Zach Ausherman, Owner of Ausherman Painting, joins the Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast for a second time to discuss culture, employee hiring and retention, and review generation. Zach took over Ausherman Painting from his father, and since doing so has made many changes to the company’s culture. He deep dives into his methods for building employee and customer loyalty, and the values he instills in the workplace. Zach also discusses a unique method for generating 5-star Google reviews, as well as elaborates on a difficult employee situation he is currently facing.
Video of Interview
- How to create a company culture that inspires loyalty from your employees
- A unique method for securing 5-star Google reviews from customers
- Mistakes to avoid when hiring and training employees, learned the hard way
- How Zach was able to get over 200 applicants to his most recent apprentice painter job posting
Welcome to the Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast, a show created to help painting company owners build a thriving painting business that does well over one million and annual revenue. I’m your host Brandon Pierpont founder of Painter Marketing Pros and creator of the popular pc, a educational series, learn do grow marketing for painters. In each episode, I’ll be sharing proven tips, strategies and processes from leading experts in the industry on how they found success in their painting business. We will be interviewing owners of the most successful painting companies in north America and learning from their experiences on this episode of the Painter Marketing Mastermind podcast.
We host, repeat guest Zack. Sherman Zack is the owner of uh-sherman painting a residential painting company based in york pennsylvania that does approximately $2 million dollars in annual revenue. In this episode, Zach deep dives into creating a winning company, culture, the dues and don’t of employee hiring and retention and how to consistently generate five star google reviews from your painting customers. Zack also elaborates on a difficult employee situation he is currently facing and some mistakes he has learned from in the process. 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 Zach, thank you for coming on the painter market mastermind podcast for round two man. Thanks Brandon appreciate having me. Yeah. So your your first episode was extremely popular. This idea of succession planning changes cultural changes. The fact that uh some good changes are, are not always well received by everyone. Um It’s been a while, what’s been going on since we last spoke? How has that been going culturally? Right. I’m pretty well, I mean I had a conversation with one of my employees yesterday. It was interesting. He said um that he knows that he enjoys working for me because he’s going to get taken care of. Um he said that in other jobs that he’s had, he’s had to go kind of grovel to get pay increases. I make it a point, especially in the spring and summer. I can’t do it so much in the winter just because we don’t make as much money in the winter um to review how everybody’s doing, you know what they’re getting paid and I give you know little incremental raises all the time. Um And guys love that. I don’t even have time to sometimes even tell them that I did it. Um so it’s just kind of see a little more money come in. Huh? Yeah, a little surprise in there, you know when they see their direct deposit. But um and yeah, he loves that. I’m only ever in six months of running or six years of running the company. I’ve only ever had two people ask me for raises. Yeah. So that’s, yeah, I probably do, I probably myself or not because before I came and worked for my dad and took over and everything. I worked in corporate situations and I hated that you had to wait till your annual review to ever get any kind of rigs. It’s kind of weird. It didn’t make any sense. Like if you’re doing well then why wouldn’t you get rewarded? Um So that’s, that’s what we do and it’s worked well now it’s not all about money of course. Um, but we try to do a lot, I mean we did a local Hershey bears game. Um Not that long ago. We’re gonna do a cookout on friday. You took the whole team. You’re saying to the game. Yeah. As many as as good com. Yeah. One of the things I think a lot of downtown cities and towns have done this recently. I very much enjoy. It’s called first friday um in downtown york where they block off a bunch of restaurant areas and they set up the tables out on the street. Um so I’ll, you know, put out that, Hey, I got a reservation for 10 people first come, first serve, come on down. That’s that’s been great because it’s a smaller group. So you get to have more of a conversation, you know, or one on one with the guys or I’ll even say bring your wives down now kids. Probably not for that one. But yeah, it’s good to, you know have wives and wives down and learn a little bit about them and so you you’ll take them out to dinner and comp the whole thing and they get a nice night out and feel well cared for and you’re kind of building that culture and camaraderie. