Guest Interview: Todd Hess – The Ignored Personnel Problem in Painting

Published On: April 29, 2024

Categories: Podcast

Todd Hess is the founder and owner of Todd A. Hess Painting Co, a residential painting company out of York, PA that also offers commercial and industrial painting services.  Todd is passionate about helping homeowners and business owners transform their spaces into places they love.

In this episode, Todd shares his insights into a major personnel problem within the painting industry, and the steps he is taking to rectify it.  Listen on as Todd shares his insights on ways you can improve your own team’s morale, as well as methods to maximize the efficiency of your company’s overall operating systems.

If you want to ask Todd questions related to anything in this podcast series, you can do so in our exclusive Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast Forum on facebook.  Just search for “Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast Forum” on facebook and request to join the group, or type in the URL facebook.com/groups/paintermarketingmastermind.  Again that URL is facebook.com/groups/paintermarketingmastermind.  There you can ask Todd questions directly by tagging him with your question, so you can see how anything discussed here applies to your particular painting company.

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

In this series of the painter marketing Mastermind podcast. We host Todd Hess, owner of Todd A Hes painting co with over 20 years of experience in industrial commercial and residential painting. Todd Hess is passionate about helping homeowners and business owners transform their spaces into places. They love Todd A hes painting co exemplifies superior preparation and premium products. Helping every color achieve excellent results. Pod and his wife, Alex, run the day to day operations of both businesses and place a huge emphasis on impacting their local community from offering expert recommendations and tips to those with questions to supporting other local businesses in any way that they can, they take pride in being a part of the York Pennsylvania community and hope to continue using their businesses to help others.

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

It’s going out t not much, not much. How are you? I am good man. I’m excited for this episode. Uh It’s gonna be a little different from my other ones but looking forward to it. Definitely, definitely, me too. So tell us a little bit about Todd a hess painting co Well, we are, I would consider probably a relatively young company. We’re only eight years old. Um It started from a time period. Uh I was in a local painting company that is well known and I had uh moved on from that company because I was let go and I decided that um I wanted to start a company that really emphasized a lot on the uh employee and the customer uh equally because I felt like in our industry.

There was a little bit of lack of um really respecting or, or caring about uh the employees of a company that is in the painting industry. Um I started off with just me in a, in a E 453 van and we’ve worked our way here in the last eight years up to uh 800 K in revenue. And we have anywhere between eight and 10 employees uh out in the field working. Um Currently, we are ramping our, our workforce up from about seven or eight during the winter to hopefully around like I said, 10 or 12. Yeah.

Well, that’s great. And so you guys use W-2 employees or subcontractors. We uh we’re, we use W-2 employees. We firmly believe it’s uh better for a company to have uh a good, good standard operating procedures and, and good understanding from the employee of what they need to do when they’re out, out on a job. And I think it equates better to quality and customer experience that’s gonna be superior to somebody using subcontractors. That’s not saying that there isn’t great subcontractors out there. We just feel that it works best with us when we have W-2 employees maybe allows you to control the process a little bit more.

Uh So you were working for a well known, more established painting company, right? That, that, and what were you doing for them? Um Well, I mean, I’ll just go ahead and I mean, I think it’s ok. I mean, I was working for a company in York County. It was Mike Gosman painting. Um I worked from there as a painter to a Forman position into a sales position. Um I was at the end kind of doing basically uh about three quarters of the sales. I did a lot of uh the project management and I would say that my title probably would have been like, more like a general manager.

OK. And you started out in the field as a painter? Absolutely cool. Very cool. Yeah, residential painting was something I learned from Jody Harlacher. He was uh one of the craftsmen there at Oxman painting. And I learned a lot of what I know now of our processes and standards from him. Yeah, that’s awesome. And so you, you start in the field, you worked your way up. How long did it take you to get to this essentially GM position? Uh It was from 2005. I worked for roughly about a year, year and a half and I had moved to upstate New York with uh my current wife and I lived up there with her for three years and I did try to run a painting business um up there.

Uh And when I came back in 2009, I still was a painter and in 153, um it took me until 2000 and I think it was the end of 2010, I happened. It’s some things in business are about luck. Um, an opportunity kind of showing up and I Mike at the time, the owner was looking for somebody for sales and I just happened to be a good candidate inside the company. So it took me from 2009 to 2016. Um About 2015 is when I started being like a GM type position, Mike still had, you know, still made all the day to day kind of like major decisions and he allowed me to project, manage the, the projects that I had that I had quoted out and sold for the company.

