Michael Sutton, owner of Kind Home Solutions, reveals how he has grown his residential repaint company to doing over $6 million in business in less than 4 years. He discusses some of the biggest mistakes he made early on, as well as some consistent issues he sees other painting company owners creating that he hopes he listening to this episode can prevent. Michael believes there is incredible opportunity available for ambitious painting company owners, and hopes his story can highlight what’s possible.
Video of Interview
- The mindset needed for aggressive growth in your painting company
- How to craft a customer journey that propels your painting business to success
- Why your fear of charging more for your painting services is unfounded
- The most common and destructive mistake Michael sees other painting company owners making and how to fix it
Welcome to the Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast, a show created to help painting company owners build a thriving painting business that does well over one million and annual revenue. I’m your host Brandon Pierpont founder of Painter Marketing Pros and creator of the popular pc, a educational series, learn do grow marketing for painters. In each episode, I’ll be sharing proven tips, strategies and processes from leading experts in the industry on how they found success in their painting business. We will be interviewing owners of the most successful painting companies in north America and learning from their experiences on this episode of the Painter Marketing Mastermind podcast. We host Guest Michael Sutton. Michael owns Kind Home Solutions, a residential repaint company based in Denver colorado. Over the course of just four years, Michael has built kind home solutions to doing 6. 3 million in revenue and he has ambitions to do far more in the coming years. Michael attributes much of his success to having a sales oriented mindset and always striving to find quality people with the right experience to join his team and help drive the company forward. He encourages painting company owners to make sure they know their numbers and stresses that you can’t fix an unprofitable business through generating more unprofitable work. If you want to learn more about the topics we discussed in this podcast and how you can use them to grow your painting business, visit painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast for free training as well as the ability to schedule a personalized strategy session for your painting company again that you are l is painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast, Michael, welcome to the podcast. Thank you for joining us. Yeah, absolutely, Brandon, thank you for having me. Absolutely man. So tell me a little bit about kind home solutions, what do you guys do Kind home solutions? We are a residential house painting company, we primarily focus on exterior painting, we do interior painting and repairs along with it. So, woodwork, gutters sighting, we have a small holiday light division that we do during our off season. So our home base is in Denver colorado and our winters start to uh get a little bit inhibiting of exterior painting around november. Okay. And I transitioned some of my painting teams to light installations and then I have a very small rupee division. Okay, nice. So where you guys are based out of Denver now, is it purely residential or do you guys do commercial as well? 99.9% residential. Alright, so you guys are residential almost purely now. Where where are you at? If you don’t mind? Me or sharing revenue wise Revenue, this show will do six 0. 3 million. 6. 3 and how many years have you been in business? This was our 4th season 4th season, Michael. That’s a pretty good run right there. It’s impressive growth. Congratulations. Four years, how did you do that? Oh hard work, hard work. But every everyone’s out there working hard, Michael, how did you do that? Uh phenomenal team, hard work and some great experience. So, um really, I think the key to it is understanding where we were going before we began and frankly we’re behind the curve as far as growth Really. So you wanted to be beyond 6. 3, 4 years deep. Yeah, absolutely, wow. Where, what was your goal out of curiosity? Uh five year goal was probably in the 15 15. Okay, wow, that is an aggressive. So when you say experience, what do you mean by that? Um, I’ve got a really the experienced team as far as people being within the industry, a lot of us have worked for several different painting companies. We’ve seen the nuts and bolts of small painting companies, of large painting companies and you know, the experience that the team has is been key to it. Okay, so who’s your team? Who is my team? Um I’ve got a few different departments that run. So I started the business with my wife four years ago. Oh and she ran the office, uh pretty much any inbound phone calls to the company, She answered all of them. Um, and we very quickly added a salesperson onto the team, added a project manager on immediately following that. And then it was incremental pieces to that configuration as it scaled. So adding to sales and production, then phones, then sales and production, then phones. God, it’s a kind of building up that, that sales and production sort of in tandem keeping it pretty balanced and it sounds like you sort of started though with it with the focus on sales. Kind of build the sales first and then the production of catch up. Is that how you were looking at it? 100%. Okay. Yeah, that’s a common theme that I’ve noticed with with other guests on the show. Is this aggressive sales mentality. You know, you can kind of approach it like, hey, I want to make sure that, that we have all of our infrastructure in place and all of our painters in place and then we’ll sell or you can sell and kind of build the airplane on the way down, which is a little bit more kind of an entrepreneur’s mindset. Yeah. You have to have jobs. Yeah, I got something for them to do. Gotta pay him pay him somehow. Right. So what’s your wife’s name? Uh, Whitney Whitney. Okay. So