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Guest Interview: Nick Slavik of Nick Slavik Painting & Restoration – Round 2

Nick Slavik, founder and owner of Nick Slavik Painting & Restoration, takes a deep dive into the fundamental components of business success. Nick discusses how to get your painting business in order both in terms of customer fulfillment and employee satisfaction. He shares a huge shift that he has seen recently in the mindset of potential employees, and what painting companies must now do to attract and retain great people. And he discusses his strong feelings against discounting work, and the proof he would need to see in order to have his mind changed.

Video of Interview

Topics Discussed:

  • How to get your business in order, so that your painting company can grow
  • A massive employee mindset shift that has forever changed how painting companies must attract and retain talent
  • How to maximize the impact of in-depth business books
  • The ultimate recipe for business success, and it's not easy
Audio Transcript


Welcome to the Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast. The show created to help painting company owners build a thriving painting business that does well over one million and annual revenue. I'm your host, Brandon Pierpont, founder of Painter Marketing Pros and creator of the popular pc, a educational series, learn do grow marketing for painters. In each episode, I'll be sharing proven tips, strategies and processes from leading experts in the industry on how they found success in their painting business. We will be interviewing owners of the most successful painting companies in north America and learning from their experiences on this episode of the Painter marketing Mastermind podcast. We host repeat guest Nick. Slavic. Nick is the founder and owner of Nick's Slavic painting and restoration Co, a residential painting company based in new Prague Minnesota and he is also the host of Ask a Painter life, a show that educates painters around the world on all subject matters. Painting In this episode, Nick discusses how to get your painting business in order, both in terms of customer fulfillment and employee satisfaction. He shares a huge shift that he has seen recently in the mindset of potential employees and what painting companies must now do to attract and retain great people. Nick also provides his recipe for business success and share some common and extremely detrimental mistakes. He sees other painting company owners making 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 nick. Thank you for coming on the parent marketing mastermind podcast round two for you. Oh I love it man. And listen any chance to talk to you Brandon, I'm always a fan. So thank you again for the opportunity. I appreciate it. I I have a special coffee mug here, the very special person's face on it man. You flatter me? Yeah, I love the coffee mug. Um Alright, cool, so uh let's let's dive in here. We we you and I were having a discussion and I'm not even sure we see eye to eye on, it sounds like you don't see eye to eye on it with a lot of um other penny company owners discounts no discounts. Yeah, so I feel like this is the time where I usually take a non spicy stance in the industry to most things because usually there's like problem solution, but really what I propose is like three levels up, I think we should be creating a system where the problem never shows up, but there are a few things like tape or primer or brushes and discounts, evidently that I tend to take a little spicier approach to. And The the interesting thing for me about this conversation is I seem to voice an opinion or an experience that isn't shared by a lot of people and for that reason, I'm open to the idea that I am 100% wrong and this is not for anybody who knows me. We've gone on a retreat together. We've lived together in the same place. Everybody who knows me knows that I am willing to have my mind changed. I am a sponge. I am here to learn. I learned by arguing. I am absolutely willing to change my mind. This is not a political argument where you're never going to possibly change somebody's mind. So, I'm open to the idea that because when I'm, when I'm out on the edge by myself with an opinion, I'm open to the idea that I'm wrong. So discounts is something that painters readily do. And for the life of me, I can't figure out why they do it. So what, what is are you morally opposed to discounts? Do you think they don't work? Um, I guess where is the disconnect here between you and and kind of the rest of the industry? So light moral outrage that people would give away almost all their profit to supposedly trigger jobs that they can't prove. But whole wholeheartedly moral outrage by the fact that regular conversations with painters and painting business owners go, yeah, of course I discount my work 15%. I just jack it up 15% like that. And to me, that's like, I mean if I was one of your clients, I would be pissed if I heard that, I I would lose all trust in you. But honestly it's like, again, this is one of those things, maybe it's commonplace, maybe that's the standard, maybe that's how everybody does it. But something about that, you know, the first core value in my business is trust and I would absolutely lose the trust of somebody who came to my house and did an estimate for me and I knew they did that. So yeah. Yeah. I guess whatever their their processes, you would want that process to be consistent not to be especially inflated for you because there they got a special deal for you as well. Well, I had I had an interesting sort of like, we're gonna plumb the depths of that if you're willing. But I had an interesting interaction where I had a company out to my house to give me an estimate on something and it came out to be $3,000 give or take, you know, just a standard home service sort of thing. And in the end when he was explaining the estimate, he's like, yeah, and I just took $200 off here as a thing to kind of, you know, whatever. I'm like You just took $200 off like for what, you know, whatever. I'm like, I didn't ask for that and you didn't even tell me like two options. Like if you sign today will take 200 off or if you don't today it's not 200. He just there's a line item within just penciled in negative 200 and there and I was like I don't find any value in that. Honestly like you didn't give me a reason that's just there like what is it? Therefore I was confused and that's not even I mean again I don't know that they inflated the price and then took it off but it was just discounts for no reason and I don't know that it well I know for me it's not going to make a difference. So things like that just confused me. Like I think people think discounts are this magical wand. They wave over a client and make them do stuff. I don't know that that's the case. So I mean you're the marketer, you tell me I'm just I'm just little painter nick. You got I got my little overalls on. I paint houses like this is just my experience. I do 800 estimates a year and this has been my dataset. How say you Brandon. That's so