Um He’s a great boss and uh showed me a lot of the business side. Um I still talk to him today. Uh I would consider him someone that um really, really gave me the insight on the business aspect of how to run a painting company. Yeah, that’s interesting. So, yeah, we’ve had Zach on, on the podcast a number of times. Absolutely, a fair amount about a painting. Uh The That’s cool. So you learned that you learned painting really well, grew in different positions. I, I wanna ask you something, Todd.

This gonna seem kind of off the wall. Um In two thou you said 2005, you moved to upstate New York with your current wife. So you guys were not married at that time? Uh No, we weren’t we got married in. Ok. Yeah. All right. I’m gonna give you a piece of piece of advice. Maybe you get away with it. I don’t know. Maybe you do. I said current wife one time, um, about my wife because I wasn’t married at that time. And so I didn’t really know how to say it. Right.

So I was like, oh, we, you know, we did this with my current wife because she wasn’t the wife at the time. She didn’t like it. So now II I think now I say it did, it did stuff with my wife. But then you have to kind of get into this, you know what we were dating at the time. It sort of sidetracks the whole story. But that’s, I, I thought I’m not crazy. She’s like, well, am I your wife? Are you planning on divorcing me? But, you know, I will take that, um, in, in, in, into, into every decision.

I, I answer on that now it’s gonna mess you up. It’ll be fine. It’s, hey, I, I have a, I have a son that, that came, um, from my first marriage and, you know, maybe it’s something where I have to, I have to get over the fact that, you know, my, my wife now brought my, brought that child up for me, uh, when I was out working hard on the business and you know what, uh, I might get a little bit of, I might get a little bit of, uh, a little bit of Pope when I get home here about this.

Nothing, uh, nothing like me kind of messing with your mind as we start this podcast. Huh? Exactly. Exactly. I think you’re up for it. Uh, ok. So one of the things that, that you seem really passionate about, which I think is really neat is community engagement, community involving involvement, growing your community. Talk to me a little bit about that. Um I mean, we, we look for every opportunity to help um the compu the community nonprofits. Uh And I can’t name them all off the top of my head, but there’s multiple community uh nonprofits that we continue to help uh every year in any way we can.

Um We’re always looking for giving our services out during raffles for nonprofits and stuff like that. Um I think as, as we move on here though, we really want to engage even more um and be, be part of, of the networking part more and it’s only gonna become possible due to the fact that we’ve grown to a point where we can do that. Uh So it’s a little bit of the insight on that part. And let’s talk about the, the personnel, right? You said per personnel prior to this uh starting filming, you had mentioned that personnel is something you’re, you’re pretty passionate about.

And then as we started this off, you, you talked about how you don’t think employees or team members, even if potentially subcontractors, I think this would extend to them are not necessarily treated with the same respect or, or the way that they should be uh because the customers may be placed on a pedestal and the team is neglected. Let’s get into that. Uh Yeah, I’m glad that you brought that up Brandon. Um What, what, what I’m, what I saw when I first started my, my painting company was, it’s that kind of like painters were put out into a position where they went out onto the job.

And this is in companies where owners aren’t in the field where they go out onto a, onto a project. Um A lot of, a lot of projects are, are ran with budgeted numbers. So the lead and the painters are required to kind of bring these jobs in and there’s a lot of pressure back from the, the, the customer sometimes on, you know, was this included, was that included if the, if the um quote wasn’t as detailed and I experienced many a times of kind of being in between an owner and the sales process and a customer and kind of getting the getting the backlash of an owner if they were upset that a project wasn’t coming in and the budgeted hours and there was no real communication on, you know, sometimes whether we like it or not.

I know in our company, sometimes the customer is wrong. They aren’t always right. And there’s times as a business owner where it’s detrimental to your team to say, and step in and say, hey, this is what was talked about, this is what the contract says. And we need to have better, uh better movement forward on the project with the team. Or maybe we’re gonna see ourselves have to leave the project. And I don’t think that’s, I don’t think that’s a, a bad thing for an owner to display to his employees because they are the ones on the front line most of the time and, and, and, and dealing with the, the grunt and the brunt of, of, um, customers. Sure.

So this is a really interesting point. We, we’ve had some incidents in Pan American Pros where I’ve had to step in on behalf of a team member, right? Uh Kind of contrary to what one of our partners we call our customers. Partners, maybe thought was going to happen at that time. And there’s nothing that really builds a team like that when they say, hey, the owner, if, if something’s happening, that probably shouldn’t be happening, maybe a team member is, is being, uh taken advantage of potentially even spoken poorly to and the owner actually has my back, right?

