Guest Interview: Matt & Maggie Kuyper “The Commercial Couple” Series: Episode 2

Published On: September 11, 2023

Categories: Podcast

Matt and Maggie Kuyper - Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast

In this series titled “The Commercial Couple”, Maggie & Matt Kuyper of Harpeth Painting will be discussing how they built a successful commercial painting company together, advice they have regarding married couples working together, and finally specific thoughts on female entrepreneurship and empowerment within the trades.

In episode 2, they will talk about how to break into commercial painting now that you know your niche.

If you want to ask Maggie or Matt 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 Maggie or Matt questions directly by tagging them 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 2

– Breaking Into Commercial

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 The Commercial Couple, Maggie and Matt Kiper of Harpeth painting will be discussing how they built a successful commercial painting company together advice they have regarding married couples working together and finally, specific thoughts on female entrepreneurship and empowerment within the traits.

In episode one, Maggie and Matt discussed the different kinds of commercial work and how to choose your niche. In this episode. Episode two, they will talk about how to break into commercial painting now that you know your niche. In episode three, Maggie and Matt will dive into completing the work successfully after you have landed your first commercial painting project. In episode four, they will be discussing how to decide whether or not working together with your partner is a good fit for your life. In episode five, Maggie Matt will lay out how to identify the superpowers of each partner and how to effectively work together.

And in episode six, the final episode, Maggie will be discussing fema entrepreneurship and empowerment in the traits. If you want to ask Maggie or Matt questions related to anything in this podcast series, you can do so in our exclusive Pain to Marketing mastermind podcast forum on Facebook. Just search for Pain and marketing mastermind podcast form 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 Maggie Mac questions directly by tagging them with your question. So you can see how anything discussed here applies to your particular painting company through it. What’s up guys? First of all, I just had to make sure I was a part of your group. Are, are you in the group? Are you actually in the group? Ok. I thought you were. So it’d be kind of silly if I said all that and go through that for like a minute at the beginning of each podcast and you’re like, yeah, tagging me and I don’t know where it’s going.

No, I’m, I’m in there. What’s Facebook? Facebook, the Facebook, the Book of Faces. Well, guys, let’s get into it. We’ve chosen the niche. I guess you guys wanna do a quick recap of the different niches and then we can maybe, you know, it’s probably gonna vary how you get into the niche based on the niche you choose, I would imagine. Yeah, quick recap. What, uh, what we went over last time was identifying both the size and nature of the commercial work that you’d like to get into.

And that could vary from, uh, you know, office buildings, small restaurants, uh, churches, schools, high rises, industrial. Listen to the first episode. You get a little more clued in on that. Uh, but now you’ve committed to doing it and that’s where we’re going next. I love it. So you, you’ve, you know, you’ve talked with some contractors you’ve driven around, you’ve figured out, you know, the options that are available to you, the better options in your, in your city or your service area. Uh, what do we do?

Start painting? Just show up, just show up and, you know, there’s ask for permission and there’s ask for forgiveness. So just start doing the project and then be like, listen, I’m gonna bill you for it later. Who are you again? Don’t recommend that? Uh, no, I, I was kind of thinking about a few other, uh, contractors that I’ve talked with over the years of when they’ve gotten their first project or they’re, they’re starting to uh look at a few projects kind of what their typical questions are.

And I think the biggest thing that people typically are asking me is, is the contract stuff and the payment stuff. I think most people understand at this point how to paint something. Um There’s, there’s a lot of resources available too of May. Maybe you’ve never painted like an exposed metal deck or something like that. Uh That the, the actual painting part of it’s pretty easy to figure out. Uh But that’s, I think where most of the questions have come from. Got it. So basically how the, how the business relationship really works contractually and just financially well.

And there’s a lot of questions that float around on the internet and in groups as to where to find the, the connection, like a lot of people will have this desire to get into commercial work. Um Figure out your desire and where it’s coming from first. Um But then they, you know, they ask, how do they find the property managers? How do they find G CS? How do they uh reach out? How do they? So before, you know, it’s obviously important to know what the contracts are before you even get to a contract.

Where do you find these ethereal humans that have these supposed massive projects? How do you find them? I don’t know the answer I think we’ve turned this interview around. It sounds like we’ve been asking you guys are asking me, but I, I don’t run a commercial painting. If you were to run a man, if you were to start a painting company and wanted to get into commercial, where would you find, where would you try to find your clients? I feel like this has been, uh I feel like this is like a two on one.

