Guest Interview: Michael Sutton of Kind Home Painting Company “The Tools to $10 Million” Series: Episode 3

Published On: May 8, 2023

Categories: Podcast

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 episode 3, Michael will deep dive into the key employees he could not do without.
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 3
– Key Employees

Audio Transcript

Expand

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

 In this series titled The 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 episode one, Michael discussed the professionals who supported his growth and how you can find your own support network. In episode two, Michael covered the books that have empowered his growth to date. In episode three, this episode, 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 them.

If you want to ask Michael questions related to anything in this podcast series, you can do so on our exclusive painter marketing mastermind podcast forum on Facebook. Just search for painter, marketing mastermind podcast form on Facebook and request to join the group or type in the URL facebook dot com forward slash groups forward slash painter. Marketing mastermind. Again that URL is facebook dot com forward slash groups forward slash painter. Marketing mastermind. There you can ask Michael questions directly by tagging him with your question. So you can see how anything discussed here applies to your particular painting company. Mike.

What’s up, man? Welcome back. Welcome, Brandon. I, I guess I don’t welcome you. Huh? Dude, I’ll take it. I’ll take it, man. Good to see you brother. So we are now on episode three. Yes, sir. I love it. I feel like I’m, I’m just kind of along for the ride here. You know, you’re walking me through how to build an eight figure business here. So I’m certainly excited to learn. We’re, we’re getting into key employees. Yeah. Yeah, it’s uh key employees. They’ve certainly made a difference in our business.

Uh I could not have done this alone and that’s 100%. Yeah. Yeah, we just, just uh the, the series we did prior to yours was Jason Phillips. People make dream businesses and one of the things he’s, he’s talked about is how he’s, you know, he started kind of thinking he was running a painting company and then he graduated, so to speak into, he’s running a marketing and sales company and then graduated again into actually he’s running a people company. Turns out people are actually the, the fundamental, um, aspect of business success. Really?

Yeah. Um, I, I couldn’t agree with him more. Uh, Jason, those are very, very true words. Uh And, uh, you know, I’m a little off track already. Uh I met with a, a lady, uh, not, I didn’t meet with a lady but I went to a conference yesterday and, uh doctor Tasha Jori spoke and um she is a clinical psychiatrist and psychologist that discusses self-awareness and the value that you have with self awareness and the being a professional being, a boss, being a CEO and how important that self-awareness is.

I just wanna, you know, one of the quotes that she said is, uh the business of business is relationships. And she asked how many of you wake up every day and go to work with the intention of developing and creating deeper, more meaningful bonds with the people that you work with. And I was in a room with, you know, probably 300 CEO S and uh I was sitting in, in basically the first table. So I couldn’t honestly tell you how many people raised their hand, but from what I could see out of my peripheral, maybe 103%.

Oh, the hands went up, said that every day when they go to work, they bring the intention of making those meaningful, deep relationships. Uh I thought it was worth sharing. Um, and relevant to what we talk about when we talk about the key employees that develop a, a business or when Jason says it’s no longer just a sales and marketing company, it’s a people business. Um So, yeah, that’s interesting. Yeah, we’re uh I’m actually in a, a coaching group. American is in a coaching group and, and one of the things our coach has uh well, really been working with me directly on is the importance of that, of, of the importance of relationship building growing, you know, as a leader, you are there to serve your team, your team is not there to serve you and how in, in his experience uh the most successful of entrepreneurs, the, the CEO S who really truly grow um big thriving businesses, whatever they want that to look like do tend to be the absolute best at relationships and people.

Yeah, so let’s get into some of these roles, man. Yeah, I’d love to. Um and I know we’ve, we’ve kind of touched on this uh maybe a couple of times uh in, in earlier seriess. But um you know, I figure we just kind of walk through some of the uh the outline and the times that I brought on key people who were, uh, there specifically to support the business and, and they stopped kind of producing and when those moments were all right, that would be great. Um, you know, I think that that’s a question that a lot of people have is when do I make that first hire?

And who is that first hire going to be? Um, you know, I, I will share my first hire. Uh, and this is something I talk about, uh, often. But, um, my now wife, her name is Whitney. Uh, from before I began the business, uh, she said that she would, uh join me and if I really wanted to do this, that she would, uh, absolutely work for me and be my partner. And, um, she is hands down the most talented and capable person I’ve ever met. Uh, and I say it with no jokes aside.

She is incredibly good at everything she knows. And she was that first key employee that I couldn’t have done this without. Um, she had a weird title at the time and she still kind of goes by director of Miscellaneous. Uh, um, and, uh, from day one, I needed help. My, my forte and what I love are people. I love humans. I love relationships. I care that I’m invested in the success of others. Uh I’m fairly ok with numbers. She happens to be good at everything else. So, from day one, what her responsibilities were managing the phones, scheduling the appointments for myself.