Not just we, we pretend like we have your back until till money’s on the table and then it’s all. No, you know, team team is second for sure. Um That man, that really inspires. And that’s, and it’s a hard thing to do as an owner, as a leader. It’s a very hard thing to do because you fear that you fear being confrontational with a customer. You know, what, what kind of backlash might you receive from that? Um But I think you’re, you have this interesting advantage of having worked as a painter for a long time, for a well established company.

So you’ve seen it in that role, then you’ve gone into the estimated role, you’ve gone into the general manager role. Now you’re in the CEO role at your own company. So you’ve experienced a, a wider gamut than most people have. So I think this is a real issue. I think it’s not talked about very much. How do you handle it at your company? Well, I am, I am my number and I’m available to uh every employee we have Monday meetings is, is company meetings. I’m available to every single employee during that meeting.

I, I don’t know whether we’ve tested this water. I don’t know whether it’s good to have full company meetings and then lead or foreman meetings. We don’t have lead informant meetings. We have meetings with everyone involved and it gives the opportunity for everyone. If you’re a painter that’s only been with us for two weeks or your foreman has been with us for four years, everybody has the opportunity to talk about anything that’s happened on a project and if it’s talked about and I think it’s something that I need to go to the customer.

You are right. I probably have and I kind of have never thought about the fact that if you look at owners, I don’t know if every single owner has been in every single position, kinda, I progressed in different positions. Um, and it’s not, my company is in a company that was given to me, you know, through family or anything like that. So I take that stuff seriously and, and I’m willing to make the phone call to a customer and have a discussion and it’s a respectful conversation. Sure.

And it’s, it’s to get that and people would be surprised, at least in our industry and in our market, lots of customers once they’re, I’ll say confronted, but once they have a conversation about what’s going on, I think that they, that there’s probably 90% of the time the customer realizes that they kind of were either trying to get more than what was given in a quote or they’re just not used to dealing with contractors that have self-respect for them and their team. And once they, once they see that lots, lots of have become customers for the whole eight years that we’ve been around.

I mean, we, they’re past customers and they’re repeat customers. So, I mean, that’s kind of the way I, I like the, the, the crew to come to me. Let me know what’s happening and then be able to go to the customer and explain what we’re seeing on our side. Yeah, I agree. I, I think it’s, it sounds counterintuitive, right? You think if uh if, if a customer is acting upset or they are upset about something and, and trying to push for something that the way you make them happy is you just, you give them whatever it is right?

Without regard to whether or not it makes sense or was in the scope of work. But we have also found when you have an open dialogue and an honest dialogue and you, you meet as, as business partners, so to speak, you and that customer at the table together, it does tend to forge a stronger relationship long term. Absolutely. I agree with you 100%. So your protocol, do you have any specific sops regarding this? Say, you know, hey, customers leaning on your, your project lead or, or, or hey, here’s what, here’s what needs to now happen or how does that work?

Well, I’m actually glad that you brought up sops because um we are currently, it’s kind of AAA part that I wanted to get into. I’ve noticed in the last year, year and a half. Um I kind of tried to do the owner that kind of has, has contact with customers and has contact with the field, but not really a lot. And we saw that we got to where we were number wise because we were really, we’re really good at marketing. We’re really good at sales and we’re really good at customer service.

And then we realized we had to start building the standard operating procedures. So to answer your question, no, we, we don’t currently have an SOP for that. And I’m gonna actually mark that down as it should be a standard operating procedure to follow. And that may also help employees that come into meetings. Some employees don’t like talking inside of meetings. I mean, that’s just, and, and having an SOP that would be better, kind of formatted for that. I I’m really glad you brought that up. And actually, I, like I said, I’m gonna make a note here about making that part of our, our SOPS.

We currently are working out basically all of the sops that um larger companies would have already in place. We kind of think that that’s the next phase to get past that million dollar mark is making sure that standard operating procedures are kind of followed on a day to day basis. So I appreciate you bringing that up. Excellent. And I think standard operating procedures that can sound so fancy. So kind of scary overwhelming. So a lot of people shy away from things like that. So let’s get in into how you’re actually creating, how are you developing your sops?

So we worked on our interior sops during the winter this last winter. Uh what I did was I wrote out a basically a breakdown. I just made it simple, a breakdown of a standard bedroom that we would do in a, in a residential repaint, a ceiling walls trim. And I wrote down exactly how I would have went about doing it. And then we talked in, in a group setting about some of the things that maybe I, I missed due to the fact that when you’re not working every day in the field, you, you’re kind of leaning on past understanding of what’s really going on in the field.