It’s literally a two on one. And you guys have, have definitely taken the upper hand in this podcast, maybe taller, but we are stronger. You’re definitely stronger. I have no doubt about that. Um Like we, like, we touched on before of, of finding the contractors that are doing the kind of projects that you are interested in and what I found really helpful. I can’t remember if I mentioned this or not, is talking to other trades contractors that work for those G CS or those property managers say, you know, you talk to the drywall guy that you may run into somewhere and say, hey, how is it working for?

So and so, and you can get pretty immediate feedback that like, oh, never working for them again or? Yeah, I’ve been working with them for years and they’re great. That’s a really good way to do it and do they, is that a good way to, to get a connection? Absolutely. Yeah, a lot of times they can make a a pretty good introduction of. Hey, this is my buddy, if so. And so he’s got a painting company. Uh, it’d be great for you to meet up and, you know, who to contact and, uh, kind of softens the blow a little bit.

How can you figure out, you know, the different trades, uh, different trades contractors that are working with the GC that you wanna work with? So, one of the things that we’ve found really helpful with that is, um, I guess they’re called trades organizations in our area. I think that’s nationally as well. There’s, um, ABC which is association, association of building contractors or associated building contractors, whatever. ABC and A GC is another one. I think that’s association of general contractors. Uh, don’t quote me on the acronyms there. Yeah.

But networking, I mean, just starting to, obviously you’re probably not gonna find those resources in a residential networking community like a BN I or, um, anything like that. But, yeah, if you start to, to look at these, they have all kinds of mixers and social events. And, um, I mean, Matt, you got a lot of connections just showing up to those things and having to flex that networking muscle, that’s sometimes painful for an introvert. But, and you, I mean, information is, information is a plenty on the internet.

You know, if there’s, if you drive around and see little restaurant build outs and you start to see the same two or three contractors. Most of those companies are gonna have contacts on their website that you can start reaching out to emailing, um, getting on the bid list, et cetera. And I mean, people’s linkedin is huge in the commercial world. There’s no secret who’s spitting these jobs and who’s running these jobs. It’s somewhere on the internet. Yeah. And those are things that work together. Right. You show up in a networking group and then follow up with an email that you find online or vice versa, send an email and then, oh, hey, I sent you an email the other day.

You know, those things ping each other pretty nicely. It sounds so simple. But you would be shocked. I mean, we just hear over and over G CS and property managers are looking for good traits. They just, they are, it’s, it’s a fact and 290 networking trick that I’ve learned when talking to these people is don’t start talking about yourself or your service or what you do if it’s a general contract or say it’s a project manager, it’s like you say, uh you know, I, I saw you were working on so and so project uh what’s been one of the biggest challenges out there?

Like what, what was uh what was the topping out party? Like, what was some of the wins that, who’s, who’s one of your best subs out there and start asking them about their project? And it gives, gives you an insight into how they operate. And then also, you know, everybody wants to talk about themselves. They don’t want to hear you talk about you. There’s, there’s things you can, you know, it, it just builds the relationship a little bit better rather than saying, hey, I’m a painting contractor.

Can I bid on your jobs? Yeah. Yeah. And you get that, they, they like to talk about themselves. You get the thought process, you can understand it. And then when you position yourself, you can position yourself accordingly if it’s like, oh, you know, what’s the biggest pain point? Well, this, you know, this one contractor just keeps showing up late, you know, or XY or Z and then when you’re talking about him, you can go, hey, obviously, you know, not being super obvious maybe, but like, hey, this is a bit about our company.

We have this regarding uh you know, our, our time, you know, we have this in, in terms of making sure people show up on time, you can kind of position yourself to solve a pain point that he’s already identified he has or she. Yeah, and you got to just remember this is a, this is a slow burn. Um You’re not gonna make some emails and go to a networking event and all of a sudden um get a bunch of bid requests and accepted proposals. Um I mean, you have to set yourself up for the long game in the commercial sales world.

I mean, you could, you could be courting a, a potential client for many, many months, if not many years before you either get a job or even get an opportunity at a job. And that doesn’t mean it’s a lost relationship. Um, I think Matt has contractors that he’s just casually been in contact with for the longevity of our company and is just now getting the opportunity to, to bid their work aggressively. Yeah. And that, that’s why it’s great to be transitioning from a residential painting company into adding commercial into your mix because you’ve got the, the base and the stability of your residential work.