Whitney was pretty instrumental. Are you guys co on this, do we? No, no, no, no. It’s all right. It’s Michael’s show witnesses along for the ride. No, I’m just kidding. I know she can hear me. Uh, Alright, well, great. So, so you, you know, you’ve been talking a lot about the experience of your team and how important that is. So let’s kind of start from the beginning. Let’s, let’s talk about your experience and Whitney’s experience prior to starting kind home solutions. Yeah. Someone always had that entrepreneur spirit, uh, never from a very early age that this is most likely what I wanted to do. I had no idea it would be in a painting business specifically. Uh, went to Colorado to start a website. I realized I knew nothing about websites and I shouldn’t be building them. We’re hiring people to build them and ended up working for a very small painting company. Uh, and at that very little painting company, I managed people knocking doors. We generated the leads. I called the leads, I did the estimates and once I want a job, I handed it over to the owner of the company for either him or his, one of his subs to paint the house and did a season with them. I saw them complete a couple $100,000 of revenue and meanwhile a close friend of mine worked for another company and they completed $7 million 200 and they did 700 or seven million. Yeah. Uh, and I ended up going to work for them and I worked for them for five years. I met my wife there before we started this business, interesting. What were you doing? What what was the name of that company? Uh Their name is buybacks pros in Denver by the ex pros and what were you doing for them? I did estimating? So I was a salesperson. Okay. What was that? Were you primarily inbound sales or were you doing some, some cold calling outbound kind of stuff. Oh, okay. Um, so we did all of the estimating. So there was an appointment set for a time to receive a quote and I just provided those estimates. Got it. So your job was to go out, you know, obviously quote, quote the job and ultimately make the prospective customer feel really comfortable with you and the company, correct? God. And what was Whitney doing there? Uh she was managing the appointment setting for the estimating department. Okay. So she was, she was kind of doing the inbound sales then. Mhm. Okay. So both of you were kind of sales capacity roll sales type roles. 100%. Okay. And then when you went to start, well, first off, what kind of prompted you to say, Hey, I’m gonna go and I know you have this entrepreneurial drive, but, but where did you sort of decide you’re going to start a painting company and this is a good idea? Well, I think it was one of those things every year at christmas I called my father and say, I think I want to do this on my own and say no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Yeah. Well he’s, he’s probably always gonna, if he’s anything like my dad, he’s gonna say it forever man. Well, you know, he didn’t. Um, but four years, you know, he had a reason, you know, no, don’t do it because you don’t know enough, you don’t know enough about management. You don’t know enough about the kids and I don’t know enough about the painting. Um And he grew up with him being a part time painter. Okay. So many of his friends were painters. He was a part time painter. We grew up painting our church every year in all of our friends and families homes. So it was something I was very close with and uh then when it was right we we kind of all just knew it was now the time was right right nice man. And more than anything I had the commitment from Whitney to do it with me. Yeah it’s big. Uh The they’re not going alone portion I think is valuable. So yeah more hands get work done quicker. Yeah. What what is it like? More hands make like work or something. Something along that. It’s something like that. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You need people to help you basically. Especially I think it it’s it makes you know we’ve seen a lot of success stories with with the husband wife kind of power couple, dual couple. You know if you have someone supporting because it’s not easy in the beginning no matter how much you know I guess what were some of your biggest struggles in year one to too many employees. Too many over overly generous compensation plans. Um Underpriced work. Someone’s always one of the issues ah so basing our pricing off of the market and not off of our business, uh not understanding finances and saying, you know if I just get more projects we’re gonna be good, but if you don’t really focus on the job costing and realize how much you’re spending per job, it’s very very dangerous. Yeah, yeah, it’s a lot of painters end up getting stuck in that that kind of hamster wheel, I think you know there’s a quote john wooden quote um that I really like so don’t mistake activity for achievement, you know make sure that that your activities focused and that you’re actually achieving something with it. So what you know when you kind of started job costing and realizing you need to know your numbers better, what are you looking for in terms of profit margin now on your jobs? Uh 50% 50% okay, got it where it’s currently at and from here it’ll be incremental pieces of growth. Yeah, I love that. So one thing you said that was really interesting was you don’t, you you made the mistake of basing your prices on the market, which I think is is obviously the natural tendency look around what what other people are charging rather than on your business. Can you kind of explain how you transition away from market pricing and how you were still able to close jobs at what I assume were higher prices. Yeah, I know your numbers and working backwards. So that was a step that I always skipped. I, I knew a business based off of what was I charging? What were other people charging? What was my number one competitors charging? Thinking that if you know those price points and you fall somewhere in the middle, you would be comfortable. Mm hmm. That’s, that’s not how it always works. Um, starting with