Guest Interview: Michael Sutton of Kind Home Painting Company “The Tools to $10 Million” Series: Episode 1

Published On: April 24, 2023

Categories: Podcast

Guest Interview: Michael Sutton of Kind Home Painting Company “The Tools to $10 Million” Series: Episode 1
Michael Sutton
In this series titled “The Tools to 10 Million”, Michael Sutton of Kind Home Painting Company will be discussing professional tools to enable growth to $10 million.  It is a 5-part series.
In this episode, episode 1, Michael will be discussing the professionals who supported his growth, and how you can find your own support network.
In episode 2, Michael will cover the books that have empowered his growth to date.
In episode 3, Michael will deep dive into the key employees he could not do without.
In episode 4, Michael will lay out the numbers that make his business thrive.
And in episode 5, the final episode, Michael will break down the real challenges of entrepreneurship and how to overcome those.
If you want to ask Michael questions related to anything in this podcast series, you can do so in our exclusive Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast Forum on facebook.  Just search for “Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast Forum” on facebook and request to join the group, or type in the URL facebook.com/groups/paintermarketingmastermind.  Again that URL is facebook.com/groups/paintermarketingmastermind.  There you can ask Mike questions directly by tagging him with your question, so you can see how anything discussed here applies to your particular painting company.

Video of Interview

Podcast Audio

Topics Discussed:

Episode 1
– The Professional Network

Audio Transcript

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Welcome to the Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast. The show created to help painting company owners build a thriving painting business that does well over one million 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.

 

