Guest Interview: Michal Cheney “Ignite Your Passion” Series: Episode 3 – Now onto $2M

Published On: March 4, 2024

Categories: Podcast

In this series titled “Ignite Your Passion”, Michal Cheney of No Drip Painting will be discussing her journey from part-time hustle to over $2 million painting company, the amazing opportunities she sees for other entrepreneurs to succeed in the painting industry, and the powerful purpose she has developed while scaling No Drip Painting.

In episode 3, Michal will dive into the path to $2 million, and how that is entirely different from the path to $1 million.

If you want to ask Michal 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 Michal questions directly by tagging her with your question, so you can see how anything discussed here applies to your particular painting company.

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Podcast Audio

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Episode 3

– Now onto $2 Million

Audio Transcript

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Welcome to the Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast. The show created to help painting company owners build a thriving painting business that does well over one million and annual revenue. I’m your host, Brandon Pierpont, founder of Painter Marketing Pros and creator of the popular 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 Ignite your Passion, Michael Chaney of no drip painting will be discussing her journey from part time hustle to over $2 million painting company.

The amazing opportunities she sees for other entrepreneurs to succeed in the painting industry and the powerful purpose she has developed while scaling no drip painting. In episode one, Michael discussed why she got started in the painting industry and what her initial journey looked like as a side hustle. In episode two, Michael laid out the road map of how she initially surpassed $1 million in annual revenue in episode three. This episode, Michael will dive into the path to $113 million and how that is entirely different from her path to 1 million.

In episode four, Michael will unveil her powerful, why the purpose she has found since launching Mil Drip painting. And in episode five, the final episode, Michael will lay out the very exciting opportunities she sees in the painting industry today. 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 form on Facebook. Just search for painter marketing mastermind podcast form on Facebook and request to join the group or type in the URL facebook.

com/groups/painter marketing mastermind. Again that URL is facebook. com/groups/painter marketing mastermind. There, you can ask Michael questions directly by tagging her with your question. So you can see how anything discussed here applies to your particular painting company. What’s going on, Michael? Hey, how’s it going, Brandon? It’s going great. It’s always going great when you and I are shooting a podcast together. So I’m excited the uh half to $2 million. That’s not something that’s really talked about a whole lot. No, and they don’t tell you about all the gray hair you’re going to get on the way and that’s why I have my hay who is really good with hair color.

So shes me up. Um But yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s a, does she work at? No, no, no, she’s my hair stylist. Oh, I thought, I thought we were getting ok. Got it. No, Haley is my hairstylist. So I would recommend to have one of those if you’re trying to surpass a million because you’re going to get some grays along the way. Um, but not really, you know, we’re gonna talk about kind of how you have to make a shift. I think in mindset, obviously, there’s um a, a huge to do list you need to create for yourself within the business in terms of your processes.

And um you know, for me, I think the idea is we’re trying to create a foundation that can ultimately be the springboard to, you know, get to three and 4 million or 5 million, you know what, whatever that looks like. I’m not super hung up on what that number is at this point in time. It’s more about uh building a team that is super proud of what we’re doing, a team that really loves this business like I do and we are tightening up our processes along the way so that we’ve got this strong foundation.

So where are you guys at? Revenue wise right now? Yeah. So we’re at the like 2.2 just over that and was 2023. Was that the first year you surpassed tonight? It was the year before we were at like 1.8. Um And 2023 was our toughest year uh for many different reasons. But the piece of that puzzle that kept ticking and kept working were some of the processes that we had in place. And um just, I think some of the groundwork that, that we had laid, even though we had a difficult year, we had enough structure that, that we could kind of overcome those things without it really affecting, you know, our, our, in our sales, in the end, our, our big challenge right now, you know, I’ll just tell you is our cost of labor.

So our profits aren’t where they are, where we want them to be. We’ve made some ST strategic changes in the business to help facilitate better outcome for our cost of labor. And it’s proven to work so far, January, we nailed it with a 35% cost of labor, which, you know, is, is kind of kind of low. Our goal is 13. Um and we were 18% profitable for the month of January. So we’ve made some quick, uh, swift changes and they seem to be working pretty well right now. Oh, that’s great.

So you guys were 18% net profit in January? Yeah. And I mean, that’s not really my end goal. Of course, we’ll take months like that. But, you know, 11 thing I’ve learned over, you know, really the last year or so, is that obviously profits matter? You, you want, you want a high profit? Like why, why else are we doing this, right? You wanna manage all your other numbers so that ultimately you’ve got high profits. Um But what I wanna do is be strategic on how we use those profits.

And, you know, for example, you know, what I’m kind of uh really focused on right now is, you know, the, the people that work with me, my team, my core team, I wanna pay them well and I, you know, I want them to have options in life and this is just something that’s, that’s, that’s on my heart and personal to me. Um, but, you know, I’m willing to pay people a little bit more. I’m willing to give some extras knowing that in the end it’s gonna um affect our overall profit.

Um, but that’s ok because it’s a decision that I’m making, right. Um, now obviously we’re gonna be profitable. We need to have money in the bank so that we can make strategic decisions for the business. But I’m ok giving up some profit if it means that I’m paying people well and we’re taking care of our folks. And, uh, you know, we’re doing some really cool things like we have a payment for program that we really put a lot of time into. Um, but yeah, I mean, that, that’s kind of gist of it, obviously, you know, you, you, you want your profits to be improving.

