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Guest Interview: Mike & Miriam Freeman of Mike’s Quality Painting

Mike & Miriam Freeman, Co-owners of Mike's Quality Painting, share how they have grown their painting business to doing over $6 million in annual revenue in just 10 years. They discuss the importance of having a great team, and how they have gotten their painters to more proactively seek out Google reviews for the company. The husband and wife team dive into the importance of being consistent with your marketing, and the mindset they believe ambitious painting company owners need to possess to achieve success.

Video of Interview

Topics Discussed:

  • How starting top heavy forced faster company growth
  • Some ways to motivate your team to pitch in and genuinely care
  • The art of getting painters to buy in for Google reviews, and how that has helped them reach nearly 400 reviews
  • Bold predictions on how the painting industry is likely to evolve
Audio Transcript

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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 guests Mike and Miriam Freeman. Mike and Miriam are married, co owners of Mike's quality painting, a residential repaint company based in Albuquerque new Mexico that currently does over $6 million in annual revenue mike and Miriam attribute much of their success to having a great team and they provide some compelling thoughts on how consistent marketing has helped them grow their business. They discussed a unique tactic. They used to motivate their painters to secure Google reviews from customers and how that has led them to now having nearly 400 reviews online and further accelerated the growth of their business. 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 mike and Miriam, thank you for being on the painter marketing Mastermind podcast, you're welcome. Thanks for providing us. Yeah. So I guess tell us a little bit about Mike's quality painting, You want to take that? uh yeah, I guess we've been in business a little over 10 years right now. We started in 2011, we're a family owned business. Me and Mike owned the company together and his mom used to be a partner in the business. She recently retired in the last two years. Um we do residential repaint, primarily a little bit of commercial, but um primarily residential repaint. We do a floor coding as well, that um Okay, yeah, Alright, so and then what was your revenue in 2021, 20, we did just a little under 6. 3 million. So I think it was around six to um eight, so 63. So you guys are, are you told me about 80% residential repaint? 20% commercial repaint company based in Albuquerque and you're doing about I guess 66. 3 million at this point, right. And revenue founded in 2011, that's impressive growth. Congratulations guys. You've only been around 10 years. Yeah, so I guess kind of walk us through that not to dive into fast here, but Starting in 2011, it wasn't really that long ago and now you guys are are very sizable, doing over six million. What do you attribute that to? Well, so you know, if I can answer that Miriam, I think uh I think the biggest thing I would say is that we sort of started this business like she said with with Miriam and my mom and myself kind of all working together. So we really started um with kind of huge overhead and a lot of people that were actively involved in trying to figure out how to grow the business and we kind of had to grow the business because there was a bunch of us trying to make a living out of this thing and so um we really couldn't wait and grow it super slow. So we started off really focused on trying to grow the business I think. Yeah, definitely. And that's right and I think really what has made us successful um is just having a good team from the start, like Mike said, between all three of us, mike really focusing on the field and the painters, I started focusing just on marketing and now I manage our office sales and marketing. But at the time, Mike's mom managed the office and I just focused on marketing, I think just really having a good team focusing on different areas and the business is really what helped us grow so quickly and successfully. I love that. Yeah, I love this idea that you guys, you guys had no choice because you started pretty top heavy and obviously for a lot of painting company owners, it's the opposite. You're a painter and you're tired of working for somebody else and then you start your own painting company and you're the estimator and the painter and the office staff and, and it's okay. When do I make my first hire and becomes this like you guys just dove right in though totally opposite. Yeah. So yeah. Yeah. It paid off. Did you ever, did you ever, when you did that, did you ever feel like you had made a mistake or kind of stress like, hey, we, we shouldn't have all dove in on this or how did that work? Yeah, I think I can, I can kind of speak to that a little bit. I, I know in um, 2011 it was super hard, right? We didn't have enough revenue to even remotely justify what we were doing. And we started in april and I would say by august we were out of work and dead broke and we were actually kicking around and talking about