what is the labor, What is the materials, What are the marketing costs? What are the overhead and breaking those down to a per job cost and fitting them in Was the key for for us to, to scale and to get to a point where we know we have a long, uh, runway in front of us. Yeah. Do you, I guess based on your market, do you know Like, Hey, we’re typically 20% higher than, than the median or what does that look like for you guys? Have you ever heard of painter say that they’re not the most expensive? I have actually, I have heard it. Yeah. We tend not to work with those painters, but I have heard it. I think it’s funny that no matter who I hear speaking or what on there, everyone always says that they have the best painters and they charged the most for it. Um, if you ask any of my estimators, they all say that were the most expensive. Yeah. I don’t necessarily believe that, uh, you know, um, when people are quoting houses, it’s super easy for one person to look at a house and see something that another doesn’t, yep. And how you compare, you know, apples to apples or bid to bid. Company to company changes from consistently. Yeah. Uh, You know, everyone knows certain pro, but I might give a bid against Senator Pro and be $2,000 more in the next house. There’s $5,000 more. Yeah. Let me say, I don’t know, I’m missing here. Especially the jobs, right? Interiors exteriors, You know, I see them both. Yeah, as far as that inconsistency within pricing, I don’t think that it’s something that painters often know well is how to look at a project and know what it’s really going to cost. Right. Where do these hidden challenges lie? How steep is that roof? How tall is that 3rd story? How dangerous are the rocks on the side of the house? Yeah. That, that go into calculating, you know, the accuracy of a bid. I don’t think a lot of companies do that well. And that’s seeing consistencies. So it’s difficult to say where we fall in the market. Fair enough. Yeah. Those those variables that are constantly changing and it’s not just the price per square foot, but what else do you have to deal with, what obstacles might be there? So when, when you and, and Whitney, you guys had some basically sales experience, you had, it sounds like you had a little bit of management experience, obviously we’re you know, we’re all operating in the people business. Um when you, when you started bringing on team members because you have spoken a lot about the importance of the experience of your team, What were you looking for when you started making those first few hires in the beginning? Great determination, people who wanted to fight through that, what was, you know, difficult. Yeah and really people that align with our core values uh journey of defining our core values over the last few years has been one of the most powerful to the acceleration of our company and making sure we have the right people in the right seats um Bad apples spread quickly. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Got to weed them out quickly. So your core values in this journey, what are your core values and how did you discover them? And how do you promote them in your business? Mhm. Um kindness is a core value, kind, intentional, nimble, dependable. Um but it’s it’s really just about being kind and leaning into who we know and how you treat people and what you’re doing before you meet with somebody, what you’re doing after and and how those interact with one another. Um trying to shift the focus off of, hey it’s just about the highest quality or the longest warranty or the best work or the most premium nous and switching it over to an experience um making sure that we have the people on our team to provide that right feeling to our clients. Yeah that is that that’s something that has actually come up repeatedly as well with other guests. This idea that that you’re not really operating as a as a painting company, that’s not really what you’re selling, you’re not selling paint, you’re selling a customer experience in a customer journey. You know that ultimately homeowners can do this themselves. So when the substitute is that they could literally do it themselves. It becomes clear you’re not selling paint, you’re not selling, putting paint on walls either. No. Yeah. Commercial that might be a little bit different but I think for residential, you know you’re really selling something more Absolutely and and that’s where we made the decision about a year ago to say commercial wasn’t what we’re going to pursue, It doesn’t make sense. And we have to say no um it’s not worth getting dragged into. How do we paint 500 units in a apartment complex. Yeah, not what we’re built for. It’s not the value statements that we have, it’s not our unique selling proposition. None of that falls inside of the commercial world. Um Our focus is on customer experience and happy clients and how they feel start to finish working with us. Yeah. So so tell me a little bit about your I guess how you do that. So when when a customer comes to you and well first of kind of tell me how you get your customers and then when they come to you, what does that look like for them? What happens? Yeah. At this point all of our marketing is inbound marketing. Um We began with a pretty aggressively building a door to door team and I had seven or 8 Knockers, door knockers, field marketing reps working for me on March 17 of 2020. And that’s when Denver went into shelter in place. Um and at that point I decided it wasn’t the appropriate thing for our community to be knocking on doors in the unknown forward, whatever was happening world went over a cliff. Yeah. And we let our door to door team go and changed our focus to inbound marketing. How do we make our phone ring? How do we get our message out online to as many people as possible? So our entire shift of budget and energy and expertise went from going out and getting our business to making our business come to us. Um and we advertise on any online platform that you can will purchase leads from anyone that will sell them online. Got it. Have you found one