Guest Interview: Nate Streeter of Paris Painting

Published On: January 24, 2022

Categories: Podcast

Guest Interview: Nate Streeter of Paris Painting
Nate Streeter

Nate Streeter, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience at Paris Painting, shares how Paris Painting has grown to doing over $10 million per year, and the interesting journey he took to joining Paris Painting. He elaborates on the importance of data analysis, and how Paris Painting uses NPS and multiple customer check-ins to keep a very tight gauge on their customer satisfaction. He offers some very solid advice for smaller painting company owners aspiring to one day own an 8 figure painting company, and shares the struggles that Paris Painting is still working on ironing out themselves.

Video of Interview

Podcast Audio

Topics Discussed:

  • How to implement NPS to monitor your true customer satisfaction
  • The transformative resources currently available to entrepreneurial painting company owners
  • How one terrible mistake can keep you trapped in your business, unless you fix it
  • What painting companies can learn from the plumbing and HVAC industries that are doing hundreds of millions per year in revenue

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 in 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 guests Nate Streeter Nate is the director of marketing and customer experience for Paris painting, a residential painting company based in Minneapolis that does over $10 million in annual revenue. Nate discusses his journey with Paris painting and how he plans to use solid data and marketing techniques to propel Paris painting to doing north of $30 million dollars per year. He talks about the importance of customer feedback and he provides a valuable mechanism that other painting company owners can take advantage of to monitor their own customer satisfaction as they grow their painting companies 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 Nate. Thank you for joining us on the paint marketing mastermind podcast man. Yeah, I’m excited. Yeah, so I guess tell us a little bit about paris painting. Yeah, so Jason Paris for those of you who haven’t met him, he started Paris painting in 2012 and I think maybe about a year after that I started working with him as a vendor. Um So I owned a door to door flyer delivery company. Paperboy and I worked with Jason for many years as he grew his business, you know from, I think that first year I worked with him, it was maybe like 100 and $60,000 business. So um yeah, so back in 2013 14, that’s how small his business was if you didn’t know that. Um and he grew up to several million dollars um in that time period I was, I had basically owned this door to door flyer delivery business my whole entire adult life and I had gotten to the point where I didn’t know if I wanted to do that forever and so my kids were teenagers and we had almost had the house paid off and so I was, I put my business up for sale and um decided hey I want to do something else with the rest of my life, I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to do yet. Um so this is kind of Jason’s story of mine, hopefully that’s okay, brady. Um So I put my business up for sale, I was really lucky to have had some good coaches over the years and um so my business was really profitable so um I had around 50 non compete, you know people who had signed it so I had a lot of interest right away which was, it really surprised the business brokers because they were like flyer delivery service, usually it takes about a year to sell business but maybe years won’t sell it. I mean that’s pretty much what yeah and so I had within just a few months I had that many and I had four that were very serious and so I had one that offered me my asking price even which was like how could I turn that down, right so but of course just like all deals, it’s a seller, finance deal and Lee and I, my wife and I were not looking for cash out of a deal that just wasn’t where our world was at that point, this was 2,018. And so we did kind of a big balloon at the end and not to get all too geeky for you guys, but um the person who bought it, I think he had had the business for three or four months and he had had a personal crisis in his life with his family and I got the business back, that was not part of the plan, it was like sending your dog out into the woods and it coming back are supposed to come back. It was terrible. I, I, you know, and those were really hard months and my customers of course, like also to my horror got to see this whole thing happen and the guys over here, which I already looked up to quite a bit. Um and actually I had interviewed here, you know, during that time I was kind of looking for another job. I didn’t know what I wanted to do yet. And so they came to me and they said, hey, what if we gave you some shares? We’re looking to grow this thing more than just paris painting. Uh I don’t know how much you guys know about that, but um and you know, we can transition you out of the day to day at paperboy and you could become our marketing director. And so I said, great and that’s exactly what happened in 2020, the first six months I transitioned out of paper boy the day to day there. We had the person that was working under me became the general manager and then they hired some more staff. And so it’s been about a year and a half that I haven’t been involved in the day to day. And I’ve been here working on the marketing and customer experience, customer experience kind of came in the second year as we recognize like, oh we need to have like staff that do this right? So yeah so that’s actually just you know in the last year so we really have pushed into that um So that’s kind of the stories and now of course as many you know Jason’s not really involved in the day to day in the painting business um and so but my office is just right next to his, his is just right down here. So yeah that’s great man. So you so paris painting was a client of yours paperboy. So you were you were running like flyer service direct mail service for for paris painting and then this whole thing happened and then essentially they basically I guess in a way kind of bought uh paris painting through offering you equity or I’m sorry bought paperboy through offering you equity in paris painting paper boi has more than doubled since they have it here. So and I had no doubt that that would happen there. So the guys here are so smart and gals um so once I got out of the way it’s grown and the trajectory that they have is several million dollars right now so there you know growing that business and succeeding in that as well and I am one thing I’m happy it is still it’s the most profitable division we have here. So that’s been good so I got one little thing that I think I did right? And uh but yeah it’s been you know working here, I just can’t tell you how grateful I am like the culture here is so awesome and so um having a boss. So for those of you guys who have never had that like my whole adult life, I’ve never had a boss. Um so in 2020 they were so patient with me, Brandon like um Alex and um everybody here like and it was hard, particularly the first six months I wasn’t, I think some of it was, I was never used to having to explain myself, I was never used to having so yeah, a little bit, yeah, so that was, you know, I’m still kind of going through that transition a little bit, it feels like some days, but they were so patient with me and um it’s a pretty entrepreneurial atmosphere, so there’s definitely space for some of that too, so, but it can work, you know, for those of you guys have never had a day job, it can work like and I don’t have to and I don’t have any nights or a weekend hours, which is so wonderful. Um you know, and they, and so these are some of the transitions that I went through which has just been great um good for you man. Yeah, that’s that’s definitely one of the more interesting, it’s not the most interesting backstory we’ve had so far. Where are you, do you mind sharing where Paris painting is, you know what revenue you guys did in 2021? Yeah, so we are in the Minneapolis ST paul metro, we did seven. So what did we end up with? Seven point some million I think is where we ended up, we have two different numbers we have produced and sold. So the soul is always quite a bit higher. Um and then we’re on track. I know we’re on track for 11 million this year um in Seoul got it, so on track, so you did, we’ll call it 77. 