Guest Interview: Michael Sutton of Kind Home Solutions – Round 2

Published On: December 5, 2022

Categories: Podcast

Guest Interview: Michael Sutton of Kind Home Solutions – Round 2
Michael Sutton

Michael Sutton, founder and owner of Kind Home Solutions, discusses how he has reached over $9 million in annual revenue in under 5 years. Michael runs through his company’s story year-by-year since its founding in 2018, and outlines how he achieved $2.2 million in his first year alone. Approaching his company with a very different mindset from most other painting company owners has allowed Michael to achieve a growth rate few people would have imagined. In addition to high revenue, Michael breaks down how he has managed to be awarded “Denver Business Journal’s Best Place to Work,” while achieving over 50% gross margin on his painting projects.

Video of Interview

Podcast Audio

Topics Discussed:

  • How Michael went from $0 to nearly $10 million in 5 years
  • The power of door knocking and its impact on Kind Home Solutions in year one
  • Why you should spend time making your company look professional from day 1
  • Some business books Michael recommends every painting company owner should read or listen to

Audio Transcript

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Welcome to the Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast, a show created to help painting company owners build a thriving painting business that does well over one million and annual revenue. I’m your host Brandon Pierpont founder of Painter Marketing Pros and creator of the popular pc, a educational series, learn do grow marketing for painters. In each episode, I’ll be sharing proven tips, strategies and processes from leading experts in the industry on how they found success in their painting business. We will be interviewing owners of the most successful painting companies in north America and learning from their experiences on this episode of the Painter Marketing Mastermind podcast.

We host Guest Michael Sutton. Michael is the founder and owner of Kind Home Solutions, a residential painting company based in Denver colorado. In this episode, Michael discusses how he has reached over $9 million in annual revenue in under five years of business. Michel runs through his company’s story, year by year since its founding in 2018 and outlines how he achieved $2. 2 million dollars in his first year alone, approaching his company with a very different mindset from most other painting company owners has allowed Michael to achieve a growth rate few people could have imagined. In addition to high revenue, Michael breaks down how he has managed to be awarded Denver Business Journal’s best place to work while achieving over 50% gross margin on his painting projects. If you want to learn more about the topics we discussed in this podcast and how you can use them to grow your painting business visit painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast for free training as well as the ability to schedule a personalized strategy session for your painting company. Again that you are l is painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast, Michael, thank you for coming on round two for the pain marketing master my podcast man, Absolutely. Thanks for having me. Brandon really excited to talk today. Yeah, I’m excited too. So I’m gonna I’m gonna dive in Michael. This is I’m extremely excited for this episode. You and I were connecting some before the recording and you’re growing a little bit slow right now. I think we did a recording last year. You were at a poultry 6. 4 million after having been in business for close to four years. So I’m not really sure what you were doing. And then now, where are you now? What’s, what’s your projected revenue? Oh, somewhere falling in that 8-10 million range. Um probably closer to 29 right there in the middle. Yeah. So the growth is definitely stagnated for you. So we’re gonna see if we can figure out, you know how we can, how we can get you to 50 million by next year. That would be amazing. Accelerating the timeline. Yes. So, um yes, Jason paris is compressing time. So you Are under five years in business and you are projected to do close to $10 million. What’s your secret um what would be the secret of that. Having amazing people and and having an incredible team around us and really focusing on the people who have made this happen because it certainly was not me. I just happened to be in this chair and I could easily have been in another one. Um, I would say it’s certainly the people on the team and keeping them here and keeping them happy, so that’s alright. So you know, I’m not gonna let you off that easy Michael, so the, that you’re humble, you’re a very humble guy. Um the, having the right team is obviously super important. Let’s say you’re, let’s maybe, I guess back up and let’s go into a little bit about your history, kind of what you did before you started kind home solutions, why you started it. And what were the first few steps that you took when you started your business? Um, I think a lot of entrepreneurs would say this, but I’ve always been a serial entrepreneur. It’s something that, you know, driving deep inside of me, I share this story a lot, but I remember in second grade choosing a spelling word and I chose entrepreneur as that spelling word that was second grade. Um, and it was an idea of who you are and the ability to support people around you and to, to pour into other people. Um, and I always, it was one of those things where if I what if it wasn’t going into entrepreneurship and running a business, I wanted to go into the ministry. My grandfather was a pastor and he led, um, a church and, and poured into people and they loved him. And it’s a similar type of ability that were placed as a head of a company where you can really support and love the people around you and take care of them and very similar types of work, where it’s just taking care of the team around you while they do their lives. Um, so, ah, I spent most of my twenties trying to start a company and figure out something that I could do, ended up in colorado and ran out of money and ended up getting a job working for a painting company and uh, it was a very, very tiny painting company, worked for them for a year. Then I worked for a much larger painting company for some time and really got engaged inside of the sales aspect of talking about paint and talking about application and um, learning the industry. Um, and then when I went out on my own, I had a few key employees that joined and started fast, slow