letting go of the painters we had hired in that time and having, I was saying, well maybe we can teach Miriam and mom how to paint and we can just try and figure this out and scale back for the amount of work that we have. And uh, so it was pretty scary. I mean it was dicey that first year was, it was pretty tough to be honest with you. Um We we just about didn't make it, what were you guys doing before that? So I was in a I was in a partnership in a painting business with my brother And we split up in February of 2011. And uh and then made the decision Miriam and I to to start a business and then I invited my mom to come into it and she was actually um she was actually working for my brother and I um prior to so so she she left that when when he and I split up or had put in notice to to leave that and then um and then uh you know she agreed to come on in a in a partnership capacity, so you're the favorite son basically. Yeah, it's a tough subject honestly, I think I think through the split up she was really struggling with it and to be fair, I think my brother said some things about it that that really offended her and uh and so you know there was a business breakup as well as a bit of a family split, it's kind of a tough subject, but yeah, no that that doesn't sound fun. Um Okay so you you had some background in painting and then and then you guys just went full hog on it and and it worked out well. Congratulations, that's that's great to hear. So Miriam, you were in charge of the marketing. I like marketing. Yeah, obviously it's critical to getting those sales, especially when you start top heavy. What did you do? What did you do in year 1? Year 2? How did how did you make that work? Yeah, year one, year two, you know we did different things for marketing. I think the biggest trick that I've really learned through the years for marketing is being consistent. I think it was our, it probably was our second year, right? Mike that we started doing tv ads or for sure maybe in august never forget. So it's a very funny story, here we are being a small company. Like we said, Mike was running the field um somehow a tv company approached us um to go hear about advertising, right? They had a thing at a hotel and um Mike painted all day, he took a change a closed suit or khaki pants and he was going to meet the tv ad lady at the hotel right after painting all day and of course he stayed long painting all day, show up in his lights, didn't have time to change clothes and we met with this um you know um agency to advertise on tv tiny little company, right? We maybe had two or three painters and and um and we made the crazy outrageous decision to advertise on tv our first year in business and we had a little nest egg, we had all kind of saved up and um they said let's just throw it in like like let's just let's just throw it out there and try tv. So um I wouldn't say like that was the biggest trick when we started but we signed up for one year of like that brand advertising with with tv and were consistent, we stuck with it. I don't know if it was like the craziest decision ever, but now everybody sees us in tv in town, everybody knows us, we walk into a restaurant or store and they recognize mike all the time. Um it might have been like the craziest thing for us to do when we started the business and being so small and spending so much money on it, but I really think that help brand us and I think that was a big crazy you know marketing decision, but I think it really did help us grow and brand ourselves. I love that. Yeah, you guys are definitely willing to take risks. How how expensive was that? That tv ad. Yeah, so I I can speak to that because I remember it scared me to death so to give you the whole backstory, you know um at the time Our kids are our youngest son, we were talking about his age in weeks, not months, right? So two very young kids, we had a little nest egg saved so that we could get things going um and and from the split up of you know the business that I was in before with my brother and it was 24, it was a $24 or $26,000 contract that we signed the new television. And so It basically was, it was right around 2000 a month and we had to be committed for the whole year. So if we if we canceled at any time before the contract was up um Basically they got the money anyway, so there was no getting out of it, if they wound up suing us, I think they could go against us for for 50% is what we had agreed to. But we were basically stuck on this contract whether we like it or not once we signed it. So this it was scary, right? It was, it was a reasonably big commitment And I remember at the time in July being the cause of the commercials started airing in July I think we we did the deal maybe in like in like may and then they had to produce the commercial for us. So there was a whole bunch of stuff they were doing for us to make it work, so they helped us to produce the commercial, sent out the TV crews and then it was gonna start airing in July of 2011 and I was thinking that um you know, we were gonna be in trouble because our phones, we're gonna start ringing so much off the hook that we wouldn't be able to answer the telephones with all of