5 million. Somewhere in there, maybe maybe sold more than that. You’re on track for 11. That’s a that’s a pretty um ambitious uh, target right there, you know, seven a half to 11, I guess. What is, what’s your, your focus over the next 35, 10 years? Where are you guys trying to go? Yes. So, you know, we It’s so funny because when we talk about things, we think that that’s actually conservative the 11 million. So I know it sounds crazy, but we think we could grow more than that. Um but there are, you know, there are things that aren’t working perfectly here and so we want to continue to improve those so that everything is working as best we can as we grow. Um You know, our goal, we have a bunch of different brands here. So that is a complicated question, but I would say we want to grow our Paris brand to 25 or 30 million, we’re fairly confident that that’s possible in the twin cities, market here. um and there’s definitely opportunities for us in specific little genres that we’re not doing as well as we could. Um you know, we have focused a lot on exterior painting uh in our growth for for residential, exterior painting and some of the other areas, whether it’s interior or commercial or multifamily man, we just are barely doing anything in those areas, so there’s a lot of potential for us. And so um we plan to grow all those areas as we grow in the coming years. Well, with the uh the 25 to 30 million goal, you know, given that, that you’re not working with painter, marketing pros, that’s not our goal as well, so that’s great, man, it’s it’s good to good to have that alignment there. One of the things, you know, I think I’ve told you this before, you know, we, we looked at a lot of the other home service businesses, so we’re often looking at H VAC, we’re often looking at plumbers and there’s so many more companies, I mean in the twin cities here we have a lot of, oh my God, all right, and 30 million, it’s very common in those industries, whereas painting, it’s much more common to have really small businesses, um you know, that’s sort of one or two chuck in a truck type. Hopefully, I’m saying it right, so yeah, you did break up for a second there and I do apologize. I know I know it might be my internet today but you were saying basically that that plumbing age fact that that them being the 2030 40 $50 million that that’s pretty standard but for painting cos it’s highly fragmented and tends to be smaller. Is that what you were saying? Yeah. And so they often from a lot of my strategies that’s what I’m looking at is what are those guys doing in those industries? I think that’s a great point. Two I think I think plumbing and HVAC in particular it’s I mean not not to be offensive to painting but it’s almost night and day in terms of the strategies that are executing on and and why would plumbers be so far ahead of painters. It doesn’t really make sense except the industry just hasn’t adopted some of this stuff. Oh I think I can tell you why. I think it’s because the margins are much better. So like you know people that just hate to say like this but the smartest home service people have been attracted to those industries because the margins are really good. It’s not and I don’t mean to say it like that but I mean like big bigger business people so who you know so they’re building $200 million dollars You know plumbing and HVAC companies so and you know yeah the margins are great. I mean it doesn’t take a rocket scientist, like a plumber, you know, their costs for materials are under 15%, you know, each person, you know, one plumber can go out and gross you several $1000 just in labor per day for one person. Yeah, right. This is a whole different follow ax than what you have in painting world where you’re talking about 60 $70 an hour per person that you’re building out. You know, like they would like that, that would like offend them if they were only able to make that much. So, so I think that’s part of it is, it’s, it’s a little different kind of business and it does attract a little different group of people. But as so many of you, I mean, some of your podcasts, I’ve listened to your brand. I mean there’s plenty of people making money and painting and so this is like our little industry secret. They think that our industries maybe a joke, but it’s not at all. There’s plenty of people that are doing great making a wonderful living. And um, so let’s just let them keep thinking that. I think that’s I think that’s an absolutely excellent point, right? Because you have the opportunity as a painter to really be a big fish in a small pond And ultimately you’re, you’re not competing with so many of these 100 $200 million Google ads and things like that that, you know, being being that Google ads is an auction process. Facebook, often it’s an auction process. Your, your budget, it becomes hard to compete at a smaller scale. There are plenty of plumbers that don’t make any money, that’s a little small guys. Yeah. And it’s also not just the, that part of it, it’s also that your competitors, when you look around, they’re good. Like, so like right now, you know, you’ve probably heard this, I think your last podcast, they meant like all you have to do if you’re painters show up when you say you’re going to and give them an estimate. Yeah. So whereas if you’re in the plumbing industry, every single person has really nice stuff. You know, their, their trucks are great, They have course, come on time, they’re going to give you a wonderful bit, they’re going to give you a warranty is amazing and follow up and so this, you know, makes it harder. Everything is a little harder and you’re right, they spend a lot more on marketing. A lot of them spend 10 to 20% of the girls are marketing. Um and so um the competition is much more challenging. Yeah. We recently had some plumbing work done at my house and I was really impressed. They, they, you know, we execute a lot of automation and everything was painted marketing pros, but they were executing on their end. So I was getting reminders, hey, you, you know, just so you know, your, your appointment has been set for this time that I got a reminder of the day before reminder on route, I could track the driver on the phone. I mean it’s like, it wasn’t obnoxious, it wasn’t done in the way like, hey, leave me alone, it was done like, wow, however much I care to know about what’s going on here. I can no, you know, so I, I didn’t wonder if the plumber gonna show up, you know, like people wonder is the painter gonna, is the estimator gonna, there was no, none of that, yep, yep, yep Yeah, so these are good industries to watch and um, you know, to, to try to mimic. Yeah, absolutely man, that’s a super good point. So with, with paris pain you guys are, would you say you’re primarily than residential? Yeah, yeah, I’d say, you know, we, we’ve barely dipped our toes, you know, when we talk about commercial or you know, we’re doing things for general contractors and, you know, a few accounts here and there, but our bread and butter is residential exterior and um about 20% of our businesses interior, I expect that will continue to grow in the coming years is we’re starting to take interior a lot more seriously here. Um, and so that is definitely an opportunity for us as we grow in that area. Now that’s an interesting point, especially given where you guys are located, you know, around Minneapolis, why would you, why would you focus so heavily on the exterior when, when you have to deal with the winter season? How did that kind of come about? I think it comes about because we have a model that’s primarily focused on contractors, you know, so we’re hiring contract painters and contract crews and it’s much easier to do that with exteriors and quite frankly, it’s also much easier to