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’re trying to do as much as we can. One of one of the things we were on, what’s that feeds? So everybody checks in every day if we get Google five star reviews, I try to put those out right away. So everybody sees no, we’ve got a good review. Try to give them accolades as much as I can. Always try to say thank you, I appreciate you as much as I can to their the ones out there doing the work. Like they’re dealing with the heat and dealing with you know, bugs and all that stuff. Yeah, we’re working hard to sell projects. Yeah, that’s true. But you know they’re the ones that are growing the business because they’re doing the work and the customers like what they’re doing. Yeah. Yeah. I mean I I um my wife and I started an auto detail business quite a long time ago and I did some of the detailing and I’ll tell you what I like sitting in front of the computer. So that stuff is hard work man, paintings, hard work. It’s good that you express the appreciation. So you and I were chatting a little bit before we we kicked off the podcast and you were talking about an issue that you were having with an employee um someone you’re probably gonna have to have to let go and obviously we don’t need to name names or anything. But I think these are tough conversations. These are tough decisions. I’d love if we could just kind of hear a little bit about that and the process building up to it and what you’re doing. Sure. So we’re to the point now. So what I did when I came in was I would project manager and I would sell. Um but as we grew we realized that we needed another salesperson. So we got another one. He’s great, he’s full time. He’s been with me um For four years now, almost five I believe. Um He was a crew leader before so he knew painting. Um he was actually a carpenter him before that. So he’s great with talking to customers outside um water issues and all that stuff. But we got to the point where even him and I couldn’t handle all the sales. So we needed to hire someone else and we tried to do a part time model and I think that might have been our downfall um because we didn’t get a lot of great applicants. Um that way. Um So I think this next time if we you know go at it again, we’ll probably do the full time. Um So you hired a part time estimator. Yeah she I mean yeah that was the original thought but after you know especially in the spring but how many leads that we get? I mean we just get inundated. She was pretty much full time how we were doing it was should get paid for each visit. And then that percentage of the gross. Um Which I think worked out okay. But um my other sales person is base plus commission. So you know there’s there is a strive to go out there and sell for sure. But you know if he has a bad week or or two it’s okay you know so she would get paid. Do you mind sharing those figures? Sure its she was getting $45 a visit and then uh we pay her mileage so she didn’t have a company vehicle And then she gets four of gross 4% of gross. And then your other estimator, he’s on a a salary and then he gets a commission. What does that commission look like for him? So it’s 38 base and then 4% on gross 4% on gross for him as well. Yeah. Okay. So if he, the point with Alan is that if he sells his goal is always to sell a million um more um That’s what you’re looking for is your Kpi you want to hit over a million right? Um And I mean there’s top sales guys around the country that are doing too. So there’s you know if things go as planned um there’s no reason why you can’t hit that. Um And then gets them you know into the mid-70s, low 80s. Do you have a certain close rate you’re looking you’re looking for from your estimators? Yeah. We like to be between 40 and 45% is what we like to hit. Yeah. Got it. And so you think you think you started off right off the bat? You started wrong I guess with this other estimator? Yeah putting it out there is a part time position. I don’t think we got as good applicants as we would have if we would have said it was full time. Um The other thing was I think we rushed it a little bit. I think one of the I was thinking about this this morning even last night because I knew where you know I was coming on this with you one of the tough things for me and I think for any business owner is okay. When do you just make it happen? You know just needs to happen so you make it happen and then when do you take a little extra time? You know slow down to speed up because you have to figure that out. Sometimes it would it’s not always easy man. No no when the massive imperfect action versus when you better be cautious, right? So I think, I think with her hiring, we were a little too, we didn’t take enough time with it, you know, we should, yeah, yeah, we should have taken a little bit more time. Um and just maybe walk through some disc profiles and done that kind of stuff. Um to we didn’t um she she’s very personable. Um she, you know, gets along with the customers really well. It’s the detail stuff and I was just, I just read a book by Jeb blunt called people by you and it was interesting. He talked a lot about how, you know, you want to create that trust and it’s great that sales people are nice people and you need to be nice when you’re there and that will get you maybe the initial cell. Well, you have to have the detail in there for the long term. So it made me think, well, okay, She’s selling that initial one. But if she’s missing stuff and the crew and the crews are going in