Uh As I was one of the first sales people on the team. Um scheduling the jobs being a primary point of contact for our clients. Uh She was committed to converting leads as we had leads come in. And on day one, we were advertising on home advisor, Angie’s List, the el thumb tack. And her job was to convert those leads and get us in front of clients on top of the phones. Her role was build the website, manage the website, build our contracts, manage the contracts. Uh Build the law signs, do all of the graphic design.

Put together every job description that we have anything that took words or creating. She made building this whole thing, man. Yeah. Yeah, she did. And what I did, I did the sales, I was with the salespeople every day. Uh I hired the salespeople. I hired the project managers. I interviewed the crews. I on boarded the crews. I met with the crews in the beginning, I met with the project managers in the beginning and I couldn’t have done that if I didn’t have somebody who was prepared to help run all of the backend administrative stuff. Yeah.

So where I started was hiring that, that first person to kind of like run the office, run the phones, run our office and manage the tools. So if you’re a solo solo Renee, you’re just getting started out in your painting business. You, what you should do is get married. You should marry someone incredibly competent and then have them co-founded with you. Yeah. Yeah, that’s the perfect plan. Um, you know, but I, I would say a Jack of all trades assistant. Yeah. Who can absolutely run the phones.

Uh, that’s a really important component. Um, in order if you’re gonna be in the field and I think that’s where a lot of the smaller painting companies begin to struggle is that they’re both trying to be behind the brush, answer their phones and convert the leads and there’s just not enough bandwidth for one person to do that. You know, it would be really cool. So, hi, Whitney. I assume you’ll listen to this. I don’t think that I, I’m not sure I’ve connected with her except for the very first time that you, you did your first episode with us and you didn’t know who I was and, and you were kind of tense because, you know, this guy is kind of weird when we’re doing this podcast from a hotel room, I think.

But as you and I have, have connected a lot more and our friendship has grown. I don’t think I’ve seen Whitney again. So what would be really neat is if she came on, I’m throwing this out live, this is how I do it, Mike. You know, I just go, you know, we record it, we don’t cut it we just let it go. Um, if we had her potentially join us in episode five, as we get into these struggles of entrepreneurship, because I’m pretty sure if you’ve gone through some hardships and struggles, I’m willing to bet she has too.

Yeah, that’s one of the challenging things about, uh, being in business with a spouse. Um, unfortunately, the stresses that one person experiences, they’re shared every step of it. Um, and, and maybe that’s something that happens in marriage, whether you work together or not, is that when one person has a stressful job, the partner ends up shouldering some piece of it as well. Yeah, I don’t think you can ever fully silo that. At least I, I haven’t been able to figure that out with my wife. So I think it’s, I think it’s, it kind of comes with the territory.

You just have to figure out a way to adjust the best you can. Yeah. Yeah, that’s fair. Um, you know, and we talked about what did we hire in the first year? And, and, and for, uh, us personally, Whitney was our only manager. She managed the office people and she scheduled appointments. Whereas I managed the sales, the, the handful of sales people we had, we came into year one with three sales people and three project managers. Um, and we pretty much hired on day one and I managed that team and the door to door team while she managed the office and all administrative.

So, yeah, by the end one was when we started bringing in somebody else to, to help with management. Ok. So the, the first hire for you then would be a jack of all trades. Someone who, if you’re out in the field, if you’re doing that stuff, if you’re selling, um, who can really manage the back end, the administrative, that kind of stuff. What if you’re, um, not, maybe as extroverted or you’re not into the selling, would you potentially do it the reverse as well? Yeah, absolutely. Had I been good at doing anything.

I could have maybe seen that happen the other way. Uh, you know, my challenge, the, the first and hardest thing that I, I ran across was how do you build a proposal, a good looking contract and form that I could use. Uh, I spent a dozens of hours trying to make one and then she made one in 30 minutes. What, when you realize it’s not your, your biggest skill set right there? You know, mine’s ugly. It looks like, you know, I did it in some weird program and she makes it pretty and presentable and professional immediately. Yeah.

And, and if that is your forte, that is your skill set, then absolutely lean into that and you need somebody to bring in the sales. Um, and I do believe that sales should be a full time job 100%. It’s, uh, you know, the we’re structured a little bit different than a lot of painting companies and that our project managers do not do sales and our sales people don’t do project management and our project managers are in the field. What I have found over 12 years of selling paint jobs is that it is difficult to close a paint job immediately following the phone call that says your guys just flooded my basement because they left the hose on. Mhm.

Uh And if you get that phone call, five minutes before you walk into an estimate, it is very difficult to wanna win that job or to put your best foot forward. And I found that separating those two components of the business allows for a salesperson to stay clear and focused to live in unicorn, unicorns and rainbows and have somebody who’s in the trenches dedicated to customer service and fulfilling our, our satisfaction guarantee. Yeah. Fix fixing any, any issues that arise while not uh having huge blows to the confidence or not wanting to necessarily compound those problems by selling another, another project.