Um, I don’t, I don’t really know. I, I haven’t really even talked to anybody that just went straight commercial work. I’d have to dig back into my brain files if there’s anybody that’s done that. Yeah. Yeah. It’s definitely the opposite of what our culture likes with the instant gratification. We don’t want to have to wait for anything. And, uh, we’re all friends with Chris Elliott. So I was talking with him yesterday. Uh, and we were, we were just commiserating on business, you know, business is hard and, uh, we both are of this mindset that whenever there’s something that’s really difficult, we, we embrace it, we’re like, great because now several of our competitors have not quit, right.

Any time you hit a robot. Like man, this really sucks. Awesome. Because I’m not gonna let it stop me. But I know some other people let it stop though. So great. That’s, that’s how you can kind of view this relationship, you know? You’re like, oh, my gosh, I’ve been talking to this guy for months. I’ve been talking to him for years. Well, cool. The other people who are also trying to get, you know, the ability to bid on his project, they quit months ago. So now you’re one of the only people who’s still in the game.

Yeah, it was easy. Everybody’d be doing it. Right. Yeah. Forward, forward thinking entrepreneurs are going to reign successful through any type of weathered storm, right? Whether it’s a COVID or a recession or a market downturn, just whatever it is. Um If you are forward thinking, which looking ahead and building commercial as part of your repertoire is forward thinking. Um, and more than likely if you’re a forward thinking entrepreneur, the, the long sales process isn’t gonna burn you out. Yeah, you have to play, always be playing the long game, but I’ll just say I’ll, I’ll get on my tiny little soapbox that if a residential contractor is looking at winter right now and they’re thinking, oh, boy, winter is gonna be slow.

I think I’m gonna get into commercial. That’s a quick, right. It does. I’m sorry if you are listening to this podcast and that was your plan. I think that probably needs to be, um, 5% of your plan because might you find a church that wants to paint? Might you find a school? Sure those things happen in the, in the winter season. But more than likely this cannot be your winter answer for 2023 24 a year. Two years, three years from now could be part of the answer, but it’s probably not gonna solve it right now. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

That’s how, I mean, a lot of painting companies think about marketing in general like that, you know, it’s like winter comes along and it’s like, oh my gosh, we’ve got to run out of work. Like, did you not, have you not been, have you not been thinking like, have you not already kind of planned it? Why are we panicking? You know, winter comes every year, right? Every year comes around this time, you know, it’s no surprise here. But yeah, that’s where, you know, marketing investing for the long term, like playing the long game with everything you do.

Uh comes, comes in the, in the play. I want to talk about this networking event thing. So I used to go to networking events a lot, you know, and a lot of them are just garbage, right? It’s like if you, if you at least I’m, I’m talking about entrepreneurial networking events. So just OK, hey, everyone, we’re all, we’re all entrepreneurs we’re all gonna meet in Tampa and everyone’s gonna meet and I would go to these things and I’d be like, man, anyone who is actually doing well is not here, right?

It’s just a bunch of people who are kind of looking around trying to figure out. Are you doing well? No. Are you doing well? No, ok. Nobody’s doing well. It’s like, why, why am I going to these things? Uh But commercial painting, you’re basically saying these network game banks are actually really effective. So are you, you’re not seeing it as? OK, you show up and it’s just a bunch of people figuring out how to break in the commercial that are actual real players that come with these things. Yeah.

Yeah, I think, I think it would be the opposite if you come in having no experience in uh the commercial world, you may be completely over your skis. It’s pretty. Uh And I don’t say that to like put people off from doing it, but they’re, they’re very professional, very well done, very well attended uh at least in our market. That’s awesome. A great opportunity going back to like what makes great entrepreneurs? You should want to dive in the deep end and be out of your element a bit. Yeah.

So the and then linkedin is, oh sorry, go ahead. No, I was just gonna say, I think what Matt said is a super important thing to, to keep in the back of your brain that um you’re selling to professionals in, in the commercial world. These are, uh, you know, a lot of these companies are wearing suit and tie to go sell the job to their client. And so I don’t mean you need to doll yourself up and that presentation matters, but physical presentation, but I do think it’s important to change your mindset that you are in theory selling to people whose day job is at a desk in a nice office working, you know, a 9 to 5.

It’s, you’re not selling to a homeowner where you’re, you know, plowing on emotions and, and helping them pick colors and moving their furniture. You’re selling to a businessman or woman, it’s a different game B to B as opposed to B to C, you would, you basically as you were going to touch on, you know, that’s why things like linkedin are more effective than Facebook. Facebook marketing is not going to get you commercial work. Um I mean, it doesn’t hurt for branding but you’re not going to land a job with a Facebook ad or an Instagram ad.