down and now we’re in a position where we can speed up again. So, so you, you came, I guess leading into your in kind home solutions, you really had a sales background, you were conducting the sales for a bigger painting company? Yeah, do you think that that was a critical factor in your success? It was a critical factor in understanding a plan? Uh and there’s um I think everyone says that you learn through repetition, right? How many hours does it take to master something Crazy amount. Um 10 was 10,000, which I think maybe that’s too low, but it’s a lot of hours it’s a lot of hours. And I talked to new sales people on my team where it’s, hey guys, you have to put in the reps and you have to put in the practice asking for the business is not a simple thing and the first time you sit down, um I have a gentleman on my team, I’m gonna share his story. Um he was running a painting company for himself for the last year and he reached out to me and said I would, are you hiring right now? I think I want to come work for you. I said what? You’ve got your own business man? He said, yeah, I’m just in this like weird limbo, a place where I don’t know when to hire my first employee, I’m working seven days a week, I have no personal life, I’m really the dream, the dream and I feel like it’s a common story that you hear and he says, look, I just want to be a part of a team, I wanna work with people who I enjoy and I want to be able to take a weekend off and not feel like I’m letting my company down. Um can I, can I come to sales for you? And I said, yeah let’s do it. Um I’ll help train you and uh you can work with our sales manager and we’ll get you into a spot. And the first time he sat down and went to present a quote, he left and he goes, oh my God, I have not been doing sales for the last year. Have been writing quotes and dropping them off for clients. Huh? I have not done what you just asked me to do ever, which means I’ve got no experience doing this, Michael. You think we can still get successful? Absolutely. You broke 100 grand last month in sales, you will be successful. Yeah, that’s great. So what are, what are some of the, let’s dive into this, you know, when, when he’s writing estimates, writing quotes and dropping those off versus what you’re doing, what’s the difference? We spent a couple hours with every client, We talk about the scope of the work. We present our numbers on the spot. A 100% of the time. We don’t email quote to somebody on the back end. Ah I I truly believe that if you’re going to have a successful project, it starts with a good open line of communication And to establish that relationship with the client from day one is is so important to uh the client experience. So wow. And it also helps build value. Sure. So yeah, the, the, I mean that’s definitely a bit unique. You know, some companies do it, most don’t just presenting the, the quote and everything on the spot. Do you guys, are you guys big into itemizing how do you guys and then throughout your process, how do you kind of build that value? So that when you, when you do present the price, you can avoid sticker shock or people not seeing the value there, I think sticker shock is going to happen, occasional person will have a heart attack, occasional. You know, we’ve seen tears, we’ve been, Oh yeah, absolutely. This year we’ve been cursed out really because it because it was, it was higher than they thought it was gonna be. Yeah, absolutely. Um, and when people don’t have a clue and they have no idea what it might take then um, There can be a lot of shock when you show somebody a $10,000 quote for painting their interior and they said, I Was thinking it would be like $500. Oh yeah, It’s not, yeah, just 20 times that 20. Yeah. Yeah. So you, do, you guys have any sort of, I guess disqualification process to try to minimize how often that happens. What is your sales process look like. Initially we do send a decent amount of information out to our clients ahead of time. I have videos online for how much it costs to paint an exterior. I show houses in there. I give prices of what we actually charged for that house? I talked about calculating number of gallons and amount of trim and uh prep work and how much we charge for wood replacement. Uh And I have it written and a video about it which we send every client ahead of time you send it to them. Absolutely. So before we get there I’m hoping that they have educated themselves somewhat on what to expect you find that a lot of them have. Yeah. Absolute. I’d probably say 40, 30 to 40%. Really do the research and take the tools that we give them and use them. Mhm. There’s ah and I would love to see that number go up. There’s a book by a gentleman named Marcus Sheridan and it’s called, they ask you answer, it’s a marketing book right in your world. Brandon. Um And Marcus Sheridan is amazing and he talks about assignment based selling and trying to teach somebody. Give them an assignment before you come out and his company, they won’t even meet with you to present a quote if you don’t complete the assignment prior. The estimate interesting. And he’s still what does he sell? He sells pools with an average ticket of $50,000. Okay I sell paint jobs with an average ticket of $8,000 slightly different but my goodness. Uh still quite the investment. Have you? Um I mean having read that book, do you think that the psychology there is more an educational component or is it more um is there sort of a sunk cost kind of they’ve invested into your business now and therefore it’s gonna increase your close rate uh Psychology component to it, a little bit of both. Mhm. Um There’s a statistic from the book, I’m gonna butcher it. So this falls in line with the made up statistics. Um But something along the lines of when somebody read and consumed the full assignment prior to his appointment, he would have a, I want to say an 85% closing ratio on a $50,000 pool wow. And without completing the assignment, he had an 18% closing ratio, wow. And he spent several years testing this and now they have a strict policy of, we don’t meet with you unless you do your homework. So I think it’s just a really empowering uh homeowners and and our potential clients um about what to know what’s in the industry, What makes a good quote versus a bad quote. What are the differences that you’ll see? Um What are the things to be aware of? So we just we try to educate our clients out before we get there to minimize that sticker shock and to understand what to expect during this process, you’re sure you have you guys so you guys are you doing the assignment based selling now or are you send the videos? You hope that they watch? I’m hoping I’m living on a dream versus I fully committing. Sure. Um What is your, what is your close rate currently Year to date all services? 