It’s 100%. Um And when you use subcontractors, you run into that consistently where he’s like, gosh, I don’t want to get these guys a single other project. I don’t trust them. You don’t know who that next crew is or that next team who you might be using is gonna be. Um And, and I’ve seen people self sabotage their own appointments because they’re afraid of bringing on additional work right now because they’re concerned with the fulfillment. Exactly. Have, have you experienced that yet in your business? We’ve done a pretty good job of not growing too quickly and we’ve, we’ve grown pretty quickly, but for us it’s really been about systematizing.

We’ve run, we’ve had hiccups, you know, every company does. Um, but I haven’t had a huge issue. Fortunately, the, the interesting thing about what you’re saying is you’re talking about, um, you know, estimators and project managers being kept separate, which is, is something that Jason Phillips is really, feels strongly about and, and a lot of people that I’ve talked with, they really feel like that skill set is different, you know, uh a project manager and a good project manager is unlikely to be the best salesperson and vice versa.

But you’re the first person that I can recall having actually spoken about this other issue, which even if they were, you had a, a kind of a unicorn person who could do them both. Great, excellent attention to detail. Also a sales killer, you know, goes out and gets it done, but they’re going to have to, to deal with mind games when they get the bad news or they get the, the angry customer or whatever’s going on in the back end. Now, they have to walk in and pretend like everything’s great, no problems here.

Uh That’s a, that’s a tough balancing act for anybody, the people who can do it are special. Yeah. Like a, like a multiple personality or something, you know, like, oh, I’m gonna go on to this person and I’ll go back to that person when I’m done. The, the sales call. Yeah. Um, you know, and we’re in the painting business. Uh, I don’t think a lot of people, I don’t know if many people have said this on your particular show but I think the painting industry might be the hardest home service industry.

Bar none hands down. Period. Interesting. It’s a bold claim why? Um It has the lowest barrier to entry. Yeah. Anyone can be a painter. I would say 90 95 maybe more percent of our clients have painted something in the past. Mhm. How many of a heating and cooling company’s clients have replaced an ignited? Probably pretty small percentage. I would argue that it’s less than 90% of the agreement. I’m not gonna take the counter side of that argument. Um You know, so uh when you’re working with painting, it’s something that everyone does.

There’s no hard, fast set of rules. This is the right and the wrong way to do it. Ask somebody if you cut in by hand or if you cut in by ca tape on any forum and you’ll see even the split of opinion within the painters. Yeah. Um From air quotes, professional painters and their variants of opinion. Um Versus if you ask a mechanic. How do you replace anything? A transmission? There’s a right way to do it and there’s a wrong way. There’s a right way to fix a furnace or install a furnace.

There’s codes that write how the work is completed. There’s code in plumbing, there’s code in H VAC, there’s code in electrical, but there’s not code or how do you do a paint job? So, when a client says, no, this line isn’t in the right place. I can’t believe you would call yourself a professional painting company and put a line 1/16 of an inch on my ceiling. How dare you? Um And that’s a very real conversation from a couple weeks ago. Um You know, uh and you’re like, well, that’s how you mask a ceiling is that you have to draw a straight line and I can’t put it directly in the center.

So we tape it very small onto the ceiling to make a beautiful crisp line in this particular client that it was the worst decision you could ever make. Um Now we show pictures of the, where the line will be prior to starting the work. Nice little uh little improvement to your S O P S there. Yeah. You know, it’s just, hey, we’re gonna have to talk about where you’re gonna draw this transition. Um You know how I can’t tell you the amount of conversations that we have over transitions, whether it’s on the exterior of your house around a vinyl window, whether it’s around where brick meets trim and you have very terrible sealant lines.

Um, those things can be really difficult and, uh, I think it makes painting more difficult than H VAC or plumbing or electrical. Um, if you could go back, you know, five years would you have started another company? You’d still, you’re still being pain. You just, you, you like the challenge. It’s exciting. Hm. Um, and it’s just what I happen to know. It’s what I’ve been doing. It’s, it’s what I’ve, you know, I’ve worked with, uh, 10,000 clients up to this point with all of the complaints and it’s a conversation that we know how to have, um, easy, doesn’t mean it’s, you know, I’d rather do it.

I’m also not a licensed electrician or plumber. Yeah. So, have, have you heard anyone talk about those challenges within the painting business before? Yeah, I mean, the low barrier to entry is obviously a, a challenge. You know, the, the chuck in a truck, right? Um, idea of people coming in, undercutting you underbidding you, you know, pe people thinking the, the substitute of the, do it yourself. Well, I could just do that. I could just paint inside of my house myself. Why I’m gonna pay you five grand to do it.

Uh, I think, I think for us where we have really found success with our partners is targeting the right people. Um, so that the the upper end demographic, you know, a lot of, a lot of the people that, that our partners work with, I think have not, actually, they don’t seriously entertain the do it yourself option. They may have done it themselves, you know, back in college or whatever, but it’s not a, it’s not a real substitute in their mind at this point in their life and then the, the, the professionalization of the sales process.