So we, we got feedback from the whole crew and we started really, really narrowing it down to the point of like, um ceilings, you know, is it more efficient? And what’s the outcome of the difference between brushing the ceiling line and, or whizzing the ceiling line in? And is there, you know, one’s more, is one more efficient, but it doesn’t have a good outcome or is one more efficient and has the same outcome. We, we ended up with most ceilings can be uh a four inch whiz whiz roll the whole way around them.

It’s more efficient and we didn’t see any, any difference in the outcome of the wall cut in line. Um And I just say that because we had some people say that they thought there would be a difference. We didn’t see any difference in that um, from job to job. Now, it took some of the employees time to come around to doing it that way, which there’s just a slight delay in getting more efficient with that process. But now everyone does it that way. The outcome is the same.

It’s hot and I know that some, some painters, you know, some painting companies, we end up kind of going back and forth with all these standard operating procedures because our processes are so important to us. Um And I would never tell anybody it’s wrong to brush a ceiling. And just in our company, we found out more efficient and not, there’s no real downfall in the top cut in line. Um And the way it looks on a, on a wall, I think that concept can be applied to anything.

So you, you’re basically willing to take a look at every element of your service and the obviously to sales and marketing, really any component of your business and you’re willing to test, right. So we’re gonna test on a few projects one way, test on a few projects, the other way in marketing, we call that A B test. And then we’re gonna see, we’re gonna measure the time we’re gonna look at what the quality of the output is. We’re gonna probably see if there’s any difference in the satisfaction of the homeowner how the crew feels about it.

And then ultimately, we’re gonna make a decision, we’re gonna standardize it and that way it’s gonna be efficiently run within the company. Absolutely. And we did, we did take a, the beginning of our standard operating procedure. Uh, we are looking at the fact that for some reason using analog stuff seems to hold better with our crews. So our company manual and our standard operating procedures are all laminated and put into their vans. So it’s something that they don’t have to go to their fa new guy comes into the company and they’re doing something counterintuitive to the standard operating procedures.

Then the foreman or lead on the job can say, hey, this is, this is, this is written for us and it’s so that we don’t spend a whole bunch of time when we are just doing a project talking about which way is better and which way is not better. We have time frames which we will test stuff and we don’t have any problems doing that. And we are gonna change our standard operating procedure to a tactical manual instead of standard operating procedures. And I’ve only decided that because we found that certain painters and leads almost um they almost just look at the standard operating or operating procedures as linear.

And in the industry, I think it’s so hard making standard operating procedures because they’re really not linear because everything you get into every, every job can be slightly different uh uh using different colors, different codings. And so you almost have to be adaptable to the environment you’re in. So it’s more like a tech tactical manual than it is standard operating procedure. This is what normally should happen. But if you see that in the, the fourth step that it’s not gonna work in your current environment, we have trust in you to change it to the best of your ability and then we’re gonna talk about that and why that happened and that’s gonna be something that can be put in as an, as an error proof s you know, system for somebody else if you run into it.

Like, and I think that right there is a great point and I think a lot of people don’t kind of miss that, right? So you document everything and they think, well, I think there’s this big hesitation to document things and, and write down sops because number one, people just think it’s a lot of work more than it is. You just kind of like you said, you imagine a, an interior space and you just sat down and started writing down what you’re gonna do. Boom, you have an sop, let’s iterate, let’s take it to the team and then let’s make it better.

Uh And then another thing is there’s so many variations but what if this, what if that there’s just too much, you just have to know what to do, right? But, but what there are only so many, there’s not, not an infinite number of variations might feel like it, but there’s not So you write down everything that you can think of and then when you go out and something’s not covered by the SOP, then you add it and you create another variation, create another variation to the point where there, there’s going to be next to nothing that’s not already covered. Absolutely.

And inside the standard operating procedures, you start to standard, you start to standardize equipment used for certain things. So then you can be more efficient. On the sundry side. A lot of painting companies end up finding themselves their one, you know, uh one lead might use a rooster ftp roller cover for all their projects and one lead might use micro fibers for their projects. So now the companies either buying them at a substantial cost at a paint store in low quantities or they’re having to uh store bulk so they can get a savings.

We, we’ve standardized like this is the roller cover for the majority of what we use. And we only carry like two or three different roller color roller covers in like three different or four different sizes. And that’s, that’s just to kind of further that standard operating procedure and kind of go the extra distance with that. Uh at what size of a company do you think from day one, a company should be thinking like that or is it, hey, I, you know, day one just get it done at half a million.