We do a lot of social media posting for our commercial stuff and yeah, we, we hear from the commercial contractors. Oh, it’s so fun to see what you guys are doing on Facebook and it definitely helps the human side of it, but it’s not selling work. Got it. So it might help a little bit with sort of the conversion element or them sort of gaining the trust of life in your business more. Yeah, with so linkedin, it’s interesting because, yeah, linkedin obviously isn’t, isn’t typically a big play for residential painting, would you say?

I mean, do you guys have a certain format or structure of how you actually reach out to people via linkedin or what would you recommend there? Uh linkedin for me has been more of a, a research database, but I’m going to start posting and see what happens. This, this is a new, come back to me in the spring and we’ll see how it works. Like you just putting up quality content. Yeah, I haven’t done that yet. I use it just to track people down that I’m gonna reach out to the old fashioned way.

So when you find them on linkedin, do you then call them? I usually email them, you can get their email address. That’s a good way to start and then you can call and there, there’s some, you broke the ice, they know who you are. Yeah. Got it. And then Maggie, you had said something really interesting about kind of like, figure out why you want to get into commercial painting. You know, I wanna, I wanna dive into that. Why do you, I guess what are some reasons that you, you see people get in that maybe wouldn’t be the right reason.

And then what are real reasons to get into commercial painting? Yeah, I think, um, money and filling schedule are very much the wrong reasons to get into commercial. Uh, money is not bad. Money is not a bad driver. But I see so many people say, oh, you know, the price tags are so much bigger on commercial work. The job side is so much bigger. Um, you know, they get, they get glittery eyes at the potential financial side of it. When in reality, you can also lose as much money as you could make on them.

Um, roulette table or something. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s why we joke that Matt hunts wooly mammoth where, you know, we have other people in our company shooting squirrels. You know, you shoot enough squirrels you can eat for a real long time, shoot a wooly mammoth, you eat for a long time. But also if you cut it open and it’s rotten. That sucks. Spent a lot of time hunting that wooly mammoth only to find out that it’s rotten. So I think, you know, if you’re wise is truly that, that is a market sector that you are interested in that you want to learn about that you wanna grow into as a professional, then that’s going to stick a lot more than just winter slow.

And I see the price tags are big. So the price tag being big, you know, it’s, it’s a reality, but it’s also a danger, would you say? So? So people going into it because they wanna stay busy over the winter obviously, there’s an element of, of diversification. There is diversification. Is that a reasonable desire? Like, hey, I do want to. It is OK. Would you treat it almost a separate business or how would you guys evaluate that? We consider it a vertical in our company. It’s not a, it’s not a separate business um but it, it operates differently and we have to treat it differently.

But I think what you said is, is huge diversification is important for any entrepreneur, whether you’re diversifying within your single market sector or whether you’re diversifying across different verticals like we’ve done. Um that is always um something to consider as an entrepreneur because as the market changes, as the economy changes, as um clients and customers needs changes, you know, you need to be able to, to merge and bend with it. Yeah, we see it as almost kind of a an economic hedge to we can adjust to the market where demand is.

Uh And I don’t want to take away from special specialization. There’s some great painters out there that hey, we only do interior walls or whatever. Um and they can kill it at that, but they’re also a little bit uh a little more tied to economic trends because they can’t shift easily into where demand is. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So if somebody’s looking to diversify and this might be a little outside the scope but interested in your guys thoughts and they say they do residential painting and they’re contemplating between.

Ok, maybe they, they focus more on cabinet refinishing or maybe they’re even contemplating opening a second location, let’s say somewhere else, they’re gonna open a, a remote office somewhere or commercial. I mean, are those things to compare next to each other? That’s not even a good thought process to be thinking that way. I think that’s a great thought thought process. Uh Maybe, yeah, you may be in a small market where expanding to a different market is gonna help you grow quicker than expanding into commercial. Um Yeah, you gotta look at, look at all angles depending on what your market demands.

Yeah, a good entrepreneur finds the perfect balance between knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing and also responding to the market, right? That’s like in a, a kind of a balance you have to figure out um that will help you then make the right decision because if your y is up here and the market’s down here and you can’t get those two things to align, then you’re probably gonna feel like you’re hitting your head against the wall. Yeah, so kind of a um I guess kind of a loaded question because it’s gonna vary case by case.