So just how you convey that value, how you uh pre sell that estimate or proposal. However, you want to discuss what you’re doing, you know, when you go out and you actually pre present the quote and you, you take the measurements. I I say that because Jason Phillips calls it a project consultation, you know, but most people know it as an estimate. So when you go out and you do that, um prepositioning your company, so you’re not selling as a commodity, right? You’re dec commoditize your business.

So we have a lot of um a lot of stuff we do as part of our sales and marketing program to actually preposition for the sale. Um And if you get the right, I always say, get the right lead through the door and then give them a reason to pay you more money and you, you do that through decom your business. But I don’t need to tell you that like you’re, you’re running uh like a $14 million company after five years. So, uh, yeah, the, the low barrier to entry is a, a challenge, but it is also an opportunity because you also have a bunch of idiots out there running, right.

Like in, you know, to put it blunt, you do have a bunch of idiots out there running painting companies or, or quote unquote painting companies. And so when you kind of educate the homeowner about the risks, you know, like, hey, maybe, maybe licensing isn’t required in the state or whatever. And so anyone can join, here’s what you should look for in a professional painting company. Here are the, some of the risks that entail, uh, hiring the wrong company and here’s what we do to make sure you get a quality product, we guarantee it.

We have a workmanship warranty and, and kind of prepositioning, um, why you are worth more than potentially the yahoos that are coming in before or after you, you, you know, on the sales story with that, that, that part is super easy. Yes, it’s the film inside. That’s shocking how aggressive people can be about 1/2400 of an inch. Yeah. Yeah, that is, people are, well, especially I would assume in the interior because people can get pretty finicky about their space. Yeah. Um, you know, and it’s always about where did you put that piece of tape?

I can’t believe you would tape here and not there. Uh, maybe in another five years, Mike, you won’t be making these, these rookie airs that you’re making if you’re taping right now. Oh, man, if somebody has a, um, and, and that’s really the key to our project managers is being there to be on site to have those conversations and to talk to with our clients. Yeah, I put it on a board right there. It says if you tell them before, it’s a reason if you tell them after it’s an excuse, I like that.

Um And I have an entire board full of expectations that we could have set earlier on that. That would have frustration from a client. Um And I have an entire whiteboard full of them. You know, a, a common one that painters may have experienced is uh what color is the trim board underneath that gutter. And the majority of times when you paint a house, a trim board behind a gutter is body color on one side and trim color on the outside because you spray the body and you’ll roll the gutter by hand.

We’re talking about this much of a trim board that you can see that’s body color and they go, well, I don’t understand why is that body color? Well, because you, you, you don’t cut in there. Um And that’s how all of the houses are built, all of those boards of that color. And when we point it out ahead of time, they don’t get upset, but we see it on the back end, they think that you’re cutting corners for not painting board that comes here. Um I really like this, this running list that you have, you know, of, of things that you now know, you know, of complaints or conversations that you’ve had to have due to potentially not setting the proper expectations.

And you guys are, you know, aiming for 2000 million, you’re five years in. So it’s not like you’re just starting and you still have this running running board of things. So I think that for anyone listening, that’s to me it’s pretty eye opening because, because you would think man, you guys are an eight figure company. Uh That’s a really big painting company, relatively speaking, you guys have it all figured out, but yet you don’t, you have a huge board of stuff that you realize you didn’t have figured out.

And so you, you always want to be improving your process improvement in training. Um And, and that project management position is something that we couldn’t have done without absolutely hands down. We needed project managers to meet with our clients, not sales people and not me. Uh I didn’t have enough bandwidth to do that from early on and it’s making sure that they’re capable to do what they do exceedingly well, which is have great conversations with clients, listen, fix problems and make sure that we’re on the same page.

Yeah, so I know the, the it’s probably the inverse of this at least that’s what we’ve experienced at painting marketing pros. But I think one of the hesitations people have, um, let’s say you’re, you’re kind of early on a painting company may maybe you’re at 21.2,21.2, maybe you’re getting close to a million or so. And, and you are out there and, and you’re thinking about, ok, pointing this stuff out, uh, on the base boards or, or, you know, having this conversation with the transitions and, and you’re, you might be hesitant because you might think, well, if I start pointing all these things out or I start kind of getting ahead of them, I could lose the sale, you’d say, oh, well, they’re not gonna do this or, oh, that, that’s how they’re gonna do it.

Uh Whereas if I just kind of make them feel really good, say, hey, don’t worry about it, we’re gonna take care of it, then I’m gonna close this sale. What would you say to, to somebody who’s concerned about pointing out too many things because they’re worried about their clothes rate. Oh, man. Uh, this year is the year of nose, uh, motivational, inspirational. We’re getting ready for episode five. Um, and you know what I have found is it’s, uh, oftentimes easiest to say yes or to avoid something or take on something that’s slightly outside of your specialty or scope thinking that I need that one project. Yeah.

And what I’ve found over the last five years is those things. Take 210% of my time. You end up with a handful of clients that just chew up your bandwidth, your mental space. And uh oftentimes you see those red flags or those concerns early on you do. And um I know my first year as a sales person um selling paint jobs, I wasn’t working for myself and I fought hand over fist, tooth and nail for every single client. I had something like a 210% closing ratio. My first full season selling paint jobs.