channel to be more effective than the other? Do you, are you measuring your return on investment for channel? How does that look? Absolutely. So we track every lead source and the results of each lead source. So conversion ratio closing ratio, average ticket profitability per lead source. Um And you see slight differences, but at the end of the day they’re all very similar with how they perform interesting. So you’re you’re getting so I’ll just throw a few out there because you know, some people aren’t gonna really know exactly what you’re saying. So you’re getting your your advertising on facebook, you’re advertising on google your advertising and instagram, which you can do when you advertise on facebook, you you’re buying leads from angie finally from thumbtack, I don’t know if craft Jack operates where you are, if they do, you’re probably buying these from them. Um You probably have a website that that people are finding online, you’re probably showing up in the map section of google. What what else is there anything else, what else are you doing? A lot of focus on next door. Uh So you’re telling me there’s no difference in the people who come in from yelp versus the people who come in through your google ads. Similar, similar numbers. That’s wild, man, that’s wild, You’re the you’re the second, you’re not the first, you’re the second person that I’ve spoken with has had a positive experience with you. Um Similar numbers, so similar average job size, similar closing ratios, similar conversion ratios um helps a little bit more challenging. You have to open a conversation with somebody on yelp, there’s a little bit of chit chat that happens, got to warm them up a little bit, yeah, within the platform before the name and the number is provided, uh, it’s similar with thumbtack. Mhm or thumbtacks? You have to kind of work them. Yeah, you have to introduce yourself. You have to, you know, start a conversation, make sure that there’s an alignment before they provide you the information on the, on the project. Got it. Now when you and I assume you kind of train your team on scripts on what they’re looking forward to ultimately accomplish their right. Okay. So what are, when you have a similar closing ratio, similar ticket, you know, job ticket, but are you willing to share some of those numbers? Um, Yeah, absolutely. Okay. What, what I guess what’s your average ticket value, average ticket value, um, $60 $500 Right now, 60 500 And you and your profit is about 50%. We, we shoot for 50% gross. So labor and materials now, Our interiors are slightly higher than our exteriors and then everything gets skewed when we start looking at holiday lights. That’s very, very different. Um, but exteriors were right around $6,000. Okay. And are you, do you guys run with an employee? Well, before I get to that, what’s your closing rate on these different leaf sources? 45%, that’s, that’s actually they became a customer. You booked a product. What’s your set rate? That right depends on whether it’s an inbound or outbound obviously are inbound leads perform at like 95%. If you call me and ask for an appointment, you usually get the appointment. Um, but if there’s any other type of lead where we have to go outbound call. So let’s say you receive a home advisor, that’s a name and a number. Now it’s in our court and we have to convert it. That’s more about a 60%. Okay. So if someone, if someone calls you or emails you directly, you’re almost always setting those appointments and if you’re buying a lead And you’re having and you know that other painting companies are reaching out at the same time and you’re setting about 60-65% right in there. Yeah. Got it. Okay. And then for, for your employee model or are you w to do use subcontractors? What does that look like for the most part, it’s all sucked. So the actual painting of it that the application, the replacement, Uh, we used 1099 labor for for that portion. Have you, did you kind of find a couple of companies or partner with on that or how do you do that? No partnerships. But what you find is that it tends to be a fairly small community and you know, at the end of the day, I think most people are looking for the same thing to be respected and to be loved and to be treated well and to be taken care of and to be provided well for, so that they can take care of their families, yep. Um, and we’ve just been very blessed with uh, some loyalty and some, some great relationships over the last four years. Um, and really helped some of those people grow their businesses. Yeah, Good for you, Good for you guys. That’s great to hear. So what, why did you make the decision to to use 10 99 labor versus W two scalability? Okay. Just like less people management, a little bit less people management. But how do you get to running, you know, 1000 exteriors in a season? And I have to train people how to do it. That sounds, um, difficult. Uh, there’s also some of the financial reasons, there’s some of the, you know, frankly who’s going to be a better Uh, instructor on how to paint the exterior. Me or a gentleman who’s been doing it for 20 years. Um, and it certainly is not me. Look at that kind of a rhetorical question there. Huh. Yeah. Uh, so let the professionals do what they do. Um, I find great painters and help them improve their business and help them improve their lives financially so that they can grow their team and on board more employee base. Yeah. So it’s kind of a, I guess, another form of delegation there, technically outside the company, but delegating it now. What, when, so let’s talk about, let’s let’s kind of dive into the customer journey. You know you really um kind of focus on that. So what does it look like when when a lead comes through and they book an estimate with you? What what happens? Yeah I mean the most important thing is to be reaching out to them as quickly as we can. So I do have somebody dedicated their job is working on the phone. Um And I would recommend that’d be one of the first hires. If not the first hire for any painter who’s trying to move himself out of the painting