But do you guys think that residential painting company owners, they’ve only done residential and they’re thinking about moving into commercial? Should they like as a general Wolf thumb? Is it a good idea or is it usually you really are gonna want to be a special kind of person for that to make sense. You wanna want to you or you need to want to do it. I don’t think you do it for just the sole business purpose. Like Maggie was saying, you, you really need to engross yourself in that industry and make it a real part of your company.

Not just because it’s a diversification thing. Yeah. And a good friend of ours, Dave Graham. Um, so lovingly calls it tuition, but you have to be willing to lose money, which we now call tuition. Thanks to Dave. Um, but you know, we just got into, this is obviously not a commercial. Well, no, you can do it in commercial, but we just got certified for Fine Paints of Europe. And before going through that process, everyone told us you have to be willing to lose money on your first, you know, handful of jobs, you have to be willing to take a loss to learn how to do it properly.

And I would argue commercials the same way, which is why we encourage people to do things so small. You may not lose money on your first job or your first jobs. But, um, you have to be willing to take that tuition. Um, before you dive into it. I like it. Yeah, I’ve always called it a stupid tax tuition is so much nicer, which is a nice, I think now I’m gonna call it two things. Tuition is like, ok, you didn’t know. So you pay your tuition or you make a tax because you shouldn’t have done stupid taxes.

You just weren’t smart about it. There’s difference. Right. Yeah. The going to find means with Europe we had to invest in the tuition. Yeah, that’s, that’s a very nice way of putting it. All right. So, tuition it is. Um, so you’re, you’re listening to this? You’re like, no, I, yes, I, I want to do commercial, you know, I understand the, the risks. I understand. It’s a whole another business vertical. I really need to immerse myself. The buyer’s journey is different because I’m selling to a businessman or woman.

I’m not selling to a homeowner. The, the emotional, it’s always emotions that there’s, the business is business, business is personal always. So you’re always, you’re always going to sell some on emotions, but it is gonna be more dollars and cents and you know, a little bit more transactional that way. Um How do we do it? Right? We’re, we’re talking about linkedin. Ok. We can do some homework, we can talk to other contractors and, and basically get a list of G CS that we want to talk to.

We can go to the networking event and we can start to learn more about their business and their thought process and their pain points and what they like. So we can start to figure out how to position ourselves and how we can make their lives better. What’s the next step? How do we, how do we really position ourselves for success? What do we do over those months or maybe years to stay in front of these G CS that we ultimately want to shot at bat with? So again, I talk about this from the general contractor perspective and not more of the direct to owner work just because that relates to more residential.

But it it’s doing your estimates, creating your proposals and staying, staying in front of them. So that’s kind of almost a marketing cost of. They send an invitation to bid. You need to take the time to do the takeoff on the plans, put the bid together and, and know you may not be getting that job every time until you kind of learn the sweet spot of where you need to be or if they’re even, you know, we’ve had a couple of contractors that we’ve tried to work with for years and finally just get to the point where like, yeah, they’re, they’re looking for somebody cheaper than us.

So we got to move on. Yeah, there’s the very different bid hit ratio with commercial um we know phenomenal commercial contractors within the PC A who have a 8 to 82703% bid hit ratio, which for most residential people makes their tummy hurt. And it’s pretty devastating to think that for every 100 jobs that you bid, you only get 8 to 10. Um, because the bidding takes time, I mean, it takes time to drive to a client’s home and to measure and to prepare. Um, but it, you know, running takeoffs is, is not an easy process.

It’s a lot of clicking and a lot of hunching over your desk. So keep, keep being in front of them, continue to do the best that you can on the bids. Is there anything kind of more grassroots? I mean, do you guys send them gifts? Do you send them cards? Do you call them every now and again, you take them to lunch or anything like that? You gotta feel out the hum. I mean, that’s where the human side of it comes. There’s Matt actually gets a lot of great feedback that he doesn’t hound the, the, the clients, you know, on the flip side, we have a sales person that is really devoted to commercial repaint or direct to owner, property managers.

And those guys wanna be wined and dined and, you know, they on it because they don’t get it. They’re just, they’re just taking care of other people’s properties. It’s a very ungrateful job. And so, you know, for us to take them lunch or to take them, golfing is like gold. But again, it’s just learning the human side of it. I mean, there are G CS that like to be spoiled rotten and there’s others that don’t. And it’s just figuring out what makes them tick and that’s where it becomes what you said. Right.