It was too high. Yeah, profit margin needs to go up a little bit. Probably at that point, the margin was too high. And we were fighting for CD clients and we weren’t focusing on A B clients and, and what we’ve done is we’ve really profiled. What does an A B client look like in our world? And how do we get more of them? What does a CD client look like and how do we avoid them? So we’ve put in definitions around both of those terms and we’ve defined what an A A B AC and ad client looks like.

Um, the clients will often say no, can you, I, I, I want you to do it this way. They’ll say no, I, I, you know, this price seems really high and you’re not doing this certain work or hey, your price is high and I need you to go tomorrow. And so now they’re negotiating on timing. Um, and I saw someone share something recently about a combination of uh red flags and you’re only allowed to have so many red flags before you say no client. We’re, we’re not going forward. Yeah.

One of those is unrealistic demands about timing and negotiating on price. Yeah, we do both. We’re not the right fit for you. Yeah, I’ve heard different, different kinds of scales of that, you know, P I A pain in the uh potential clients. Um We’ve definitely, we, you know, we’ve, we’ve had, we had to release a few, you know, over the years at painter, marketing pros people who, so we, we’ve kind of learned to, to identify uh you know, concerning trends for us. One of is when they try to pick apart our process, you know, we have a, we have a pretty holistic process that works and they say, oh, well, you, you do this, this, this, this, this what if uh you know what if uh what if we don’t do this and this and this?

Well, then that is uh you should probably work with another marketing company that’s less effective, right? That’s what that is if they come in and they tell, well, how about uh you know, how about rather than 7883 codes? Let’s just do one code or what would that do to the price as soon as they start picking apart your process? Uh a proven process. Now all of a sudden you can’t stand behind any workmanship warranty that you had. You, you can’t, uh, stand behind any kind of guarantee that you had and now you’re gonna put out work and your name is associated with that work.

And when that paint starts to chip or, or, you know, whatever starts to happen with your project, you’re the company that stinks and I guarantee you that that customer, that homeowner is not gonna say, well, you know, they actually told me they were gonna do it this way and I, I really didn’t want to pay that much. So I talked with them and that’s why, that’s why. No, they’re gonna say, yeah, the company sucks. So you have to stick to your process. Yeah, they say, well, I asked them to change what they do. Yeah.

Now they, they’re not gonna take ownership of that. I promise you that. So you have to stick to your process. Yeah, very much. You know, it, it to stick in line with that, you know, the second major hire than I had for a full time position was somebody to come in and manage our lead flow. Uh, which might sound surprising to a lot of people, but, uh, when I was working with clients as much as I was on either the front sales end or the back production end for me to fully manage the lead flow was near impossible.

What do you mean manage the lead flow? Manage lead flow. Um So we do advertise with pretty much anything that you can. Yeah, Angie’s List Home Advisor. You name it. Yelp next door. Starting to see why you have all these CDC D clients, Michael. There’s lots of a, uh, a B client. Yeah, fair enough. Um I think here today we’ve sold over $2788 million of revenue off home advisor. Wow. Year to date. No. Uh excuse me, five years. Oh, ok. I was like, are you like 22 million this year?

Ok. Got it. That’s a good amount of revenue. So um sometimes the clients can be a little bit challenging. Uh but again, it’s just finding the right ones, the ones that align with your core values, the ones that align with your proposition fit, but managing all of those faucets, managing the S E O, managing relationships with our vendors and our lead sources. Um and then also being in charge of doing the additional things that need to happen from time to time and we do knock doors. So it’s making sure that at whatever cost we’ve got the amount of leads coming in that we need.

So if they’re seeing a dip in, in one thing that was working and then maybe, ok, it’s time to, to have more door knockers hit the street, they’re basically going to be monitoring that making sure that the, the engine’s running. Yeah. And, and when for whatever reason, it slows being able to pivot and make it. Um And we added somebody full time to manage the, the lead flow at the end of our, our second season. Nice. Um And that was managing S C O, managing vendor relationships, managing all of the faucets.

And that was your first, that was your second full time hire. The first was essentially Whitney, the jack of all trades, managing the back end uh operations. And your second was this person full time to manage all your different lead flow sources and make sure the leads keep coming in. Yeah, absolutely. And your hires, the those, the timing of those was the first one was essentially immediate and then the second one was basically two years in about year and a half year and a half in. Ok. I started realizing, wow, we’re, you know, and I think the number was somewhere around needing 22 leads a year.

Ok. Where we recognize, oh, this is more than I can handle myself. Was it you who was managing all that before? Was Whitney doing it? How was it happening? It was you, so you were managing all that while you were also conducting all the estimates and everything else? Yeah. Ok. That’s a lot. I realized I needed some time uh to work on other components of the business. Where did you find that person? Um Indeed, is that where you find most of your employees? It is. Yeah. Yeah.