provide a consistent product I’ve heard on some of your other podcasts, people alluded to that, it’s harder to provide a consistent product for interiors with sub crews and um, we’ve experienced that here too with our nps scores and different things as we look at them and so us tightening that up and, and figuring it out, which were working hard to do um, is part of how we’re going to grow that, but yeah, it just has to do with the kind of labor and the way our system is built, um, you also require a lot more project management for interiors. I know many of you guys are probably nodding your heads, but man to make a customer happy and the interior of their house is totally different. Um, and so I think for us that requires an adjustment and even the way we think, yeah, it’s definitely, definitely a lot more quality control goes into that and I think that this, you know, situations can, can be quite variable. Exactly, exactly. So, um, okay, well I want to touch on this mps, you know, I know that I know that that’s a big thing that you guys do and you’re, you’re really driving that made. And you talk to me pretty extensively about how you guys handle that. Can you sort of speak to some of the metrics you’re tracking in terms of customer satisfaction and, and not only kind of how you’re tracking, but what advice maybe you have for other painting companies owners that, that haven’t implemented this kind of first steps to where they can start to start to implement the systems that you have. Yeah, I mean, so I am so lucky because I did not come in here with nothing like these guys already, we’re building a system. Um, they recognize that hey, if we don’t ask the customers throughout the process, how it’s going. I mean, especially we’re up here in Minnesota uh, and I think it’s somewhat, you know, we have a lot of that Scandinavian passive aggressive where people just won’t tell you that things are terrible to your face. You know, if they think that. Um, and so I think maybe if you’re these kind of areas, you probably are even more, you need to have a good system in place. Um, and you can’t just trust your gut. Um, you can’t just trust what they told your PM that will not work. We see it every single week here. So the mps system is one that was designed I think, many decades ago. And it basically, um, it tracks three different groups. So, um, are people a promoter, um, are people a neutral or people a detractor? And the way attracts those three things is by just asking a simple question. So at the end of our projects, after we invoice the customer, we asked them on a scale of 1 to 10, how likely would you be to refer us to a friend or family member? And based on the score they give us is whether they’re a promoter A neutral or a detractor. If they’re a nine or a 10, they’re a promoter. If they’re stabbing her eight, they’re neutral. And heaven forbid. But it does happen if they give us a six or below there a detractor and that’s what you’re trying to avoid at all costs. The way the mps system works is six or below gives you a negative 100 seven or 8 gives you a zero and nine or 10 gives you a plus 100. So when we say mps score, that’s what goes into that. And a score that is higher than I would say 50 Is considered pretty good. Higher than 60 is um, you know, in the home service business, you’re doing well. Um, if you are under, it’s funny because once you start sliding though, once you’re under 40 or 30, you have a lot of detractors and there’s probably a lot of room for improvement. If you are at zero, it is going to be nearly impossible to grow. So you have as many people that do not like you as many as people who do and those detractors have a lot of influence in the market. Um So these are also things that big businesses use and banks to to evaluate all kinds of, you know, whether your business has value and again, these are things that are very common at H HVAC and plumbing and those kinds of businesses. So our goal here of course, is to have a 55 or 60 mps. But even more than that, we try to get 1. 5 pieces of feedback for every job we do. So not just the mps. Um we try to get, so for the mps to be correct, you need 60% of your customers to fill that survey out. And I know you and I have talked about it. Brandon, like there’s no secret to that. You kind of have to chase them a little bit. We have an automated system where we email them and text them, but I’m gonna be honest with you, you know how many people fill it out even with all that 25% wow. So we still have to call the other 35% and we have to just get it from them and that’s part of what my team does every quarter we’re or every week, literally we’re spending time doing that. But our system also asked for feedback after the estimates. So we just asked them for a thumbs up or thumbs down. Um we asked them after the wash for a thumbs up or thumbs down and we also asked them after the first day for a thumbs up or thumbs down. So these couple of little touch points, most, you know, not every customer fills out everyone, but it does give our customers a chance if things aren’t quite right to give us a little bit of feedback. Um, and they can write a comment after they give us the thumbs up or thumbs down. So, you know, like you might expect our sales team 90 you know, some of my sales guys, 99% of their customers give them a thumbs up. Everybody loves the sales guy. So that’s like the easiest, you know, so, but sometimes after the wash or after the first day we already have some problems and we can get kind of on it quicker if things aren’t meeting their expectations. So you, you kinda, you get this feedback earlier on. So it’s not you, you kind of keep going through because some people sit there and just sort of keep their mouth shut because they don’t want, you know, they don’t want the conflict and ultimately then they’ll just light you up online or they’re not gonna recommend you and all this other stuff. And I’m going to be very honest with you Brandon before I came probably in early days of Jason paris. You could ask if he’ll tell you they didn’t have all these fancy feedback loops. They didn’t know that people were upset with them. It’s, trust me, it’s much worse. Like we look at it, we don’t really have data more than a couple of years ago. We didn’t have as many escalations back then. Well, it wasn’t necessarily because we’re doing perfect painting. It’s because we don’t have the feedback loops to bubble up the escalation. So, you know, our process where if somebody shows that they are angry or disappointed or anything, we do an escalation and then we have a whole process to get them out of that within 14 days here. Um, and we can throw anything, we need to add it more labor, more money. I have my own ability to do that as a team and it, Yes, it’s over $1,000. And even then our president will usually approve it if it’s reasonable. So, um, so I just, I think, um, if you don’t think have any feedback, no feedback doesn’t necessarily mean good. It just means you don’t know. So the unknown is that it’s probably probably the biggest danger. Yeah. Now for some of you guys, I’ve talked to some of you guys at different painting conventions and different things and you have huge repeat numbers. That is a good sign that things are probably pretty good if you don’t have a feedback loop and you aren’t a generational painter, That of course helps. But even with it, if you’re a generational painter, if you have a lot of repeat every year, you’re probably pretty good. You if you institute a feedback loop, you’ll probably confirm what you already think. Yeah. So the the NPS score just so everyone’s listening to the net promoter score. That’s what they use is so Nate. What do you, what do you do with this information that comes through its escalation. Now if there’s, if there’s positive, there’s no drill if there’s negative, what’s your process of that? So that is such a good question because I think honestly even the large businesses don’t do enough with their data. I am, yeah, I’m so proud of the guys here. I mean we, you know, we respect the data here. I don’t know if you know how that’s one of