Um, we’ve got a real focus on that. But, um, yeah, that’s kind of where we are. Yeah, I think the, the idea that, ok, you’re maybe giving up some profit but you’re choosing to is really big. You know, you’re, you said why we want to make money. But we’re also doing it for empowerment and the ability to live life on our terms. You’re choosing to empower and, and treat your team really well. That’s, that’s a decision that you can do because you’re running a successful company. That’s right.

And when I realized that that was part of it because I’ll, I’ll tell you the, the other side of that was me banging my head against the wall. Like, man, why, why are our profits not a bit higher? And then I ended up kind of having the reflection of weight, they’re not higher at this moment. I mean, they’re gonna be but they’re not higher because we’re choosing to do these other things with the money that we make. And there’s a lot of power in that and when you can look at it through that lens, at least for me personally, um it actually gets me excited and inspired about the fact that I’m creating this business and I get to choose what I do with that. Right.

It doesn’t, it doesn’t matter. My problem is gonna be whatever the heck I want it to be at the end of all this. It’s me that needs to feel good about what we’re doing. And right now I feel really good about that. I like that. My problems can be whatever the heck I want them to be, you’re going to have, we’re all going to have problems. But as business owners we have the, the freedom to try to, I guess, try to decide what kinds of problems we’re going to have.

Yeah, for sure. Um, so, you know, when we kind of talk about, like the difference for, you know, the, the, one of the biggest differences for me from 1 to 2 million is that one, you have to get better at hiring, right? You have to have a, a team if you’re trying to build this foundation. Um And two, it’s required to meet for me to, yeah, so one of the biggest challenges for me has been to learn how to become a better leader, right? Leadership is to me is like one of these things that is ever evolving.

Uh You can, you can read, you can study, you can uh you know, find some mentors, but it’s always a work in progress and uh you know, leadership is tough. Yeah, what do you recommend for people who, who wanna, you know, they’re at the million or, or they’re already planning ahead, you know, they want, they know they want to get the multimillions. Leadership is tough. I think it’s one of the hardest skill sets. You, you have to develop it and it sort of seems soft too. It, it’s kind of people talk about leadership, the way that they talk about culture and, and when you’re just grinding and starting and trying to make sales and, and figure out how to meet the deliverables and until you’re at some level of scale, this stuff kind of is abstract.

It starts to really matter if you build a team and when you have to really build those systems and, and then you start to understand the magnitude of it. How can someone who’s never led, learn to become an effective leader? Mm Well, I’m still learning so I don’t know if I’m the best to fully answer that question, but I’ll tell you things that I do. One is I listen to a lot of podcasts, right? So I, I find the people who uh in my eyes are the good leaders and good examples of what I achieve to be and I follow them and I, I read a lot, um I’ve gotten into audio books lately.

Uh So I do a lot of those and um I put myself around people who I respect and, and who I can have these conversations with. Right? And uh and, and I think a piece of it for me that I’ve tried to get better at is just being able to reflect on my own uh inabilities. I’ll say like there is a piece of leadership and I, and I’ll just be open and transparent. A piece of leadership that I’m not the best at and it has to do with holding people accountable.

Uh The truth is, is that what I’ve discovered about myself getting to this journey, is that what I really am? Is I’m a visionary and at some point on my team, the, the missing piece of the puzzle is having a strong integrator and someone who can kind of fill this void and, and we’ll get there right. You, you don’t, you don’t get it all at once. But um so, you know, I’ve been hit kind of in the face, I’ll say over this last year with some leadership opportunities that have really highlighted some of the areas that, that I have.

Uh you, you know, that I need some improvement in. Yeah, I like that and the ability to introspect and figure out where you might be weak is not, it’s, it can be hard, right? It can be a scary thing to do to look at yourself and figure out if it’s a scary thing, self evaluation of any kind, self reflection, it can feel very critical. Uh It definitely feels critical coming from other people. It can feel critical coming from yourself as well. But unless you do that, it’s hard to really build the best company you can, if you haven’t identified the weaknesses, you need help in for sure.

And I also think that there comes a time when it’s OK to not be good at everything. OK? Like, you know, uh when I think of even just getting to a million or even to where I am now. It’s like you’ve got to wear a lot of hats and you’ve got to try and be the best that you can when all of those hats are on. But the truth is we all have a certain skill sets and we’re better at some things than other things. And I think, and again, I, I say, I think because this is still a learning journey here that will forever be uh but I think you get to a point where you get to hopefully do the things you’re really good at, right?

And then you find other folks to, to take up the slack in the areas that are, are your natural strength. So that’s kind of my focus is I’m trying to build a team around me that lets me shine, lets me do the things that I’m good at. I put people in positions that let them shine, let them do the things they’re good at. And uh you know, the result is gonna be a pretty uh amazing business that does super cool things for people, right? People in the right seats and that includes, yeah, you in the right seats.

That’s right. And I, I uh I, I tell people this and I don’t know if I should continue to say this because some of my, my women and paint girls, they, they tell me that this might be a limiting belief that I have. But I, I think that there will come a day when I, I have a piece of this business that I’m really good at, but I’m probably not gonna be the one running it. I’m probably gonna be, uh, you know, figuring out my visionary role and figure out how to get this business to the next level and really, uh extrapolate all of the, the amazing things that we can do under the name of paint and someone else who, you know, will probably be at the helm of this business.

And uh you know, we’ll see, we’ll see if that’s a limiting belief or if I’m actually onto something. Yeah. Interesting. Well, that’s what Jason Paris did, right, with Paris painting. And he, he talks openly about that about how one of his skill sets is finding people who are better than he is at different things and that includes leading Paris painting and then having the humility and the wherewithal to get out of their way. Yeah. Right. That’s a hard thing. I’ve always thought that that sounds really difficult.