funny. Well with the with the not providing you a reason. I think that it definitely would then not make any any sense or I don't think it would make any difference really for anyone. So there's a there's a book thinking fast and slow And it's kind of about are the two we have a fast brain and uh like a slow brain or whatever and and I don't know, I read the book a long time ago, but one is basically our primal instincts. Um And then and that move just reacts. And that's the fast brain. The slow brain is our logical brain, you know, kind of the lizard brain versus what is described a bunch of different ways. Um But the the slow logical brain tends to to rationalize it. They call it system One and system two. System to tends to rationalize A lot of things that system one does and the way that the system one acts System two comes in and kind of provides a reason, you know, like like people know that most purchase decisions are emotional, they're not logical and then the logical brain comes in and Well yeah, I went with them even though they're more expensive because of X, Y or Z. But actually no, you went with them because it was emotional, you didn't really have a solid reason to do that. You're just gonna create, you're going to craft a narrative for yourself so that your brain doesn't have um cognitive dissonance and so that you can sleep easy, you know, feeling like your life makes sense and your decisions make sense. It's it's serious. Like we don't make sense. We're very we're very emotional erratic, but at the same time we're highly predictable. So it's it's weird right? But we were illogical. That's one thing that's for sure about human beings were very illogical and we come in and try to, we kind of build the story afterwards, but with you, with, with him providing, you know, reason and that in that book, there's an example where you cut in line, you asked to cut in line it for a photocopy to make a photocopy. There's a line, you know, the book was written a while ago and people making photocopies. And if you just, hey, hey, can I get in front of you? Um the success rate wasn't really that high. If you say, hey, can I get in front of real fast because I have to make a copy, Well that's totally illogical. Of course you have to make a copy. It's a photocopy line, that's the only thing anyone's doing in the line or if you say, hey guys, can I get in front of you because I have to go pick up my dog from the vet or whatever, a reason that would actually make sense. There's basically no distinguishing difference between because I have to make a copy versus a logical reason they just needed because there just has to be something, try to justify it. Sure. So him saying $200 because whatever, if he could say because but he has to say because something because it's a day that ends in day and then it actually would be actually, I think scientifically proven to be impactful, believe it or not. Yeah. So it's stuff like that always confuses me and I was not expecting the discount for no reason example last week. And to me I value that weigh less than if I listen. None of those tactics I like like signed today. It's 200 less or tomorrow. It's 200 more to me. That's like come on man, can't we just be like hard sale. Yeah. Like dude like I am the most non greasy. I've never asked for a sale right. And so for me it's like he doesn't know this. But that is the worst person to do that stuff on because I will figure out if this is a value to me and if I can trust you to actually follow through and hold your end up of the deliverables. So that just always confused me. So when I get in these situations like this Brandon, I always default to the data. And the problem is I am open to the idea that my data set is not deep wide robust enough to prove this and somebody else may have a good data set. But I am not a good enough marketer and not many people are good enough marketers to get a data set that will prove empirically if that discount actually triggered a client to do something and accept that job when they would not have otherwise. So you can have a feeling about that. But let's say you do this above the board, you're not jacking your price up 20% to then discount at 20%. Even if you believe that discounts absolutely fill that work until you've gone an entire year or season or time period where you haven't discounted and looked at the same data set that's kind of a failed experiment. There's no control in all that stuff. So for me, I'm open the idea that discounts absolutely do work. The problem is every time I look at the data I can't prove that that client wouldn't have taken that job anyway and we just gave it away for less. Yeah. I think we should, you know, you obviously need a certain sample size, a certain minimum sample size for for the data to work. And I think paris painting probably has it, You know, doing doing over 10 million a year. I think we should we should have him do it for 50% of the clients. I wonder whether he would be open to that. I think we should just I think we should just speak for Jason and say that he's absolutely willing to do. He's going to do it with his business and his clients and he's gonna we're gonna go 15% discount for 50% of them. So that way we're it's not a year over year change. You know like Covid obviously showed how much difference a year. 2021 22. Those are very very different scenarios. Um So it's gonna be the same year, same month, same everything. Yeah, I'll just, I'll coordinate with Nate will get set up. I don't even really need to know it's fine. Hey, what are sales are up? Why is our profit like a disaster? I don't know. It's weird half these customers just didn't want to pay full price. So when, when I get into these discussions, like I appreciate these sort of like philosophical discussions, but there is a way to prove this with data. The problem is most of the painters in the United States don't even job cost their projects, let alone keep a robust data set with market research and control groups and A B testing and all this other stuff. So really, you know, this is, this is why, you know when we first met I was very upfront and honest with you, is that oh, you're a marketer, you don't say we're going to poke lots of fun at you because painters don't have enough time and stuff to actually do scientific based marketing. So we kind of have to rely on the wizardry of people like you and we like to also make fun of you guys a little bit because Yeah. Yeah. One of those things. So good. So I mean what what is it like if if one of your clients was like you off you obviously offer your clients a service. Uh and you can guarantee a certain amount of things and there's always the variables and the things you can't guarantee. But if one of your clients was dead set on giving discounts, how say you if they were dead set on giving discounts to try to get more work. Yeah mm It's a good question. Um I mean for me my first focus will be the profit margin that there needs to be a certain minimum profit margins. So if they were giving discounts, I wouldn't want them to raise the prices for those specific projects