position. You have to have somebody to answer your phone and sound good on the phone. Uh not have not have all this noise in the background and correct kind of pop you know out of breath and answer the phone that doesn’t send a good signal. Um And uh so we have a beautiful wonderful smiling voice uh to answer our phone or be that first point of contact. We have a professional estimator to show up for a quote show up on time looking clean not in our whites. Uh huh organized and not flustered. And I’ll say it again on time. Um And then a single point of contact in our office, that person who first answered their phone is going to be their point of contact to the end of the project. Um And then I have a project manager who works with them in the field. So the way that we view project management might be a little different than other companies? But our project managers meet with the clients before any job starts, before any painters show up on site. They’ve walked the job with the project manager, gone over scope, confirmed expectations, laid out timing, confirmed colors, confirmed placement. And then we bring our painters in to meet with our project manager. Got it. Okay. So that that’s a pretty, it’s kind of a pretty hand holding approach I guess to make sure that that that proper expectations are set and that the customer feels well cared for. Absolutely, yeah. What happens after you complete a project after we complete a project? Uh first and most important thing we sent out a net promoter score. Nice. So we asked for a survey for, you know, gauging the feedback from the client experience start to finish. Were there any hiccups? How did it go, what other projects do you have coming up? Um And are you familiar with the NPS ratings? Okay. Um, so we asked the two important questions, how likely are you to use this again? How likely are you to refer us to a friend or family member. And we finished this year with a 70 seven Net promoter score. Having asked every single client that worked with us, what was your response rate? About 37% about? It’s actually not that bad. It’s hard to get, it’s hard to get people to respond to that stuff, but not that that net promoter score is fantastic. Do you how do you get reviews? Do you, do you have some sort of system in place for getting google reviews and reviews on yelp or how does that work? Just ask for it. Okay. Do you email or have a QR code or anything? Okay. Great. Yeah. Bird ice cream. Yeah, it’s not automated. Um It’s not something that we, you know, send to every single person. It’s not just turn the switch. I finished the job and a review request goes out. Um Those have to be done by our project managers authentically organically and I don’t compensate anyone for them. You guys are you guys including um pictures or videos of the project with tag with your reviews using the software. Okay. Got it. I know with nearby now I think with Berta you can, you can actually have it and I did see on your site you have the heat map and actually helps with the rankings. There’s a lot that that does for you, but you can actually have it tied where, where someone can actually click on the pin and it will pop up up the review and and pictures and potentially even a video testimonial of the customer, which is really cool. But yeah, it’s pretty cool. It’s geek out over that stuff. Uh And who did you say that was nearby now offers that? Yeah, it’s very similar to what you’re using Bird. I I don’t know whether bird, Bird, I may even offer it. They really may. I don’t think so. They don’t. Okay. Yeah, nearby now does offer and that was, you know, the whole reason behind it. It doesn’t matter the platform that you’re using. The point is to be asking. Uh and the platform is great and simple. And quickly I’ll send a review request with a, you know, a few clicks of a button and type in your phone number. But at the end of the day, it’s genuinely just about asking before we worked with Bird. I we had copy and paste templates for text messages. Yeah. So here’s your link for google. Here’s your link for yelp and you just copy and paste and text it over. Yeah, we had email templates prior to working with a platform. Um You really don’t need an advanced solution as long as you’re asking for it and and recognizing that your online reputation is going to impact that buying this decision from someone on. Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, even what we’ve noticed is even repeat. Even referral customers. Oftentimes go back to the site, there are oftentimes, check out your reviews. Again everyone, these are big financial decisions for most homeowners, you know, you’re gonna spend $6500. You want to at least feel like you’ve done your due diligence? Mhm. Absolutely. And I do I do want to note two, when when you, you’re kind of downplaying it and I don’t understand why because now you have a more advanced system and you’re using a system and software, but even what you were doing with the text message and the email, there’s a very big difference between including a link so someone can just click on it, it automatically opens it to to leave a review versus, hey, will you leave us a review on google, you know, go go google our company and find it and leave a review? Yes. Right. That that’s obviously the worst thing is to not ask for the review. The second worst thing is just say, hey, will you leave us a review? And then, you know, event you get to the point where you’re at least provided you have to remove those obstacles to the review. People don’t want to jump through a ton of hoops to to leave you a review. Um and I think that in general it applies to both the reviews, but in applies to hiring a painting contractor and the ease of use, ease of use is probably the number one buying decision for most people. How easy is it to say yes to this person, interesting. So how do you, how do you do that? How do you make it easy for for painting contractors and say yes, how do you make it easy to be available, answer your phone, call them back fundamentals back to one oh one here hiring one. Uh, you know, it sounds crazy. We hear people say I told somebody yes, but I haven’t been able to get on the schedule. So what are yours, what’s your timing look like? Yeah. Um, that’s a way to make it easy. Mm hmm. Don’t be booked out for six months. Mm hmm. Yeah. If you can’t take work for a certain amount of time, they will find somebody else to work with rather than waiting. Uh, and I’ve heard this debate consistently within the community of I like to be booked out because I feel secure sense of comfort. Yeah. You know, maybe there’s some sacrifice that could be made in order to meet people’s needs quicker, easier, more convenient with. So yeah, but looked out and you don’t hire, then you can complain about how you can’t hire and how you’re booked out too long. So it kind of works out if you think about it. Yes, It’s self serving, looked out for six months. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, ultimately, I think you’ve got to figure out what you want out of your business. So when, when you and you started with that, you started this, this interview with that, that it helped you knowing kind of where you want it to be and that’s helped your scale. Can you talk a little bit about this, this sort of vision that you started with, how you, how you selected that and how that’s helped you. Yeah. Um, I think it’s important to have those, Those roadblocks goals, not roadblocks, um, your roadmap to the future. So as a company, we operate with one year, three year, five year, 10 year goals. And that’s shared amongst our leadership team and its shared without throughout the company. So making sure that everyone from the leadership down knows where, what’s our one year, what’s our three year, what’s our 10-year goals? And those are consistently resetting as we move through the years. Do you share your numbers with, with the painters? We share them internally with all of the W two employees. I have shared numbers with specific team members or not? Team members? Excuse me, specific painters. So if a painter wanted to know, I’d be happy to show them what the bottom line actually looks like. Yeah, it’s pretty transparent when you’re sharing these, these goals at 135, 10. What does that look like? Especially if you’re not sharing, you know, bottom line numbers with everyone. How are you? How are you kind of setting those goals? Top line revenue. Uh, department growth. So how many people do we have currently in this position? And how many will we have go? It’s creating the opportunity for growth and advancement within a career. They don’t care if the business goes from 1,000,000 to 5 million. They care about how many other salespeople are there because when, who’s gonna manage those sales people. Mm hmm. Because eventually they could be promoted to a middle management position, correct. So you have to have that sort of opportunity for growth for people to want to stay and want to join and if you’re not growing, what’s the opportunity or the incentive for your employees? Um, um, you know, it’s the Common saying of what’s in it for me. They don’t care that the businesses goal is five million. They want to know, what does that look like for them? What does the benefits look like? What’s the profit share look like? What’s the career advancement look like? What’s the professional growth and development look like? Um, so we try to take those goals and visions and break them down to what’s it mean for each of the employees and how does their lives change, right? Yeah. I love the fact that you approach hiring as a kind of a sales process, you know, and, and ultimately you, the painters that are unsuccessful really in recruiting employees tend think, tend not to look at it like that. They think, hey, I’m gonna give you this many bucks an hour and you’re supposed to show up with a smile on your face and put paint on the walls and make the customer happy And that’s that. But ultimately the, you gotta think if you want this ideal employee who really cares a lot about your customer, really wants to do a good job. That person is not showing up for a certain amount of dollars an hour with no clear vision. That person wants to move up right now. Yeah. It’s, it’s ultimately a people, people business internally and, and customers. Mm hmm. And there’s, you know, I think all of us are seeing this um, uh, there’s some reckoning that’s probably gonna happen with our pricing within uh, employment and what people want to make uh, for all of the painters out there, we have a very clear insight into it. Look at any of your paint stores. And I’m gonna ask if any of their paint stores are fully staffed because most of my paint stores are not fully staffed in the Denver market, but maybe the manufacturers and the suppliers and other markets are doing better. Um, and again, it’s having a hard time finding a part time employment. It’s having a hard time finding people who want to work for a certain amount to do a certain skill or a certain job. Why move buckets of paint for $20 an hour. If you can flip burgers for $20 an hour. Yeah. Yeah, It’s a great point. Unless you know, with the burgers, you’re, you’re eventually gonna be capped probably little more than if, if a painting company is seeing growth anywhere. Even remotely near what you’re seeing. Even if a lot less than that, they can still see potential. Absolutely. Um Okay, great. So kind of transitioning a little bit because you are in colorado, obviously you guys do have a slow season in winter and you kind of do holiday lights, Talk to me a little bit about how you handle the slow season, how much the holiday light aspect of your business helps and what ideas you might have for other painters struggling with slow season. Yeah. Um, everyone is probably gonna be a little bit different um, really focusing on building that pipeline early on is so critical to it. Um, incentivizing people to paint in those slower times is helpful um, and communicating about timelines ahead of time. It’s something that we found has been really helpful. So what I mean by that, um, depending