How many business owners will come on. We shot many podcast episodes together and people look to him as this as this beacon, you know, of what’s possible within the residential paint industry. And he stands up there and says, you know, hey, I couldn’t lead it like this. So I got out of the way. I don’t see other people saying that. Yeah. Well, I, I think, um, you know, the reason I can say that because let me just first e, you know, II, I was an athlete in my younger days. Right.

Competitive, you know, I’m gonna get the job done, I’m gonna, you know, run through the brick wall and, and that’s one way to do it. But I also think that sometimes business owners are the bottleneck to their business and they’re the ones that are putting the lid on where the business could really go. And because I love this business so much and because I believe in the potential, I wanna make sure that it can flourish in the way that I believe it can in my heart. And I think that means me having a certain role and, and probably other people having roles that I can’t do.

So it really comes from like this deep love of, of, of what, what we’re doing here and, and what I think we can accomplish. Yeah, I can see that you wanting to prioritize the business and the success and needs of the business over maybe what you would want to do. Oh, for sure, for sure. So the, and that’s a hard thing to do too because it’s hard to separate us as entrepreneurs, separate ourselves from our business in general. So for you to even think that way, it’s almost like the way you just talked about that.

It’s like talking about your child. Or something, you know, I wanna, I wanna push them off, you know, it’s time for them to leave the nest kind of deal. That’s right. So, stay tuned. We’ll see what happens over the next couple of years. We’ll see. And maybe it’s a limiting belief. Maybe, maybe it’s, it’s actually an advanced, advanced, I think. Yeah, I think, I think, yeah, I’ve kind of started to challenge my girls and, and I think they get it now. I, I actually don’t think it’s limiting belief.

I think it’s, um, it’s a inter, uh, intuition piece that, that I know and, and I feel right. Um, a and, and the other thing that I’ll say is, you know, kind of the agreement I’ve made with myself is that if there ever comes a day that I do step away from this business, um, it won’t be when things are difficult. Right. It, it won’t be when I’m, you know, maybe losing my mind and I’m worried about cash flow and I’m, you know, under a bunch of stress, it would be a calculated strategic move because it would be in the best interest of the business.

And for me that, that gives me a lot of, uh, uh, it gives me a lot of, um, hope and satisfaction that, uh, you know, it’s like when they, the, the athlete retires, uh, at the top of their game. Right. It’s like that, that’s when you step away, you don’t step away when you’re down in the trenches trying to, trying to, you know, get all the water out of the trench. You, you do it when, when you really create something amazing and you’re proud of it. It’s exactly what I was thinking about too.

Was, was the athlete retiring? Yeah. Yeah. The, ok. So someone’s at a million dollars and then dollars this hypothetical person. Yes. Why, why is it so different? The 1 to 2? Why are, why are you focused so much on leadership right now? Versus the 0 to 1? Yeah. So leadership is a piece of it because now you’ve got a team. But I think the other piece that people have to be prepared for are um I think it’s relatively and I’m gonna put this in quote easy because there’s nothing really easy about being an entrepreneur.

It’s easy to run and grow a successful business. No, it’s relatively easy to get to a million on word of mouth referrals. OK. Now you need some repeat clients and, and things like that, like part of our repeat client base are our remodelers. They make up about 23% of our business right now. And so that’s a good client base. And then the other part of that was, you know, word of mouth referrals. You, you can do that. But there comes a time when you’ve got to have different buckets in your marketing category.

I, I think of them like buckets right So, um, you know, we’ve got, you’re a marketing company that helps us generate leads. We’ve got, you know, we’re doing the home show this weekend. This is gonna be a great uh lead source for us. We’re expected to get 50 between 5070 leads, you know, scheduled estimates. That’s what we’re hoping for. You know, we’ve got our social media that we do, we do our networking. So we’ve got all these different buckets. And I think when you go from 1 to 240, you’ve gotta have some marketing plans there.

You gotta have some things that you do consistently because you gotta have the leads in order to get there. So that jump from 250 to 250, it requires um some, you know, some thoughtfulness on, on the leads and then it comes back to and you and I have talked about this before, but when you get the leads, then can you service them? You know, one of our challenges this year uh was once we were getting great leads coming in from our Facebook ads, our marketing efforts. Well, guess what?

We were getting booked out four and five weeks for estimates. And you can’t, you can’t, you can’t do that, right? You can’t do that because we, there were, there would be times when we choked to the estimate and they’d say, oh, I already had someone do the work. Ok. Well, we’ve, we’ve got a new plan now, right? So who do we, why do you guys want to repaint this? Um So, you know, you, you, you can get the leads but then what is your plan to service them and, and all that good stuff?

So, uh you know, it requires some forethought on your processes, your sales process. Uh You know how you’re gonna get those leads and then, I mean, you’ve got to have a system for production. So I think the biggest piece of the puzzle is, I think you can get from 2100 to 211 million with not a whole lot of processes in place if you wanna, you know, run around and lose your mind every five seconds. But to get to that 21 to 13 jump, I mean, you’ve got to have some systems and, and when I say systems, I mean, what I mean is, is, you know, from the very beginning when someone contacts you, what does their experience look like?