only. I would want them to raise the price across the board. And if they think that if they think that I have no problem with that, if you want to give a 15% discount and you raise just your standard pricing Across the board the way that you conduct your estimates by 10% and you think that you're going to net out positive because your your overall close rate is gonna make up for that lack of the slight reduction in profitability. I think you should, I think it would be it would it would not make sense to not do it honestly, but you better find reasons to get the discounts and there are always reasons to give discounts. So if you do go down that road, you know, they're like we ran, we ran a promotion, we haven't run many promotions ever. Um but we ran run one after the pc a expo um for for reaching out for two weeks after that. And for us it was, it was too close deals, but there was actually a little more behind it because for us, our, our best clients RPC a members. Of course, yeah, we, you know, you understand the long term thinking that the difference between Painting contractor who's in the PC and one who is not, whether the kind that's not is not really a good fit generally for our services. So we, we want to stack, even if we lose some profitability, we want to stack our deck with the right kinds of clients that are, is going to be a win win long term. Um And I understand what what investment looks like in terms of a painting contractor doing it. I think it makes, you know, you can have a spring sale, you can have a valentine's that every month has some kind of holiday or whatever, but you better make sure that your prices are raised across the board because ultimately revenues vanity, profit is sanity and profits only thing that matters. We talked so much about probably about revenue for me, it's just a benchmark, like, okay, generally revenue tells me how many problems do you have in your company because how much, how much crap are you having to manage profits? What matters? Yeah. And what's interesting about that whole conversation, like you mentioned that profit margin is key obviously, but that relies on tracking your marketing to see where the leads come from because otherwise you can't begin to come up with that formula. And number two, you have the job cost your projects to make sure your margins are in. And if we believe the numbers that we believe about our industry really only less than 5% of all painting companies in the entire us do that. And so when I see a single person painting company doing a 25% off fire sale in spring in Minnesota I think listen man, I get it. The knee jerk reaction is get more work offer a coupon. But my God, this is the highest demand period in the upper midwest you're a single person painter, your schedule is going to be full for a year and a half. No matter what, I don't know that you can't even prove to do that. And my end around argument because we often get in the problem solution is this right or wrong? I'll say maybe discounts is like not good or bad. How about you just increase your marketing spend. Like if you're the thought experiment, you can tell me if my numbers or theory about this is flawed. But when people give away a 15% discount, a 20% discount on a job, you're giving away 15-20% of the revenue, what is the average profit margin of a painting company in the United States Brandon. Ah I want to say is it 50, I thought I thought the average profits is more low 40s. No, no. So the actual true net profit is like 15% larger business. Yeah net profit. So honestly if you if Really good larger companies can run out of 15% of that profit. If you give a 20% discount, you're giving away all the profit for that job and you're actually taking a little bit from overhead or direct costs to pay for that job. And I don't think people, I don't think people philosophies that enough. Now the next step of this is my marketing budget is about 3.5%. If I double my marketing budget to get double the leads, I add another 3. 5% for marketing and I get the option at twice as many leads per year versus giving a 15% discount on a project where I can't tell if I've actually triggered it or not. So for me, discounts aren't even interesting to me because I can play with 1% of my marketing budget and drive 30% more potential projects at retail price, wow. Yeah. That's a great, it all comes down to numbers at the end of the day. Yeah. And what and what you know R. O I are you gonna get on the different changes that you make and that's that's soapbox stuff. I say that because I believe it to be true. But I don't hear many people saying that. And so I'm always, I'm always open to the idea that my math is completely flawed? I'm stupid, nobody believes me. And it's a bad way of thinking. So I'm just gonna keep going until somebody comes up with a better argument. But so we've, I've belabored that point, But I just want you to know that, you know, coming from a smart marketing mind like you, I figured I'd bounce that theory off to see if you were just like threw up into a trash can or like completely disgusted with me or something. No, I don't, I mean it, it makes 100% sense. I mean, prior to the marketing a long time ago my background was in finance, the numbers and, you know, profitability and all this stuff is kind of my thing. Um and it seems, I mean, it makes sense. Yeah. And and that's how you should be thinking about your business and how, so few painting company owners are thinking about the, you know, the idea and whether you're painting company, whether a painter or a painting company owner or whatever. But even when you get to the fact that, okay, you're, you're full painting company, business owner focused on that, still knowing your numbers like that, knowing your piano. Um and kind of making decisions with, with a focus on what's your net profit and well, rather than giving this discount, what is it really doing? And is there something I could be doing that? You know, because you're basically talking about opening up the top of funnel and getting a lot more lead flow at retail versus you know, having to maybe try to improve your close rate a little bit, but then taking a hit on the profitability and ultimately shooting yourself in the foot, it might even cost you many, many, multiple times less than the discount you're giving. Yeah, no, I love that. And, and sorry, last thing experience is I did experiments with discounts years ago and the theory was drive business in december and january in Minnesota, it's tough. Guess what happened? I gave all the discounts and everybody said yes, and then they asked for it in august when we were the most busy. So I was like, that had the worst effect that I was hoping for. So I'm open to the idea and I didn't do it well, I didn't set expectations correctly, but that was my experience. I said I'm going to spend more money on marketing and get more of these opportunities instead of trying to discount the ones I already have. So, man, so this is where you're the true hatred of discounts started, you know, with the nemesis in the villain movies. There's always some