upon whether if the weather is great, we can get to you for your exterior work rather than just saying it’s a no well painted in april saying, okay, let’s take a look and see how the weather is and if you’re comfortable, we can go sooner. Um, if you’re trying to squeeze the exteriors in, focusing on interiors um, man december is a tough month uh, to go from thanksgiving to christmas. Uh, it’s challenging for those couple of weeks. New Year’s is challenging um, and we have not had too many issues, surprisingly, our january every year, it tends to be really good, ah, people are hit that new year and they’re ready to do some projects february has always been the month, that has and more difficult for us. I don’t do a lot in february. Yeah, that’s interesting. So the when you say incentivize people to how do you do that? How do you offer discounts if they wait for the winter? What does that look like? Absolutely. Okay. What what discount do you typically offer Somewhere between the 10 and 15% potentially. Got it. Yeah, I had read, I don’t remember what book I read and I’m not sure whether you’ve noticed this if you’re in that 10-15% range. But I read that it’s some some psychological might have been thinking fast and slow, huge psychological book, but 10% just for whatever reason, doesn’t move the needle in people’s minds and 15% of that magic number, that’s when it they think it’s, it’s a really valuable. I don’t know why I can tell you something. Not great happens like with a 10% discount, what happens when knows? It’s 10%, you can do 10% math very very quickly. So if it’s a $6,000 paint job and it’s a $600 discount, you see it instantly, You can’t do the math off 12 is quick or 15 for some people, it’s not as obvious and when you don’t connect the percent to the dollar amount as fast. Uh it definitely works better. That’s a good, that’s a great thought about that. Yeah. And I think it probably looks like uh some more thought has maybe gone behind it. You know, when you’re doing the 15%. It kind of looks, looks fake almost, you know, just everyone, just 10%. Um, I think the assumption is always that you, you bumped up your prices by, you know, 12% or whatever it would have to be to make them so the same. Yeah. Okay. Um, This has been really great man. So I do have a couple more questions for you. You had mentioned that there’s gonna be a reckoning with the, the employee pay. I think we’ve all seen a shift in the labor. How do you, I guess there’s employees, do you see any other shifts happening in this industry? How do you see it evolving over the next 5 to 10 years? I don’t think prices are going down. Yeah, I don’t think so either. I don’t think it’s gonna become any cheaper to paint your house. Um, So, and you know, we’ve gotten into a relationship now with our reps and our suppliers when we’re told the price increases coming, I say thank you. That’s awesome. Great, thank you man. Have another because that means we get to also adjust our price. Um in any moment that we’ve had an opportunity to adjust our pricing upwards and where uh, we have to buy in from the team, we found significant benefits. So initially early on as we started pushing the envelope of raising our prices. We would receive a ton of pushback internally from the team. The sales team, The sales team. I could never sell this. No one would buy this at this price. Well fine, you can raise our price but expect my closing ratio to go down 20 points in new york. Okay. Um and over the course of the last year and a half, we’ve gotten very comfortable in that selling a higher price. Good. Oh, they buy it at 4000 as much as they do five and they buy it at 55 as much as they do five or 65 as much as they did 40. Oh, so it really does not have to do with the number on the paper. It has to do with the communication and the offer that you’ve made. Um So now when we get that call saying, you know, there’s another 7% increase on your material costs, you say perfect. And we have the formulas built to adjust our material costs too. Give us the new output. Oh, that’s great. I think that’s the point that most painters miss too, you know, and and most owners mrs is the idea that it really isn’t about the number on the paper. If you’re attracting the right person. Some people will be about that number on that paper. And ultimately, you don’t want that. You don’t even want that person. It’s not the right person. Not not if not for you, not for 6. 3, you know, 8 10 $15 million company. That’s not the person? So some people, what they want is they want to. It’s about the trust factor. The customer experience factor. And if you’re 10 15, 2025% higher, that’s not gonna make the difference. Yeah. Ah Well, we often try to tie it back. So there’s times where, you know, with the discount, we’re talking dollars, not percentages, but when I talk about difference than pricing between us and someone else, uh we switched back to a percentage. Well, there are $1,000 less than you. Absolute. It’s a $10,000 project. So we’re within 10% of them. Do you think there’s an opportunity to we might be offering 10% more. They were. So your time is in the value. Uh huh vs saying, you know, it’s $1,000. It’s $1,000. But when we provide a discount, This is 10%, it’s not a 10% discount. It’s $1 $1000 discount, Wow, that is. I love that. Yeah. The $1,000 sounds a lot bigger. So you’re using the big number psychologically. When you offer the discount and you’re using the small number, what sounds like a small number. The percentage when you are comparing yourself to a lower bid. Absolutely. I’ve got some psych psychological strategies going on over here, Michael. I love it. Did you just come? Did you learn that at the past company? How’d you guys. How’d you guys start doing that? You know, I very much so committed to the trade of sales 10 years ago and I don’t know if I’ve read a book or that wasn’t a business sales Strategy book in the last 10 years. Uh, so I couldn’t tell you where it came from. Yeah, some somewhere along the way when you’re studying, studying the art of sales. Have you read