You start thinking like that. That. That’s a great, I’m glad you brought it up. And, because really, I would tell a company the, uh, the few things that I would tell them to work on at the very beginning that you said it. Right. It just seems like a lot of work. But, but you actually have more time when you’re smaller. I don’t know why, why. So, I, I think in our industry, in many industries it kind of talked about like, oh, you, you always have more time when you kind of like exit the or you have three employees.

And I found eight years later now I’m like one I should have been working on standard operating procedures from the beginning. One thing I did do that, I think helped us that I think everybody should do is write down a structure of the company. So you have an owner, you have uh you have an office manager, you have a VP of sales. I mean, let your, let your imagination grow to like, like beyond what you think is possible. Like think about having like $10 billion painting company and structure it that way and start doing the mathematics by hours of like, how many painters would it take to hold up a structure with an office manager and me doing sales and me doing part time in the field?

Then, then how does that, you know, what’s the next level with a superintendent? How many painters do I need to, I can have a superintendent that can help me get the materials and equipment ready and get projects started. And I think thinking about that at the beginning was a real big help for me and we continue to change that structure structure. Still to this day, I think the, the practice of creating an ORG chart of where you ultimately want to be. You said a $203 million company. If that’s your goal, create an org chart of a $10 million company, you’re at zero or 500,000 or a million or wherever you’re at where you’re right.

Take your best guess. You might not actually know exactly what a $10 million company looks like, but think about it, write it all in, fill out all the positions. You’re gonna fill a lot of those right now. But then you can start to create a hiring plan, you can start to understand your finances. You can start to figure out at what point you can hire what position and really create a path of growth for yourself. Yeah. Like so let’s, let’s give a little bit of insight to somebody that might be starting their, their paint company don’t go and do a 40 hour week over 52 weeks.

That’s, that’s just not, we, we’ve been running numbers for eight years and I’m sure lots of other painting companies have been running numbers. Most painters working in the field work anywhere between 1819 100 hours a year, you just take that 1819 223 times it by whatever you wanna charge by the hour. And now you’re starting to build out a revenue, you’re starting to build out one painter at a time, what that revenue looks like. Um, and just build that, build that way and, and, and I think it, it, it becomes a little bit easier for people to understand.

Oh, well, it’s like, you know, if I’m charging, you know, $50 an hour and a painter is gonna create 1800 hours and you start doing that. Oh, ok. Well, the company can be at 300,000 if I had this many painters, I think that’s a great exercise for people instead of just going out and kind of like bidding a job and you think at the end? Oh, I made $1000. Yeah. But what was your production rate? How much did you make per hour on that job? And correlate your service industry into hours because un billable hours make you no money, billable hours do.

And if you can think of it that way it, it’s gonna help, it helps so much. Sure. Yeah, I think upsetting setting realistic goals and then creating realistic plans and understanding the numbers and the financial metrics to get there. Uh One of the, one of the things that I’ve seen with a lot of less experienced paying company owners or just really business owners in general is uh hey, what’s your current revenue? We’re at, we’re at 300,000. Great. What’s your goal for? 12 months from now? 2.5 million? It’s unlikely to be realistic.

It might be, you know, if you have a background, you’re a serial entrepreneur, you’re coming in, boatloads of cash, you understand, sales and marketing. Really? Well, you’re gonna lay down a system. Yeah, you could probably hit that if you’re painting because you’ve been painting for 23 years and you left and now you’re starting your, that’s probably not going to happen. So I think when you map these things out, your odds of success go a lot higher because you’re starting to actually actually think in real terms and we’re here to here to build real businesses, not imaginary.

I agree with you and, and I think that social media has made it for entrepreneurs in every industry that it’s like a 10 X factor. Like you, you have to get to this special number real quick. We’ve been at 800,000 for two years and we are still tweaking things, you know, to, to see what’s gonna get us to that next step. I, I have no problem saying it was last year was the, it was the first year that was stagnant. We had years where we did 100 and 70%. Um But next year you’re doing 8 million next year, we aren’t doing 8 million.

But we really, what I’d like to see is next year to do to do 900,000. And I’d like in two years to do a million. Um, I know that’s, you know, that’s little steps, controlled growth. We’re at controlled growth phase and we have a lot of work to do, like you had mentioned earlier about sops and we have a lot of manuals to write. I think that it’s important for everybody when you do that structured chart, what’s the responsibility of, of, of the, of the owner, what’s the responsibility of the office manager?