traumatic experience and this was it. Well, listen, yeah, you know what, that traumatic experience was, is me painting a $40,000 project in August for no profit and then paying for a little of it because I wanted to be a good guy and follow through on my discount on my word to this client. So yeah, that's a deep seated lesson that I cannot shake from myself. Brandon, you fell into the batch of acid and became deformed that house was my batch of acid for sure. Yeah, I love it. Cool. So you you and I were also talking about another thing that that I don't think we've addressed before that I think would be interesting. I remember when you were on last time we did talk about roles to hire out first and and you had kind of approach things a bit differently where you held on to a lot of the admin tasks. Um whereas most people try to outsource those initially. Um but one thing that we were talking about is when you're having to hire, let's say one person who's gonna go do your sales, you're estimating and they're also going to go do your project management. Who do you who do you hire someone who is really more of a salesperson and you hope that they manage the projects well enough or do you hire someone who's detail oriented and more of a project manager and they just do the sales for now, what does that look like? Okay, I'll start this conversation the same way, which is I do have some pretty deep seated experience and data driven um opinions on this and I'm willing to have my mind changed, but I run these by everybody branded, you know the way I work, I will grab anybody I can and say this stuff and see how they react and I will change my mind based on how they react. You and brad had a bit of a bit of a showdown at the winter retreat brad brad. That was, that was great to see one of the best conversationalists ever. He, he speaks to my lizard brain so I love to be personally attacked with and he personally attacks with bullet points to a way where I seek him out and be like, hey, tell me when I just say something bad about me, you know, I know this is stupid. Tell me why it's stupid. But so I believe that you will not find many people that we all look up to in this industry that say hire all these positions first and then build up a production capacity or a company around it. Almost the advice that almost everybody will give you is do everything yourself and then hire somebody to offload some of the work you're doing. So my philosophy, the way I've grown this business is take it past the point, you need it so that when you hire it, it's immediate relief and you'll never question that you needed it. Now to your question though. If you do want to start out in a different way. This isn't bad. But if you want to start off with either a project manager or a salesperson first and build some capacity around it. I am of the distinct opinion that those are two very different people. And if you try to find some weird unicorn that'll do both. They're not going to do either. Well, honestly. So um typically what most pain businesses do is the owner is good at sales. You know, we're typically the visionaries were good at the big relationships. Um I am not, I don't have that personality but I struggled through up until we were about a $1.71. 8 million $2. 2 million dollar company before I had an admin or a coordinator. So we we take it past what we need get by with what we can ensure that we have enough money to grow and then we fill that spot for an immediate relief. So I honestly, if depending on your personality brand and I assume that you would probably be better at sales than project management. I could be wrong about that. I actually, I think I'm actually probably better at the project management. I would absolutely then hire a hire a salesperson or an estimate. I can't do it all yourself. So yeah. And typically the biggest thing like when you when you describe those two positions and you don't have the production capacity around it, the technicians around it, typically what you want to do and I've seen this happen in a lot of franchise models because the franchise model you would buy that business unit and then you kind of have to like you have a business already but you need to grow painters and technicians around it. So typically the strategy of franchises is find that person who is a good technician knows how to paint, doesn't mind teaching people but will also recruit for you as well. Yeah. And typically that whoever is in charge of production would also be in charge of recruiting and production. Sure. Yeah I love that. So I know one of the topics that came up at the painter retreat. Um What and it was your your topic um I think Chris Elliott's topic, it was a couple a couple of things that a couple of guys were really focused on was this idea of of employees and and quality control. Um and 10 90 nines versus W. Twos, you know, what are you what are your thoughts on the ability to control your process, control your quality if you are subcontracting versus having employees. Yeah, 100%. Um It is people think that it's like black and white A and B. Two different things. All it is is human accountability, I mean and and in one you're dealing with an employee with another, you're dealing with another business owner and each need to be held accountable but in different ways so we do subcontracting and W. Two S and we just have different methods of holding accountable. Um That is the biggest part that is the biggest struggle about that because I think people have a lot of a lot of incorrect ideas about how that works. Like if you just hire subs they'll just take care of it. We know that unless you coach them up a little bit you guide them, you you give them some resources, you help them succeed. You know it's not a hands off or deal in the same way that W. Two S. Isn't either where you know you can command them to be on a job site but you still need to train and guide them. So sending those proper expectations and having those difficult conversations about accountability. It is very important with either one. Yeah and I know one of one of the things that that a lot of the guys were touching on guys and gals at the event was really how do you get the buy in from your painters? You know because we all kind of struggle with employees who maybe don't seem as motivated or or maybe they're there because it's the best option available at that time. Um But but you really you really want them to I guess feel a little more ownership or a little more connected to the culture the what thoughts? I I know this is something you focused on a lot and I know it's I know it's not uh I don't think it's perfect. I don't think you've solved everything but I think you've learned a lot. What can you share about that? Yeah. So unsatisfying answer which is they want connectedness and development and coaching and mentoring and education and a future and the trades are not good at that. And and you know I used to think that the trades were some weird little bubble where we're just a bunch of grumpy old people yelling at young kids and that's why we can't get the good people in. But