We’re all human. We all have emotions. Yeah. But food, everybody loves food, everybody loves food. Even our team. I mean, we’re having even more regional rep is setting food up out there in the break room and now I can hear it and literally every single person on my team today has asked me, do you know what they’re bringing for lunch? I like the Yeah. So we’re still, I mean, we buy Ben more all the time. We love Ben Moore, but the fact that he’s bringing us lunch, I mean, people are so excited.

So over the moon. So the, all right. So let’s say you, you’re getting, you know, you’ve, you’ve done your homework on linkedin, you’ve gone to networking events, you’ve put yourself out there, you’ve learned what you need to learn you’ve gotten at, at bidding. Um And then you’ve gotten some opportunities. Is there anything you can do to position yourself for success? And this might be leading into a little bit in the next episode, but contractually, you know, start to position, I wanna talk about kind of the negotiation process if it does occur. Yeah.

So best case scenario, you can figure out and again, this kind of comes back to, to knowing the relationship and who you’re talking with, of, of, of knowing the numbers of your competitors. Some of these contractors are willing to share that and specifically post bid, you may not be able to negotiate it on the front end, but sometimes you can, they’ll give you little hints of uh oh, you’re close or hey, look at this, make sure your scope is right here and you know that you may be close and, and go back and look at something and readjust.

Uh and, and most of them are pretty open after the bid of say, hey, there was four bids. You were three out of four, but everybody was pretty close or you were fourth and you were way high, you know, so it just kind of helps you hone in on both the relationship and your pricing if, if you were way high but felt like you priced it, right? They may not be comparing apples to apples or they may be really just concerned with low number. I don’t, it’s so hard to really talk about the details of this because it’s so personal and relationship based.

Uh There’s a, there’s a lot of just feel in it of what this person is open to. So do you sounds like buying a car, man, like a car or something? Do you guys uh do they give you specific numbers? Like will they actually tell you that the actual numbers or will it just be like? Yeah, and you guys, you were recently, I, I did a, a project and my contact called me and it was a, a contractor that I’ve been trying to work with for a while.

And he said, hey, this is, this is about a $500,000 project. And therefore I knew he already had some bids on it. And he’s given me kind of a heads up of, of where I needed to be. Now, I still needed to figure out where I needed to be. But he was kind of giving me a hint of what size project it was. And that’s a perfect example of figuring out the relationship because we haven’t worked with this client and we’ve wanted to. So Matt ran the takeoff separately from the number he was given and ended up landing at the same spot, which is affirmation for us that this is a contractor that probably falls in line with where we are as a paint contractor, right?

Um Whereas we’ve had other G CS begging Matt to price stuff and then every time they price it, they’re like, jeez, man, you’re twice as much as the other guys. And it’s like, ok, well, like obviously we’re not on the same page as you know what our intended outcome is. Yeah. So the, the G CS is it, I mean, there’s obviously two buckets here, but maybe there are more. There’s the ones that I see right now is, is there’s a bucket of it aligns with your pricing.

You guys are gonna provide a quality product in a quality service and, and the pricing is reasonable and then there’s a GC um called Avatar, right? Customer Avatar who basically just wants the lowest bid, super, super low bid, probably pretty shoddy work. Are there more kind of like avatars here? Like, are, are, do they care? No? How would you kind of like break, break that up? Yeah, there’s, uh, I think it’s, there’s a, the third avatar is the GC that depending on the job that they have goes one way or the other.

So they, they may have a project that they really need your specialty work on and you’ve got a leg up there, but they may also on the other side of their office may be bidding an apartment building that we have no business competing in that. So it, it, the two avatars can exist within one company. Got it. And I wanna say to you, I think it’s super important as you’re listening to this and talking about it. Um an important skill to have before you get into commercial is to truly know your numbers.

Um your bidding numbers, whether it’s by substrate or production rate, you have to be very good at that because what you’re gonna do if you start bidding is you’re gonna get feedback. Oh man, you’re high. Oh man, you’re high and you’re gonna start wondering if the GC is right and you’re wrong and that’s really easy to do when you wanna get some, when you want something it’s easy to hear. I think I need to change. I think I need to change. And typically if you know what you’re doing, that’s not the case.