thinking fast and slow? Yes, That’s a great book, Long Book. I had to really commit to read that book. It was like 500 pages or something. Um, okay. Do you, I guess what, what are you, what are you struggling with right now? The most obviously things are going really well, you have a very aggressive sales oriented, the mindset, are there anything you’re struggling with or that you wish you were, you know, projects, you wish you had more of there? Yeah, absolutely. Being able to turn the leaves up and down faster and quicker would be phenomenal, having more control of that funnel because I think everyone’s, you know, entrepreneurial dream is, if I just had, you know, that Fawcett was right there and we could just turn it up and down. Um, you know, that would be a game changer. Uh, those things are a little bit challenging. The peaks and valleys of the seasonal work can be challenging. Um, you know, there’s something that happens midsummer every year, which it’s kind of difficult, Everything’s ramping really solid in the spring and then come July four, everyone wants to go on vacation or take a break or travel with the kids. I think about it when the kids go back in school. Yeah. Um and those little itty bitty micro seasonality pieces are difficult. Yeah, the impact, the ultimate growth, especially when you have that you’re trying to get to 15 million in five years. I can’t afford those little things. Um it’s just about being better prepared for and and recognizing that they come and and trying to get in front of those holiday laws. Um That’s a very small part of it. Um The other probably a bigger challenge that, you know, truthfully I am where I’m at is trying to make sure that my leadership team understands the ins and outs of the full business so that uh huh You know, if in the event of not having me, the business doesn’t stop. So it’s getting everyone or someone trained in each one of the aspects of the business to manage in the event that I’m not present, It’s really our biggest challenge right now and where most of the energies put. Yeah, yeah, interesting, are you, are you speaking more to kind of succession planning if something were to happen to you or or more and you’d like to be able to take long vacations and not worry about it. Absolutely that 2nd 2nd 1. Okay, got it. No, no, no, I mean everyone knows like that. Hit by a buck, that’s how many people in your company doesn’t, you can get hit by a bus before it stops running. and at one point it was one if I got hit this thing stopped. Um now, you know, and that’s the difference between building a company or a business or is yes, a lot of entrepreneurs or painters are, they own a business, but they own a job because they have to go every day, owning a company that operates on its own is very very, very different. Yeah, that’s, we’re towing that line of having the right people to be running a business to be running a company. Yeah, yeah, robert Kiyosaki is a big real estate investors, is a big educator and I’m a big fan of his and he, he has a, the way he defines business ownership is if you can walk away from your business for over one year and you come back and it’s bigger and better than when you left it, then you own a business until you can do that, you don’t own a business. I love that. I talked about a strict criteria for owning a business one year, one year, yep, gotta be, I mean, you have to just essentially almost be removed, you own that business, but you’re not an integral part of work on it and that, that may not even be what someone wants. You know, you may want to actually be much more actively involved, but you, that’s his criteria and to me, that’s kind of the gold standard. Yeah. Let’s start small. Uh, let’s start with the month, maybe a week, not a month, a week and then a month and then a year. Um and that goal for for so many painters I think would be life changing to be able to have a business that operated for a week without them. Yeah. The money still came in, the mineral still went out and the clients were still happy. Yeah. I mean that’s the dream right? For for most painting company owners as you started and you want the financial freedom and the flexibility don’t want to be tied to it. That you almost might as well go get a job. It’s less stress. Absolutely. Well, Michael, this has been absolutely incredible. Do you have any other advice or any advice specifically for for painting company’s owners that may not be at your scale, but want to get to your scale? What would you tell them know where you want to go? Uh and spend every moment that you can thinking about about where you’re going to be. Ah, I think the pre planning the knowing your destination and then having a single focus to get there. That’s the most important part of it. Um And reason for 10 years. Read every sales book, you can, yeah, read every sales book possible sale sales solves all I put out a little live video yesterday if you have a problem so because then you can pay someone to solve your problem now. Oh man. I had a very wise mentor. Tell me once that you don’t solve an unprofitable business with more jobs ah Which is a mentality that I’ve seen many people take. You can’t fix unprofitable by doing more of it so make sure you’re profitable. Then pour gas on it. No no your numbers, you just bury yourself faster that way. Yeah. Well Michael, thank you so much for being a guest. This was this was really incredible. I do appreciate your time. Yeah, absolutely Brandon, thank you for having me. Hey they’re painting company owners. If you enjoyed today’s episode, make sure you go ahead and hit that subscribe button, give us your feedback, let us know how we did. And also if you’re interested in taking your painting business to the next level, make sure you visit the painter marketing pros website at Painter Marketing Pros.com to learn more about our services. You can also reach out to me directly by emailing me at Brandon at painter marketing pros dot com and I can give you personalized advice on growing your painting business until next time. Keep growing.