there and the customers know that something’s not right. Communication isn’t correct. Things are in the proposal, right? More than likely she’s not going to sell that next one. You know, the customer is gonna have a bad experience when the crew is actually there and they’re not going to call us back, you know, because because we’re either gonna be calling and saying, oh my gosh, we missed this, you know, can we split the cost of it or and that just puts a sour taste and the customers are mouth right away. It’s great that she could have that camaraderie and you know, relate. Um but just missed the details and she’s six months in something like that. So at six months you should be able to, you know, start getting, getting some details done. You’re gonna under maybe hit on this a little too much because I just I want people to, again, we talked about culture, I want people to feel comfortable, I do believe. And when, you know, even when I started selling of course I’m not perfect. You’re gonna underbid stuff. You just use our I mean you’re gonna miss something that needed more prep or whatever, but you can’t you can’t miss not having enough enough material costs in there. Yeah, that kind of thing, like that’s just real basics, basics of estimate, You gotta get that detail in there. So I’m kind of making making pretty serious rookie mistakes, six months in what what I find it interesting. Obviously you do have to have that attention to detail, but for an estimator for salesperson, you know, there’s such a focus on the personality being engaged in getting people to like and trust you um that I think sometimes, you know, we think of the project manager, that’s the person who really needs to be detail oriented, but you can’t totally overlook it or you’re gonna create. What you’re saying is this disconnect between where the, where the company is. I mean, ultimately it makes you look unprofessional like you don’t know what you’re doing, right? My c I have, my crew leads are all pretty experienced. So you know, if everything is in the work order correctly, they have the paint that they need, you know, for the first couple of days, they’re pretty good to go. I mean we don’t really, we of course get status updates and and not for scheduling and all that, but I don’t have to micromanage them. If they don’t have all that information though it can spiral, you know fast. So again, it’s very important that all that detail is in there and multiple times a year we’ll hear from a customer hey, your proposals are really well done. You know, we appreciate that detail, we appreciate that that’s in there. So that’s one of the reasons we went with you because the the competition’s quote, you know, as a quickbooks, quote or whatever and we’re gonna paint this, you know, no, there’s no detail there. But you’ve got to take a couple extra minutes and put the detail in there, especially at our target market. I mean we’re our targets pretty high. I mean, um we’re not hitting a lot of interior designers or crazy high high markets but we’re up there. You know, our average house in pennsylvania that we work on is probably, You know, $400, house, something like that. Yeah, yeah. You know, everyone’s had a bad experience with a contractor along the line. So a lot of it’s about establishing that trust and the more detail you include, the more they know what they’re paying for. You know, kind of the antithesis to the number on napkin kind of deal. You want to be the opposite, opposite, absolute opposite of that. And that’s one of the things that my dad and I had conflicts about early on when I first came in two because back, you know, in the seventies, eighties, even the early nineties to appoint, you can still go in, you know, yeah, we’ll paint this, this and this and it’ll cost 1500 bucks or whatever shake their hand and everybody trusts each other. The deal was done and became and painted it and you got paid. I mean that’s the way it was 30 years ago, but that’s not the way it is anymore. And there’s multiple reasons for that. You know, young people want to see detail liability. Um, if something goes wrong, it needs to be in their state regulation requires certain things to be in there. You know, there’s a whole, it’s a whole different ball of wax that was, you know, 30 years ago. Yeah, Yeah, So with, with this estimator that you’re gonna have to let go. Can you kinda walk us through what I guess what your process was over the past six months maybe to try to not have to let her go and then how you’re handling focused on sort of handling this conversation because this is always a touchy sort of a difficult thing. So I mean what we did was we hired her I believe it was early winter or something like that and she did ride alongs with me, she did ride alongs with my sales manager. Um And probably again some of it was probably my fault that I kind of let my sales manager do most of the training um And I trained him so it was kind of one of those things that I would just say how’s it going, you know, are you making sure this is done and that’s done. Um And then she would ride along to me um And there were winter for us. I know for a lot of many companies to is a critical time to sell stuff. So there was times where I had to you know, just trust that the training was happening correctly because