Um, and that’s, you know, one thing I always kind of push back on Matt. You know, he’ll be like, ah, I think I’m high on this job. I really want to get it. You know, it’s a big long project with a team that we love. And I’m like, well, how low are you willing to go? He’s like, I’m not going any lower. And I’m like, well, are you sure? But what about the really, you know, like we’ve been trying to get this job for a year and if we don’t get this job, then we’re not going to work with this, you know, client for the next year because they’re going to hire someone else and it’ll be two years before we see him again.

And are you sure you’re ready to lose that relationship? He’s like, Maggie, I know what it costs to produce this job. I’m not going to lose our company money just to get this job. What do you say? You never lose money on a job you don’t take. But, um, you know, really being confident and not letting the GC tell you where your pricing should be because Matt has had clients that he adores and loves and would do, um, anything for as a human and just can’t get to the same place on numbers.

That doesn’t mean they’re not awesome people that we wish the best to never lose money on a job. You don’t take what, uh, what profit margins are you guys generally trying to hit with these jobs, uh, anywhere between 30 40% depending on the size of the job. Got it. So it’s, it trends a little lower than typical residential work, but you have to, you know, overheads, different job size is bigger. So let’s talk about kind of going back to the avatar. Obviously, the thing we were focused on was sort of price versus quality, you know, what they were focused on.

But there are, there are other things, right? Which is why I ask, ok, what, what’s your biggest pain point or what are you really, what’s going well with your projects? So things like maybe timeliness or, or maybe attention to detail or do you guys have sort of some values you could say, hey, these are different values. These are different things that G CS tend to look at. Some are gonna care more about some things, some are gonna care more about others, but just to get people in the right frame of mind gear.

Yeah, so paperwork is huge. They, they don’t want to hound you for the paperwork. So this this goes from submits to billing to safety to daily reports. If they’re required, you gotta be make their life easier by doing the paperwork. It sucks, but just do it and do it on time and do it right. Because that’s almost, that’s, I’ve found, it’s one of our biggest sales techniques is superintendents will talk to the project managers and say, hey, these guys, we didn’t have to bother them for their daily reports.

They did all the safety stuff and that, that trickles up the chain again. It’s, it’s taken away that pain because they probably don’t like it either. So, if you guys make it easier for them. Yeah. Um, yeah, kind of as a whole category. Safety is huge. Especially with the larger contractors. You really need to have your safety program dialed in or, uh, they have their own programs and you just, you need to be very compliant and pay attention to that stuff because it, it does matter obviously.

But, you know, at the end of the day it’s really checking the boxes to make sure everybody got home safe. Yeah. What are some common mistakes you see people making? You know, we’ve obviously talked about people thinking it’s gonna happen faster than it is or they’re going in because they have shiny object syndrome, you know, chasing the big dollars, but maybe not just from a psychological perspective, but maybe from a tactical perspective. Are there common mistakes you see new commercial painting company owners make in this game?

Um, I think it’s important to know this is piggybacking a little bit off of what Matt was saying, but also, um, I don’t know that people make this mistake but being aware that, um, the schedule is not yours to dictate. If they say that, you know, they need somebody next week on this day, then you better have somebody there next week on that day. Right? You don’t get to this a little bit kind of what you were saying, but we’ll get calls today potentially on a contract that we have that’s ongoing or about to start with.

You know, we need you there, September 3rd or whatever. And that can be hard when people are slowly getting into it because all of a sudden they’re like, oh, shoot. But I had a whole residential calendar filled that week. Yeah, you gotta be proactive in the scheduling. So how would you, I guess if you are a strictly residential painting company, I mean, you would want to have some crews lined up some capacity so that if something popped up earlier than you expected you could meet that deadline. Yeah. Yeah.

And, and a lot of times they’ll, they’ll give you the two week notice is pretty typical and commercial and I think most residential painters need eight months heads up. So, uh, call in ahead of time and say, hey, you know, I see this buildings coming up out of the ground. When do you guys think will be out there? It’s gonna be two months, three months, you know, you can you can call them or email them a little bit ahead of time to figure out block scheduling. Don’t wait because they’re gonna call you two weeks and need you there. Yeah.

Which is, you know, it’s customary in the industry to just give two weeks notice and same thing with direct to owner work. I mean, it’s a pretty, like when, when Kenneth our commercial repaint sales guys goes on, he goes on a bid if he sells it, they, they expect us there within two weeks typically unless it’s something that they in the sales process talked about a timeline or a plan for. Um but you know, once they accept that proposal, they’re usually ready to go. Yeah. So the can we just quickly lay out a a customer avatar or like an avatar of a successful new commercial painting company owner?