our key things and you know, we spend more time analyzing the data than we do gathering it. So part of my team’s job is to look for trends. So we have what we call core feedback. So every single piece of feedback that comes in, we rated on all kinds of different things. Did they mention cleanliness, positive or negative? Did they mention the Project manager project, you know positive or negative did they mention the price positive, negative. So like we have all these different little tags basically is a good way to think about it. And then what that does is it bubbles up. So then we can see trends for certain project managers or certain cruise or whole teams in some cases. So a lot of my team, what we’re doing is we’re analyzing that data and giving it to those different, you know, to the sales group or to the and saying, hey, it looks like this sales rep is struggling with X, Y Z or you know, this project manager or this crew. So yeah, if you just let that day to sit in a drawer, it does nothing for us. Most of what we’re trying to do is use it for coaching. So we empower bosses here, the vice president and the different managers with that data and then they are filtering that in the other thing we do is virtually everybody here’s compensation is tied to those mps scores. So they have pretty good sized bonuses that they won’t get unless the nPS scores are a certain number. So we’re all pretty much on the same team that we want to accomplish this goal of getting these numbers and you know, and, and then, so then everybody takes it very seriously. Yeah, I think that’s great. I think when you kind of kind of align incentives and when you can align success in the job role with ultimately what the company needs to succeed, which sounds pretty straightforward, but a lot of times it’s actually not not done, you know, hey, show up, make make the customer really happy. Um, but you’re gonna get paid whatever you’re going to get paid regardless. Exactly, totally fit. So when you, when you send this, uh, you know, when you get this net promoter score, is this just basically a form that they fill out via email, What you, you mentioned, you have to chase him on the phone. Sometimes we do it all different. Yeah, we do it all different ways. So we have an email, we have a text message we send out when we call them, we can do it. So just my team can do it manually. So we have something. So I guess like our project managers can just go in and fill up the numbers in our system. Um, but yes, we can, our, our team has the ability to go in and actually put a number in. Um, so if we get somebody on the phone and we have found that particularly our older crowds, that’s almost always what we have to do. We have to call them. Have you noticed that on the phone that the score tends to be higher? I can’t imagine someone on the phone really. I don’t think it’s any different. The difference that we found, it’s all in how you ask. So I guess I’ll preface it that way. You need to, there is some training we go through and you need to be very careful that you’re not persuade, you know, sort of alluding to anything. And um, but one thing we absolutely love about the phones um is that they will give us much more feedback. So if we call them and ask them how it went, they will give us several paragraphs of feedback. Often they will often not right out several paragraphs of feedback. And because of the way we do that core feedback, that tagging system, the more we get, the better our data is. So that’s one thing we kind of love about the phone calls is that we do get deeper data. Um and we can also, if they’re frustrated, we can sort of start jumping into our escalation process immediately, which I don’t know if you guys all have that either, but The goal of an escalation process, I’ll just tell you in like 10 seconds is like you need them to repeat through it three times. Um and every time they’ll add a little more and then finally they’ll confirm that you’ve got it all and we can do that right then, which is way better. Like the first time they show you they’re frustrated or angry, you want to go into that process as quickly as possible. Um So that’s a benefit. Whereas if they type it out, God knows how many days they’ve been angry and or you know, yeah. You know, so when you say you have them repeatedly, you mean they say, hey, I was frustrated because the person showed up later or because you know, this occurred and you say you just have them expound on that or what do you mean? Yeah, that’s a good question. So, um, for those of you guys who, who have not experienced this, like what happens is they will say that they’ll say I’m so mad. You guys came so late and you say so. It sounds like you’re mad because we didn’t show up when we said we were gonna, you know, we need to clarify a little bit, almost always. That is not the only thing that made them mad. That’s just the first thing that came out of their mouth. So when you repeat it back to them, what they realize is, oh no, I’m mad more than just that. They say, well, yeah, that and you guys tracked mud all through my front thing say, oh gosh. So it seems like, so it sounds like we both didn’t tell you when we were going to come and we were dirty in your house say, well, yeah. And you know, you guys, when you left, you left my front door wide open. So then then you went through and then you say all three of those things back to them and all of a sudden, then they’re like, yes. And invariably, I mean you guys do it, you you you email me naked off slash management dot com, I guarantee you’ll have to do that over and over. That’s what we have to do here. You have to do it three times. Otherwise you won’t get it all out. If you settle on the first one, you actually have no idea what all made them mad. So go through it three times. This isn’t something we came up with. Lots of different industries do this. Um and then you’ll get it and then what we’re instituting this year though is we still don’t always believe them. Quite frankly, we would like to send, we’re gonna hire a customer advocate position and they’re gonna say, okay, that’s terrible, I want to come out to your house and see all this and then we’ll even uncover more. And because we’re really at that point when they’re angry, we have to figure out exactly as much as we possibly can that the gap is. Um and people just aren’t as forthcoming as you might think. You know, we joke that all these Karens in the world, Gosh, I wish it was all Karen’s like, it seems to me like Karen’s expresses exactly what she wants. Like these people don’t, you know, Yeah, like sometimes like please. So people are, people are generally, you know, for as much jabbering as there is on facebook and everything else, people are generally conflict adverse, you know, I think they are too. I’m always, I think I’m more surprised at how much people will put up with before they maybe say something, you know, or how they reacted. I’m thinking like I would have been more mad than that. Like what’s, you know, gosh, like they ruined your carpet. Like I probably would have been calling at 10 PM that night. Like what’s wrong with you guys? You know, that’s one of those things that then then you end up with the negative review, you know, because they sit there and they stew on it and you know what, that’s actually, that actually was really terrible that they did that. I’m going to write them a bad review. Yeah. And I mean in 2021 we had no negative reviews, public reviews now last year, I’m sorry to 2020, I’m sorry 2,021 we had a couple. Um, and that’s very frustrating. It harms us so much inside. Um, we try to avoid that. Like the plague, not just because we don’t want public, you know, negative reviews of course we don’t, but if someone felt like that was the way they could outlet and we didn’t catch them and all those other things I just mentioned to you, it’s like, how did we not catch this? Yeah. And actually the ones I can think of right now are from past years, like sometimes people leave you a review, they just finally think of doing it. So one of our main ones we got last year was actually from painting, we