Scheduling an estimate? Right. And where does, where does that go? Do you have a schedule, scheduling system in place? How does it go from, you know, do you have someone answering the phone? How does that initial contact end up on an estimated schedule and they show up on time? Those things all have to be thought out and that occurs at every step of the way. Once, once it gets into, you know, production, then what, who’s getting the colors? Who’s talking, who’s, are you doing color consultations? Right. So how, how are the materials getting ordered?

You’ve got to have some processes in place in order to, you know, complete the job. Yeah, the and that’s a, a big piece that’s overlooked a lot, right? When you, when you get effective marketing, whether you develop in house, whether you partner with an agency that does it well or however you end up generating that marketing, you have another set of problems and it’s oftentimes difficult set of problems to solve, which is the operations and you always are hearing and seeing like, hey, we need more leads.

Hey, these leads are bad, right? All, all over the internet. Those are typically from painting companies that are not that big because it, that, that’s the main focus from 21 to 21 22 to a million is really a number of leads. You start to actually have to run a company and realize all the moving pieces that go into that at that 1 million and up mark. What advice do people listen to this? Who, who maybe aren’t quite there? But they think they’re gonna be there sooner. They want to be there and they, they just don’t know how to kind of wrap their minds around this or, or how to prepare themselves.

Are there any steps they can take now to get ready for that 1 to 2 million? Well, what I think for some reason I, I did a pretty good job at and I think that this is a result of just how my brain works is uh we really documented everything we do have a lot of sops for our business. Um And you know, just to make it super basic SOP is a standard operating procedure, right? One reason I did that early on is because I wanted the business to have value.

And to me, if I had all of these things documented, then there’s some value, right? I could essentially hand a book to someone and say, here’s how you run this business as opposed to just it all being in my head, I also have kind of this, I don’t know if it, if it’s a fear or whatnot, but I want this business to out survive me if possible. And because of that, um that’s another reason why I documented things. But the flip side of that is that when you document and what I mean by that, I’ll give a and a real example is um start with, you know what I just talked about when your customer calls, how does a customer schedule an estimate?

Right. So with my company, there’s a couple ways but they could call, they could call us on the phone and someone’s gonna answer, they can go to our website schedule that way they could go to our Facebook Instagram, which then links to the website, right? That all can be documented the whole process through which, you know, the customer clicks on the link, they fill out the form, they submit it. That um submission uh is gets zapped over to, you know, we use, you can book me for that, that scheduling platform that gets sent over to our our calendar.

Those things can be documented and what happens when you have them documented. You now have a training platform for someone, right? If you need an admin, you can say, OK, here’s our, here’s let’s pull out the sop, here’s how a customer um schedules an estimate in there. You can have, you know, if you’re answering the phone, here’s what you say, right? So for me, the documentation of these things. Now again, that’s how my brain works. I’m organized in that fashion and that really gives me something to sink my teeth into.

So for me, the message would be to document things um and start integrating some systems. I mean, I think when you get to the $2 million market maybe before, I mean, you might have a a uh some, you know, good advice on this Brandon, but at some point, you have to have AC RM and if you don’t know what AC RM, I remember I would hear the word CRM. I had no idea what that even was, right? Um But you have to have um a place like AC RM where you can store your customer information.

So that one you can use it for future marketing efforts, right? It’s basically a collection of the data. Um you know, the CRM that we use now, which is through you works really well because uh you know, we have a lead come in, we can interact with the customer through this system. You know, you can text them, you can email, you call them. I mean, there are systems that you’re gonna have to end up incorporating to, you know, facilitate the really the containment of all of your customer issue.

You can’t just always do that with an estimating program. And for many years, that’s all we had was our estimating program, which we all know in the painting world, there is no one program that does it. All right. There’s, you know, you’ve got to kind of use a couple of different programs to complete the mission. But um I would say if you’re getting to that $2 million mark, it’s essential to have AC RM, what do you think about that? No, 100%. And so the, yeah, you are using our CRM.

So it comes with our marketing program. But what we found, you know, pain market pros works only with painters and we’ve been doing it for quite a few years now. What we found is is there’s often times a big discrepancy between marketing and sales that painters don’t understand, right? So it’s uh we come in and then they don’t you ask them, hey, what’s your sales process? So this is something we talk with all, all prospective partners of ours. Hey, what’s your sales process? You would be amazed by how many people just don’t even understand the question.

Well, well, we, you know, a lead comes in and, and we give an estimate and then we follow up, that’s your sales process. The, these are just things that, that’s like, you know, you go about your day. Well, I put my pants on like, ok, you know, we get, we gotta start here. But what are you actually doing right? There should be like 13 points before you even show up to the estimate. How is that? What’s the experience, as you say, what’s the experience like? Not just, of course, fundamentally, you gave them a number and of course, then the next step is to see if they pay you the not like obviously these things happen, right?

But, but what it means is there is no sales process. So when you’re as a, a painting company are scaling and you’re, you know, you said you can go from zero to a million with repeat and referral 100%. And then you want to start growing and you wanna start working with an actual marketer or marketing company or, or what not, and you start generating more leads, you have to have systems and a scalable, repeatable process to handle those leads and close them at a high rate and, and reach out to past customers and things like that and AC RM for, for that is really, really critical. Yeah.

And it’s like that in every aspect of the business, I mean, over on the production side, what’s your production process? Right? You have to answer that question as well. And I mean, I know it’s kind of tough in conversations like this to get into all the details. Um I actually just did a, I’m gonna promote women in Paint podcast real quick. We just did um a podcast and we talked about how we specifically use Slack at no drip painting, right? So we can get super, super detailed.