43 point something nice. And are you guys, do you know where you fall within the market in terms of if you charge higher than average ticket value? Kind of what percentage higher you are? I think it’s challenging to to know for sure. Um And ah even from places within the city you see a little bit of a difference. Um a lot of uh in the Denver market we have multiple branches of a lot of different companies and you know just because the sort of pro here and the sort of pro here are both quoting your house doesn’t mean that you’re going to see um Quite always the same price. Some companies are larger and from estimator to estimator you may not see the same price, right? Yeah. Um And I think we talked about this last time, if you ask my sales team were the most expensive but I think everyone’s sales team would say the same. Yeah. Most expensive. You’re the highest quality. It’s always the top of the top and always every company you talk to. It’s amazing. Companies are like that out there. I can’t reconcile it in my head but I guess it’s true. Um We we survey all of our clients at the end of the project and we asked them why did you choose us over other options? And the most common answer price? So they chose you because your lower I don’t know. Uh huh. Tell me that, that’s not interesting. Um So you lose the ones that people say. uh I went with somebody because you were like crazy price, you were $2,000 more than the other company, Your $3,000 more, you’re not even close. So you hear that from the ones you lose, but then the ones you win The # one response and it’s about 35% of the time they mentioned price as a primary reason. Um and potentially price is not price just the cheapest, but prices and the perceived value that you received for that price. So um and we don’t differentiate, it’s an open ended question. Mhm But they do just pretty much say price and I have to say, well maybe it’s because of value, maybe it’s this Because our average exterior paint job is about $7,000, which is above average here. Yeah. Do you guys have a a certain gross profit percentage you’re aiming for in your projects? Uh it varies depending upon service. So um we do woodwork and gutters for clients, those have different margins in our interiors and our exteriors and what I have found over time, I was aiming for too low of a gross margin um and um learning that it takes more margin to run a business than I really thought it did right. Are you trying to get to kind of that 50% level at this point? At this point I’d like to be a little bit higher all services. Yeah. I met with a gentleman um couple years ago, he’s actually an uncle of mine and at one point he ran uh, he was the ceo of a national, a track company and he said, uh, he has all of um, on every one of his quotes. He, you know, this is how we calculate the price and you divide, You’re laboring your materials by . 42 And when technicians would call and they’d say, well why are we always dividing this by .42? And he goes, don’t, don’t worry about that. That’s, that’s what we need. Well that’s a 58% margin that they were shooting for um, to run a national HVAC company. Um, and I think I underestimated dreaming in the beginning that you could do this off something like 40 45 Even 50 if you’re really going to have the right people in the right positions and be able to support a client in every step of this process. You need margin. Yeah. Yeah. Revenue is vanity profit of sanity, profits really. The fuel fuel of your company lifeblood of your company? Um, when, so when you guys are, are trying to get these higher than average margins, would you say that you’re doing that primarily through charging above market prices or through trying to be more efficient in your operations? Both? Uh now that I think one of the things you hear common in business is um you’re not going to uh you’re not going to become profitable by pinching pennies. Yeah. Um and if we try to control our expenses, what we can make a 23 5% growth, But if I want to move the needle 15%,, you’re not gonna do that by cutting internally. You’re only going to do that by understanding your numbers and making sure that you’re charging accordingly for it. Um And I’ve 100% tried to move our needle and we’ve moved it over 15% in two years. not by going after our painters and charging our guys less, I’ve given them raises officially twice a year over the last two years. Um and certainly not by going after our vendors and demanding a lower price on our product. Um and it’s not going to happen internally for the sales team and our project managers or people who bring up price complaints, say, you know, if you guys want to charge less, I can pay you less, which would you prefer to charge what we need to pay you what you asked for or charge less? Yeah. So we’ve tried to do it by knowing our numbers and getting to the right price point, manage our costs internally. Sure. Now, do you operate with W two or a subcontractor primarily subs okay, you’re giving those subs raises twice per year. Yeah, and it we were on it based off of, you know, um a couple of alternative things, so I can show them, you know, their historical data, what was a house a year ago versus a house now? Um And how much did you make with me last year? How much are you going to make this year, etcetera? Um What’s your average home cost over the, you know, 2030 projects you did for me and here’s your new average home cost, How does that feel good, showing them that progression? Mhm. Yeah, and I think that’s something that’s oftentimes lacked within the sub model. Uh is that they’re not looking at these subs as partners versus the way that Sherwin Williams views my relationship, and Sherrilyn views me as a partner in business and they treat me like a partner. But I feel as though many of the painters painting companies out there, they don’t look at their subs like they were partners. Yeah, they look at them as an asset. Yeah. Kind of a churn and burn, you know, what, what can you get for? How much do you have to pay to get it as opposed to, I guess kind of trying to build that loyalty and and you kind of painting a picture of what you’re providing them and the improvements and and I would assume kind of what they can expect moving forward if you guys continue to work together. Absolutely yeah that’s uh I think that’s just general you know how you need to win