In this series titled The Tools To 10 Million Michael Sutton of Kind home painting company will be discussing professional tools to enable growth to $10 million. It is a five part series. In this episode, episode one, Mike will be discussing the professionals who supported his growth and how you can find your own support network. In episode two, Michael will cover the books that have empowered his growth to date. In episode three, Michael will deep dive into the key employees he could not do without. In episode four, Michael will lay out the numbers that make his business thrive. And in episode five, the final episode, Michael will break down the real challenges of entrepreneurship and how to overcome those.
If you want to ask Michael questions related to anything in this podcast series, you can do so in our exclusive painter marketing mastermind podcast forum on Facebook, just search for painter, marketing mastermind podcast forum on Facebook and request to join the group or type in the URL facebook dot com forward slash groups forward slash painter. Marketing mastermind. Again that URL is facebook dot com forward slash groups forward slash painter. Marketing mastermind. There you can ask Mike questions directly by tagging him with your question. So you can see how anything discussed here applies to your particular painting company.
Thank you for joining us, Mike. Absolutely, Brandon. It’s great to catch up with you. Absolutely, bro. You and I had just had a very long uh catch up session prior to this recording. Um So I, I am super, super excited for this series with you. Awesome. Thank you for having me. Yeah, you are, you’re a bit of an anomaly, as I was telling you, you’re a bit of an anomaly. You uh you haven’t gone to the PC A Expo even though I know you’re going to um we talked about it.
I’m on the marketing committee. I actually have to have to get you there, have multiple jobs here, but you uh your podcast episode. So you conducted two with us last year. Your, your first one was the number one most listened to podcast episode of, of the whole series of the whole Pain Market Mass My podcast on the PC A last year. So, congratulations to you on that. Pretty remarkable. Uh Thank you. Uh, the dark horse. Yeah. Well, your, your journey is an incredible one, man. I mean, you’re, you’re obviously, uh you run a very big painting company.
So as we’re getting started out here, we’re gonna have probably a lot of people listening who maybe didn’t listen to that. So tell us a little bit about Kine home painting company. You know what you do where you’re based, how long you’ve been around general revenue, all that stuff. Sure. So we are a residential house painting company. Uh We’re located in Denver, Colorado. We service the majority of the metro um of Denver, Colorado. So roughly about a 45 minute drive any direction from downtown Denver. Uh We are in our, we are beginning our sixth year business and uh last year we completed just over $8 million in our, our fifth year.
And um we’re aiming for company goals are 10.5 and we’re secretly probably aiming for 14 I for this year. Yeah, for this year. There it is. There. It is. It’s not secret anymore, Mike, I’ll let you know that it’s no longer secret uh to my team, you know. Yeah. Don’t, don’t let them know you’re doing a podcast series. Um That’s great, man, man, that would be, that would be epic that growth eight over, over 8 to 14. That would be incredible. Um ok. And you guys are purely residential or you do commercial as well, 100% residential.
So that was three years ago that we made a decision that uh commercial work wasn’t what we were designed for. Um, our unique selling propositions are all built around customer service and value for a homeowner. Uh, our management systems, our crews were built for homeowners and we identified our niche and we leaned into it. So try to stay away from those shiny items that, uh, yep, if you’re not built from day one can really distract you and, and take away from your groves. Yeah. Yeah. Shiny shiny object syndrome. Right.
The entrepreneur doesn’t want to let any stone go unturned or any opportunity left, uh, un pounced on, but it can hurt you in the long run. It’s, uh, we found it to be difficult. Um, we didn’t do a lot of commercial work. Uh, our second year I ended up, uh, somehow through a connection within the company, putting a bid on a historic hotel, something like a 13003 $400,000 bid. Nice little residential project. Yeah. And my goodness, uh, this general contractor drug his foot. Um, we’re gonna start, we’re not gonna start, we’re gonna start, we’re not gonna start a year and a half goes by call us.
And he goes all right, we’re good to go next week like that. It’s almost two years old. We can’t move forward. He goes, what do you mean? Here’s the contract like, oh, and by the way, I want you to break it up into these tiny little phases and, and do it in this piece meal. And it was pretty clearly like this is not the direction that we wanted to go. We denied it. And basically from that moment on said, we need to focus on what we do, which is paint houses and love our clients and uh didn’t fit in the commercial world. Yeah.
Well, kudos to you man, for, for making that decision pretty quickly, you know, you, you learned, you didn’t have to get taught the same lesson 100 times in a row, you got it taught at once. You, you took uh took the lesson and he moved. Yeah, absolutely. I love it. So in this episode, we are really focused on the peer group, the professional network that that has enabled you to grow. I I do wanna touch base before we dive in. You know, we know that uh you just wrapped up your fifth year, starting your sixth year.
You were at already over eight million, obviously. Um That growth trajectory is of course uh exceptional, right? The very few painting companies are, are anywhere near that ever in their life span. You’ve done it in half of a decade. What was your first one in two years? Let’s talk about that because, because I know we’re gonna circle back to the very beginning here in this episode. What, what was your trajectory like then? Um 24. Wow, I can’t even remember. Uh It’s amazing how five years for an entrepreneur is like 50 years, I think for, for a normal uh job.
But you know, they say aging like a president and uh I can say aging like an entrepreneur, it happens, I’ll meet you on that one. Yeah, it, it basically was like 24568, right? OK. So two within the first year, it’s just 22 year 14 year two. Yeah, that’s, that’s obviously very fast. So I know you and I were, were talking about how you basically wanted to join these networks in the in this peer group and this coaching really before you had even started talk to talk, talk to me about that process. Yeah.
So kind of the my story and how this thing began. I went to a gentleman who uh he was an entrepreneur. He uh ran an insurance broker uh sells commercial insurance and I went to him and said, hey, I think I’m gonna start my business. Uh I’ve been working for a painting company. I think I’ve got my arms around the systems and processes. I want to move forward. He asked me a couple questions and uh, about a month or two later I called him and said, uh, hey Anson, I would really like for you to get me a quote on my insurance.