Um So Slack is one of the programs we use and it’s part of our production process and, and how we communicate to our team. We put our work orders in there, our teams end up uh putting our invoices in there. Our subs do so like there’s real details that you can sink your teeth into. But the idea is what is the process and it’s detailed. It’s, you know, we go for the project, goes from here to here to here. You’ve got to be able to lay all that out and understand it.

The other thing is when you start doing that one, you can discover where the holes are, right? If customers are always calling you or you know, reaching out like, hey, when are you, when are you starting my project? Uh you know, that’s a good indicator that maybe you need a process that answers that question before they ask it, right. Um You know, that’s what processes do and then once you’re up and running and you’ve got some stability under you with these processes, then you can tweak them to better the business.

And I’ll give you an example of this, this one here is that uh job costing is big, right? We know you got a job cost and for some reason, people are very reluctant to do it. And I don’t, I still don’t understand that, but um job costing is essential. It’s one of the first things I think you should be doing in your business. But we we were doing job costing. We’ve been doing job costing for years. We have lots of data, but my admin was kind was doing it and we were doing it as an item to check off the list.

Did we do job costing for that pro project? Yes, we were checking off the list. I just mentioned a few moments ago that our biggest struggle for 2023 was our cost of labor. Job costing is directly related to cost of labor. Or another way to say that is your job costing can help you to monitor your labor costs. So one of the changes that I made was we are now gonna have our project manager. I have two project managers, they are in charge of their own job costing, right?

It kind of sounds like a no brainer when I, when I talk about this at this point. But, um, you know, when we’re in our busy season, it, it feels at times like our P MS just are running all over town checking on projects, making sure customers are good. And that job costing piece of the puzzle was delegated to someone else. Well, I’ve moved it back to the PM. It’s their role, they own it and it’s part of their close out process. Right. So our close out process in this instance is done at the end of the job and it includes things like invoicing the customer.

Uh We have a whole little thing that we do for customers with touch up kits, color sheets, cookie cans. We do all these little fun things. That’s part of the close out. And then guess what else is part of the close out now? Job costing, right? Their job isn’t done until they do that job costing. And what that has done is it has given them a bird’s eye view of the project the moment it’s done. So, if there are any issues, if we didn’t meet our, you know, our goal is 45% profit on each project.

And that’s with a 40% labor rate, right. So every project, they’re looking at that cost of labor, they’re looking at our materials. And from there, we have kind of a system in place. If it’s a pricing issue, they go right back to the estimate, give feedback. We can talk about these things in our meeting. But one of the, the reasons I think we had such a great January and our labor cost was so low is because our P MS new at the end of that job, they’re doing that job costing and now they’re gonna have to speak to that.

Uh, because now I’m also following up and, and, and we’ve got a whole system in place, but that’s, that’s a process and everyone knows what the process is. And, and I think, you know, that’s, that’s really what we’re kind of talking about here, whether it’s a sales process or, or whatever it is in your business, yet, you have to have these processes and systems in place or otherwise you’re just operating and some unorganized fashion of, of some sort. So the P MS closing out the job figuring out what the gross margin was on that job is potentially forcing them to have a higher sense of accountability to doing this script.

That’s right. And right away, guess what the feedback I got was, I love doing this job costing. I thought I didn’t have time for it before, but now that we’ve changed things around and um, you know, quite honestly, what, what I said was, look, we’re, we’re only doing things under the production umbrella that have a direct impact on our cost of labor. So last year, we spent a lot of time running around the project, driving all over Columbus, Ohio going to every project. I said, you know what?

We’re, we’re gonna change that. We’re still gonna have high touch with our customers because that’s what our customer requires. Um, but we’re gonna shift things a bit and I want you to spend 50% of your time out in the field and 50% of the time in the office. Um, and when I say office, it means just office related work, we kind of have a work from home model, but that means doing your job costing and analyzing um what we just did and making sure that materials are ahead, are ordered ahead of time and delivered to the job.

I don’t want my P MS running, you know, my P MS are not materials delivery people, we can have Sherman Williams do that for free, right? Um So we’ve kind of shifted the focus a little bit and the feedback that I’m I’m immediately given is that this is awesome. I feel like I’m more in control of my job. I feel like I’ve got um you know, clear uh direction on my goals and things like that. So just even making that tweak has been so useful, but I wouldn’t have known to even do that if we didn’t already have some processes in place that response, the job costing was in the hands of the wrong person and we just moved it to the person that it, it, that should be, uh, you know, uh checking that out.

It’s a powerful concept, this idea of giving someone control and responsibility of an end to end solution here, essentially. Yeah. Yeah. And they, and they, they like it and they’ve responded well, yeah, I mean, I mean, people want to feel empowered, you know, they, I think some, some business owners and people in general have this misconception that uh team members are employees, all they care about is money and they just want to show up to do their job and they, you know what really motivates them is being paid well and, and having good hours or, or the benefits or whatnot.

But recognition, appreciation, autonomy, you know, the ability to grow the ability to have pride in their work. These are really big things, bigger, bigger things for a lot of people, the huge and, you know, the other thing that I have learned is really, really important to my people is to really, I’m gonna say, feel my vision for the business, not just, you know, know about it because they hear me talking to someone else, but to really um kind of like, you know, allow myself to be vulnerable and open up my my heart and say, no, here’s what we’re doing.

You know, we’re making a mark, not just in our area, but we’re gonna make a mark in this industry and we’re gonna be known for changing lives through pain and for treating people well. And you know, all of these things that are on my heart. It has been very important that I really share that and disclose that with them because that’s really what gets them excited. Of course, we all need to make, you know, we need to make livable wages, we need to, um, I believe in some capacity, I want my people to have some sort of control over what they make, right?