you know and I think I don’t think it’s just subs either. I think a lot of thinking the P. C. A. That the companies are generally much better about it but I think in the industry overall um that’s how a lot of painting companies treat employees. You know what can I get out of? You don’t be drunk you know don’t show up high and uh and just paint and I’ll pay you this much an hour and and that’s the relationship but obviously that’s a it’s not a good relationship. Mhm. Were um we will be making the announcement really soon but we actually just got awarded um to me the most exciting award we’ve gotten yet. But it was uh Denver Business Journal, Best places to work. I could not be more proud of it ranking ranking hasn’t happened yet but you don’t hear much about that from the painting industry. Um And I think it really goes down to that mentality of our people assets or are they you know, partners right? Um internally or externally. I’m certainly not in a position where I want to look at turning and burning a salesperson a project manager, um an office person. Any of those roles they’re so critical to be filled and somebody who is exceedingly good at what they do. Gosh, they have, they bring a ton of value to a company. Yeah, yeah man, you’re, I mean you’re kind of laying out the roadmap for success here. You know, you have to get the margins, don’t ignore your margins. You have to get the margin and you chose to do it not by trying to stiff or squeeze your vendors or or your employees or subcontractors, but by providing the value and value based selling to customers, you know, making sure you’re meeting that and then that’s not enough for you to pay them well. Uh you also show them what you’re doing to kind of, you kind of I guess I sell the dream or pitch the vision to them show kind of what they can expect if they continue to partner with you and work with you. So people are excited about, it’s not just, oh, I gotta go to work and he’ll give me these dollars, I go to work and he’ll give me these dollars. You know, it’s people don’t want to feel like they’re on a hamster wheel. They want to feel like they’re going somewhere. Yeah and I don’t think your subcontractors that way they’re fine to just put them on the hamster, we don’t think that well that their subcontractors, they should be happy on the hamster with, nobody’s happy on the hamster wheel. No. And uh if anyone has ever subcontracted, you’ve gone through the nightmare. You’ve had a painter who said, I’m a phenomenal painter. I’ve done, I’ve got 20 years of experience. I’m good. You put them on a house and what you see is not great. Yeah. Um and the amount of the amount of stress that accompanies that is uh it’s why I think a lot of painting company owners give up or a lot of project managers give up because uh, they feel like they’re constantly in a position of trying to find the right people and under delivering on their expectations and constantly cleaning up. Mhm. And that happens when you don’t have consistent labor, who know the expectations that you’re setting to the client, know your personal standards within your company and the standards that your clients will expect. Mhm. Um when you, when you don’t have that developed, it makes being a project manager or pain company owner infinitely more difficult. Uh when there’s trips all over somebody’s roof. Yeah, that’s stressful. It’s, it’s fun. Um we went up to a house the other day and uh saw somebody’s house that was painted with like a eight ft circle on the top. And we said, what, what’s that? Hello pod? Uh Oh yeah, my last painter spilled a gallon of paint up there and then painted my roof to hide it. Whoa. Oh, so you just painted a circle. Yeah. He tried to blend it, wow, That’s really something that’s the kind of stuff that elevates the industry. Um, I replaced, I’ve replaced two roofs, man. So a little bit difference of approach on how do you handle the situation last year? Back to back days? What are the chances of this? Back to back days? I had a hose on a sprayer blow up on a roof. Oh my goodness. Didn’t happen once. It’s a rough two days man. Part of it. You, so you then what did you, you contracted with the roofing company and on your dime you replace the roof? Absolutely. Without hesitation, man, that’s what you call making it. Right. That’s making it right. Right. Yeah. It was ugly. And, and uh, the neighbor actually got a free paint job too, man. You took, you took a dive, but in the meantime, you protected your reputation and you also demonstrated your employees how you do business and how you treat your and it wasn’t a stressful two days. It was not. No. And I think that’s half the battle. Um, when you have employees who are coming into the office and air quotes tragedy strikes. Um, and if I were to run the stress and to, to show like, oh my gosh, what are we going to do? I can’t believe this just happened poor us. That becomes painful for all of the people inside of that building. But it was part of what we do and we’re lucky enough I actually do roofing. We don’t do very many roofs 22 30 a year, so it was easy for me to fix nice. Yeah, I think that that point is such a good one though about you as a leader, you kind of, you don’t kind of, you dictate how the company responds to things, how resilient the company is and mistakes are gonna happen. Bad stuff is gonna happen as you grow your business, no matter what business you grow, bad things will happen to you and to your company and it’s how you choose to respond that dictates uh what kind of company you have. Mhm. Absolutely. You did you see a dog run by? Yes, that was teddy. Uh he just got here amazing. Um Michael, I wanna dive, I want to dive back into your journey because I’m so enamored by it about your growth, like like your rate of growth is just beyond impressive. Let’s go through this year by year. If you’ll humor me, You know 2022, the plan is you’ll probably be in the vicinity of nine million You know, upside 10 downside eight um Year one was 2018, right? That’s when you started your business, what did that look like? Let’s go through year by year nearby here. Uh So we mm year one and I’ll lay out um I think this is something that is really helpful for people to um know we started with a person in the office um so very first person, she was my fiancee at the time, she is now my wife, she is absolutely incredible at building and developing graphic design, making the imagery, putting our contracts, building websites, making forward facing stuff. So day one, it was all about, let’s let’s get our proposals right, let’s get our