I need to sell this commercial job or that job or this job so that we can keep the guys going. Um We had we were down to only be in like three or 4 weeks out for work um in january and that was the first time I had we had been that low in three years or something and we were just used to being out three months. So I mean, I think we were not looking back in retrospect, we were fine, but you know, just, it was, it was a weird feeling to be in because you know, a couple years before that there were times when we were only a week and a half hour or so, he, it didn’t make sense for me to freak out. Maybe I did in my head a little bit and when that happens, I’m the one that’s gonna put my, you know, put down, put the pedal to the metal and make sure things get sold and we’re going to do what we have to do to keep the guys going. So that, that was a little bit of why I think I let that go and you know, it was just bad timing maybe um, that way. And then what we’ve done recently is we use paint scout because we’re estimating software, so um, we have all the production rates and everything in there, she’ll go in, she’ll put all the dimensions, substrates, all that good stuff in there, then it will spit out before she sends it off, we’ll check it. Um we’ll go in there and go through it all. Um and that’s really where kind of the rub happened over the last month and a half. Something like that has been okay, You know, have this ready to go before we even review it, You know, is this, is this 100%,, you know, I want to go in there and maybe tweet one thing and say, oh you’re awesome, that’s good, good to go. And it was just almost every single one, there was something just completely missed and you don’t want to be building it yourself, half building it, right, right. I want to review it quick and then, and that’s what, that’s what my sales manager would do when I first trained him, you know, he would copy me in on everything. I might have a little critique. It wasn’t much just well think about this or make sure you felt this correct or just little little silly stuff. Um But when you look in his proposals, he had everything, everything was in detail, All that stuff was good. Yeah, any underbid stuff because again, we work on old houses, you’re gonna underbid stuff there and there and bother him a lot. I could tell that that bugged him and she’s had a couple of jobs done um that we’ve completed, that she’s quoted that have gone over hours and it didn’t feel like that even bothered her, right? So maybe that sense of pride or accountability doesn’t quite seem to be there as much and that bothered me that it didn’t bother, you know what I mean, Like it makes sense. You want someone who cares who takes pride in what they’re doing. So basically the the two, it sounds like the two mistakes that you feel that you made or that you you attracted the wrong kind of candidates with your job posting by making a part time versus full time and then you you sort of I guess advocated responsibility in a way for the training where you thought oh well I trained him so between her and maybe it wasn’t quite a structured um maybe it wasn’t quite as well monitored or the S. O. P. S. Really weren’t there in a way to make sure she was set up to succeed, right? And I feel bad. I mean this afternoon is going to happen and I mean I will that’s how I’ll start the conversation. You know I feel bad. I think maybe we you know didn’t give you all the tools right away that you needed to make this happen. Um But in all honesty just isn’t going to be a fit anymore. Um I really do think that she could have a future in some kind of sales because she is good with the customer. It’s just just just not not with us. So yeah maybe something that doesn’t require so much detailed estimate on those lines. Um So let’s kind of shift gears a tiny bit and focus on the culture at your company. What’s been happening. You know post secession um with your you know taking over Oxman painting from your dad. How is that all going going pretty well. Um A my guys are so I think I forget if we talked about this. I know we talked about this in the last episode. People will will mean for quite a while ago so feel free if you repeat a little bit, it’s okay, it’s okay. They, I think one of the things with my guys is I always say you know, I appreciate you, thank you all that. To the point where I remember a couple of months ago, there was one of my guys that said you know he could for some reason I forgot to and he like called me out on it which is cool, That’s awesome, I appreciate that. Um But yeah we got, I mean just like anybody else it’s up and down a little bit um I seem to, it feels like it goes down a little when I’m not around as much. So like I was at the pc expo for a week um about a week after that I took a personal vacation because we april and may are always huge bathing seasons for us. So I try to get away a little bit right before that to recharge my batteries and it seems like when I do stuff like that I get a little more disconnected um and you know, it feels like we’re going down a little but when I get back in and reconnect can build the team back up pretty quickly. Um And it’s just doing little stuff. I mean it’s just hey, I’m gonna be in this area tomorrow. Um you guys are five minutes away, you