Uh, I’m starting to put together a budget and a business plan. And, uh, he asked me a couple of questions, like, are you gonna be an LLC or an escort? He said, you know, I’d like to pick your brain on it. He said, well, are you gonna offer benefits? Yeah, I would like to but, you know, I don’t really know how much they’re gonna cost. All right. Who’s your bookkeeper? Your bookkeeper? I don’t have a bookkeeper. Um, diamond. I can’t give you a quote today on your insurance.
That’s not gonna happen. Here’s a list of six people that I want you to call, uh, put together a one page business plan and call these six people after you talk to them. Call me back. It was a bookkeeper, an attorney, uh, a benefits guy, a 401k guy, a banker and, um, I, and lastly, and most importantly, a business coach and I did exactly what he said and I called each one of those people. I put together a one page business plan. Uh, I sat down with each of them and, uh, when I sat down with the business coach, his name was Bob Dodge and he said you’re not ready to work with me.
You don’t even have a business yet. Um, I work with entrepreneurs, not dreamers. And, uh, I said, yeah, but here’s what I’m doing. And he goes, ok, well, put together a list of all the things you do one time, put together all the things you’re gonna do over and over and send me that list and then let’s talk, put together the list. I called him and he goes, look, man, I really think you need another year before you. We, we connect. I emailed him in uh December of that year and I said, well, I just wrapped up.
We did $43 million and my head is spinning. I’d love to connect and, and have lunch. And uh he was a business coach and a facilitator for a group called the alternative board Tab. Um And Tab is a peer group where you are given a board of other CEO S or entrepreneurs that you meet with on a monthly basis and you bring an issue to the table and each entrepreneur, each business owner brings a topic uh to a board meeting and you work to resolve it. Um On top of the monthly four hour board meeting, you do a one hour coaching session and I had the honor of working with Bob Dodge and a board for the last four years.
Uh He is retiring now that single handedly was probably the largest piece of accountability I’ve had from starting the business and uh drove us forward with what we are doing that accountability that having to show up once a month with a report card on what we’ve done, what we’re doing, where we’re going. How are our finances? Um, it was absolutely incredible. Have you ever been a part of a peer group? Uh, I have so we, we’re in a, um, a variety of marketing groups and then we have subgroups in those, some that, that I’ve carved out, um, and then some little bit more formal stuff, but I don’t think I’ve, I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard of Tab before.
So when you, uh go ahead, no, when you, when you were basically saying this accountability is that, is that essentially ok? Because you knew over the next month that these were your tasks that these were the things that you told the group that you’re gonna do, that you’re gonna come back on that you’re gonna, that basically kept you focused. Whereas maybe you would have kind of gone down some rabbit holes and not really been, been as productive in driving the business forward. Had you not had that group?
Well, a million percent. Is that a group, is that a group that, that you would recommend other people join? Is that, is that group in other locations? What, what exactly is, is tapped? Uh It is on a national level, I believe it’s in most states. Um And, and yes, uh there is a system around managing a business that those coaches and facilitators put you through where it’s putting together your personal and professional vision, readdressing that on an annual basis. That’s something that I think many entrepreneurs don’t do.
And it’s from day one, putting the end in mind, why are we doing this? Um I met with him yesterday and we went through our 10 questions over our unique selling propositions. What makes us different? How do we compare it with our competitors? What are we doing that? They aren’t? What need are we fulfilling within the market that other companies aren’t? Um, and consistently every month you’re working on something different with your facilitator with your coach and then you’re sitting down in a group of peers that are all business owners just like yourself.
But the beautiful thing is that they’re not painters. I’ve met with security, uh, software, security, uh, accountants, bookkeepers, attorneys, engineers, general contractors, electricians, insurance brokers, uh, wealth management, people, people from outside of your industry who have perspectives that you can’t get when you’re swimming in the same pond as all the people that you’re currently working with. Is it like B and I where, where there’s only one person per industry? Innocent. Yes. Uh but it’s not focused on referrals as much as it is about just no, no referrals.
No referrals. It’s not about, uh, it’s not about gaining business. It’s not about getting a client. It’s not about getting a referral here or there. It’s about working on your business and why is it so helpful that they’re from all these different industries, different perspective. Somebody in a risk management speaks to an issue that I have with hr, or a subcontractor a little bit differently than another painter, right? I’m just, I’m getting anxiety just thinking about like sitting down with the risk management person. I’m being like, hey, here’s all the problems you have.
You’re like, all right, thank you. Bye bye. It’s totally different. Um, to sit down with somebody like you who, who runs a market, you know, and I’m talking about, uh, you know what I found over the last four years working with uh very closely with these business owners is the problems that I experience the same problems they experience. Business is business, right? Identical. We have personnel issues, we have staffing issues, we have client complaints, we have systems processes that break down. We have accountability issues, hiring and firing marketing decisions.
Are we gonna sign this $80,000 contract to work with this company? What do you guys think? What should I ask this company before I hire them to do our marketing? Yeah, I might ask him these questions in every major decision I’ve had to make over the last five years. I ran by my board. Yeah. Yeah. The uh, you and I were, were commiserating on that a bit before we started the podcast. You know, the business is tough and I, I think the, the fifth episode, which we were debating whether or not to do for anyone listening to this episode.
You know, we, we kind of, it sounds, it sounds kind of kind of slick and, and neat. And, you know, the final episode, we’ll talk about the real challenges of entrepreneurship and how to overcome the that episode is gonna kick you right in the teeth, but it’s gonna do it in a good way because it’s gonna talk about how entrepreneurship is tough. It’s dirty, it’s a grind, it’s hard, it’s discouraging and, and Michael’s gonna share some of the stuff he’s gone through. It’s real easy, you know, to look and be like, oh my gosh, I’m so envious of him.
You know, how did he do that? He has a company that does over eight million. I can’t even imagine that I’d be made. I’d go buy an island somewhere, but everyone has challenges and that’s one of the things that, that’s really important. Um that I wanna make sure our listeners are, are always receiving. It’s not uh we don’t bring on people and just to show how good they are and how good their life is. It’s every, every step of your business, you’re going to have challenges. So this series is going to be an amazing one and Michael is gonna be uh allow himself to be vulnerable and just kind of let, let you know how you can get help and, and uh it sounds like Michael, a big part of your success has been, you’re looking for help from day one, from day one.