So like for example, this person um is very detail oriented with paperwork, they’re very proactive, they do their homework. Like can we just quickly run through what that successful person looks like so that anyone listening is like, I wanna be, I wanna run a successful commercial commercial painting company can kind of have in their mind an image of the person that they need to be do or to be or how they need to act to actually make that happen. Yeah, I think it, it starts with being an accurate estimator, understanding your cost, what it takes to to paint this job being detailed with your paperwork, like you said, compliant.

And then also on the flip side, having really good people skills to understand the relationship side of the business. It’s kind of that, uh uh not many of these people exist. You know, most people want to hide behind the computer or just go out there and schmooze with everybody, the people skill thing kind of kind of was the opposite of a lot of it. Really, it really, it’s a unique personality and I think resilience, you cannot be quick to emotionally respond to something. There has to be a, a temperance.

Um, some of these jobs can get heated as the timeline, you know, crunches down to the end or, you know, there can be a lot of emotion involved in the sales process, especially when you don’t get a big job you’ve been gunning for. So you have to be steadfast and resilient on top of all those other things. Oh, you’re great, Matt. You’re such a, you just have to be superman and then, yeah. Yeah. So when the, when the jobs are kind of getting heated, you know, as they’re sort of winding up, what, what things tend to make those get heated, what happens?

It’s almost always schedule and price. Yeah, change orders. Everyone’s mad about it. You gotta be mad at someone. The painter is always the last one on the job. So it doesn’t matter the 20 other trades that screwed up. You’re still the one that’s got to sweep up the mess. Yeah, just be aware of it. It’s never gonna change. Yeah. No. Is, is there a certain mess and they’re out of money? Is basically what? Yeah, that’s a good, sounds like a good, uh, position. Is there, is there a certain, um, like, like, I think we did touch on this last time but like a, a, uh, revolving line of credit or certain amount that you should have in your bank balance or, or some certain amount of savings patted away before you really start trying to hunt these wooly mammoths. Yeah.

What it’s, you need basically 90 days of what the receivables would be for that project for that one project. Ok. So for each, so you, if you were going for multiple projects, the fact that you could land all of them, you should actually have like 100 8270 days. Well, no, the, the value it would just be a higher value that you would need for that 90 days, not longer terms, adding, adding all of the value of the projects together and you need that. I mean, we just, uh I don’t remember if I said this last last episode, but we just met with our banker to increase our line of credit because we brought on a new commercial estimator.

And so if he sells what we think he’s capable of selling, that’s going to add volume to our A r because they’re all gonna be contract work. And that’s, that’s just the nature of what we agreed to do. And so, I mean, that’s a conversation we had to have with our banker. He asked us, why are you increasing your line of credit? And we explained to him and he was like, yeah, ok, that sounds accurate. You know, I mean, these are important relationships to have and I don’t know if we talked about this last episode, but when you get into commercial, those relationships need to be rock solid with your banker, with your insurance, with your accounting, with your lawyer.

Um, you can’t start running with the big dogs if you don’t have those people on speed dial. Yeah. Ok. So last time we talked about the niches, how to identify your niche, you know, how to figure out where you want to play. This time. We’re really focused on how to actually start playing in it, how to land your first project regarding the, the contracts, the, you know, financially, um, making it work. Will that be part of the next episode? Because the next one we’re actually gonna be talking about successfully completing the first project. Yeah.

All these words, Matt saying we’ll talk about submits and change orders and yeah. So is there anything else in this component of it? You know, we’ve identified the niche that we’re going for and now we’re actually trying to, trying to land the first projects, there’s anything we haven’t covered that. We should. I think we covered it all. Maybe not in a linear fashion. But again, encourage people to go to the Facebook group. I’ll, I’ll monitor that. Tag me if anybody has. Yep. I’m uh, yeah, I’m available.

So people have questions. I think, I think today might have been a little overwhelming and scary for people, but we also need to paint a realistic picture. We see the uh like the listener ship, you know, episode one big episode two, big episode two, everyone left delete. All right guys. Well, this is the cycle of commercial contractors. Yeah. And then the, the percent that remains, they’re the ones that actually become commercial contract. That’s awesome. Well, guys, I appreciate your time really excited for, for the third episode.

Uh and then we get into some really fun stuff after that, which is couples working together and all that stuff. So, thank you for your time again. You’re welcome.

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

Hey there, 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 and I can give you personalized advice on growing your painting business until next time.

Keep growing.

Brandon Pierpont

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