Marketing Pros website at Painter marketing pros dot com to learn more about our services. You can also reach out to me directly by emailing me at Brandon at PainterMarketingPros.com and I can give you personalized advice on growing your painting business until next time. Keep growing.