Um, there’s some saying something along the lines of, uh, tomorrow you’re gonna be the same person as you were today. Minus the food you ate the books you read and the people you talk to. Oh, I like that. Um, I tried to talk to people who have a different perspective. Um, I’m 38 right now. Uh, I joined that board when I was 34 years old. And I’ve been the youngest person at the table at every table I’ve sat with, there is something that happens with age and wisdom and there’s something of peace that comes when you sit down with somebody who’s 25 years old or been running their business for 25 years and they’re having the same problem that I’m having.
Yeah, you’re like, wow, I’m not alone. You can feel like a, like a screw up. Like, oh, like, you don’t know what you’re doing. You have all these problems until you realize, like, hey, guess what a lot of people are struggling with these things. Yeah. You know, and the most powerful thing about the board meeting is sitting down with somebody and they bring the issue that they’re working on and they’re, 100% of their focus is on solving within their business and that’s something that applies so perfectly to what you’re experiencing today. Yeah.
And it happens every single month where someone brings an issue or a topic to the board that other people are giving suggestions on that. Apply to me. Usually my biggest takeaway is not about my challenge. It’s about someone else’s. Yeah. Yeah, I’ll talk soon. I would highly encourage, uh, entrepreneurs of any size, whether they’re a sole renew, whether they have two employees, five employees, 15 employees to find a network of peers that you can be transparent and honest and vulnerable with and to surround yourself by wisdom. Yeah, so that’s uh from day one, something that was uh very beneficial to us.
Yeah, I love it, man. So you’re, you were uh accountability. You were getting perspectives from all these other industries. You were the youngest at the table. Don’t have to be the youngest. But what it shows is you’re willing to push yourself outside your comfort zone and you want to learn from people who have been there before you who have more experience than you have. Um And anyone can do that. Anyone can do. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still find people who have more experience than you and be humble enough to learn from them, right?
So that, that is your, your group tab. Um I know you had sent me over some thoughts about this episode beforehand and, and uh you had a P A pe O you said, right? Personnel, staffing issues. That’s the most fun part of business. Yeah. So this was actually many of the things that we’ll talk about throughout this series originated with my board. Um And having a board of advisers was so critical. One of the things they advised me in our second year of business was, hey, I think you might want to talk to these guys who do payroll.
Um You might really like them. I said, uh I’ve got a payroll company that I’m working with. Why would I go talk to him? I might before, before you dive in, are you, are you subcontractor or W-1003 for your painters? You do both? Ok. And then you have, you have in, in, in house office staff, that’s W-2 as well. Ok. So now we have 32 full time employees uh that are W-2 health insurance benefits, 401k Wellness, several painters that are on salary. Um And then we do subcontract out a decent portion of our labor and you didn’t want to just kind of wing paying, you know, like 38 people or so you want to do that in a more official way, I guess probably it’s probably a good idea.
Ok. Um And we started with the payroll company from day one uh as far as having those uh advisers there. So our P T O company does our payroll and they do our hr and they do all of our illegal compliance. Now, when they first, the person on my board, first suggested that I speak with this pe o um, they said there’s something special about him that you might like given that you’re in the construction industry. And they go, yeah. What’s that? They go, they’re self insured and they run workers’ comp.
I said, I’m not sure what that means. Can you speak idiot to me? Um, what is self insured mean? Uh, and he goes, well, when you pay your employees, you’re also gonna pay for your worker’s comp and it goes through them. So you’re not working with pinnacle or a third party insurance company to do your workers’ compensation. It’s directly through your pe o. They’re gonna save you a ton of money on your workers comp and they’re phenomenal people to work with. Let me introduce you to Knight Hitman.
He’s phenomenal. You guys will get along. Uh Here’s his phone number. Next thing you know, we’re on the golf course and uh I’ve been a client of theirs for 3.5 years. Um and they have kept me out of countless challenges. Um Again, it’s having somebody smarter than you in the room to look at you and say what are you doing? Or to know that you have someone to call when some crazy unforeseen circumstance shows up that you could never imagine in a million years and you know, won’t go too far.
Uh But when you have an employee, send an off the wall text message to a client with emojis in it that probably should never be sent. What do you do? You need compliance and you need uh training when you have internal conflict between two people and you need someone to mediate it because person A says that person b did something and now they’re not happy or uncomfortable. Uh I’m not the person to solve that call the hr company. Yeah. And it’s making sure that we’re safe. What’s the name of the pe O that you guys use?
Uh B B SI, B B si, B B si. Um And uh you know, it’s one of the things that we’ve looked at as we potentially chart our path of scaling. What does it look like if we were to go to another state or to another market? And right now I employ several people across state lines and that can be a real nightmare for taxes compliance state by state and I have employees in four different states right now that all work for me. Uh And I know that we’re all in state compliance and I’m registered with every state and B B si did it all is B B si, are they nationwide, you know, close to all 50 states?
That, yeah, that compliance thing is pretty important is that uh, I can, I could sink your business, right? Some, something that starts with some emojis pretty, this one, you know, the most recent one was from this year and, and I’m in Colorado. Uh, and Colorado is an absolutely wonderful state for many, many reasons. Super business friendly, super pro business. Oh, I’m in Florida. I’ll, I’ll stay here. You stay there. Uh, as of January this year, uh, employees are the most protected in Colorado, out of any state. Wow.
More than, more than California. That was the article I read in January man. Makes it very easy on you. Yeah. Um, and we sent over our employee handbook and uh this was something that we did in our first, you know, 90 days working with them was to find an employee handbook, put our rules in place state the things that we need to be stated. And uh we sent them over asking to put our new logo on our employee handbook and I get an email back saying, hey, we’re gonna need to uh get together because your P T O policy is not in compliance anymore.