Um Those things are important to give people options in life. But man, you can get people super excited and pumped up if you can get them to buy into your overall mission and goal of, of what you envision for your, your business and your team. Absolutely. And that’s the thing. A lot of companies don’t do very well. It’s the thing. A lot of companies don’t have really that, you know, there is no clear, you have a and I know we’re gonna dive really heavily into that soon, but you have a very clear vision and mission and so it, it makes it something people can rally around.

And II, I wonder for companies that maybe don’t have that much passion. I wonder if they can achieve the same efficacy or the same, the same cultural, um I guess benefits that you have at your company without it. It’s kind of a rhetorical question. I think it, I think it’s difficult, I think it is too. I mean, or maybe that’s where the challenge comes in play of, they need someone that can at least figure out how to communicate it. Right. Like, not everyone that’s not everyone’s strong suit.

Like part of what I’m good at is getting people to feel my passion about what, what I’m doing or what I’m into. Right. And so that’s something I can lean into and I can utilize that to leverage the business and, and really get my team excited. Not ever, that might not be everybody’s skill set, but I would say that that’s probably a challenge of, of being a business owner is if, if you’re not the one the best to communicate that can you find someone who is, you know, um because you’re right, it’s not all about what you get paid.

There’s so much more to it. You’ve talked about finding the holes in, in your processes and, and I think building processes that this is a reason a lot of companies are entrepreneurs, I think are hesitant to do it because they think, oh, there’s not really a process. So that sounds like really formal or a lot of work or, you know, we don’t really have a process, we just do this. So I’m not gonna write that down. But when you start writing things down, even if it seems rudimentary or like, you don’t have a real process, it kind of builds on itself.

It’s like a bridge and you build, you build one part of the bridge and then boom, the next, the next part appears, it shows you what you need to build is am I thinking about this the right way? Yeah, you are. But I, I think that we have to talk about it under the uh umbrella or idea that we know that in this industry, things haven’t always been super professional, right? It, you know, there hasn’t, every time I talk, every time I talk about this, every time I talk about this, you start, you start smiling, I love it.

It’s you’re being so yeah, everything else you’re doing, you’re like, no, we could call space. This industry is behind the terms of professionalization for sure. OK. Big time, right? And so the result of it is we know you get painters who become business owners and there’s a huge learning curve there. It is not the same skill set, right? Um And there’s a, there maybe you’re the painter, maybe you shouldn’t even be the business owner. I mean, there’s a whole lot we could talk about that but like because there’s this frame of mind of, oh I’m just painting.

Um But no, this is a business like any successful business has processes, has, you know, strategies, has, you know, ideas and concepts behind what they’re doing and you gotta apply that to the painting business too. And, and when you do, when you think of it as a business and you figure out how to start learning the skill sets of a business owner versus a painter. That’s when these things become important. That’s when job costing becomes important. That’s when writing down your processes comes, becomes important. But to your original question, yeah, I mean, I think it starts with just writing down the simplest thing.

And I wanna say, I know that seems like a daunting task and it is, let’s just say what it is, right? There’s probably a million things you do in your business. And now we’re saying you gotta write them all down. Just start small, right? Start, start with the small things that, you know, um, it’s, it’s no different, you know, I, I always tell people like, you know, I mean, I talked to a lot of people who are just starting and I’ve talked to people recently that just write their estimates by hand and give it to the customer and don’t have a system or anything.

Don’t really have a way to track who they’re doing the work for other unless they keep that piece of paper. And I’m like, well, listen, at least put their names in a spreadsheet. Like those names are gonna become valuable to you at some point when you need to reach out and ask for a review as for, you know, hey, can you refer me? And it’s, that’s a process, right? So it doesn’t matter how small or how big you are, but you’ve got to start, uh you know, getting your pro you need to start understanding that you have processes.

My way to do it is to document them. Um Again, because then that serves as a training document for me at some point. Um But it also gives me the satisfaction of having something outside of my head. Uh I mean, imagine if you want to sell your business someday, you can’t sell it if everything is in your, your head. So I want my business to have value and one way to do that is to have documentation of all the things that we do. Yeah, 100%. You have to have that documented because you have to visualize your, your company moving on away from you or a talks about Turkey, turkey truck tests or, you know, if you get, if you just disappear, if you die or something happens to you, what happens to your company?

It should be able to, or at least the goal for you to work toward that. Yeah, exactly. The, so we’ve talked about uh Xavier, we’ve, or, or no, you talked about Slack. You weren’t talked about Xavier Slack C AC RM. You know, using the CRM. We have uh we’ve talked about a lot of the, the systems and processes. Are there, is there anything else tech related? So in terms of tech products or, or software that you think people should take a look at? Well, I’ll tell you what we use and, and I don’t claim to have the best system and there’s certainly things that need to be improved.

But for our project management piece, we use Monday, monday.com. It’s simpler to s, and some of the others, one reason I like it is because it’s got a good amount of automation that you can add into it. And I don’t think you have to be a tech wizard to figure it out, right? Um So we use Monday, it’s, it’s totally customizable, meaning I can have it look however I want and I can, it’s, it’s flexible enough that I’ve been able to make it adapt to our processes as opposed to it being stagnant and we have to adapt to the way that it functions.