wanna go grab lunch. It’s um, when we had a guy hit uh blast yesterday I promoted an apprentice to a painter. You know, recognized him in the morning meeting and everybody cheered him. Um he’s been with us for 11 months, great kid. Um I had a guy hit five years on monday, recognized him through social media. Nice. That kind of stuff. I mean those guys do you like, you know, having that little bit of individual attention. Um like we all do. Um So why, why wouldn’t we, it takes me, I don’t know, five minutes to put the little pictograms together with pictures and say, you know, congrats some five years and you know, you’re good to go. But yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s funny to me. I mean I read different, a lot of different books and they talk about how you guys get mired down in the day to day and they don’t really work on culture and I really do think you have to constantly work on it. You know, you just do. And I think one of the reasons that we just get inundated with leads is that I try to use that culture in our marketing Two and I do believe that a lot of potential customers really see that. So one of the things that I tried to model almost right away when I started doing more marketing side of things. I give credit to my guys. So if you look at our social media feeds through facebook instagram, you’ll see Brent and Liz were on this project and they’re doing a great job, you know? I called them out. Yeah. And I do see, I don’t I don’t want to give myself any credit, but I have seen that other contractors are starting to do that a little more, which is cool. I appreciate that. That they need to on my personal opinion. Um I think in the past there was this old school of thought and well they could be gone next week. So why would I recognize them? Because then what does it matter? Like they like they might take away some of it or something if they leave. Right. And it doesn’t and it doesn’t matter that the next customer isn’t gonna care that you know that. Well, yeah, there I saw them through social media, they left okay. You know, but you recognize the other careers to their good to Yeah. Do you now do you have customers? Do you have customers actually say that like, like if there’s someone who’s been, let’s say mike and and there’s been a lot of mike’s great mic, This mic that you ever have a customer say, hey, is mike gonna do our project all the time. Yeah. So Jody was one of the craftsman of the year or for 2020. Um Yeah, senior crew lead um these 33 years now. I think he gets a lot of that because he’s, you know, he’s done a lot of the same customers over and over again. Um and the other guys, a couple of other guys get that, Hey, can I have this person back of that person back? And a lot of times we try to do that anyway, you know, because they, they have a little bit of a relationship, they know the house, they know the dog, they know the, you know how to get in this or that way. So you’re not relearning, you know, a new new person. Um And if they really like their work, you know, that’s great too. But you’re saying you’re saying when they want this, this is mainly repeat business that we’re talking about right now. Right? So if, are there ever new customers that they go on? Obviously most prospective customers read reviews and they say, hey, I want, I want mike because I read a lot of good things about mike. It’s probably doesn’t happen a ton. It’s probably, I wouldn’t expect it to. And it seems like that would be the fear would be, oh, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna pump mike up because then if mike leaves, then we’ll Osman painting doesn’t really have the glory, but I didn’t think that that that level of um attention to detail or that level of specificity is likely to really become among prospective customers, right? I mean maybe I can think of maybe two or three of the last couple of years. Yeah. Yeah. It’s not, not something that people, not something painting company owners need to concern themselves with, right? Yeah. God, yeah. The benefit that you’re going to get from might be motivated by that and from your other employees, not just him, but other people saying, wow, you know, look at the attention he’s getting because he’s doing such a good job. I’d love to kind of get some of that as well. That’s gonna be 100 to 1 versus any kind of concern that mike may no longer be an employer at your company. It’s almost like we create a little friendly competition, you know, amongst them, you know, we do. So we have a big push to get Google reviews. Um and the crew leads get a small, they get $40 for every Google review that they get. Do they have to be, does it just have to be the google review? Do they have to have anyone mentioned by name? How does that work? Don’t worry about that. Yeah, and I mean that’s been great and it’s a little bit of like, and then what we do too is I said a certain amount, I think it’s like 42 for the first six months here or something like that because I tried to hit certain milestones that we need to get 100 100 and 50 or whatever, so it really um depends on the time. Um But what, what else we do is so they get that $40, but whoever gets the most in six months gets another bonus. And then if every, if we get the overall goal, everybody gets a paid day off. Oh, that’s