did the year before shows people still on this stuff. Sometimes you’re probably not getting positive reviews a year later. Typically we do, we do sometimes. Yeah, I mean, but that’s a whole different thing. We chase after people, but not a year later usually, but we do chase after them after we’ll try to get them to commit to saying they’ll leave us a review. That’s another thing that’s wonderful about using the telephone is the converse thing of what we just talked about. Let’s say they tell us Nate this was the best painting. I mean we literally have had this like in the last couple weeks, this is the best paying experience I’ve ever had in my entire life. You know, we had one that came in last week. He said, I’ve never seen so much plastic used on a job site like this was unbelievable, you know, so our teams are really focusing on this right now and he said, you know, I’ve never seen a contractor to take so much care. It’s easy for us then to say, wow, I can’t wait to pass this on to your project manager and your crew. They’re gonna be thrilled. Would you be willing to leave us a review online, like a public review. I will tell you, they almost feel obligated in that moment because they just told you they think you’re the best thing since sliced bread. So that is one thing you have that on when you’re on the phone and you’re getting feedback um that you can get now of course for paris we’re doing thousands of jobs, so it’s impossible for us to get feedback from every single person without our automated system. But um once they say yes, they won’t leave your review. Like I think you and I have talked about this brand and like only very few people will like we have to chase them with a bunch of different ways and we figured out some things what we I think the thing that we figured out last year that works the best but I guess this is it won’t be a secret. Um We just, every single piece of communication we do after that assumes they’re gonna, they already left us a review. So we send them a text and say first we send them a text just saying here’s the links to leave us reviews. Thanks for leaving this review. We make it easy, you have to do that. You send them an email, you sent a text but after those first two touches, one email, one text. Then we send them a handler note saying thank you for leaving us a review. That means so much to us, we send them an email saying thank you a couple of days later saying thank you for like we just keep thanking them. I can’t, I I know that they feel guiltier and guiltier. We we saw our review numbers go up dramatically when we started doing that. So like, that has really worked. And I think it just comes from so many things where it’s like, well, what would I want? Because we’ve all said we were going to leave a review and we didn’t and then they nag us for like two weeks and none of us like that here. And we thought like, well, if they thanked us, we probably wouldn’t, like, feel that same, like that works. So that’s uh yeah, that’s an interesting little uh psychological Tactic that you guys are using their but uh yeah, that’s great, man. So you guys are are I know for you it’s it’s a conservative um growth for for you guys, for your ambition. So you’re focused on probably getting 11 million through the door in 2022. How how did you make that that leap from 7. 5 to 11? And what have you know, how’d you go, kind of from from 0 to 11? I mean, I know you guys have been in the industry for a little while, but even nine years or 10 years really isn’t that much relative to a lot of painting company. So what advice do you have for For companies that are maybe at 500,000 a million. And they’re looking like, Gosh, how could I get to over 10 million? Yeah, I told I get that, I mean, the business I ran for many years was only a $300-$800,000 business. So I’ve been there, you know, I sold everything in my business every day and at the end of the day I was responsible for everything that happened. So I feel you guys and you know, these are the nights and the weekends and you know, and um, you know, at the end of the day, you’re responsible for everything, right? Um, I think there are a few things, the first thing that I’ve seen and this was true for Jason in his early days is you probably aren’t charging enough and if you don’t charge enough, you don’t have enough money to do the things that will help you grow. It’s sort of ironic. Um, so you need to have enough money so you can spend a decent amount of money on marketing so you can get good leads and um, you’re not chasing all those leads off of things like um, Angie and Home Advisor. I mean, although in some markets, I know it’s great, but lots of your markets, I’m sure frustrate the crap out of you guys with those. Yeah, kind of maybe a smaller font. Right? So spending enough on that also, how in the world could you ever hire a sales rep, unless you had healthy enough margins to be able to do that. So I think to me that’s always the first step, is to figure out, you know, you if you haven’t read the e myth or traction or the Rockefeller habits, these are all good books that are going to lay this out for you. Which is, you need to sort of build the kind of business you want on paper and then you know, of course you’re gonna put your name down as the ceo and the sales rep at first, but you’re going to sort of start thinking about, okay, well I need about 60,000 for this and I need about 50 and that’s how you can work your way to several million. And we’ve all watched that. I mean the painting industry is ripe with lots of people who have gone from 500,000 to 3 million. So there’s tons and tons of them. Um and this is partly how they do it is you gotta start. So then in that first year you’re gonna, first year or two, let’s say you’re going from 500 to 1. 5, you’re hustling like crazy, but hopefully you’re able to stack some cash then because you raised your prices so much now, you have enough money where you can go out and you know, hire a sales rep and sort of, if you’ve heard Jason talk about the valley of death, um you can weather some of that because you stacked up some cash. So I know that’s a very long answer your question, Brandon. But I’d say raise your prices to a place where you’re going to be able to to grow. No, I mean that’s I think that’s a great point and I think companies when they’re smaller, you know, whether they’re just starting or not, especially when they’re just starting it, it’s a scary proposition to raise your prices because you you feel like you can’t afford to not land projects, right? And that’s where I think some of the stuff you guys are doing with the automation is with, with the professionalism with making sure you have all these different uh kind of check ins with the customer throughout the process. It ensures that that you actually can charge those premium prices and still close jobs because you start to develop that reputation, you know? But like like you said, when you’re kind of doing everything and you you you mentioned an ORG chart kind of create the org chart for your business. What do you want it to look like? And who does, who does the marketing, me, who does the sales, me, who does the painting? Well maybe even me, you know, who does everything. But ultimately you need to, you need to kind of pick, okay, when, when I’m at 200,000, I’m gonna replace, I’m not gonna paint anymore. We live in the most wonderful time. Like like I feel like it’s easier than ever though in some of these areas because once you had a good cash flow coming in you can pay people like Brandon to think about some of what you’re trying to accomplish with your marketing or I know here at all if you know there’s some services that we hope to offer in the coming years, like potentially a call center, um, you know the, I’m sure for many of you like Jason they used to call center before I came here, I analyzed the calls. It was terrible branding. I was here for not that many weeks. I’m like, no, no, no, I’ll hire somebody answer. We can’t have this. So like, uh, we, we recognize like if you had somebody who understands your industry to answer the calls and can