now after the great resident nation Brandon after the great quit the way we all think about work differently after the pandemic, every article Wall Street Journal fast company, all the business magazines right here are basically saying that people right now the pandemic triggered a mass movement for people saying now is the time where I can ask some things from my employer and what does everybody want? Training, development, future mentoring, leadership, all that other stuff. And I used to think the trades were unique. I used to think that this is something new. The more I look into all these articles, the data, my experiences in the past, it's always been there. But the pandemic triggered a mass event that maybe would have taken 8-10 years naturally to occur for a revolt to occur but it happened very quickly. So honestly right now when I, when I recruit I appeal to people's need to have that connectedness, the family environment that coaching the developing like constant interaction to help them improve and then showing them that there's a way forward to future and that's what all the surveys say people want and in my recruiting this last december, that's what everybody wanted. Um, some people even left jobs to make less money in order to be at a place that empathized with them connected with them and gave them some kind of guided way forward in something. So, and again, that takes a lot of effort. You know, it takes a lot of connectedness from a business owner and all that. But honestly, I used to think it was just okay, the trades have to do this to change. I think all businesses need to do this to change now. Yeah, it's interesting that that through reading all these articles you were seeing that the trades are, are, may be facing a lot of the same issues or maybe it's not so unique and what people want their as, as other industries. Well to imagine like we were having a little bit of a, so I still don't believe in the labor crisis, I still don't believe that I believe we are bad at this and the trades are operated like they have been for the last 40 years. So I don't think there's a whole bunch of people looking at the trades deciding against. I think there's a whole bunch of people that we turned away in the last four decades and we've just got a bad name, we've got some stink on us now that we need to get rid of. But think about like bars, restaurants, retail, all those jobs were fully staffed, ready to go until the pandemic when it became a little more difficult. And now people think completely differently about that and there's a little bit of stink on those industries now. So I used to think that the trades were unique and now I'm seeing that the pandemic accelerated all that where it's going to force employers to be better and all this stuff. So it's better to be on the forefront of that. Yeah. Yeah. The it's it's not the idea of just trading time for money. Um I think, you know, kind of started probably way back and I mean it's probably always been there, but the Industrial revolution, I think really accelerated it. But I think that that has shift it back. And I guess, yeah, like you said, Covid probably propelled us 10 years into the future now without its that proverbial, you know, we all have uncles and aunts who got out of high school, got a good job at the postal sorting facility and stuck it out for 42 years, you've got that Gold watch, got a little party and then now just go fishing every day and they hated their job every day and ruined their body. Uh, they can't fish now because their back is bad. They stood on a concrete floor of their whole life. But you know what, that's what good people do. They stick with jobs, whether they treat them like garbage, make them work weekends. That is hilarious because nobody our age or younger believes that and act that way. So now they will, what, what used to be like a felon's resume, which changing jobs every 6 to 12 months, you would look at that and say, oh my God, this is your like, you need to go to jail. You're doing horrible things that these employers now, I look at that and I say, oh no, they're just looking for a good employer, They're looking for a good home, somebody that will reciprocate and things like that. So I think about it completely differently now. So it's interesting. It's also for people who haven't been thinking about it like this, you know, if this is kind of eye opening for some people listening, it's kind of intimidating, you know, in terms of how, how do you actually, you're talking about connectedness and opportunity to grow in the future and and providing leadership and empathy. Where do they start? Yeah, so it starts with getting your business in order and you need to running a professional business is, you know, I would argue that the recruiting the on boarding the training and the retention is maybe one of eight things you need to do well in order to have a professional business. And to me that's like number, You could argue between 6, 7 or 8. 1 of the last things you do because a lot of times because I'm the loudmouth, ask a painter guy, people will be like, hey, I need, I need to know how to get some people into this business and I will say, do you have a proven process that you can deliver to your clients? Like when you paint a set of oak kitchen cabinets, can you guarantee it won't chip? And can you guarantee the finish will be a certain way? And if you, if you still don't know or are unsure about what primer to put on oak cabinets to turn them white. You need to pump the brakes before you bring an employee in and get a proven process. So you can look a client in the, I gain their trust and guarantee them. Then you have to start job costing to make sure you can actually do that profitable profitable. That will give you process refinement. If your job costing is way off, you're not making any money. You can adjust your process, work a little harder, things like that. But once you have a profitable process down, then you can start adding sophistication, there's some levels of, you know, you gotta have an employee manual first, you gotta have a good job description, you gotta have a pay scale, you gotta have an employee, uh, manual, things like that. All the things that help out with employment law, then you can start getting some employees. Now a strict, obviously I didn't do this. I grabbed 20 employees. I didn't have any of this stuff written down and this forces you to learn these lessons quicker. But if I had to do it over again, that's it that you got to lay the ground for a professional company first. If you just add people in with no job budgets, no job description, no training, no employment law, they will find all the cracks and the holes in that and your life will be pure hell. Yeah. So I guess it sounds like what you're saying. You have to basically build the processes for everything and kind of make it as foolproof as you can lay the base so that you have an opening for a human to operate functionally and just find that human implant them in, I would argue, do not grab a person and try to build a system around it because that if you're