And then when you figure out what their responsibility is, write everything down, they do, how do they do payroll? How do they do accounts receivable? How do they do all because then as an owner, if, if a position like that leaves, then all of a sudden you find yourself, um, without that office manager that you had for, let’s say, 23 years. Well, if you have all the manuals in place, it’ll be very easy to bring somebody in temporarily until you find a real replacement. And that’s what we’re working on right now.

I don’t think we did enough work. I know we didn’t do enough work in that, in that area. Me and my wife, uh, we just talked today and it’s one of our major goals for 2024 is to get as much manuals done inside of the structure that we’ve built organizational structure that we built. And as much of the standard operating procedures that we can for the company, that’s our goal in 2024 little less revenue driven and a little bit more kind of internal uh structure and organizational driven this year. Sure.

I think that’s great. And I think one thing we, we’ve done a lot at painter marketing pros is record. Our sop so we do a lot of things online, obviously. Um So when we’re doing things, we’ll, we’ll do a screen record, right? We’ll document the steps to a screen record and then, and then uh a team member will go write out everything that happened. Actually chop those chop that video into sub sub little videos and then actually include those subtle videos in the steps and you can do something like this.

Um You know, in the real world too, if you’re painting or if you’re showing, hey, here’s how we’re gonna pull up to a house. You know, here’s, here’s how we’re gonna knock on the door and present. Introduce ourselves. You can film as you role play. You can then transfer this stored on Google Drive would be something easy. Slice it up and then boom, put it in your manual pick if you’re, if you are using analog and you’re using those binders that have pictures, right? Pictures with little.

It sounds silly, but that’s how you systematize your company. No, that, that sounds that sounds really great Brendan because the truth of the matter is we’re more visualized, stimulated society anyhow. Um So, so do going to pictures and the video. It, I mean, again, I, I made a note for that and if you don’t mind me asking why, why we’re recording. So what, what are you using for the screen shot procedure? Are you using something like scribe or, or what, what kind of regular are you just using regular?

I use? Eu si mean there’s tons of screen recording Softwares. I I just use one called the E US like a lifetime license for like $100 or something. Every time I change, change computers, which I’ve done about 10 times over the past year, I have to buy it again. So the value has gone down a little bit for me relative to the cost because they, they don’t let me transfer it, but it’s been a good sale. Well, I appreciate the the input. Yeah. No, no worries, man. Uh Another thing.

So we’ve talked a lot about service fulfillment team. Uh Another thing that I know you’re proud of is your, your growth, right? Growth to date. And, and you had discussed how you differ from competitors, right? And your quality and, but every painting company says, hey, we produce quality work. We we use quality materials. I have yet to see a painting company’s website that says we do OK, work and our materials are not, not the best, but they’re still not the worst, right? So, so the the work quality, things like that are kind of uh of a buzz where they kind of one ear out the other.

How do you differentiate yourself in a way that makes the market pay attention to you? Well, I would say this uh building your team with core values and I’ve listened to some of your, some of your uh episodes. Uh You let me know if we differ in this way, I think we differ just in our core values. Our core values are attention to detail, knowledge, respect, pride and adaptable. And that all comes back to, we’re creating craftsmen. We’re not creating painters. So we don’t want painters want craftsmen.

We want people that when they go out on to a job, you know, I agree with you 100% that I hear quality all the time. I hear all we produce quality work. And I think uh you probably knowing a little bit more about video and stuff we’ve noticed doesn’t really matter how good of a painter you are, pictures and video don’t really show everything if you don’t really zoom in and, and take the high resolution of photos and videos. So people are getting away with saying, hey, we do high quality work and you are right?

It’s just kind of like a buzzword. It’s not really, doesn’t, it doesn’t really correlate to when you’re out selling your work to people. I think we’re still in a phase where, you know, we probably have to get better at videoing the actual result in high resolution and being able to show customers, you know, the difference between something that is not quality and something that is quality because they, because they’re not, they don’t know, they don’t know. Yeah. Do you guys, do you guys have to have W-2 employees in Pennsylvania?

No, no, there’s, there’s, there’s places that are doing 1099 employees. So that’s a, a differentiator right there, right? Because you, you can, you know whether or not it’s true. I know some companies have done a great job with quality control in the subcontractor space. But if you, you can make that argument, right? You can make that, that pitch to homeowners. Hey, we don’t sub out our work. It’s ours. We quality, we, we train our own guys. We’re very selective in who we bring on as our craftsman and then position yourself to really that higher end of the market. Absolutely.