like actually get it onto your calendar. This is a really valuable thing but you know, a service like this. Like, gosh, like if I could pay a small amount, you know, which is what we’re talking about and this, I would never have to think of again, you know, my sales rep will just have all of his appointments right on his calendar or like Brandon is going to do everything for me online. Like, like so this is wonderful. These are little cheat codes that you probably, you know many of you didn’t have 10 years ago. So I would say make sure you’re charging enough so you could start getting into some of these cheat codes then if you build, you know, of course if you’ve got to, you know for us, our all of our units like I managed $21 million this year just so you know, so paris is only 11 but I have another 10 of the remodeling and the gutters and the, and I’m in charge of those marketing. So then you can have your own marketing guy if you have a $20 million business. But until then, which is probably a few years for at least some of you guys like, well you don’t have to have a marketing person, you could have Brandon, you know who will help you and you could have, you know, so these are little cheat codes that you can do to um where you can hire people who know your industry who can help you in these specific verticals. Yeah, it’s interesting because you know, we we see so many different, we work only with painting contractors and we see so many different mindsets and here you guys are at $11 million. You have other businesses here over $20 million. You’re you’re in charge of all the marketing yet you hired us and and outsource your marketing. And then we get, we get people who say it kind of come in with this. It’s a scarcity versus abundance mindset, right? We get people to say, well we could just do the marketing in house. But should you, people need to think about everything here would be my my question to them too because what I get to see one thing. It was so wonderful about being a paper boy. I got to work with all the biggest home service businesses in a fantastic market. If you guys don’t know Minneapolis ST paul you know very Scandinavian, you know They are house proud people. The average person here spends $15,000 plus on their house each year. They do not spend money on clothes. And some of you know if you guys are in new york and the east Coast and the west coast they spend you guys are spending so much money on stuff, they just don’t spend money on here, they spend money on their houses. So we’re really lucky to be in a market where people spend a lot of money on there. But let me just tell you I mean the reality of it is there’s lots of big home service businesses here and guess what many of them are way bigger than we are and guess what? Their marketing person doesn’t do all their S. C. O. Their marketing person doesn’t do all kinds of stuff, they hire all kinds of stuff out there. Marketing person manages those relationships and make sure everything’s working. So I don’t know I guess if you guys are always smarter than all those companies that are $50-150 million dollars and you’ve got it all figured out. But talk to Brandon for a few minutes or or other guys who are in this world there no a lot more than you do likely. And you could spend, The other thing is You’re spending 10 hours a month on it is taking you from something else. So I think that’s another thing you have to think about is well what are my hours, what’s the sort of order of priority? Um and probably if you’re a really small business, like a $500,000 business, it’s selling um initially and and or managing, you know project managing. So anything that takes you away from those two tasks is a threat as far as I’m concerned. Um And if you could hire someone to do it for relatively inexpensively, you should. Yeah, I think that’s a great point and when you kind of, I’ll send you the money by the way for that plug, I’ll mail it to you. I appreciate that. But I think this idea of focusing on on sales, you know, it’s been a recurring theme with pretty much every guest that’s come on the show. You know, how do you grow, will you focus on sales because you, you can kind of focus on sales or you can, you can really, you know, you need to fulfill, you need to provide a quality product across your reputation is gonna go down the toilet pretty quickly but you kind of have to lean into that sales and you do have to, it can be a little scary when you’re a small company and you’re selling and, And you’re used to doing 500,000. And now all of a sudden you’re up a million, two million. Oh, how am I gonna get this done? You might have a couple of sleepless nights, but that’s sort of what it takes if you want to grow quickly. I mean, I’m so lucky. The guys here are so smart about sales. You know, I um, I just totally take it for granted. I’ve been out with three different sales reps. So on buddy bids, um, the last three weeks. So I was out at once a week, um to kind of see how it goes. And I’m gonna let you guys in on a little secret, which is like we have all these great systems here and wonderful processes. But even with that, every sales rep does things a little differently. But the funny thing is is that they all still end up having somewhat similar results. So you may be beating yourself up a little bit um on, you know, how you think how confident you think you are as an owner who sells like go out, you know, treat people kindly show up when you say you’re going to solve a problem for them and do what you say you’re gonna do, um, and you’ll likely sell and of course there’s a million things you could probably improve. But at the end of the day, you know, You know, for us we’re looking at improving our success rate four points over last year. You know, that’s our goal. We’re not trying to, you know, transform the universe, we’re trying to move it from I think 46% to 50%. Is that is that your success rate? Is that your clothes? Right. Yeah. So that’s an appointment that we go out and you know, I think you would ask me this in a different conversation. So we we try to put a bid together on the spot at every house. Um So we go around with the homeowner um and then we measure everything, we go back out to our car, put it together, print it out, we have a little printer in the car with our proposal packet and then we come back and presented to them. So and then of course not all those people we book on the spot, but most people you book in the first couple of weeks but we do have a process to sort of chase after them after that, right? Yeah. Kind of kind of a mixture of of automation and manual, probably some standard operating procedures you guys follow. I mean again, I would love to, you know, if we could if we had unlimited amount of budget and labor we would just call everybody, you know, and but it’s so expensive to do that. So we have found a good mixture of automation and manual is helpful because the same exact thing as our mps, a certain percentage of people. If we just send them an email and say, hey, are you ready to move forward? Are you waiting or or have you decided we’re not the right company for you? A whole bunch of people answer that? Yeah. It’s like that saves us a lot of time and that automatically goes out at day 14 for us. So you had mentioned that you had mentioned you guys use email text, you know, phone call, different people like to communicate different ways. So I think the fact that you guys have all those different touchpoints. Yes, we have our own software here. Many of you have heard of it. It’s zoology and it’s fantastic. But we utilize some other tools to, we utilize mail chimp. We utilize Twilio. So that’s what the big companies are using. Not just the $50 million plumbers, but big companies like google and stuff. They are usually usually utilizing Twilio. So that’s a powerful system that you can use. And once you guys scale up, you know, or if you’re already big, you might be already using Twilio. Yeah, Yeah. We used Twilio. Twilio is Twilio is great. I get I get into the technology of some of that stuff. Once you start going down the rabbit hole of Twilio