this expensive new advertising we were doing and I don't think we fielded three phone calls in the month of july that year. It was totally dead in 2011. I don't know how it was, where you're at, but the economy stunk. Um, people that have businesses for years were struggling to have leads, um, to get business and we committed to all of this money. So july nothing came, certainly nothing from the television ads. August really wasn't a whole lot better. And I thought by september because we had signed that contract, I was like, this thing is gonna break us before it ever actually pays off. And so we were pretty freaked out by it to be fair. I don't think those tv ads actually started working until spring of the following year, where we started getting leads that people said, oh yeah, I see you on television. So you think you think it's related to what Miriam was saying of that consistency over time or or what do you think I do by and large? I mean, advertisers always tell you when you're signing up on these things that well you have to do it consistently. Nothing works as a one hit wonder there is no magic wand. You have to just be, it sounds like a total lie. It sounds like they're just trying to keep you on the hook to take your money. That's right. And eventually it's gonna work and you know, you start really losing faith on it, but at the end of the day, I do think that's right and we've been doing, you know, at the end of that first year we were ready to sign the contract again. So it did start working. It was, it was a slow pace, but at this point, you know, there's not, um, there's not too many people in Albuquerque that don't know of mike's quality painting. They've seen us on television, they've seen our trucks around. Um, we do a fair amount of other marketing and things, but um, but tv is by and large then, you know, it's been a good thing for us with the consistency, you have to carry a pen now so so you can always be ready for an autograph. It sounds dumb, but people do recognize me a fair bit when we go places. It really does. It sounds so funny and he gets so embarrassed all the time. But no kidding, it happens all the time. Even even if we're in another town that's not Albuquerque, like, uh, you know, I don't know, we go on vacation to Rio does so, or house or something. People recognize us all the time and, and people do act like that. He was, he was training one of our new sales people last year and there was this, these two women, I think there were sisters that mike gave a bid to and they just about fell over to see mike like they were just like you're doing our estimate. Oh my gosh, so it's the craziest thing. I mean, and we're just simple. You know, we're painters were not like fancy people and he's not like, you know, like a big celebrity, but people see you that way. It's weird. I love that. Yeah. So so you guys said you you're doing some other marketing, you know, as you've grown to, you started with the tv as what have you found other marketing that works well. Have you ever tried any marketing that you thought would work well and was a huge flop. How does that work? So, so we started with television, but we've done consistently a ton of other things. I mean we actually started with doorknob hangers, so going around canvassing neighborhoods. Um and we sold our first jobs from some of that stuff. So we've tried everything. I mean, Miriam can tell you the list. Um You know, we do probably, you know, we do lots of advertising, we focus on social media, having a good website and digital, like that's the day and age we're in, right. I'd say those things really go well. I don't, I wouldn't say any one thing has flopped. Really, really bad. Um I think just kind of, again, being consistent at least trying it for six months or a year when if it seems like it didn't work. I've done bus ads. I love the bus ads. I think they were the coolest thing, but it didn't feel like we got a good R. O. I. Or um, you know, return on our investment. So we track it. I don't know if if if other companies track it so well, but every time somebody calls in and ask for an estimate, the people in the office always ask how they hear about us. I run a report every month, a source reporter lead source report and then find out, you know, so we're getting more of our leads from internet and tv we're not getting as many leads from this newspaper ad or this um, you know, billboard or what have you and so we'll make those changes. So I don't know if there's one thing that that flocked so so bad. Like I said, we don't do as much print ads anymore. Um like I said, we tried the bus ad, I loved it, but I didn't see a big turner are rely on it. So I didn't continue it. So what was the bus add that your face? Is that why you loved it? You know, you know, you know what I use the bus ad for actually was hiring that we're hiring painters. So it was a little different. I didn't use it for for, you know, just generic painting. Have you guys found a difference in the quality of lead or sort of what they're looking for based on lead source. Yeah, I think so. Absolutely. Um, I would say internet is our number one lead source and the quality is not as good as, um, other