contracts, let’s get our image Uh put together and making your company look really professional from day one. The look, Yes, so that was the first three months was just, who are we and how are we going to present ourselves to the world? Okay. Um the very first hire outside of her and she also ran our phones. So she managed all of the inbound outbound leads if you call our office between eight and 5 and on Saturday she was here to answer that phone and to serve our clients. And it was so important to have that point of contact person. Number two was ah salesperson take on the estimating Person # three. And that was in the third week was a door knocker. So these were all within three weeks, your your fiance was doing all this and then you almost immediately hired a salesperson and then immediately hired a door knocker, yep, you were, you were selling, you were paying when you didn’t have revenue then and they were on staff. Okay, wow! So they had salary jobs, they were being paid out of my personal bank account. So you just, you had some savings and you were gonna apply that to bootstrap this thing. Okay. And it was uh for us, decent timing about february and in february, in Denver there’s snow on the ground and it’s cold and we’re knocking on doors saying can we paint your house first week of March man. And sure enough it was a door to door lead that we painted the first week of March. So um and we ran door to door for our first uh two years of business, making sure that we had leads coming in uh and that we were earning capital which we could then use to invest in higher level marketing. Um So I would say by May of our first season I had three sales people ah five people knocking doors and three project managers on staff. So hold on man, so you started in february and in May You had three sales people. Five door knockers. And how many PS three That technically to the third was I guess in June you had 10 people on staff, three months into your business. 454, four months. And you were, you were making enough sales to pay Salaries for 10 people and you are no longer funding it out of your personal bank account and the way that you did that because it doesn’t sound like you had done much and I know your wife put up the website but it doesn’t sound like you have done a lot in terms of the digital marketing space, you were able to find that initial attraction largely through the door knocking campaigns, Door knocking that year was about 40% of our revenue? 50% yeah. Um, is this what other people to do? Like if they want to, if they want to grow really quickly? Is this what you would say, would you say, hey, hire hire an estimator and higher door knocker and, and that be the way that you start? Yeah, absolutely. So you kind of your, it was your initial catalyst. Absolutely. It’s the lowest cost per job, uh, hands down and I’ve analyzed, you know, 50 different lead sources. I’ve yet to see something beat it cost per lead for somebody who’s decent at it. It’s something that as an owner, I can control, I can control hitting doors, I can control knocking at 8:00 at night. Um, I can control knocking on a saturday and a sunday and yeah. How did you find people, How did you, how did you choose the people to do this? How did you, how did you come up with the, with the system, the sales script, how do you generate all that? You know, painting is a beautiful thing and that, you know, when someone needs to do it? Um, whereas a lot of other door to door, it’s a little bit more difficult. That’s what those pipes look like and this kind of stuff. Do you have any bugs around your house? Are you trying to exterminate anything? Um when it comes? Absolutely. Or if you’re doing charity raising money for fundraisers, if you’re doing any political knocking, you don’t know what’s behind that door, Is it red or blue? Is this, is gonna go good or bad? It’s um, but with painting every door you knock, you can objectively no, they need to paint. And then it was about finding fair compensation, leading by example, being a part of the team looking for people with experience knocking doors and there’s a ton of industries that rely on it. Windows is another beautiful thing when it comes to door knocking and field marketing, um similar to painting, you know, when somebody has old outdated single pane aluminum windows, you can see it. So when you knock on someone’s door, it’s a super simple conversation. I happen to notice you might be thinking about painting, Would you be interested in a free estimate? You guys offer any sort of sort of promo or, or anything like that or is it just, hey we can paint your house. I don’t think you need a promo at the door. Uh and maybe there’s times where it has something nice. Well I’ve got some really great spring specials right now and if you are thinking about doing it in the next year, we’ve got some spring specials. Are you sure you wouldn’t be open to a free quote? I could have somebody out here in a couple of days. Yeah. Um What what’s your set rate on door knocking? And then what’s your close rate on those estimates? My statistics would be rough. I haven’t we’ve since the pandemic in Denver we had a shelter in place that went into place on March 17 and I on that day I let go um seven door knockers and I have not rehired a door knocking team. So Uh and in 2020, uh I just thought in good conscience it wasn’t appropriate to be going door to door, having face to face conversations. Um I know not all companies stopped their canvassing efforts during the pandemic. Um But we did and I can tell you I had I had a couple unpleasant conversations unpleasant on my end with some solar panel salesman actually bought a little sign that said no soliciting, please don’t make it weird. And then then I would ask them whether they know how to read when, when they came to the door because it seemed that they did not. So I think you made the right move. Um And there was a lot of fear around that and you know in all fairness knocking on doors heart. Um even for somebody who’s done it for many, many years and the very first painting company that I worked for. Um it was Andrew’s painting and he taught me to knock on a door and my job was to knock doors and paint houses. Um So I did that for him for a year and that was my introduction into it. So Michael, when you started this company, did you? And I know you’re working for a large one before, so maybe you did go into with this mindset, but obviously Um that’s just extraordinary hiring growth, right? Like for four months and having 10 people. I mean that’s that’s unheard of. I’ve never I’ve interviewed a lot of painting company owners across the U. S. And I’ve never heard anything even remotely near that. Did you go into the business with that plan? Say, hey, I’m gonna hire aggressively in year one, we’re gonna grow aggressively or was that something that that happened? My, what I wanted to do was open up our original business model, Uh and tell you how wildly short we came. Um are you serious? So you you are, you’re doing almost nine million In in your fifth year and are probably over nine million and you are falling short of what you of what you wanted? Absolutely by far. You you are ambitious man, I love this. I think you’re one our revenue goal was $3. 