an employee, there's nothing more than employee hates than constant change and constant drastic change. So what will happen is you get a couple employees, they're working on a crew. We've always painted this way. Hey, guess what? I got a whole new coding system. Now we're doing job budgets. I got a standard operating procedure. I also got a new pay scale for you even if it's better for them. They will be freaked out. And to the point where they might leave. Yeah they're they're looking for some sense of stability and being being taken care of you're losing they are losing trust with you. If you're doing these wide sweeping changes without buy in without a period for them to accept it without a period for you to train them into it so that they can understand what's delivered you know? Yeah. So prior to the retreat you had us all read the book traction you know which really focuses on the U. S. Method. Um Would you recommend for people earlier in the journey? Should they start there? Is that something that you would say Start later on? What? What are your thoughts? 100%. Um I was in this business for 20 years before I found traction and in the last five years we went from 0 to 40. Um Because of traction, it just took the whole world of how could this possibly work. Where do I start until like oh to start a chapter one and it's a really good way to go forward. So I am I am not a business book bro. I don't read a lot of business books. I don't recommend that stuff a lot. I'm not in the culture of that sort of thing. But when I find a book that actually did some good You know you could spend $20 a lot worse in this world and that has literally changed my life so and and this is not me saying it's the only way there are probably 42 other books that would do that. I just got introduced attraction and it turns out a lot of the people that we look up to in the industry magically found traction as well too. So so you like that business book bro so you're not a business book bro. Listen I. Brandon, Brandon you can please cut this out because I I if you like I never like to say anything bad about anybody's processes, systems, things this and that but Grant Cardone and 10 X. Is the worst book I have ever read in my life. I didn't get any takeaways, it doesn't mesh with my core values. The whole thing was basically just like pump your fist, slam your chest and do 10 times more every day. And from somebody like me who was martyred themselves for coding science in this business, waking up at four, putting in four hours of work, getting out doing some fitness, going out into the field with my employees working till eight at night and doing it again. I'm like I don't know how to fit 10 times more in Grant, you need to help here. Like I'm lost. It didn't help me. But to me it's it's we don't we don't we don't connect with everything we read, right? But I don't like that business bro culture of just like, oh man, work is for suckers, who cares. You know, you should be on a beach with a blue drink and you know, it's all that greasy salesmanship sort of thing that's all wound in there and it's it's there's those people magically have a certain way of treating their employees and their clients and even their families sometimes that doesn't jive with my personal core values. So this is just me. I just get annoyed with some of that stuff and I don't find a lot of value in it. So nick, you're you're you're coming out hot today, man, coming out hot podcast together. This is I love it. I love it. No, listen, there's again, I'm just always leery of this whole thing about, you know, we're getting business advice from people who screamed the F word and say hyperbolic things on Tiktok and it's like, yeah, the answer is probably way more unsexy and unsatisfying, which is like, you know, going through and doing what it's like what does Sherwin Williams do, what does Benjamin moore do, what does walmart do? I bet you they're not out there doing the 10 X method. I bet they're out there doing the proven process, job costing. Being consistent with all those unsexy mundane things. Warren buffet, I don't feel like he's reading a lot of greasy sales books, you know what I mean? Like I feel like it's just tried and true little we know what to do. This is diet and exercise. We don't need the latest fad thing, we need staples, staples. So if that's not on brand, if that goes outside of the realm of of what is respected, that comes out of my mouth and feel free to cut that stuff. That's beautiful. It's just, it's just a thought I have and it's, it is an inside joke with most of us people in the industry about that business bro culture sort of thing. Great, but I'm looking for takeaways. Yeah, it's a diet and exercise. Yeah, the, you know, there are companies all around us in, in every different industry uh that are successful and so how did they get there? You know? And I was talking to Jason phillips earlier today and super awesome. And one of one of his big, well two big points that are relevant to what you just said, Number one is hard work is not scalable. I love that. I have a propensity to just keep working harder and, and you can't, you have to be smarter. And then the second thing that he said, oh boy blanket on it right now, oh um don't reinvent the wheel. So like the, you know the systems and processes when you're saying all these companies are, are successful. Um just copy what they did there there there for a reason and yeah, it's probably grant Cardone that that kind of hard charging, you know, cold calling sales strategy can work for some people. I think some people are probably too timid or afraid to to try to ever sell anything and they sit there thinking they're going to think their way into success. Um But for me it doesn't super resonate and for a lot of people it doesn't and that's ok. Well because I think and and again, I'm not opposed to all that stuff. Like I know there's a place for a high pressure sales organization and I know that when I have to deal with those, I know what I'm getting into and it's fine. I let them do their high pressure. I let them try to get me to say yes a bunch of times, but I know whether I'm going to buy it or not, you know what I mean? So you pay us yes. Oh, I'm supposed to say yes. Under coding to you're just gonna throw that in. Wow. Had a 15% discount. Just you must be the luckiest guy on the planet. I walked in here today. Um Oh yeah and 20 and $200 off at the end for no reason. Oh man, you're like Brandon, the problem is people do that instead of job costing. Job costing will set you free. That is the one thing if you want magic, it is a simple math problem. You can even do in your head that will change your life in your business is life. And because that's unsexy because a guy is not screaming it on Tiktok. You ever seen a motivational video about tracking materials and labor by some muscled up dude on Tiktok? No, it's not sexy. But it's what real businesses do really well over and over and over again and you can do both Job costs and then do high pressure sales. That's fine. But a lot of people think I get to do 10 x instead