Is that, excuse me? Like what do you mean? It’s not in compliance? Well, in Colorado, you’re no longer allowed to have a use it or lose it P T O policy, which means all your P T O has to carry over the following year, work enough years. You can just take the next year off. I guess you’re allowed to cap it so we can put a 80 hour cap on our P T L and it won’t go up when you have to keep it. Um That’s the smallest little thing, the bigger you get and the more people you add, the greater the risk and all it takes is one person to go to the Department of Labor for things to go sideways.
It doesn’t take much. It takes one physical altercation at a client’s house between two painters for you to be upside down. And uh we wanted to make sure that we dotted our T S crossed our eyes and we were in compliance and we were following the rules and we were staying safe so that we could continue to grow and invest back into our employees. It’s um the peace of mind that I’ve had by knowing that uh I had smarter people checking our boxes was uh worth a million like everything that could go wrong.
It was worth pre you know, and uh that goes back to the board and having risk management people sitting at your table who say, hey, I know something that could uh hurt a fast growing company, go talk to these people. Um It’s very reasonable for your protections and, and to put the right stuff in place. So, yeah, I love it, man. And I know some people who are listening are, are gonna think, oh, I’m not, you know, I’m not that big or, you know, I know my team really well, we’re a small team.
Remember this number one, the risk is everywhere. So I never want to be like a like a chicken little, you know, Fear Moger, but the risk is real. It’s there. Uh Number two right now, Michael’s series is the tools to 100 million. So he’s putting this stuff in place pretty early on. He’s also focusing on Rampy. He’s talking about doing 14 million this year. So when you’re listening to this series and you think some of this stuff is maybe, maybe not what you want to do. Well, keep in mind what we’re focused on.
We’re focused on getting you to north of 10 million. So lean into this stuff because a lot of the way that you succeed with, with growing to that level is really putting in infrastructure and this is all infrastructure. Absolutely. And it was, we joined, I believe we had 12 full time employees when we joined it. Uh I believe they’re, you know, the majority of their clients are 2000 to 250 employees. Ok. Pretty, pretty small. Yeah. Uh, well, it’s not, it’s not, it’s, it’s not, it’s affordable, it’s not unreasonable, very, very affordable.
And for the simplicity when it comes to filing payroll, submitting all your taxes, doing all of your quarterly, it’s absolutely incredible. Um I couldn’t have imagined doing this with another system. And I worked with a pe O prior and the service was night and day one was taking me payroll hours a week and it turned to payroll, taking 2100 minutes a week. They’ve helped administer our 21300k. They now help with our recruiting. Um Oh, wow. They uh brought our uh Wellness program to the forefront for our clients.
They’ve given us our employee handbooks, all things that I could not have done on my own, nor things that I would ever have known to do. Yeah. So it was um feel just from, you know, very blessed to have been pointed in that right direction. And not to mention, I haven’t, you know, not working with pinnacle and, uh saving a butt load on our workers’ compensation has been very advantageous. Yeah, the cost saver actually there’s a, a saying not ask, not how but who and that’s, that’s basically what you did here.
And yeah, it’s always, it’s always, uh, refreshing slash decon disconcerting at the same time. I find when, when I go, uh, meet someone like we, we hired, um, you know, we were always hiring different coaches and, and stuff to help with marketing pro growth and, uh, went and hired a whole operations coach and everything and, and you look at it, you realize there were things you hadn’t even thought about and it’s like, oh boy, thank God that I was like, oh my goodness. Ok. We didn’t even think about that, you know, hi, background checks.
I work in the painting industry, uh, Mexican people, other people’s homes. Uh, it’s appropriate to run a background check on unemployed. I do probably a good idea honestly. Yeah, these are free and it takes 24 hours for the, to run a background check. Uh, and it happens immediately. You know, it’s like those little tiny things that you never think that you need until you get the phone call and says, hey, do you know who’s at my house right now? Uh, and that’s a phone call. No one as a business owner is saving.
You do not want that. No. Um All right. So we have the pe O we have your Tab Peer group that you joined. Tab, you joined. Basically day one, you hire you, you did try to hire a coach. Coach said, hey, get lost. You don’t have a business, you said? All right, no worries. Built the business came back. Coach said, welcome aboard. Uh And then number three that you sent me over you, you talked about a men’s group. Let’s get into that. Yeah. Um You know, it’s kind of the counterpart to what we’re doing here as entrepreneurs.
It’s the uh finding something to work on yourself and recognizing that there’s more to life than work and money and success. There’s a potentially a spiritual side to a human being that needs to be nurtured. Um There’s a, a side where you need a moment of silence. Um And I was fortunate enough to be connected with a men’s group that was focused around personal growth and development um about a year ago. And I didn’t even know how empty that void was until I connected with these men and it was a such a powerful thing um to recognize that there was more to what I was doing and there was a side of myself that needed to be fed, that I’d forgotten about just focused on building business, focused on the bottom line and profit and growing and hiring.
Um And today that men’s group has probably brought me more peace over the last year, then I could have found uh in the four years combined. So it was just uh you know, that, that concept of connecting with other people who are in a similar place to you, uh understand life in a similar way and being vulnerable and honest uh with men. How did you find that group? A gentleman on my board? Oh yeah. OK. Nice man. Is it, is it like how big is the group?
How often you guys meet? Yep. So, uh it’s a monthly uh commitment that we meet together. Um There are 2100 men who attend and they’re pretty much all business owners. Um It’s not a national organization, but there are all sorts of peer groups that are focused on personal wellness of trying to shed kind of the shell that we live in. The, the masculine wall of, I’ve got my shit together. I don’t know about you. Yeah, people can say, man, I’m struggling today, I’m struggling this and uh you get that honest, real vulnerability which has been uh powerful and very healthy for my relationship, my wife and myself and uh for my friends and family, it’s um refreshing to find some peace.
Uh I remember the first meeting that I went to and uh it started with a meditation. We’re gonna take about 4013 minutes here and sit in silence and meditate. And uh it was emotional to try to sit in silence for 2401 minutes. We got, we got so much going on as entrepreneurs. The brain is always racing. When’s the last time you took 230 minutes without thinking, it’s hard, man. I do, I do meditate. I try to meditate. It is very, very hard because the mind just will just have a hard time shutting off.