So we use Monday for, for our project management. We, we use ZAP year, we tie all these things together in some capacity where we currently use estimate rocket for estimating, which estimate rocket does have some limitations. Um But I think that they all do in, in some way or another. Um We use Slack. Um Let’s see here. I know I’m missing some. Uh we use tsheets uh which is now under the Quick Books uh world for folks to clock in and out of. Um we have a split model of subs and employees.

Uh We of course have a payroll company for all of our payroll stuff. And what am I missing here? I know I’m missing something that’s a pretty good breakdown. The other thing that you said that I thought was really powerful that I think could be easily missed. But you said when, when customers ask, hey, when is my project going to be scheduled or, or they, and you say that for you is a sign or it’s an opportunity for improvement? Like, OK, they asked this question, why didn’t they already know it or why did they feel the need to ask it?

And I think that proactive approach is very rare with businesses. Usually it’s, hey, we, let’s wait. And if the customer is mad or if we get a three star or one star review on Google, well, we know there’s a problem, right? Or, or if some are erupts so they call and they’re, they’re very upset or we are closing rates too low. You know, we’re not making a lot of money, then we have a problem. But you said someone just asked, hey, one is my project yet and for you, that is in of a problem.

So I think just looking, looking for areas of, of improvement versus just waiting for fires to happen and then figure out why they happened. Well, you know what, I think that comes from two places. I, I used to work in the customer service world years ago. Um And so there’s a little bit of a tie to that. But the other thing is when I didn’t have a project manager or estimate or anybody. Um I wanted customers to reach out to me as least amount as possible. Like I was like, the least the, the, I just want to minimize the questions, right.

And I do this with my team too. Like I’m gonna teach you these, these tools, these steps and then therefore you don’t have to ask me questions because I’m busy doing other stuff. And I think I’ve taken that approach with customers, but I’ve done it in a way because the, the, the true uh intention is to let them have a great experience. And if they’re having to reach out to me to find out when their project starts, that means we drop the ball on some sort of communication there.

So a lot of the things that um that, that we change or that become highlighted, it’s, it’s for this exact thing like, like our, you know, our, our goal is, is for these customers have such a great experience that everything they could possibly want to know. We’ve already answered. Yeah. Yes. So we um we recorded some promotional footage for pair marketing pros recently and I was talking with this video editing company that we worked with yesterday and he wanted to wrap it up the project and he wanted to know how things went for us.

He said, hey, you know, from the beginning to the end, which by the way is also a good thing for companies to do, sit down and actually talk to people how the experience was from beginning to end. Ok, from the, from the experience from beginning to end, how was it, the end product is great, the communication was lacking in the beginning. And so, and part of part of them is they needed to find a, a set to record, you know, like where they’re actually going to conduct it and they didn’t have that information.

And therefore that information wasn’t conveyed to me. That’s fine. The problem was, it wasn’t conveyed to me what’s happening. And so even we’re trying to get someone on the calendar and you don’t know when they need to be on the calendar or, or if they’re, you’re in kind of a holding pattern because you’re figuring it out just simply reaching out to them, having someone give them a call, say, hey, we’re really excited for your project. I want to give you a quick update here and the update is there is no update.

You don’t say that, but, hey, they want to give you a quick update. Our team’s really, uh, working on getting in the schedule. We’re gonna make it as soon as possible. We should let you know by the end of this week, I just wanted to call and touch base with you and let you know. Right. Just I’ll let you know that, that we don’t have any information for you, but we’re thinking about you. We got you. You don’t have to worry. You don’t have to follow up and ask us and wonder whether or not we forgot or whether or not we care that that is, that’s customer service.

You don’t always have that. Well, and in order to do that, think about this, there’s a couple of things you need in place one you need to have on your radar somewhere somehow that, that customer hasn’t been contacted, right? So, like, like, like that’s kind of the handoff from maybe sales to production. That’s what we’re talking about when we say you need to process the other thing that uh I think you have to overcome or at least I know I did and this might be really telling about me being a true introvert is that I would hate to make those phone calls.

I’m like, oh my gosh, I don’t want them to be mad at me. Like, like, you know, there can be this little sensitivity piece around even making phone calls like that. And I think if you can change your mindset and frame of mind on that and realize actually you’re doing them a great service by making the phone call and most of the time people appreciate it so much. It’s not a case where they’re upset that you’re not starting tomorrow. It’s more. Well, thank you so much for letting me know. Right. Yeah.

And you said you, you run that communication canes that almost overly communicating from the very beginning. And people will give you a lot more grace. It’s when you kind of climb into your hole and, and you don’t want to call them because, oh boy, like what if they wanted the project to already start? I can’t start quite yet. So I’ll just, I’ll call them when it’s ready. You’re setting yourself up and, and them up for failure. But that’s a real thing that happens. I mean, I, that used to happen with me, you know, when I was the only 11 doing all the things, I mean, I get how that happens, but I would say get out of that space as quickly as you can and that’s part of the transition from 1 to 2 million.

Yeah, you got it. You gotta build, build that cultural cultural piece and that communication and customer experience. So right now we’ve talked about leadership, we’ve talked about sops some of the the processes. Uh We’ve also talked about leveraging technology and software. They help make it more scalable. What else are we missing? I’ll tell you a big one is cash flow. Um cash flow for me super tight at the 1 million mark. It, it seemed like pretty much it took whatever we were making to run the business, right?

Um And I’ve heard people call the million dollar mark like the dead end like you wanna get there and get the heck out of there as fast as you possibly can. Um, so, you know, consider getting a line of credit, um, you know, consider being really, really good with your money and, and, and trying to keep as much as you can in the bank and don’t make frivolous purchases, you know, one big measurement for some reason in our industry is, uh, people like to talk about one how much they make and how many trucks they have, right?