great. So then it it’s friendly competition, but it’s also collaborative, right? Yeah. That’s that’s huge for me because I don’t want, I don’t want it to be nasty amongst them at all and you know, I want it to be a collective goal. Um So yeah, it’s been That’s been big and they hit it the last 2 2 times. So it were push them a little harder this time. Um, but that’s okay. You need to get pushed a little bit each time. So you guys, how many, what does that target look like typically for you guys every year, how many reviews are you trying to get This six months? I think we’re trying to get like 45, something like that. So you were between 90 and 100 as we grow a little bit, we’ll try to push up more. Um, With, there are times when I don’t think I’d have one, but during Covid, when you went out to eat at least in pennsylvania, they weren’t allowed to give you menus they gave, they had those little on the tables. Um and it gave me an idea because it was always an issue trying to get that google link to the customer. So I got we made these little half sheets for each crew and it says something like thank you for allowing us to do your work. I really hope you appreciate it. I wish you would you know show whatever for for my crew and it has a picture of the crew lead has their signature then it has a Q. R. Code directly to the google review um site you know google my business site and then um it has a facebook Q. R. Code to recommendation cure code. Um So you take the smartphone they hit that QR code and takes them right to the lake. Um That’s been great to worked really well. Um Well yeah but the issue now is we have a facebook QR code on there and they don’t get credit for that because early on facebook recommendations seemed good but then facebook was kind of burying them. I don’t know what they were doing. I don’t know yet. Facebook they seem to sort of gave them a lot or something. I mean google does this too. So they both do it and I think the I think it’s an algorithm where for whatever reason they decide that some reviews are fraudulent and and that’s why they do it and there’s really not a lot you’re gonna be able to do in terms of disputing that or trying to get the review to show up. But yeah facebook seems to do quite a bit if he’s not really competitors. A startup, I think he’s maybe a year or two in definitely has fake reviews. You can tell it’s like 35 stars with eastern european names and no review like what is this? A bunch of five stars. Uh No no details Whatsoever. Out of 30 reviews. You’re originally from Pennsylvania. You know there’s not a lot of eastern Europeans know that’s a bit that’s a bit much don’t do that, don’t do that. Talk about, talk about sending the wrong message. You know for for prospective customers who who dig into that even a little bit like okay it doesn’t really convey trust. We’ll put it that way. Go ahead. It’s it’s short cutting. They know that that’s important so they’re going to find a shortcut to make it happen without doing the work. Sure. Yeah and you and you really you really don’t need to, you know if you do things the right way what I really like about what you’re saying because this this Q. R. Code is big. You know a lot of people don’t do it but some people do do it what I haven’t heard about. I gotta stop saying. Dude. Dude. It’s always weird when I when I use that some people do it. But uh now I have a five year old, my mind goes to places like that. But um, when you guys having the picture of the crew lead and the signature that’s unique that personalizes it so much more because people want to give reviews to to the project manager of the crew lead to the painters that are on site. That’s who they have a relationship with. They don’t have a relationship with uh Sherman painting. Not really. And I think it’s, I think that understanding is important for painting companies owners, especially as you scale your business, you have to keep that that sort of small personal feel that human connection because nobody really cares about Osterman painting, but they’re probably gonna care about my right. Yeah. My one of my favorite contractors, I’m sure you know of him rick holds out of Richmond. If you read A lot of the reviews they have like 14 cruise. If you read a lot of the reviews, it talks about how it still feels like family. Yeah. So they’re really good with that. And as, I mean, we want to grow a little, we don’t wanna be that big, but we want to grow a little. You’re right. That’s the special sauce is figuring out how to keep that. Keep that in the culture, keep that in the business so that people do feel that special touch. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s easy when you’re small and you’re the owner and you’re providing the estimate. Obviously you care and then if you’re still even doing some of the project management, I mean they’re going to be served well because it’s your business and you really care and the culture is just you. But as you grow, that changes. Yeah. So what is, so it seems like right now, one of the issue and correct me if I’m wrong Zach, if I’m totally out of left field here. But it seems like one of the issues that you’re struggling with is you’ve you’ve come in, you’ve introduced all these cultural changes. Um I know in the beginning they weren’t well received by everybody, but now it’s it’s breeding a lot of loyalty. People are excited. Um But when you leave and you’re not there for a little while, there’s sort of a a downtick. So you’re kinda, you’re kinda carrying the onus at this point of the culture a little bit. Yeah. Yeah. I mean we run so that each crew has to check in every day. Um So even when I’m gone, if I see something good, I’ll try to comment on it so that they know that I’m still seeing what they’re doing. Yeah, seeing what their what’s going on. But it’s it seems like and I very much appreciate this. I think you have to have this point have a very good office manager that, you know, when I do go away, she tries to, you know insulate me, so that I just have the time away, right. And I think, I think sometimes when issues happen when I’m away she’s great and all but it just she may handle it just a little different than I would or whatever and you know it can cause a little bit of tension. It’s not humongous by any any means. It just yeah it’s just a little different. So yeah and that’s a tough thing. I mean it’s a it’s a thing most people don’t even think about, you know, most people are thinking about, well if I step away there’s a quality of the work gonna be maintained or the estimates gonna go out on time, you know this and that you’re a kind of, I would say a different level where that stuff’s not really the concern but it’s this it’s this other level that most people never even really get to or think about cultural aspect and you being the driver of that. How do you one day and I don’t have the exact answer but how do you one day make that so prevalent you know almost have some sort of chief happiness officer. So you know what I mean? It’s almost some kind of different position to just to make that culture run by itself. I don’t I don’t entirely know what the answer is to that. Right. Yeah I think I was just so Gary Vaynerchuk added some kind of like some person like that to his marketing. Yeah some kind of chief happiness person or something like that. Yeah and you hear that in a lot of big corporations you’re right yeah it’s that’s it’s a puzzle, it’s a puzzle for sure. It’s such a it’s such a personal uh element you know it’s it’s not as easy to systematize and tie some KPI s to it and put in the S. O. P. S. You know as production and things like that. It’s just kind of that kind of rights. One of one of the things that I that that I kind of pride myself on a little too or just a company in general, we have a crew leader meeting every Wednesday morning and they They come in at 6:15 every Wednesday morning and you know even that early in the morning they’ll be laughing about something or you know you get on somebody else a little bit about this or that you know it’s they’re a good team, they you know help each other out and they can they can laugh and have a little bit of a good time to doing it. That’s that’s huge for me. When I first came in it was only like six or seven guys and it was like going to a funeral every every week. Oh got their heads down, what am I doing here, are we done yet? Yeah that that kind of stuff and there’s times where I get my office just got to say okay we gotta speed this up because well oh it’s good stuff, we’ll get you know off on a tangent, you know about good things but okay now we got to happen so yeah, in the past my, what are we doing man? And and that’s uh that’s great to see, you know, it’s that it’s that qualitative aspect, it does shine through in terms of profitability and growth and retention, but it’s not all about the numbers and you can’t really, you can’t quantify something like that, you just see it right well and now speaking of the numbers, how do you, I mean you guys track employee retention, Do you guys track stuff like that? Have you seen that change at all? What was that like My my employee retention numbers were actually really good up until last year I had something like 8% turnover low. Um Last year was tough and I’ve heard it yeah, it was tough for everybody. I think we might have had a couple of bonus surfers. Um Yeah everyone was was trying to snipe that that talent if you will. We were um we were off, I think it was like $400,400 bonus if you lasted a certain amount of time. It seemed like two or 3 of them blasted that time. My onto the next one. Um Yeah, last year was just with Covid and everything. It was it was strange and I I heard some apprentices that you know were less mature than I would have liked. And we had issues there and um we have a really good apprentice now he’s older. Um he’s gonna be great, I believe. So um yeah, last year was just rough and I do want to get back to that, you know, pre 2021 numbers. Yeah. Yeah. The I can tell you from my vantage point, we had a whole lot of conversations with people who really weren’t qualified to work with painting marketing pros because everyone and their mother thought that they could run a successful painting business last year to it. It was interesting to see To see some of the thought patterns that were happening I guess because of the, you know, that that wide disparity between supply and demand throughout 2021. You may be surprised by this. A lot of people how they they told told this I did an apprentice painter add through indeed, about a month ago had