5 million. Um And we did 2.2. So year one, you did 2. 2, yeah, disappointing Michael, I’m disappointed, I’m gonna right now. Um And it was, yes, it’s all about aiming high and falling somewhere reasonable and hoping that you can get by. Um I had one of my teammates, we were talking to another business owner in the industry and we were talking about goal setting and how goal setting is potentially one of the hardest things that I’ve been faced with in this position is, what is that number? And how do you project the future and how do you set good forecasts? Because every year we’ve missed our goal. I Are you supposed to be are you supposed to be up 50 million right now? No, but that is on a board in our office. It does have a day and a day and a month and a a number and a number of people associated with it. So yes, from day one it was how many people do you need to create the revenue and fine tuning that model of what can you expect per person. So um and looking at each person is, you know, what is it that they’re capable of producing or converting or setting, what’s their workload and um things that I have underestimated. Oh, people don’t always work at 100%. Mhm. Leads don’t always come in at the highest level people take time off. Where are the robots when we need them? Those are like the little things that I’ve missed in the past when you’re going through and you’re laying out those projections of okay, I’ve got this every estimator does 15 estimates a week and we have 52 weeks in the year. So let’s say 52 times 18 or 52 times 15. And that gives us Okay, I can plan x amount now. There’s a little bit of hyperbole in there because obvious I don’t look at a season as 52 weeks long and but I looked at Maxine every person’s number out kind of the upside and not really accounting for the realistic scenario of what was going to occur. Absolutely. And it’s something that we talked about here where I said you when you asked me what our goal was and I said, well, I’ve got three, I’ve gotta, you know, maybe a good better best or a worst case best case, most likely case budgets. And um when I heard somebody say that to me recently, you need to put together three different budgets there. What’s most likely. What’s the best case and what’s the worst case? And it’s just something clicked inside of my brain and I go, that’s a beautiful piece of advice. Thank you. I’ve never looked at worst case and frankly I’ve probably built a lot of my budgets off best case and those projections. Uh, not recognizing that, that’s not the world we live in, um, we don’t live in best cases most, most of the time. Yeah, sometimes, yeah, sometimes you’re lucky. Yeah. Then you, you have a, you know, like a budget actual or or whatnot sheet and you can project every month or every every week, however you do it basically, how on track you are for hitting oh and what may or may not need to shift in your hiring plans and everything else? Yeah, what the, I would say that number one change that I’ve had in my personal role running the company is I have more time to pay attention to those projections than I did several years ago and um I think that attention to the plan has really helped get us a little bit closer to our goals. Last year we were only 300,200,000 off so a little bit better than uh 40% off. Yeah, man. So for someone for someone who’s just kind of in in awe to be honest, I’m a little bit in awe of of you and these numbers um what what are some pieces of advice or if you had to kind of prioritize one thing. Okay, here’s where your mind needs to be. If, if you want to have a chance of, you know, even if you might not think it’s, it’s aggressive growth. Obviously most people do, if you want to have a chance of of seeing this kind of level of growth, this is what you need to be thinking, like I would recommend thinking about an accountability chart. Okay. And I would think about an accountability chart of uh current one Year and three years down the road of, what are the positions within your company that you have currently, What are those positions going to be next one Year from now And what are the positions going to be? three years from now? Um people, the team, the support, that’s the key to doing it. Um It’s not something that one person can do, so really making sure that you have a plan, what are those different jobs, what do those jobs look like? What are the responsibilities that will fall into each person within that accountability chart? And start mapping that out for growth? Um And it tends to fall in a little bit of a triangular step of growth where um in some positions, the more you add, the more you need as you grow, additional paint crews, you need additional format. Mhm. So where is your procurement process for developing the skill set around foreman? Because it’s not the same as an hourly, What’s your employee retention around your foreman? If you’re gonna go from one crew to five to be thinking about what it’s going to look like down the road um would be my, my first pieces, look at the human component of it. And then my second piece of advice would be to look at the financial component to each of those persons. What is their responsibilities? What’s the earning potential forum, what’s the revenue that they generate? What’s the amount of leads or workflow that they can handle and unfortunately you have to turn people into numbers um, at that point and look at the forecast that way? Yeah, So no, I think, I mean this is a hugely different way of looking at business because your, your approach, again, obviously you understand sales, the need for sales and none of this doesn’t know this works without sales. And so you started really aggressively focusing on sales, that’s your background, but then you went into it, um really kind of building out a future work chart and at the different levels of the business, what is required, Okay, How, and, and I love what’s the