and stuff, things can get pretty crazy with with all the areas and I mean again we don’t, I know enough to be dangerous. Like I hire people who know way more than me. Like I don’t have enough time, you know, even for things, you know, we use air table a lot when we’re testing things and you know, if, if I need to spend more than 20 minutes on something like whether it’s building a formula or something, I hire somebody. Yeah. Like I think I’m always, you know concerned about that for small businesses. Like if you’re thinking that you need to do everything yourself, that’s going to really limit you. Um, and then if you say what Nate, I don’t have enough money. Well that’s where we kind of come back to, let’s get some money in the table so that you can start moving away from having to do everything. Yeah. And I kind of actually want to bring up a point. I’ve never, I don’t think I’ve ever brought up in any of these episodes. I don’t think I’ve ever brought up with anything actually with the pcr that broadcaster. But you and I were talking about, you guys have so many photos, you guys have thousands and 1000 thousands of photos and you’re, you’re trying to really organize them in a way more advanced fashion than pretty much any other painting company, you know by color, by type, by location neighborhood, everything. So you can, you can just sort and and do whatever you want with all your different photos and you had mentioned that you have a v a virtual assistant. So someone that you’re, you’re gonna you know that would take you forever and quite honestly it’s way below your pay grade, right? That that’s a manual task. Um so you have a virtual assistant and there’s a website fiber F. I V. E. R R dot com fiber that you can actually go on and for these business owners who who are stuck and you have these really mundane tasks like maybe you need to create a bunch of social media puzzle. Maybe you have a whole lot of documents that just need to be organized or you need someone to just create marketing material for you and you don’t know how to do it. You can go on and you can pay someone $10, or $3 an hour and they can get all this stuff done for you. So I think that’s a good point. Yeah. I mean I, you know one thing that’s nice too is over time you start building like a portfolio. So I have a guy who I use for tulio. I have three different people depending on the scenario for air table. I have a guy who just will build amazing power points for me if I need it. I only used it a couple of times a year. I have three designers who can do any kind of print design. I want, I have two people who will do web stuff for me if I need to make a change to a website or something that’s a little bit harder for me actually three um I have, you know, so it goes on and on. That doesn’t all happen in like one month, you know, you start building that up over time. So I have lots of people who helped me. I don’t, you know, I know some stuff about all that, but I’m not sitting in Canada for two hours a day designing things like I don’t have time to do that. So I got to have somebody who’s going to be able to do it, you know quicker. So, um you know, there are things that of course we do, like I keep track of every single lead that comes into all my units every week and I compile that and see what the R. O. I. Is. So these are tasks that are very central to my world and I those are tasks that I’m doing, but things like, you know, making changes to websites, I pay someone to do that. Yeah, this this, I think this idea of delegating this stuff that you either don’t know a whole lot about and it would be a steep learning curve or that is really just labor intensive and and really probably not worth your time. And I think people people are operating under the assumption that they’re too small or that they don’t have the budget to do that and like you were saying we have resources now available, especially in the painting industry with all different vendors and the PC has done an excellent job of kind of showing what’s possible educating and and this idea of virtual assistance, I mean just just in every way we have access to resources that we didn’t used to have, yep, yep, I mean even like even stuff I know a lot about like we use acuity. I think several painters use it um if you use acuity or calendar lee or any of these, guess what? I know pretty much everything inside of acuity but there isn’t one or two times a year where I run into problems. Guess what? I have a lady, I think she’s in Oklahoma. She is an acuity genius. If I run into anything It takes me more than 20 minutes boom. So it’s just so freeing to, because I don’t have to like worry every day if I can figure everything out. Um Somebody can figure it out. Yeah, that’s a that’s a great point. So I guess um kind of winding down here. What what are you guys, I guess most struggling with right now is a business and I know you’ve mentioned a couple of times that not everything is perfect for you guys, you’re like to be growing even faster. What are some of your current struggles. Yeah, I mean, I think for any of you have talked to anybody on the paris team here, you know, we definitely struggled with our NPS score on interiors last year and um, particularly in the second half of last year, quarter three was really a low point for us and we had some staffing changes and stuff we needed to make and you know, we’ve made some huge changes, but that’s definitely something that we look at is how do we increase the customer’s experience, particularly on interior jobs? Um, It’s probably our biggest opportunity going into 2022, there’s just, there’s so much room for growth here and like if you guys get a chance to hang out with these cool entrepreneurs, Brandon’s one of them, they, you know, we, we kind of joked at our kick off a couple of weeks ago, can’t stop, won’t stop, like, you know, I am confident some of the stuff we’re gonna do is not gonna work this year, but it won’t matter, like we’re not scared to fail, like we will just fail, but we will just keep trying and I have no doubt this team is going to figure this out and we will do anything, you know, we will hire people, we will change systems, we will like there’s nothing that isn’t possible from our standpoint if we think that there’s something slowing us down so we will completely change the process even that we do hiring, I mean some of the stuff that’s just like whoa but that’s you know if we figure out that that’s part of what’s holding us back, let’s change it around. So um you know that’s one thing that’s so wonderful about getting to work with entrepreneurial people is that they won’t, there’s no, no it’s how can we, you know, let’s keep looking around, figure out the opportunity. So if you’re, if you’re bumping your head a little bit man, find someone like Brandon or somebody who can encourage you and get you going again because um these entrepreneurial people are just lifeblood um and certainly people like nick Slavic or Jason paris like so wonderful, like they will just pour into you. Um So I love that. Yeah, it’s not a whether you can or can we, it’s how can we get done. I think for us, remodeling was difficult to if any of you have any portion of your business in the remodeling world, it is a lot of moving parts um is much more difficult to make a good amount of margin in the in that business and we made a lot of changes throughout the year last year, so that was probably our biggest one coming into 2021 Um and we made a lot of changes particularly in the second half of last year. Um so we’re feeling a lot better going into 2022 for remodeling division um we solved a lot of problems last year relating to storms. Um So we also have a division where we go after storm work, like hail. And I don’t know if you guys have storms in florida, Just different storms. Um Yeah, so there’s lots of money that is made by replacing roofs and gutters and windows and siding. And so we have a whole division like that too. So we solved a lot of problems in that. Too. Nice. Yeah. So even a company that’s going to be doing over 10 million this year has problems. Absolutes all the