And there’s different, different schools of thought about, um, you know, whether Facebook ads are better, whether, uh, if they’re on, if they’re on indeed. It means that they’re not employed, uh, sometimes, which means that they’re not gonna be as good. You know, different people have different, uh, opinions about the importance of the lead source for employees. Just like people, you know, have different thoughts about the lead source for customers. Is there a particular reason you focus on? Indeed, or it’s just you tried it and it’s been working.

So you, you just use indeed. Really just worked. Yeah. Don’t, don’t fix it if it’s not broken. Yeah. You know, um and it’s crazy how much things have changed in six years. Uh, six years ago, we were putting ads for painters on Craigslist. Yeah, we tried to run one last year just to see what would happen and uh sure is different quality has improved, right? Uh It has, it sounds like Craigslist is, uh doing well. Yeah, it’s thriving. It’s thriving. No. Um Yeah, indeed is where we do a lot of our hiring.

Uh It tends to be the primary place. We haven’t honestly worked with too many others like monster. Um And of course, we do things on, you know, post the jobs on linkedin and glass door and other places. But uh we really do our interviewing and hiring off of. Indeed. Awesome. Ok. So we have these first two positions about a year and a half. What was position number three. And when did that come in? Yeah. So uh the third person was kind of um I don’t know how to say this, but maybe like a, an executive assistant.

Ok. Uh It was a, a gentleman who, another miscellaneous type role who helped with all of my day to day management and helped me with my projects. So this is something that uh maybe a lot of business owners fall short on. Uh It’s certainly an area where I fell short was on budgeting, on forecasting, on job costing, pretty much anything that I needed Excel documents to do. I fell short on those and I hired somebody who excelled at Excel and he is an Excel genius in Wiz.

And he came in to help me manage all of those spreadsheets. Now, the difference, you know, there was, our business was substantial at that point and it got to the point where I I needed help, not fulfilling paint jobs or getting paint jobs, but actually managing the business side. Yeah, managing the scorecards, building the scorecards, making sure that the numbers were accurate that we were looking at and tracking um and making them clearer for the team. Uh The other component that he was helping with was our pricing, making sure that we had outstanding and consistent pricing for all of our sales people.

And when did he come in? Oh, right around the beginning of year three. Ok. So what, what were you at revenue wise when he came in maybe five million, four million something around there, right? So you were at four or five million with two employees and yourself? No, no, no. The, um, I’m gonna say those are like managing positions. Ok. All right. I was uh getting very confused here. Ok. So you had a, you had obviously uh project managers, you had painters, uh you got all, all this running, but these are essentially middle management type positions.

These are your key hires. Your first one was the, the ops assistant, essentially a jack of all trades at $0 basically. Uh the then the year and a half in manage leaf flow. What were you at wise for that position? About 3.5, 4 million? OK. Ok. So 3.5 to 4 million and then the executive assistant to, to basically fully support you in all the spreadsheets you need the, the job costing, make, make sure your estimates are consistent across sales people. Uh That was at year beginning of year three and like five million. Yeah.

Ok. You know, and the, the two departments that we had were sales estimators and, and project managers. Yeah. You know, and, and those kind of stayed and, and grew with us as, as we went. Do you have someone managing right now, all the project managers or a sales manager? And if so when did, when did those roles come on? Board. Yeah, so that was towards the end of our fourth season. Ok. And I put a director of operations in charge of both sales and production. Indeed. No, he was an internal hire, internal hire.

Ok. So that was a promotion and, uh he has been running sales and production for, um, man, how long has it been? 21 August? Two years coming up on two years here in August. Uh, he was a project manager. He was a salesperson. Really? I would not have expected that to be a salesperson. Interesting. Um Absolutely. And, and it makes a lot of sense in my mind for when you have a client who’s a little frustrated or is on the fence or trying to say this is why we drew the line here versus there. Yeah.

What’s the most important thing in that conversation? Probably sales you’re selling. Why your guys put a line 23/16 of an inch on the wall versus the ceiling and why it didn’t go perfectly in the, the center where that wall meets the ceiling. Um It’s about having persuasive conversations with our clients, persuasive conversations with our painters and persuasive conversations with our project managers. Um It’s leading with excitement and the advantage to having one person over uh production and sales. Well, when people call for pricing on something and a sales manager tells you a price, what if that price was not right?

Who has to deal with it? The production team. So we’ve taken that kind of production versus sales mentality that happens in all kinds of businesses and they happen, you know, in, in every home service and all kinds of warehousing and manufacturing, you have sales versus production. Yeah, they put on it and production has to figure out how to, how to make that work. Yeah, I sold it. It’s their problem. Now. Your problem. Exactly. Um, well, we made it so that if one person said I sold it your problem, it’s your problem still.

Yeah, it’s still your problem. You know, and, and things like that come up with uh a lot in exterior painting. You know, the estimator said that you could res sand and, and repaint all of our vinyl windows. What? No. Um, and we’ve had that conversation, well, who if, if the estimator said we would paint all these windows that you should never paint. Now, why? And how do you get out of that one? So, um, and we’ve gotten to the point where Tom is no longer managing both sales and production.