lead sources for sure. But we definitely get the quantity. We get tons of leads from internet. But again, I noticed when, um, when I pull the clothes rate on the sales for internet, we don't close as many sales from internet. Little older maybe. Yeah. I think to internet leaks when you run those appointments, you know, there don't want to say their tire kickers. I think there are folks that are wanting to get something done, but there, um, they're getting lots of estimates right. It's not uncommon to show up and hear people say, well, I'm, I'm doing five estimates. So I've got to wait until all of these are done until I, until I make a decision. And you're like, what do you need five appointments for? Like you have that kind of time, but people do and they will, they will certainly shop around much harder. Yeah. I wonder familiarity. I wonder if Covid has accelerated that, you know, with people being home, It's not as inconvenient to get multiple estimates or to get more estimates. Yeah, I think it's a fair statement. Um, I've noticed the to some respects. People are a little bit pickier about who they're getting estimates from. They don't want just any and everybody around their house. Um And some of that I attribute to Covid. Right. So they'll mm hmm. And and the other thing I would say is that our experience has been that through Covid, people seem to have a little bit more money and a little more of a driving focus about getting things done because they're at home and it's easy. So they're not as price conscientious. They seem to, they seem to be more comfortable and and uh and and willing to spend the money. I don't think we're competing with things like family vacations and dining out and some of those kinds of things over the last two years. So people just kind of have more money and are more excited about getting things done around their house. Yeah, I think that's a great point. You know, there are always kind of two sides to a coin. And I think there's been a lot of benefit. As terrible as that may sound. A lot of benefit from covid for painting companies. It's created opportunity, everyone at home improvement kind of across the board. It seems like those markets are way up. Mhm. Yeah, 100%. So you guys have, you know, you kind of dove in top heavy um dove in with your marketing pretty, pretty aggressive approach. You had some background in painting. So you had a company with your brother which I guess makes it a little bit less risky. But what advice would you have for smaller painting company and just say there are 500,000, say they're under 500,000 and they're listening to you guys, you know over six million I think man, I would really, You know, in five or 10 years I'd really love to be there, where where do they start, what do they do? So I think, you know, that's a, the answer to that question. I think realistically realistically is as unique as every painting company who's going to be listening to this, right? So if I had to give advice to somebody who's who is really wanting to grow their business, um I think before I would talk to him about the, how you go about doing that? I think you have to kind of talk about the why do you want to do it? Um the reality is it's not that easy. You take a lot of shots, right? That it's not that easy to grow a large company, You have to depend on people. Um you have to really invest in people and train them and you get let down by them and and there's a lot that kind of goes into that. So the first thing I would say is is decide for yourself why you want to do that. Like what is what's the driver behind it, what are your, what your end goal, Why what are you trying to accomplish? Because if you if you said about it, just sort of like, well I I kind of want to do this, it's a wish. It's not really a goal and it's not something that's probably going to be sticking for you. Um So that would be first. And the second thing I would say more than just marketing is you need to build a really good plan. So you know, one of the things I can say for us is is from the beginning we've had a really great business coach, we work with, we work with the Nolan company out of philadelphia and they worked with us consistently year over year to build and develop plans that are going to help us to do the best we can with what we have today and to build plans around how we can grow in a strategic and systematic way. And I think more so than just marketing, that's been the most impactful because marketing does one thing for you, if if if it's working the way that it should, it makes your phone rings and that's important, right? Nothing happens until your phone rings. But if you had way more phone calls than you have the ability to answer the phone, you haven't really done yourself any favors. And if you've got more leads than you have ability to go and run estimates and get people prices, you've really outdone yourself any favors and if you sell a bunch of work because you focus, all your energy on the marketing and sales, but you don't build a production team that can actually produce the work, all you've done again is piss a bunch of people off and so there has to be sort of a real approach to how you're going to