Let’s talk a little bit about you taking this company, uh growing it from nothing, you know, having, having just come up in the field and, and learn that way. How do you then step into your own venture and confidently take it from zero to the 800 K that you’re at? Well, at the beginning, um I leaned on a lot of the marketing techniques that I learned from my gosh man when I was with him. Uh I, I hear a lot of people talk about word of mouth and we didn’t, we, we’ve built a portion of our company from word of mouth.

A lot of our companies have been built from marketing and we have currently, we have a marketing team which means that we have somebody that does our pr controls our content for us, rights uh rights templates for blogs, for us so that we can, you know, put our own personal touch on it. We have a website guy that is constantly tracking um our organic growth and letting us know keywords that we have to work on with videos. Um So I really think that, that, that the marketing part is what got us to where we’re at right now, the quality and the customer service has kept customers coming back.

And again, I’m coming back to this kind of sounding like a broken is we’re just kind of trying to figure out what takes us to over the million dollar mark. Um And I mean that, I don’t, I don’t know, can you be a little more specific in anything that you’d want to know on that venture from 0 to 10993 that I could kind of go into? No, I mean, I think that was good. I think you, you came in with a lot of marketing tactics you had learned and I think that’s where a lot of companies don’t make a lot of headway. Right.

Is the marketing and sales and they just rely on the word of mouth. But when you start, you don’t really have a lot of word of mouth to go around. And then I think when companies get bigger, I think they, they do have a lot of value in the word of mouth, but they don’t actually actively, um, harvest that value. Right. They, they rely on it. Word of mouth is an active thing. It’s not a passive marketing exercise. Yes. And, and I mean, to give somebody, I mean, what, what exactly we did.

I know what exactly we did it in the 1st 33 years. That was very helpful. And we saw it kind of decline. I don’t know if that was a decline of itself but it was every door direct mailers. Um We did them in high network uh communities. I went right into the map on U SPS found the, the highest network communities that I could. I started from the bigger ones and because it was only me in a van, I didn’t need to mail out uh 25,000 of them. I only needed to mail out 2000 of them because that’s all the workload that I could afford that I could take on at the time.

And then, you know, we then we branched out into other communities in the first three years and kept kind of growing from there. Yeah, I love it. Um Todd. So thi this, did you ever use subcontractors or you just W-2 the whole time W-2 the whole time? OK. And, and did you start it? Because you felt the quality would be higher that way? I mean, you, you had kind of a painter’s mind going into this because the majority of your, your work habit painting prior to estimating and then the general manager position.

So were you saying, hey, I wanna create a W-2 um workforce because I care about the painters or because I think it’s gonna be better for the quality in the customer long or both. I, I think at the beginning, I thought it, it, it was II I think the main push was I care about the employees. I’m gonna have more control over the process. Now. I don’t know if we want to get into this or not. I think it, it, it’s something that, that probably people haven’t been talking about.

Will it become something that, that a W-2 employee company may be forced to go 10993 financially? That could happen. We live in a gig economy. 1099 isn’t just like subcontractors. 1099 is literally in our industry, a gig job, that’s a gig job. It’s you, you show up with your own insurance, you show up with your own stuff and you do and you do the, the project. The thing is though, when you have a subcontract, you cannot force them to follow, to follow a, a standard operating procedure because they’re supposed to have bit out a job for them to do.

So, that’s the kind of. So I think it, I think it is, I cared about employees and I, and I, to be honest, I wanted control of the process when it came to how, how a job went and how the, the end result was gonna be with quality and customer customer service. So some, some things I’ve seen in the market in terms of, I guess forcing, well, not technically forcing subcontractors to do things like wear your, you know, branded shirts, right? Branded t-shirts. You wanna show the painting company’s name or you follow your sops would be get really good at sales and marketing.

So you generate a lot of business and then you let them know, hey, this is how you like the work conducted. These are, this is your guidance and if they choose not to follow that guidance, then the work chooses not to be directed their way, right? So it’s not, hey, you have to do it this way. This is your project, do it however you want. I’m gonna let you know this is how we prefer, you do it and you’re probably gonna get a lot more business if, if you do it the way that we prefer that you do it, right?

It’s a little like a little bit mafia like, but I think it works. I, I’ll pick your brain here. So, because you’ve talked to lots of different companies, I’m sure you’ve talked to lots of 1099 only PM companies. And so what is their biggest like? How do they, how do they control quality wise when having to deal with? Let’s say you have an upset customer and the project goes sideways. Do those same companies still have W-215 employees to deal with the customer service issue or do they have to correct it through the same subcontractor or have another subcontractor come in and correct it.