And um sometimes you can get caught up in that and thinking that you might need some vehicles before you do. Um I know that, that pro I think that probably happened to me at, at one point and, and I’ve learned some lessons from it. Um, but, you know, cash flow is huge and, and it’s, you, you need money to, to run the business, you need money, um, you know, to pay your people before you collect payments. And there’s got to be a big focus on cash flow.

And one reason I say this is because in life, money is probably one of the big stressors for me. And I’m sure there’s a lot of, I don’t think childhood anyone else, childhood, there’s a lot of childhood, uh tie backs in this. But, um, you know, you, you, you, you gotta have money in the bank and you’ve gotta, you’ve gotta monitor your, your money and that means that you need to know your numbers, right? You, you, you know, I know numbers can be scary. It’s, it’s not something that we all, um, you know, have a knack for.

But, uh, you gotta have your numbers and, you know, for a long time I did my own books and when I finally said, you know what it’s worth paying a, a bookkeeper and an accountant that is, that is an expense that, um, I think some folks try to prolong paying that. Uh, but really it’s, it’s, it’s needed. I mean, II, I would be very careful going up into the two millions and doing your own books unless that is something you have real experience in. Sure. Yeah, this idea of cash flow of understanding your numbers.

It is oftentimes overlooked or minimized the, the importance of it and the, the number one rule, in my opinion of businesses don’t go out of business. And the reason by far the majority of businesses go out of business is that they run out of cash. So it’s kind of, the number one rule business is cash flow. Yeah. Kind of need. Kind of need that. Huh? But look, if you’re not doing numbers and you’re not looking at your PNL, I mean, you’re operating blindly and I know that we do that a lot in this business.

I mean, it’s like the theme to just be operating off of your feelings. And again, I don’t know if that stems from this industry, just not being professional and, and, and but like, that’s not how businesses run businesses, know their numbers and a painting business should know their numbers. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that it, it oftentimes is generational or, you know, they have a painting company because they started painting at, at some point in their lives and then built the company and it, and a lot of these other industries, it will be, they have a company because they decided to have a company.

You know, they didn’t necessarily start, you know, selling handbags on the side of the road and now they, they own this, you know, store, right. This retail store, they probably, it, maybe it wasn’t that same iteration or they, they started as just a one man plumber without any kind of license just doing random things at people’s houses. Now they run a successful plumbing company. They’re usually gonna start a little bit more intentionally in terms of, hey, I’m gonna actually enter this as a, as a business owner and run a business.

Whereas painting, I almost feel like a lot of people kind of fall into it, you know, or that they were one day they’re a business owner. Yeah, I mean, I don’t know too many people that say I grew up and I always wanted to be a painter. Yeah. Right. Um So, yeah, you’re absolutely right. But, you know, these, these are the essential things if you want to grow your business. You, you, you’ve gotta, you’ve gotta know your numbers and, and I think, you know, I, I’ll say one advantage maybe for me because, or, or, or it’s helped me because I naturally want to know things. Right.

Like, I have never been the best at numbers. So, you know what? I got an accountant that could also be kind of a coach to me. Right. I wanna learn this stuff now. It doesn’t mean that I have to be the one doing it. It doesn’t mean that I have to actually figure out quick books, which I hate quick books. Um, but I know how to look at a PNL now. Right? But that was a learning curve. There was a time, I didn’t even know what the heck A PNL was.

Uh and now I can look at one and, uh, you know, I know what I’m actually looking at. Right. So it, these are opportunities to learn and I, I think that’s a piece of this trying to run a business being an entrepreneur. You have to want to learn things. It doesn’t mean that you have to wear the hat forever. But, you know, if you want to be a successful business owner, you, you’ve got to understand, uh, business related topics. Yeah, absolutely. And you, you need to understand the fundamentals of your company and, and the, the profit and loss statement, your income statement is about as fundamental as it gets, that’s right.

That, that and your balance sheet. But with, uh, there usually are not a lot of assets except I know you write women in paint telling everybody how many trucks you have so your bounce is gonna be pretty important. Ok. Don’t bust me out on here. Random. I know. I’m just kidding. Uh, he only had six the, um, what, as we wrap up this, this episode on the crossing that cows on that path from 1 to 2 million? Is there anything else you wanna add? The last that I’m gonna say?

And this has really been uh a new venture for me but is, is to branch out and connect with people like you, you know, you know, connect with me but having the support and be able to even have these conversations. I mean, one reason I like these podcasts, I mean, I’m like you Brandon, you know, I get to do this women and pain podcast and guess what it inspires me, it motivates me. I get asked all the things that I really wanna know, but having these connections, the these conversations, this is what kind of fuels the fire, right?

Um And you know, there’s, there’s some great people out there who are willing to share all the information. There’s great podcasts. We know all the amazing things that the PC A offers and, you know, I would encourage people to get involved because it makes a world of difference. Yeah. Yeah. It really does, Michael. Thank you. Thank you for yet another wonderful episode. Um I’m looking forward to the next two and the series has just been just been great. Awesome. I’m looking forward to it also. This is a lot of fun. It is.

If you want to learn more about the topics we discussed in this podcast and how you can use them to grow your painting business, visit painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast for free training, as well as the ability to schedule a personalized strategy session for your painting company. Again that URL is paintermarketingpros.com/podcast.

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

Keep growing.

Brandon Pierpont

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