of doing all that boring stuff that the rest of you people do. Yeah. Yeah, I know that it's the details are what make the difference. You have to have, you have to have your house in order so to speak when you're running your business. So do you I know you like traction. Um you also had us read the book grit. So I know that you like that book. Do you have any other business books or even non business books that you would recommend? Painting company owners check out. Yeah. So here's where I get to be super pretentious and name books because this is one of the books you've read several times. Brandon. Listen people love to name books because it makes them. So it makes you just feel so educated and the authority of the author. Dude. I so here's the deal. Here's my philosophy on books which is I don't read a lot of them. All right now, the ones I do, I actually do something with. So attraction for me has been a five year read, I've read it over and over again, I've actually gone through, I've skimmed over the top and did some stuff, then I went the next level down and did that because I had more bandwidth and then I did more and then I did more and we're about 80% compliant with traction right now because it's taken five years. So this to me, attraction is a five year read. Grit is a two year read. I started reading it about two years ago and took it in in place, tested some things out in my personal life and business now, my leadership team is reading it and we're implementing things from grit in order to make our apprenticeship program better, everything about deliberate training, where if you want to be a master an outlier, you can't just do a bunch of stuff like you said, hard work isn't scalable, you gotta have a feedback loop, you gotta push yourself to reach goals and you have to have constant feedback about how you're doing, so you can constantly improve. So that dovetails right in with my apprenticeship program, so we're on a two year read of grit where I actually, if I read a book I want to actually implement some of the stuff instead of just banging out books, I read six books on the beach this week, it's like great, great, what are you doing? I would rather read one chapter of one book and do something to change my business life. Now I love I also, my next philosophy on the books is I don't like the feelings based books, the 10 X is, I do like the science based books like mindset Mindset is one I'm just finishing now. It's it's been a research project for 40 years for a PhD level scientist about fixed versus growth mindset and you know, basically how to implement it in your business and your personal life that there's a very high likelihood that was actually given to me by estimator Andy he gave me that recommendation and it's likely that after grit we will read that as a company because I feel we can actually do stuff with it. So so you like this science based and you want to be able to do stuff with it. Yeah, again, like there's a lot of great books like you know, you can read, I love tim ferris's four hour work week but I didn't take a lot away from it. I like I like the philosophy of it, I like the thinking of it but again, it's not a science based thing, it's what one business bro did with his life and it's a great anecdote of that and it was a fun read, But it's not an operating system and it's not based on any amount of science and research and 40 years of this and that. So if I bring something to my team, I'm bringing this boring, mundane, unsexy, tried and true and scientifically proven stuff to them. So for that reason I'm a slow read, you know? Yeah, the I'm surprised you liked for our I have tried to read that book five times and I get through books when I read them and I have I can't get through it halfway through. I just I'm about to throw up. I just can't get there Brandon, listen to me, this is a guilty read to me that is like a that's one of those tabloid magazines at the, in the line in the grocery store. I have a guilty pleasure that I will share with you again. Circle of Trust. I love seeing how people's lives work. I like knowing what people do for a job, how much money they make, how they structure their week, what their family life looks like, what their goals are, how they use their time. And to me that was an insight into somebody's multiyear life. And that's a guilty pleasure for me. So again, I'm not doing that. I have no interest in that and and and infect people. People read that book like you said and they use it for evil. Yeah, I mean, they don't they're not understanding that book to me is a exercise on first principles reasoning, which is why do we do all the things we do, Why can't you do it in much less time or why can't you use your time more importantly to me, that was my takeaway. I was looking for the deeper meaning and I love that guilty pleasure of like there's, there's a couple of Tiktok accounts I follow of people who are up at four in the morning and they chronicle their day about how they, how they work, how they play, how they exercise, how they do this. And none of it is fist waving bro. Culture. It's, it's just a person who has a job who loves it and they document their day and I can't get enough of that. I love to see that I Brandon growing up, I had no perspective. I've been a painter since I was 10 years old. I've never had a real job. I don't know how the rest of the world works. So to me, that's great perspective. You know, I love that. So this, this uh, this wanting to get a window into other people's lives. This is why you leave the retreat because ultimately for you, it's a, it's a reconnaissance mission. Yeah. And everybody else too. But it's a, it's a mutually beneficial reconnaissance mission that's actually a big slug line for it. It's not sexy, but it's accurate. So it's, it's legitimately people that we know love and trust that we can talk about our businesses and we get inside looks and into how people function and honestly, that's why when people say you go to the pc expo, you go to a treat, you go to a master's class and you come back with your mind altered and you think about things differently. It's usually not because of a specific piece of app or data or some business hack. It's because you talk to somebody and you learn how they lived and that knowledge gap you, it showed you where you are and where you could be and what other people are doing and that's what I'm interested in. Yeah, all that. So since you brought up the expo, you know, a lot of our listeners have gone but probably more have never gone to an expo, you know, next year, um it will be in Albuquerque new Mexico. So you're excited about that, What I mean, obviously you you encourage people to go to the expo, but let's get into some details for someone who never has gone, who maybe doesn't, I feel ready to go um what would you tell them? They would likely get out of it and if they did go and they felt kind of overwhelmed by the number of presenters and topics and things, what would you advise them to do for the first expo? Yeah, so I would obviously go and so um full fully upfront and honest, I am