You do it individually on. I, I do it individually. Yeah, daily, not daily. No. Work on when. So in our, our third year I joined a kind of a weird organization. Uh I didn’t work with them for long but it was a coaching organization. I thought you’re gonna say it was a call. Ok. Coaching baby. I know Mike. We’re getting weird. I was with you and then you, you went to, um, it was an organization uh out of Canada and it was for coaching contractors. Uh, and at the time it was something like a $210,000 commitment a year.
And I just thought it was the biggest number I’d ever heard that a coach wanted $40,000 a year. Is, this is this breakthrough academy or are we talking about something else right now? It was not breakthrough. Ok. I, it sounds kind of similar. Some people that I know. All right. No, no, no, not Breakthrough Academy. Um I won’t share who it was, but yeah, you were working with a lot of coaches and we had eight coaches that were immediately put in and you’re meeting with all these people on 30 minute intervals and one of them was a wellness coach and it was our third year of business.
And I just remember him saying, ok, we’re gonna start this with a meditation and I couldn’t do it. Said, look, man, I don’t have five minutes to sit here and not talk to you. Bye. Yeah. It was like this highly emotional moment of trying to turn off trying to accept where I was at and that was when I kind of recognized that something wasn’t being fulfilled with what I was doing. Yes. Um Finding that that wasn’t the answer and we didn’t end up working with that organization.
Um, that has been that need, that cup has been filled at this point through that. And I would encourage anyone to find a group of peers that they can connect with on a personal level, not just about business, but that genuine love and investment in each other. Yeah. And I wanna, I wanna point out something important here too is that you, you tried this other contracting coaching group and it didn’t work out and, and I think it’s, I just want to highlight that because I think it’s so easy to listen to these podcasts and think.
Oh, well, he did this and this and this and it worked and it worked and it worked and now it, now Michael’s here. But I, I, he’s not in my situation. I already tried that. I already went to a group like he’s talking about, I hated it. Or like, no, it didn’t work. I, I’m not gonna do that ever again. You, it’s not like you bat 100%. Right. The, what’s important to you is that you keep going, you keep stepping up the bat, right. And, and you’re gonna, I’m sure you have a whole lot of other things you’ve tried and things you’ve done that didn’t work out.
So when we’re on these podcast episodes again, that the whole idea that Pain Market ma for my podcast is to, is to get this stuff Rubber meets the Road, help you guys actually move your business forward. And I don’t want you to ever be under the impression that everything’s just all perfect and easy. That’s the stuff we cover usually because that’s what worked. So you want to learn about what works. There’s usually a whole lot of other stuff and most of the stuff that didn’t work. Yeah.
Um, and I’ve had plenty of things that did not work and we did it again. Uh, let’s rerun it, run it back. Try again. It’s awesome. I’ve gone through five Facebook marketing companies. Five, none of them. Why, why haven’t you quit on marketing? Marketing just doesn’t work, man. Facebook. Uh, they just don’t work where you’re at, man. That’s what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to try one or so and be like, no, it didn’t work. Never, never, never get, you know, and, and I’ll tell you about this big failure.
Uh, and for all the people who might talk to you or some other, the painting, marketing people in this industry. Um, I had a close friend of mine who was working with a company that was a national Facebook marketing company. They worked for people like the Saint Louis Blues Orange Theory Fitness. Um, they worked with big brands and they had the most sophisticated Facebook platform that you could imagine. And, uh, one of my good friends had been working with them for about three years in a home food delivery business.
He said these guys have been great for me. I said, well, I can’t find somebody who can do this. I want to talk to him. The commitment was close to $100,303 a year. I took it to my board said I’m thinking about paying an absurd amount for a Facebook marketing company that Facebook hasn’t ever worked for us in the past. What do you guys think they go? No, I don’t think I would do it. I go, I’m gonna do it and I did note it moving forward. Uh, and out of $80,000 that we spent on the Facebook marketing over the course of that year, we got something like $47,000 of work off it.
The, the 50% R O I man, that, that’s what you always want. You wanna get back less than you put in then, you know, the marketing is really working for you. That’s um, yeah, it’s, uh and it’s not our first failure that you have along that. Uh it’s happened, we’ve gone through five different bookkeepers, we’ve gone through multiple insurance companies. We’ve gone through multiple Pe Os and it’s not every decision works the first time, but it doesn’t mean it was the wrong decision and we do use Facebook ads and we are seeing success with them.
Love it. Yeah. So it’s just to speak to what you said, not all things hit and sometimes you hit wrong. Uh, and you could either quit or you can try again and I guess I’m dumb enough to keep trying again. Yeah. Well, you, you’re learning, right. You’re learning every, every time. And that’s a big, a big issue with really the painting industry specifically is, is not leaning into the marketing, not leaning into the growth, just, just being a little bit, um, more antiquated and, and a little bit more cautious or defensive kind of in their approach of, of business ownership and growth.
Um, but as you grow you’ll make mistakes, you’ll, you’ll work with companies that didn’t work out. You’re gonna work with maybe subcontractors and, and it’s not, it’s just part of business. It’s kind of the, the price that you pay to run your own company and grow it. Yeah. Uh, you know, I had somebody who, uh, ran a much, much larger painting company than myself told me years ago that you don’t learn anything in the painting industry that doesn’t cost money and, uh, to pay for that education.
Uh, there’s some truth in that, uh, sincerely that you make mistakes, they’re expensive at times and all you can do is learn and take the lessons, write them down, read them again. And, uh, you know, we were talking about this earlier. Uh, right now I’m doing weekly logs for myself to kind of track what I’ve been working on, what I was feeling, what I was experiencing and I have my managers doing the same thing. Um, looking back two years, you wanna have some record of those failures and if you don’t write them down, you’re gonna forget them.
If they’re not somewhere, those ex experience and those lessons, you run the risk of them evaporating. And, uh, I’ve been fortunate enough to keep really good records of what I’ve experienced emotionally, what I’ve experienced financially along the way so that, um, hopefully I don’t make the same mistakes too many times. You don’t, you don’t wanna keep paying for the same lessons. You already bought it and bought the course already. Yeah, we do a uh right. This is an operational thing. But as a company, we do these things called O M G reports.