earning potential and, and even people who are not directly necessarily contributing um to projects in terms of actually painting or even necessarily being a foreman on a project, stop earning potential, what does that look like? What’s their cost, what what, and then, you know, kind of the upside downside. But you, you just map this thing out, I mean that’s not how people look at it, you know, it’s not, you know, people start a business and how do I get, how do I get more leads? Okay, how can I kind of close these leads and you have to do that. But you’ve taken such a different level and you’ve essentially built out, correct me if I’m just totally off on this, but you basically almost built an imaginary empire in your mind and then you just started filling in filling in the pieces because you already knew what the pieces were. It wasn’t also crap. What do I need? Oh man, what am I being overwhelmed with? What, what should I outsource? You already know uh kind of a through Z and I’m sure it changes, but you had a pretty good idea of a through Z when you were still not even at a yet. Is am I thinking about this? Right? Or am I off? 100%. I had, Yeah, yeah, the business plan was written and it was written for five years out from day one. Uh and we look wildly different than I expected. Mhm And I will, you know, say it be prepared for failure. Uh even because all of those forecasts and the things that you project, they don’t come the way you want. Sure, not always sometimes they do. Um and some people are wildly blessed with success and it make it all look easy, but um that mental fortitude to deal with uh failure is such an important thing. Um did we fail year one because we didn’t hit our revenue goal? I don’t know if you ask my accountant, they would say absolutely uh if you ask my team, they would say not not at all. Mhm. So it’s and being prepared to walk through those. Um I had a little bit of peace the other day as I was spend a lot of time in the beginning of a year, focused on putting together our projections and our numbers and somebody smarter than myself said, Michael, give yourself a little bit of a break here. You’re talking about telling the future a a a ay is here to do that. Um, and and he personally, he loves Ai and he writes it and man, it just felt good to be like, well, thank you for saying that because um, I write the forecast, we plan the leads and we identify the drivers and okay, if we turn spend this much here, we get this much here. Yeah. Where, where is it gonna break down in that process? And uh, I think it naturally does happen. So yeah, allowing yourself some, some latitude recognizing that, you know, the best laid plans of mice and men, things go wrong. And it’s hard for us as business owners, entrepreneurs. You know, we’re pretty type a, we’re pretty hard on ourselves that that’s kind of how we get to where we are, but we don’t have other people and we also don’t have people really above us telling us like, hey, it’s okay. You’re doing great. So I think, I think that’s, and that’s an important lesson. You know, it might be sound kind of soft or, or whatnot, but it’s important. And if you want to have this mental fortitude and you want to be able to be in it for the long post marathon. Not a Sprint, entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. And if you beat the crap out of yourself over every mistake, every miss thing you’re not gonna stay in that marathon. Yeah, it’s um, I’m listening to a Simon Sinek book right now. Uh, and it’s called the Infinite Game and I think that’s something that I’ve struggled with in the beginning was you work on something and you want to go check, done, cross it off the list, it’s complete, never have to work on it again. I’m done. And, and it was a mindset struggle that I and my, my wife struggled with in the beginning of, we have to rewrite our contract again. Now we have to change it again. And you know, at that point we were printing contracts and every time we’d have to make these edits that like they would, okay, we’ll call the printer, we’ll get them remade because this needs to be added or changed and um, that acceptance or realization that this is constantly improving and constantly moving forward and constantly requiring work, it’s never done. It is infinite. Yeah. Has it’s been helpful. Um, and I’ve seen it myself before listening to the book and then you start tying the, oh, this is what I felt and experienced as I was learning that this is a continuous battle of improvement. I’m actually gonna read, I’m definitely gonna read that book. I’m gonna read both the books you mentioned, they ask you answer, but I’m definitely gonna read that Simon, my wife and I were actually talking about this today. One of the things we both struggle with and it is a bad thing to struggle with as a, as a business owner and entrepreneur is I want to be at the, at the destination, you know, I want to be there yesterday, a year ago, I want to be there. And if you with that mindset, if you, if you don’t learn to embrace that journey, um recognizing it will always be a journey because guess what, when you get there, I mean, you’re at nine million, most people can’t even, that’s not even really in the realm of what they think is possible for their life and you are sort of disappointed in in a way because your goal is so aggressive. It’s, you have to, you have to embrace it. It’s a game, it’s a game, we’re playing a game. You know, it’s maybe not take life so seriously. It’s, it’s easy to say I guess and I’m certainly not good at it, but I’m working on embracing that journey. Yeah. Um one thing I can say, Brandon, ah I have been an avid book consumer For 12 years now. Um and I remember the day where I said, you know what, I’m turning my radio off, I’ve listened to enough of the same version of this song. I’ve listened to the same music enough and I got to turn on something that’s powerful and will impact uh my life going forward and that’s when I turned on audible and I rarely turn it off. Um, so over the last five years I think I’ve done, you know, 100 and 30 books uh, that I’ve listened to Um and probably studied about 15 of them. Mm um, you don’t know what, you don’t know until you know it and you don’t know where you’re going to find those answers. Ah and if you’re constantly searching for the answer and you’re in a good direction, amazing what the universe gives you if you listen. So you use that opportunity is the time in the car. Use the time. That would otherwise just be spent listening to the same renditions of the songs and and expose yourself two books