grow if you're serious about wanting to do it. And so I mean, those to me are the two big things I would say to anybody that wants to grow, you just have to recognize that you need to really want to do it and be willing to take the, take the slings and arrows that it takes to do that and you need to really build a comprehensive plan around that. And if you don't know what that looks like, I would suggest finding somebody that can help you that's done it and to pick you back up on that. I really think having good systems and processes in place and like what mike said, um Summit um has helped us be organized and having good systems and processes, so I agree with everything mike says, but also I think just having good systems processes and a team, you know, we said early on, we had high overhead and a big team, but same thing, we have a great team now and that's how we've been able to be successful. I think just knowing you can't be that one business owner, that one painter that does it all, you can't answer your phones and paint and you know do everything. So yeah, I think having, having the, the team, having the plan, you know, scaling production and sales in tandem is really important and I think this idea of taking hits, you are going to take hits, so you have to have a strong why you know, because you're gonna take hits in on an entrepreneur. I look up to someone very successful, told me that when I decided to be an entrepreneur, I decided step in the ring and you don't just throw punches, you take punches and that's that's part of growing a business. So I like that. Yeah, I learned a lot along the way. I mean you, you know, like I said, you you have to depend on people, you know, growth is about surrounding yourself with people and inherently that opens you up to some risk and some liability and and some letdown potential and you've got to be ready for that. Yeah, I would love to dive into this people aspect a little bit more because you guys have talked about the importance of the team and You know, not everyone's always maybe lived up to expectations. What's your, what's your model right now, your employee model? Are you guys W2 subcontractor W two, W two. Okay, how how is that going, I guess talk to me about your hiring process, um you know, maybe some some great experiences and maybe some learning or hard experiences, let's let's dive into this, do you want to take that we are hiring guru. So I'll let, I'll let Marian answer that you guys are stumping me. I wasn't ready for this question. Not all from the script, Miriam, we go off script, You don't know me, I'm the structured person that you're throwing off here. Um you know, I think just hiring um gosh, you guys are throwing me off on this question, Michael head, he'll, he'll answer, what's your hiring process? Let's let's do that. Our current hiring process. So current, currently our operations manager jerry who runs our field, he hires all our field employees, all our painters and um whatnot. So we'll post ads, you know, whether it's indeed or craigslist or what have you and then um, and then the field employees come in and um you know, he has certain criteria, he goes off of and then he makes the decision to hire them and then um, you know, we're kind of, we're kind of split up pretty nicely. Our teams, you know, jerry runs the field and our operations, our, our our field, I run sales, the office and marketing and I hire those employees. And so my process for hiring office and sales is a little bit different than um, you know, the field employees, the the only thing I was going to say is that is that we really do legitimately have to market for painters these days. So you know when mary was talking about, we ran bus ads to try and tell people we were hiring and we have signs on all of our bands that say we're always hiring and we do facebook campaigns and indeed campaigns and we're constantly marketing. Marketing has actually shifted a lot over the last two years. So we market almost as heavy for recruits as we do for um, for a new word. And so, you know, building that team is kind of a big issue. And so when somebody does come in, they fill out an application, they get sort of screened and vetted by the front office staff. So they're the ones taking in the applications and they take a lot of notes. People don't realize they're being evaluated, but the office staff is evaluating on their appearance and how polite and pleasant and you know, do they have a skull tattoo on their cheek and some of those kinds of things. And if they make it past sort of the gatekeepers, then they'll turn the application over to jerry who will then call them and set up a time for an actual interview. And so if the interview goes well, they meet the criteria, they can pass a drug screen, they can pass a background check, they can, they have their own transportation, that tools, he gets the feel for who they are and where they're coming from and what positions he's hiring for, whether that's apprentices or painters or people who work in the concrete coatings division or whatever. Um If he makes the decision to hire them, he turns them over to our HR department and then we'll set them up for an upfront