problems that you probably have, we have just in a different way. You know, what are they, What is more money? More problems, man. I mean like it doesn’t nothing changes, you know, it just goes up. In fact, you know, as you get bigger, those detractors matter more. This is one thing that I’m learning is like every detractor can harm you more. So everybody who is upset with you if they go and tell other people about that, because your brand is bigger and more valuable. It harms you more. Um because it’s sort of like the speaker gets bigger when they talk, Right? Right. So, I think these are things that were really cognizant of here too. And I think like I’ve hinted to you before, we are hyper focused on keeping that nps score up and making sure that our customers are happy and that is what would slow us down. It’s not our other processes, like if that’s what’s slowing us down right now. I think our goal would have been more than 11 million if we didn’t have some of those things in play. Got it now, how do you see the painting industry changing in the future? Or do you, I think you just have to look at H Vac and and um plumbing in those areas like garage door. You know, if you guys are following Tommy Mello, fantastic, good entrepreneur to be watching right now, um These um these are in issues you should watch, this is our future a couple of decades from now. And then, do you have last question, do you have any other advice for smaller painting company owners that are that are hoping to achieve this 10 million plus scale? The one thing that you and I didn’t talk about today is we didn’t talk much about marketing. We mostly focused on customer experience, which I love that. But I do think getting control of your leads, um feeling like you have predictive lead volume that you can control. It’s gonna be hard for you to grow to over a million unless you have that. And perhaps we could, you know, if you want me background and I would love to talk about that. I think this is something that we absolutely take for granted here, which is we have lead. You know, the ability to turn things up and down from week to week and you know, even though we think we’re geniuses and we’ve got it all figured out, I, you know, I could show you how I think I have it all figured out, but inevitably every week things don’t go exactly the way I think they’re going to and we have to make adjustments constantly. So I think having some control of that aspect of it is very freeing on the sales side because you know, otherwise you go through these crazy feast famine cycles where you all of a sudden are really busy, then you’re really slow and it’s gonna be hard to grow. You have to have predictable leads so that you can turn them up and turn them down as you need to throughout the year. Yeah, awesome. Yeah, if you, if that lead flow drops off then then you have to somehow magically vastly improve your close rate or else your business suffers well and you get, you know, you and I get this to like you get vulnerable. Like I can tell you last year there were weeks where I was like, maybe I do need angie, maybe I do need home applause and like you have these moments of weakness, you know, like, and it’s like that of course someone here will snap me out and be like no date, no, because the success rate for us is like 2030% lower than everything else. So um it’s, you know, but You just, you become so weak and you just start taking and then practically too, if you’re selling owner, you’re out taking jobs, you have no business taking. You know, they say if you do it for 3500, I’ll sign right now and you know, you’re not gonna make any money on that job. You know, like you just start getting in this desperation mode, that’s not helpful. Whereas if you know, you got another lead, that’s, you know that afternoon, You’re like, now my price is $4500. I’m not, you charge what you’re worth and yeah, exactly. Yeah, we don’t, we don’t do discounting or anything here. Like that’s not a good way to in my opinion. Like yeah. You know the most painful conversations for us to hear, sometimes we’ll have prospective customers speak with us. These kinds of customers don’t usually end up, you know, they don’t usually end up becoming customers for various reasons, but we’ve heard them kind of negotiating with homeowners and it’s just that that’s just a painful thing to hear. You know, when a homeowner’s beating beating you up on price saying, hey well can you add this or Or can you can you have about 10% less and you’re doing it then then you need to assess because it’s about Tommy Mello talks about that all the time because he’s one of the most expensive in the garage door world and people criticize him constantly. I’m guessing the stand in a van. Companies criticize him and I think it may be like you know they they do a lot of repairs, right? So like I don’t quote me on this. But this is what I what I am envisioning in my mind is happening. Is that that standard advantage charging like 300 bucks to replace those garage springs and Tommy’s charging like 700 you know, So it’s like that’s a lot different you know and there may be a few things that are better about Tommy springs but but the reality is is Tommy built $100 million business and in order to do that, he had to charge that much and he does have a totally different experience kind of like you were hinting like you could see where the plumber was on the Gps and all that stuff costs money. You know like if people want that. Um So I think you know these are all things to think about. It’s like well um you know if somebody is balking at your price, what they really are telling you is you didn’t tell me the value like what are you what value? You’re not bringing enough value. Um That’s almost always the case. Um And you have to figure out how to show them the value. Yeah. Yeah you have to get the right person through the door and then you have to give them a reason to pay more money. Yeah, I mean next time when we talk, you know, I focused on 93 neighborhoods in the twin cities with you know, an iron fist that those and you know, we moved before I came, they had kind of a range, I did an analysis and they were doing success rates between like 14 and 65% of it is a big range. All my 93 neighborhoods next year are right around 51%. So I’ve ironed that way out, It’s much more predictable then. And so, you know, but again, it comes back to that like I want to have predictable response. You know, I know if I put X in, Y comes out and I can turn it up and down as I need to from week to week and month to month and so yeah, this has been incredible. I think around two sounds amazing. We’ll take a deep dive to marketing nerds can kind of dive into this thing and and see if we can, if we can try to lose everybody during the conversation. Well you’re a marketing guy who’s a nerd and I’m just a flyer guy, so maybe we’ll even each other and you built, you built the flyer business and managed to to sell it for for equity and everything else. So I think we’re doing pretty well. The the alley cat has come indoors, but yeah, well Nate, thank you for your time and this has been absolutely incredible. Yeah, I appreciate it and I appreciate you. Yeah. Thanks man. 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 PainterMarketingPros,com/podcast for free training as well as the ability to schedule a personalized strategy session for your painting company again that you are l is painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast. Hey, they’re painting company owners. If you enjoyed today’s episode, make sure you go ahead and hit that subscribe button, give us your feedback. Let us know how we did. And also if you’re interested in taking your painting business to the next level, make sure you visit the Painter Marketing Pros website at PainterMarketingPros.com to learn more about our services. You can also reach out to me directly by emailing me at Brandon at Painter Marketing Pros dot com and I can give you personalized advice on growing your painting business until next time. Keep growing.

Brandon Pierpont

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