An O M G report is any time that a client escalates to a manager, I ask for a written report about what happened. Why did it go wrong and how did we resolve it? And what are we gonna do to prevent it happening again? And I ask for every one of those clients who uh experience something that they shouldn’t have experienced. I need an O M G report on it. Uh And then we have a lessons learned binder that they all go in. Yeah, that’s great. So um they all cost money though.
Yeah, it’s a very expensive binder. It is, it’s very expensive. Yeah. Potentially uh have some, some refunds, potentially some negative Google reviews. Got a lot of stuff in that binder that you pay for. Yeah. You know, that’s something we’ve, we’ve, we’ve talked about a lot is customer service and how do you put that customer service? Uh first um and as a company, it has been our priority from day one. I don’t care about the money. I care about raving fans. Sure, I wanna run a profitable business.
I want to be able to grow, but ultimately, it doesn’t mean anything if we’re not making a positive impact within the community and a positive impact is a happy client. Yeah, a negative impact on the community as a client who regrets hiring you is frustrated is resentful. And, uh, we do have 100% satisfaction guarantee. We’ve had it from day one. If you’re not happy, I’m not gonna take a penny. Yeah, I love that. And, uh, we had one last year, one executed satisfaction guarantee off of 1300 projects. Uh Too bad.
That’s pretty good. Uh Couple more the year before. Um Is your process improved lessons learned? Um And so many of those come down to communication, um telling them when you’re gonna be back, telling them why you’re not back yet, telling them why that touch ups still hanging. Uh Being clear about why we haven’t been able to get back there, but they’re still on my list. The no update update, man. That’s a powerful update just to tell you, hey, I don’t have a resolution yet, but uh I want you to know I’m thinking about it and uh I’m still working on it and we do require uh a daily no update update on loose ends for our clients on the back end.
I, I like that no update update. Uh Haven’t forgotten about yet. I just still don’t know when I can have him back out. Yeah. People need to need to know that they haven’t fallen through the cracks. You know, but they don’t have to go find someone else to, to fix this, you know. And, um, you know, we’ve been hired on those situations and, you know, in candidness, I believe the client has hired somebody to wrap my project up. So it happens within the industry. And those are some of the worst phone calls, uh, when you reach out and you say, ok, we’re ready to have somebody back to get that done.
It’s a nah, I hired somebody, I’ve already got all this touch ups done and I’m not paying you. It’s a painful go. Yeah. Well, um, man, we should have been two weeks faster, huh? Yeah. Like who we feel stupid, right. Yeah. And, and the particular one I’m talking about there was rain and then there was July 4th and then there was a busy week and, you know, three weeks go by before you wrap something up and some people don’t want to wait. Uh And I don’t blame him. Yeah.
I mean, they’re, they’re having a look at it every day. Um All right. So we talked about, about tab finding a peer group of other professionals, how the benefit that you’ve experienced, especially them being in other industries, uh really opening your mind. A pe O and how that’s probably saved your butt, uh as in addition to make your life way easier. Uh Men’s group, spiritual health figuring out, you know, hey, there’s more to this than just money and, and, and you know, there’s some personal fulfillment stuff that maybe got forgotten about and then uh mistakes that you’ve made, made a ton of them.
So I’m glad that we touched on that so that people know that, that you’re winning because you keep showing up and because you’re willing to, to push yourself to be the smallest at the table. Uh And you’re, you’re building infrastructure really from day one. And then finally, I wanna touch on this uh leadership and management training program that you mentioned. What, what is that? Yeah. Oh man. Uh end of last year, um you could feel stress within the organization and I have a lot of uh so over the last two years, we’ve been elevating uh people within the team into management positions, taking sales people and turning them into sales managers, taking uh appointment, setters, our account managers and turning them into managers.
And there’s something that happens uh in a career when you go from doing a job to managing a job. And oftentimes people like you and I are, are business owners. They might feel that it’s the same and what I found it’s not, and this isn’t a natural skill that comes to everyone. And uh I recognized that the leaders, the, the leadership within my organization, they needed refinement, they needed juice and they needed love and they needed support and they needed full on training on how to be a good manager.
Not everyone has read a couple 100 business books about management and you realize, wow, you’re 27 years old and you just got elevated above your peers and you never thought about being a manager. How do you help them? So, uh we’ve committed, uh this year, we’re several months into a management and leadership training program for our, uh each of our managers. It’s a two year program and, uh, you know, this is a local organization but there are countless management training organizations. Um I’m participating in it with my managers and I can tell you, uh have you ever recommended somebody to read a book?
And they go, oh no, I already know what’s in that book. Yeah. Um It happens with my salespeople, I give them a book and they’re like, yeah, I started to read it. I already knew it, knew all that. Yeah. Yeah. You, you know about isolating an objection and asking for the business. Good job. Um You don’t read it to necessarily learn, you read it, to bring in front of mind, you read it to put it in a specific place where you can recall it quicker, the next time that it comes up and uh investing in our team to make sure that they have that recall and the skills they need to be genuinely good managers.
Um If you’re in an organization and you want to scale, it comes down to leadership and it comes down to management and having people that are phenomenal that do it. You ever heard the saying? Uh, people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers. I, I’ve heard something similar to that similar. Uh, and I had a couple people quit, uh, last year and it rocked my world. They were people who I never expected were gonna quit. I thought they were gonna be here forever. Um, you know, we’re offering 401k S and a match and I’m giving them, you know, 30 days time off every year.
And it’s like trying to create this great experience for the employee and then they quit and I recognize that they may have not been quitting the role, but the manager. So what do you do? Got it, make that manager better. So that’s our current journey of what we’re on right now is really trying to define that leadership and build it up from the ground up, comes down to a crew foreman. Um Have you read Extreme Ownership by Jaco? Will I, I have Yeah. Uh You were in the service, right?