I’ve always been interested. Sure. Now you don’t typically wanna, you typically want once you get to a certain scale project manager that is a W-220 that’s on your staff that could go out and handle things like that. You’d want the estimator to be on your team obviously. Uh and then the, the subcontractors really go in and do the work. Yeah. And then ideally you would set, you would set up the projects such that the subcontractors are obviously being paid a percentage of that project and if they have to come back um and, and do touch ups and whatnot, then they uh ultimately, that eats into their profit margin because you’re not paying them anymore.

And so the idea is you create a machine which is, which is spinning on o off enough work that the quality subcontractors are gonna wanna consistently work with you and then you can, you can sort of uh control the quality because the, the right, I mean, it’s like a company finding the right employees, right, the, the right employees want to work for the right company. So the right subcontractors are gonna wanna work for the right painting company that provides them consistent work that treats them well, that pays them fairly.

But it’s also going to have certain guidelines that the subcontractors are gonna have to abide by. That’s, uh you know, sometimes when you just have to have you get stuck in your, you kind of get stuck in your own little like area of what you’re doing and how you’re doing it as an owner. I mean, this is gonna be a AAA great episode for me to listen back to. Um, just because I don’t know, I’ve been III I feel like maybe 222 and, and, and, and W-22 companies are kind of and they’re always like either one or the other and they’re very strongly W-22 or they’re just like, yeah, we just use nothing but the 21099 nines.

And I think, I think um it would be, it would, it might help our industry in our area. I have lots of 1.53 subcontractors. They ask us all the time if we sub out work and, you know, I’ve always said no, because we have W-21.5 employees. I don’t by talking with you. I’m not really sure if that’s completely a fair answer because we’ve never tried it before. I think the, uh, I think the most flexible option is a primarily 210 model with, depending on the size of your company, maybe 210 W-2 crew or 2 W-2 crews that can go in and, and assist as needed and you can tell them exactly what to do. Yeah.

And it’s funny that you say that because you’re actually pinpointing exactly the easiest amount of employees to get to. It’s always two or three crews, like a company of like 4 to 6 guys, which would be, you know, two crews of 22 crews or three crews. That’s like the sweet spot where nothing really ever goes wrong. Like you got a core, like I, I have a core seven guys that they just, I feel like they’ll be there for as long as they decide, unless they want to leave, they’ll be there. Right.

And it’s always getting to that 103 guys and I’ve heard other W-2 um, companies, you know, they might, they might be 40 or 45 years old and they’re at 15 guys, but you’ll hear them year after year, talk about getting to 20 or 22 and it might only ever be a gain of one guy or a gain of two guys, but you might lose the guy. So I’m actually, um, that’s, that’s getting my mind really thinking about that model that you just mentioned because it would be for me to do that right now would literally just be keeping the guys I currently have selling more work and offering it to subcontractors.

None of my guys would ever go without work. None of my guys would ever, you know, they, they wouldn’t have an, it wouldn’t affect them at all. It would just be a matter of, oh, we’re, we, we brought in more work. We sold more work. The guys that are W-2 are getting paid to be W-2 and the guys that are 1099 are being 1099 and it’s gonna lower uh, insurance costs. It’s gonna lower a whole bunch of stuff on the, on the bottom end. Todd. We’ll have you come back and film a second episode in a year.

You’ll be at 1.5 million. It’ll be like things are great and then we’ll, we’ll trace it back to this podcast and then I’ll, I’ll ask for my, for my commission. What’s your, well, hold on. We got, this is a real contract. What, what, what’s your commission? Just 10% of whatever the net increases? That’s 10% of the, of the, of the increase. Yeah, but if you go backwards, uh that’s on, you’re not paying me, I’m not paying no. Ok. Um Todd, this has been awesome before we wrap up. Is there anything else that you want to touch on?

Um, just, uh, just reiterating for everybody? You know that starting their own company, you know, map out your organization, understand your numbers, build your team, build your crew, keep a good culture, make core values and stick to those core values when you’re deciding things inside your company. That’s all. But I appreciate you brother. Congratulations on your success and thank you for your time, man. Thanks so much for having me on Brandon. I appreciate it.

If you want to learn more about the topics we discussed in this podcast and how you can use them to grow your painting business, visit painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast for free training, as well as the ability to schedule a personalized strategy session for your painting company. Again that URL is l84q3at72h.onrocket.site/podcast.

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

Keep growing.

Brandon Pierpont

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