that might give you new ideas that might make massive impact in your life and you just don’t know until you’ve been exposed to all these different concepts. Yeah, absolutely. Uh, and I will give a sincere shout out to Tommy Mello and for his influence because he’s given me many books you have. Can you recommend a few books right now? Um, I know you said you said to, they ask you answer by Marcus Sheridan and Simon snack The Infinite Game. Yeah. Um, the, if this feels like an absolutely ridiculous book. Um, and I wanted to mention it earlier, think and Grow Rich by napoleon Hill man. Nothing ridiculous about that book. I still listen to it every year. Um, and it’s an annual book. Uh I’ve read it countless times. Um and I will never forget the airport that I was in when I purchased it on my way to the first business conference in my one of my first businesses that was trying to get off the ground and I picked it up and I still have the same version that I’ve torn to shreds. Um That’s another great one. sales differentiations scaling up. I’ve listened to many of the sales books that are out there. The Grant card owns the brian Tracy’s all of their sales content. Um profit first has been an amazing book for accounting. Um the two second lien with paul acre uh as far as trying to improve our processes and our systems has been wildly impactful. Um Yes, it’s a good amount of books. Yeah. You know one of the things I’ve noticed, Michael and I do this um most of the host, you’ve done it quite a few times as you said my name and you know that that’s because that’s the sweetest sound in the world to me is my name from the think and grow rich. Yeah, so I can see you’re implement, you’re implementing and I feel when you say it and you say well Brandon you know it kinda I perk up, I pay attention, I feel more valued, I feel more like you’re paying attention and and that for anyone who hasn’t read that book, that’s one of the things that that napoleon Hill talks about is you remember people’s names, say people’s names and you connect with them on a on a much deeper level. Ah this I’m having all of our project managers read it right now. It’s how to win friends and influence people. Another one of those like ancient books that somehow are timeless. And he specifically the names and the keeping people, Yeah. Talking about themselves. Yeah. People uh people have figured it out, you know, the the information is there if you expose yourself to it. Um So, Michael, I do want to touch on one other thing before we wrap up. So, and you don’t have to take a deep dive here into your failures. But you said you you kind of work throughout your twenties on businesses. Are you saying that you you started things that didn’t work out this? Well, did that happen? It did. Okay. So you you this was not your first foray into business ownership. No. Um lots of dreams very hard to execute and I was missing a critical factor. Um another amazing book traction. It’s one of the books that we’ve studied and I’ve had my leadership studies traction. And uh in E. O. S, they talk about a visionary and they talk about an integrator and I would be nothing without the integrators uh that I’ve had and um rocket fuels a book that talks specifically about how a visionary and a integrator work together and how to find an integrator, I am by solid definition. They even have a little test you can take and I was like a 98% visionary. Um, and my wife is very much so falls on the integrator side. Mm um, could not have done it without the right people. Yeah. And that was something I was missing uh, in every other adventure I’d ever gone on was that person who was better than me at making things happen. Uh, I’m good at dreaming the things up. Yeah. Um, I in our last all hands team meeting, I apologize to the company and said, man, I know how hard it’s gotta be to work for me because this thing is always changing and as soon as you like something, I’m ripping it apart and giving you like the 2. 0 version with 3. 0 version. Um guys, I know that that’s got to be difficult. Right? Just look at what we’ve done over the last four years. And when you think back to our processes then those revisions have been powerful and, and I can see the better version. That’s been my blessing, Michael, Do you have any anything else you want to say any other advice you want to share with people listening. Stick with it. Stick with it when it, when it looks hard. Um, stick with it when you’re stressed out and um, and if it’s not the right thing uh entrepreneurship and ownership is not for everyone. Um it’s really difficult. Um there’s a thing called being an entrepreneur which is working for a company and participating and being fulfilled and there are ways to be fulfilled. Not ownership is not for everyone, and sometimes partnerships are just as good or better. So um I’d encourage people to seek, you know, search their soul and make sure they’re in the right boat and if they are and they want to succeed, find the right, find the right mentors, find the right people to help and support you because the mentorship is is the key. Michael, thank you for your time. Um Congratulations on your success again. And I know you and I discussed Some exciting plans that we have for, for 2023, Uh a little treat that we’re gonna bring everyone with you. So I’m excited for that. You’ll probably be at 70 million um you know, by the end of 2023, so you get to kind of ride along this journey and see you do it. But thanks for your time here, you’re welcome. Thank you Brandy. It’s been great talking if you want to learn more about the topics we discussed in this podcast and how you can use them to grow your painting business, visit painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast for free training as well as the ability to schedule a personalized strategy session for your painting company again that you are L is painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast.

Hey they’re painting company owners. If you enjoyed today’s episode, make sure you go ahead and hit that subscribe button, give us your feedback, let us know how we did. And also if you’re interested in taking your painting business to the next level, make sure you visit the painter marketing pros website at Painter Marketing Pros.com to learn more about our services. You can also reach out to me directly by emailing me at Brandon at painter marketing pros dot com and I can give you personalized advice on growing your painting business until next time. Keep growing.

Brandon Pierpont

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