Still am. Yeah, I’m in the National Guard. Uh Did you read it before? I read it. I read it before. Yeah. Yeah. I, I like the extreme ownership. Um My favorite story from that book. Absolutely. Hands down is about the two people who rode the boat. Yeah. Do you know the story? I do. Um I share that with every person in my team. Uh and it’s one of the books, half a dozen books that I, I encourage everyone on our team to read. Um, especially our managers because that story where you take an underperforming team that has never hit it and you take the leader from the best team that’s ever been, you put him on the underperforming team that’s never hit their marks and suddenly they’re the best.
It wasn’t that the team was bad. It was that the leadership was bad. Yeah. And I think it, it’s so interesting too because it, the refrain is so common with painting companies like, oh, you can’t find good people. You know, our, our, our people aren’t good. Well, there’s maybe there’s a, a reason and maybe it’s not the people, maybe, you know, we’re, we’re all operating in the same world. We’re all on, on planet earth, right? In some areas might be harder than others. But generally, you know, we all have access to some level of talent.
So if you, if you’re truly investing into yourself as a leader, right? Talked a lot with Jason Phillips. It’s all about leadership. Um That’s obviously a recurring theme here. If you’re on a really successful business, you realize business is about people and being a good leader. If you’re investing in your, into yourself, uh, odds are pretty good, you’re gonna be able to create a situation where you have good, quote, unquote, good people at your company. Yeah. Um, you know, I don’t wanna be a little painting. Uh It’s not easy to be a great painter. Yeah.
But painting can be taught and systems can be taught and leadership will fix that. Um When a person on our team doesn’t work out a sales person or a project manager or someone on the phones or, or anyone, I look at it as a personal failure on my end that I didn’t invest in them enough. I felt that person, um, not once have, I thought it was an employee’s fault when I let someone go or they quit, it falls squarely on me. Even if I wasn’t the direct manager.
Um, I should have helped the manager level more. It’s one of the, uh, one of the perks of business ownership is that everything is your fault. Um, you know, it’s good to have that accountability though because the reality, I really believe it is, you know, because you, you, ok if it’s a manager’s fault who hired the manager who, who, who let the, you know, who, who created the organization, which the manager operates, who gave the manager access to their resources, who is actually making sure that the process was in place for the manager to succeed and that it was being tracked whether or not he or she, she was, ultimately, it’s you, it’s, and it’s a tough thing.
But yeah, that extreme ownership, uh for better or for worse if, if you want to really grow a phenomenal company and you want people within your company to have ownership, you need to start with yourself in owning everything. Yep. And that’ll play nicely into episode five for us. You know, we get into all the fun, all the fun involved in growing a business, you know, um being an entrepreneur is exciting. Uh and it uh the fun doesn’t stop, it just gets different, does gets different. And uh you know, it’s, I couldn’t imagine doing anything other than what I’m doing.
And uh our path, you know, we see it. We uh one of the things that we do with Tab in the board is always setting that personal vision and the professional vision and it’s looking 10 years in the future. What is your life going to look like? And how is this business that you’re building going to facilitate what your life looks like? Uh One thing that you have to report on every month at our board meeting is what did you do to enjoy life? What were you doing to enjoy yourself over the last month?
And um and it’s a bummer to walk in there and say I didn’t, I did not think it was awful, you know, and, and you start to recognize, I don’t wanna say that. So I better find something like meaningful or fun to do. We’re gonna go golfing, we’re gonna go for a hike this week. My meeting tomorrow, family activity circle up we got something to do, you know, and, but there’s that accountability around enjoying what you’re doing and, and realizing that you’re doing this for a reason.
Um, you know, and I think that that’s uh what has helped our management team the most and that’s what we’re investing in now is making sure that they know how to do this and they can serve their, their employees as well as I hope they can. So, uh and I recognize I wasn’t qualified to train them. Uh I might know a lot, but I certainly don’t know enough to make them freaking badass managers. Uh I, I needed help and I acknowledged it and sought after it and uh sometimes you make sacrifices for that financially, but I think it’s in the greater cause for sure it’ll, it’ll come back, it’ll pay off in the long run.
You have, you’re investing into your team and you have a happier team, you have more fulfilled team, you’re gonna have happier customers. The whole thing is just gonna go a lot better everybody. Well, Michael, man, this is awesome. So we, we have talked about uh essentially the professionals who supported your growth as you got started. You’ve, you’ve obviously had a very impressive growth uh in the five years that you’ve been operating, talked about how, how people who are listening can, can go kind of carve their network out and uh you know, they can ask you questions if, if you have follow up questions in the, in the Facebook group, American Ma My podcast for you’re in there tagged as a group expert.
Um Next up episode two, we’re gonna cover books, which I am very happy, but I will tell you that’s one of the most common questions that I get is, is people just messaging. Hey, what, what books do you have on marketing or what do you have? Leadership books? I listen to this different podcast books are something that people who want to grow. I know you’re really passionate about reading. People want to grow. They, they tend to like books. So we’re gonna be taking a very deep dive into books, which is great because then from now on, I’m just gonna, now I have a, I have a little link, you know, I’ll just be like, hey, I talked about it for an hour with, with Michael Sutton.
Here you go. Thank you in advance. And uh there’s, I’ve got four books that are front of mind and uh we have, we have used them like a business Bible. Um And they have been read cover to cover again and again and again and again. So um very excited to talk about them and uh share the impact that they’ve made on our organization. Heck yeah, man. Do, is there anything else you want to add as we, as we conclude this episode, one of your series? Um All I would say is it’s OK, not be the smartest person there and uh find the counsel surround yourself by somebody smarter than you. Uh For me, it’s pretty easy to do so. You be like, well, Mike, thank you brother. I’m super excited for this series, man and uh looking forward to the next episode, Brandon. Thank you such a pleasure.

 

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 paintermarketingpros.com/podcast.

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 Brandon@PainterMarketingPros.com and I can give you personalized advice on growing your painting business until next time.

Keep growing

Brandon Pierpont

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