a board member of the P. C. A. But if I'm being completely upfront and honest every trade organization, its goal is to grow membership because it's an easy number to touch. I don't care. Membership will be a byproduct of providing real value between industry standards, painter training, business accelerator training. We offer health insurance, we often all we offer all these crazy in person events like this. So I know that if we deliver a good service membership will be a byproduct of it. Expo is the flagship of that. We just got some numbers in today at our meeting and it was almost 500 Contractors from around North America showed up and among those it's likely that 80 plus were first time attendees ever that have never been involved with the P. C. A. Never been at an expo. I actually hosted a breakfast with Jason paris for a bunch of the first timers there and they they're, there is only one answer, one response to the expo which is I am completely overwhelmed. I haven't found a bad person yet. I filled up a notebook and I can't wait to do another one. So yeah, the first expo is a fact finding mission. You just need to go to meet the people and understand the caliber of people here getting gapped in every conversation you have is the best thing you can do your yes, you're going to find an app that you like and you're gonna get one little, you know job costing hack or something, but your life will just open up like a flower when you realize like the robust, intelligent, empathetic, thoughtful people who will share everything they've ever done with you all in that area and they want you to succeed and that alone like yes, you're going to get some information. But the perspective you take away, you will think about your life as a husband, father, mother, wife, business owner, leader, completely differently after you do this man. That is a that is a deep response. Yeah. And listen, you've heard me say this before. If you want to chart off my 30 years, I'm on my 30th year in this trade. I was alone for 25 years. I never talked to another painter. They were all the enemy. I had a super regressive mindset. I screamed at young kids when they wanted a job. I did everything my father and his generation and older did the second, I met somebody at the PC and they showed me what a real leader and a real business looks like. That hockey stick curve went from this to this 0 to 40 people in five and six and 5 to 6 years is hard to argue with and I have more time and money freedom. I'm happier and all the people around me are happier after 25 years. That's quite a testament to the P. C. A. It is, it is and it's the people again, the standards are great, those are free to everybody. Industry standards. You want to know what a properly painted surface looks like. That's free to you right now. You can go get it. World class training for your painter's, world class business accelerator training, discounted health insurance. You want to recoup your membership right away that all that fine. That's a byproduct of the people in the P. C. A. You can have for me, you can have all that. I'll take that and I'll use it. But the real value to me is the members there. They have literally changed my life. I think this idea of being gapped of of kind of other people showing you, I guess humbling you in a way and showing you how, how far ahead of you they are. I mean that's that's where you need to be. If you want to grow, you have, you have to kind of to dive in the deep end and swim with people you don't want to be a big fish in a little pond because you'll just stay in that little pond. That's it. And you know, as as somebody who wants to, I mean most of the people who go to the PC expo and most PC members want to be the outliers. You know, they typically a pc a contractor is 10 to 15 times larger than the average paint business in the United States and that is robust, that is a That is a dog whistle to the 1% of our industry that want to do something different. If we just want to do something different, none of us would talk to other people, get involved in anything. You can just run a mildly profitable business be a single painter, which isn't a judgment but like just never, I lived a version of this where you're just not curious, you're not going out there or you can get wild and you can get, you can experience what real freedom is like time and money freedom by growing a robust business, inspiring others and having fun doing it awesome. Do you have any other advice for anyone listening? So information plus grid equal success obviously and all the information is free out there. Everything you need is free. If you can google search, if you can go to guys like Brandon, you go to ask a painter, you go to the P. C. A. You go to Youtube, there's everything you've ever wanted to know about how to run a world class business or paint is out there for free. And the big challenges, do you have enough grit to actually go seek it out and do something with it And that that is the big thing. So you need to be honest with yourself, there's a big difference between owning a job and owning a business and owning a job like you said, one of the first things in this thing, You trade your time for money and it's the turkey truck test if you get hit by a turkey truck tomorrow and your business immediately disappears. You own a job. If you own a job you need to price in the risk. If you're charging 35 bucks an hour for your work, you are underpricing that and the first time you have to pay taxes you will go out of business, you need to be charging 75 8500 and $60 an hour. I know I know one of my favorite painters in the United States is a single person painter who probably generates between $175 and $200 of revenue an hour because they're thoughtful. They have a proven process. They've done all the things to professionalize. They just haven't hired an employee yet. They are making great money doing what they love. You need to price in that risk. So that's, that's the sort of, you know, if you own, if you own a business then other people that are inspired by you help you accomplish a goal and it's their effort along with yours that accomplish something. So you need to be really honest and pricing the risk appropriately and yes, if you file with the state of Minnesota as a business technically you are a business owner, but you also may just own a job and you need to think about it differently. I love that. Yeah. Job job versus a business owner. Nick. Thank you man. Thank you for making the time. I know I got you scheduled here for another one. Group. One that we're gonna be doing in the near future. Um So everyone stay tuned for the next round three on the power market mastermind podcast. But thanks man, it's always always a privilege to hear you anytime you call Brandon I'm here. This is a lot of fun. 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 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. 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@PainterMarketingPros.com and I can give you personalized advice on growing your painting business until next time. Keep growing