over 200 applicants. Wow, that’s amazing, man. Yeah, that’s great. Yeah. Like what in the world, how did you uh you put in the ad man? Well I think a couple of things, um we do pay pretty well. So our apprentices are starting between 19 to 21 an hour. Um And then I have a couple of things in there. What we do is we guarantee raise after 60 days. Nice. So you know, if they’re not gonna work out typically we know before 60 days. So they don’t get that raise by 60 days. They should have grown in some aspect. So they’re starting they’re starting already pretty high and you’ve basically set it up where it’s almost a probationary period because they’re going to be even higher, Right? Yeah, they’re gonna get 50 cents or whatever. Um so they I think a lot of applicants like that. The other thing was I talked a lot about how we set up a training manager position um this year and we it’s not as good as I would like we’re gonna we’re gonna keep working on it. We do have a training program um where the apprentice is just or apprentices are just with the training manager. Um And they don’t get bounced around to cruise and all that. I think people really like that too because I think there’s a lot of ads out there to talk about training. Some don’t do it at all. They just, I was at the paint store this morning um and the the manager was talking about someone else that had just gone through and they said, yeah, they have trouble finding some people when one employees showed up and didn’t know how to put a ladder up. Well, did you ask that question? You talked to them about ladders at all? Did you do any kind of ladder safety stuff before they even got on the site. That’s not that that’s not the employees issue that’s the owner, that’s the management’s issue that you didn’t do everything you need to do before that guy got on there, you know that, that’s the kind of stuff you gotta slow down a little bit and figure out, yeah, don’t, don’t put it on that guy because he didn’t know how to put a ladder up. So you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re showing the applicants that they’re going to have the structure and the training and actually have it. So people are feeling, I guess more comfortable coming to you that, that they’re going to be cared for and set up to succeed. Right mm okay, um, zac, what other advice or what else do you wanna, what other advice do you have to share or or what else would you like to say before? We wrap this up? Good question. Um, I’ve seen a lot lately of guys that are just um, through different facebook groups and different things that they’re getting overwhelmed with stuff and we all do just think that we all need to figure out, you know, ways to, to vent that frustration and um, if you do really good work, you know, keep going, you’ll be fine. Um, I’ve had a couple of different guys come through recently that have started their own thing um, within the last couple of years and I really hit them to say, you know, make sure that you’re charging what you’re worth. Yeah, don’t, don’t be charging $25, an hour right? Um And then wonder why you’re still in that Honda Civic and you know working out your Honda Civic in two years like there’s there’s reasons for that if you do good work charge for it. Um Yeah and I try to you know impart that in people all the time. So I think and that’s just good for our industry overall charge what you’re worth do good work but charge what you’re worth. Yeah don’t don’t cut corners. Don’t under charge reduces the entire industry. You know there is that fear especially when you say people who started their business in the last few years there’s always that fear of charging too much and I think if you’re gonna air one way or the other you’re typically gonna air that you charge too little. I think we get sometimes our customers that we don’t get signed up for, they almost feel bad that they can’t afford us. I know that’s weird to say but it’s like they would really like to use us, they tell us all the time but it’s just well I just can’t afford it and that’s fine. It’s not that they don’t see the value, they just don’t have the budget right. Yeah and that’s good. I mean you don’t you don’t want that customer because you need to provide the service that you provide while making it make business sense for you Right. I mean we pay like it’s with the apprentices, they’re making, starting at 20, my average pays almost 25, an hour. Now there’s a reason why our rates are where they’re at. Yeah, I think that’s great advice zack, if anyone has any questions about this is how can they reach out to you? Well, you can go on our website, it’s Asher and painting dot com. Um My email Zach at ocean painting dot com. I mean a couple of different of the facebook groups, painting contractors group. I think there’s a couple of them, I don’t know you’re around, I’m around a lot of different. You can look through my facebook and contact me that way. Um And I do every couple of weeks, somebody contacts me about something and I hope not as much as they can. That’s all good stuff. Yeah, well zack, thanks for your time. Thanks for sharing all this man and really appreciate coming on the show again. Thanks Bernie, 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.
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