He now has a production manager which he manages, who manages that department. And then we have a, he, he really focuses on sales now. Interesting another level below him on the operation side, which that took every bit of five seasons to get to a point where he was managing the manager and Tom’s who I just met. Yes. Awesome. Uh And he’s worked with me for, for seven years and his background was in construction. Uh but he’s really done sales for me for seven years and uh still does as necessary.

That’s great man. So we have quite a few key positions now at this point, um ran through the first three, the, the ops assistant managing the lead flow, your executive assistant uh Tom, who is, who is the manager for both ops and sales and now the manager for Ops below, Tom and Tom managing still sales directly and now managing the ops manager. Now, what other key positions or are there any other key positions that we haven’t hit? Hm. You know, there, there came a, there’s one other piece of leadership that has developed, um which Whitney used to manage our account managers.

Um and she stepped aside from that, but as Whitney has stepped aside, she still does a lot of the miscellaneous work. We do have somebody dedicated to managing our appointment centers. Hm. So, but we have a team of five people who set appointments and what I have found once you reach the cap, like once you have a team of about four or five people, you really need somebody dedicated to supporting them, developing them and uh managing them. And that’s just any, any department, 4 to 5 people, you need to have someone over him at that point.

It’s, yes, it’s it. And, and you’re in such this, uh difficult thing as you scale a business because you’re always stuck asking yourself. Is this the right time to hire somebody? When do we need a manager? At what point do you hire a sales manager? And I’ve had lots of conversations around this. Um, or you have a, a single salesperson on the team and they say, yeah, we’re getting ready to hire another, uh, estimator. And, you know, I’m thinking, I’m gonna be the sales manager of that person financial financially.

It becomes really difficult for a company to sustain management until you have a certain level of volume. Yeah. Um, there’s a book called Scaling Up by Vern Harnish. It’s very similar to the Rockefeller habits and they talk about those skills and business where you go from one person, managing everyone to starting to develop teams and starting to build out departments within a company and they call those valleys of death as you grow from one scale to the next. And there’s a valley that had bridging. Yeah. Ah, you know, I, I read the book somewhere halfway through our third season and I was like, man, I wish I would have read this before.

I tried to make the jump from two million to eight million. Uh, and I don’t remember what, what exact transition I was in, but we were right in the middle of trying to hire one of those. And I go, oh, that’s why this is so stressful. It makes sense where this stress was coming from and I’m not alone and this doesn’t, you know, this isn’t a home service phenomenon. This is a phenomenon. This is about growing and managing people and how do you actually scale within those departments?

Um And there’s like a gap that goes from 400,000 to 1.2, that might be a valley, there might be a value that’s 1.2 to the five and then another valley that happens between five and, and 10. And then you do reach a pretty big. The next jump is pretty large where it’s going from 10 to like 25 million. So, um, have you read Scaling Up or Rockefeller? I, I have not. No, I’m, I’m very interested now though about this, uh scaling up in the valleys of death. It’s uh an incredible, uh and you could probably just read that one chapter and say, wow, this really brings to light what it looks like when I’m scaling and those pain points that you have.

Um, quite frankly, it’s why we put uh one person in charge of sales and production because I had 788 people and I hate people. I knew that they needed 2 to 2 teams of four. I couldn’t afford to have a manager managing four people. I certainly couldn’t afford to have two managers, managing two teams of four. Yeah, we could afford one manager to manage all eight of them. Um, and that’s something I I’m not certain that people recognize is the expense that management cost because you’re pulling somebody away from actually producing revenue from managing clients, from adding direct bottom line value to kind of just an expense that you, you struggle to quantify what they bring in.

Yeah, kind of, you’re kind of betting when you bring in managers, I view like you’re kind of betting on the continued growth of your business. And if that manager is not there, it’s almost like a, it’s almost like a hire for the future. You know, if that manager is not there as you continue to grow, this train is gonna come off the tracks and it is not going to work. So because you plan to grow, you need to put someone in there uh to keep the train on the tracks as you, as you get bigger.

Uh That’s very, very well said Brandon, you’re growing into the shoes there been there, man. Oh, you know, you couldn’t say it better. Um And frankly, they’re wearing shoes that are too big for them every time and we’ve had to scale into it. Yeah, man, that is, that is great. So we have uh some really key positions here. Now, the order that you did it in. Do you, do you feel like that’s, that’s a, a pretty good order for anyone to follow or do you think that a lot of these positions could kind of shift around or how do you, how do you believe that applies to different painting companies?

Different scenarios. I, I think what you mentioned where, what if your skill set was different than mine that you have to pay attention to? Where, where are your blind spots? My particular uh my blind spot is in the marketing. It’s in graphic design, it’s in website creation. It’s not what I do, it’s not what I’m good at. Um And I struggled there and I recognized that my strengths are in management, customer experience, customer service and sales. So I was able to manage those much further and I could do it passionately.

Now, if that weren’t my passion, you might want to shift it. Um I was at uh a men’s group this morning and uh one of the gentlemen, uh he’s a CEO runs a tech company and he’s building AC R M and that he was sharing an experience of the fact that he had hired a sales manager, a vice president of sales and that vice president of sales kicked him out of the office and said, look, Doug, you need to quit coming in. This is my place and I’ve got it.

I’ve got it together and we’re going the direction that we need to go. You gotta give me the room to do it. Get out of here and they celebrated how strong and how powerful that was because he made the right hire and Doug’s particular background. Maybe he’s not the best salesperson. But he hired the person who was phenomenal at it and then he trusted him to do the work. That’s good. You know, had I been slightly different, a different person. Maybe I, I would have done it differently.

Um, if I had passion around managing ad spend and paper clicks and impressions and A B testing, maybe I wouldn’t have brought somebody on to help manage that. But it’s not what my blind spot or it’s not what my strength is. It’s, it’s a blind spot of mine. Yeah. To hire people to, to fill in your gaps so you can focus on what you love doing and what you’re the best at doing. Yep. And that goes back to the, you know, I could tie it back to the self awareness that we, we talked about, um, that being self-aware of who you are, uh, personally and leaning into those strengths is so valuable and being honest with yourself about what you’re good at and what you aren’t and hire to compliment you would be my advice to somebody in that position who’s thinking about who do I hire and win.

Yeah, I love that. Yeah, I think, I think people are under this impression that there’s a, a set, um, a set person, you know, set order in which they need to hire and if they don’t do it then they’re messing up. I think that, that you have to keep certain things in mind, you have to keep the financials in mind, especially with management, you need to know your numbers, you have to know your margins. But then knowing yourself, if you’re doing what you are best at your, your best God given skill, the thing that you care about that you want to do and then you hire someone else who’s doing what they like doing and are best at.

Then that’s gonna be a much more powerful company because you have two people doing what you’re good at. Then if, well, I, I’m the owner and I should do this even though I’m not that good at it or I’m OK. I really don’t like doing it. So I’m gonna have someone else do this and that person may or may not be the best in the world at that. Now, you have two people kind of doing it adequately. Uh, as opposed to two people doing great. The, the company with two people doing great is gonna go a lot faster.

Yeah, incredibly well said, you know, and I, I can only share what, what I’ve been through, um or what I’ve seen other people experience Mike. I appreciate you, man. I appreciate this. Uh You, you being willing to kind of peel back the curtain here and take us through the growth of your company because again, your numbers are impressive, man, there are not a lot of, of company owners that I’ve spoke with that have seen that kind of rapid trajectory. So I super appreciate, I think our listeners super appreciate getting to know your story on a much more granular level because it kind of it makes it real for people, right?

Shows people what they can actually do. Uh Do you have anything else that you wanna add before we wrap up this episode? Yeah. Uh it’d probably go back to traction and it’s um the very first chapter in traction uh by Gino Wakeman talks about letting go of the vine. And in order for a company to truly succeeded into, to flourish and to grow into scale, you gotta let go and you have to trust other people to step into the positions, which can be one of the hardest components of this.

Um Scary. It’s scary to let go. You let someone else do something. Uh But the beautiful stuff starts to happen when you let go and you see it grow. So I’d encourage people to let go of the vine and give it to someone you trust, let it go, Mike, thank you, man. We’ll see you back here for episode four. Awesome.

If you want to learn more about the topics we discussed in this podcast and how you can use them to grow your painting business, visit painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast for free training, as well as the ability to schedule a personalized strategy session for your painting company. Again that 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 at Painter Marketing Pros.com and I can give you personalized advice on growing your painting business until next time.

Keep growing

Brandon Pierpont

Guest Interview: Dave Scaturro “Big Commercial Growth” Series: Episode 2 – Structured for Big Growth

Guest Interview: Dave Scaturro “Big Commercial Growth” Series: Episode 2 – Structured for Big Growth

In this series titled “Systems Beat Fear”, John MacFarland of MacFarland Painting will be discussing how to overcome what can...
Read More
Guest Interview: Juan Vasquez “Mindset Matters Most” Series: Live Q & A

Guest Interview: Juan Vasquez “Mindset Matters Most” Series: Live Q & A

In this series titled “Systems Beat Fear”, John MacFarland of MacFarland Painting will be discussing how to overcome what can...
Read More
Guest Interview: Dave Scaturro “Big Commercial Growth” Series: Episode 1 – Unique Commercial Marketing

Guest Interview: Dave Scaturro “Big Commercial Growth” Series: Episode 1 – Unique Commercial Marketing

In this series titled “Systems Beat Fear”, John MacFarland of MacFarland Painting will be discussing how to overcome what can...
Read More

Would Like to Hear How We Can Help Your Painting Company Grow?

SCHEDULE A FREE STRATEGY CALL TODAY

Get Started with Painter Marketing Pros Today