orientation. Um They go through an orientation, they go through some safety checks and training before they go out into the field and then they get assigned to a crew. And there's a there's a bit of a process behind that where once there on a crew of uh the field supervisors and the crew leaders are evaluating them for, Gosh, I think it's a 30 day evaluation at this point while they're actually working for us and getting trained and seeing how well, they. you know, show up to work and interact with the other team members and those kinds of things. So there's there's a there's a whole process that goes into that um to make sure that if somebody is going to stay with us for, you know, any length of time that we better them out to make sure it's a good bit and a good hire and things like that. And if they don't make the cut, we try and get rid of them quickly so that we don't waste a lot of time and and get them set up with things like insurance benefits and retirement plans and all of those kinds of things um If they're not going to be a decent long term fit. Right. Have you guys found any specific messaging or any specific lead source to produce better employees? No, unfortunately we haven't, I wish, I wish I could give everybody away the working on cracking the code. Yeah, exactly. The thing I'll say to that is that there's no, I don't believe there's any magic wand. Like the perfect employee pool is in this one spot marketing. You just, you just need to go tap into that resource. But the thing that I'll say we've learned and that we try to follow is that we're always hiring. Um, so we, we are constantly willing to look at new candidates, new applicants when we need help, when we don't need help all the time. We're looking for help. So the thing that works historically the best for us. It hasn't been that great this year, interestingly enough. But um historically in the winter months we do a lot to keep our crews busy and not do layoffs in the winter months and things like that. And so, um, we generally can be fairly busy in in january and february and so we'll ramp up our hiring campaigns a lot of times for painters and for, you know, we'll try and do some, um, some advertising to see if we can get people that are disenfranchised with where they're currently working. There may be good guys, but aren't staying real busy at the companies that they're at and try and bring them on. So, um, so that generally is, is the best thing is just to always be recruiting and always hiring and always trying to grow it. Yeah, have a, have a hiring funnel. You know, you're just kind of create a backlog for yourself. That's right. So What do you guys do to stay busy? Well, first off, how many painters do you guys have? How many W two painters? 51 ft on the street right now, that includes our floor coding team. Right, so we actually 51 people. That's right, okay, that's quite a bit. And your, you guys tend not to lay off painters. We never, we never, I don't think we've ever actually done an organized layoff. So maybe now you guys actually do have a secret code that, that you can share here because that's obviously been a big problem for a long time for a lot of painting company owners is, is kind of ramp up, ramp down, what do you guys do? How do you stay so busy over the winter? Yeah, I really think that the way we stay so busy in the winter is in the summer and the fall we push winter discounts. We actually do work at cost in the winter time just to keep our guys busy and working and so absolutely in um, the summer and fall will, will start advertising to customers if, if they didn't sign up for an interior job for whatever reason we say, well we can offer you a winner discount if you're willing to wait um to have your painting done in december january and that really helps pre sell work for the winner. Um We're discounting work just at cost, you know in in our budget unfortunately we might be um budgeted to lose money a couple of months december january but we're keeping our painters busy and um it's okay because then in the busier months, you know um we make money and so it works out keeping keeping the guys busy and keeping a good team is what's what's worth it for us. So when you, when you discount, I mean what kind of discount are we talking about here? You know we we honestly feel like I hope we don't give away the whole farm here, but if there was, if there was anything we weren't supposed to share, you guys said you're an opening, that's right, we usually give a 20% discount for winter work. So winter work is between December and February is usually when we Um offer a 20% discount and will offer it pretty heavy. Like I said if um what our sales reps are out there in this summer or the fall and they can't close the customer for some reason they can offer that. Um and then we start sending email blast. Um facebook social media and we'll start advertising the winter discount in like december january february for valentine's, I sent a valentine's email blast, email blasts. Always get the phone's ringing for us and especially with the discount um that gets it going, our email blast. Um distribution list is pretty big, You know, we're maybe like maybe I'm like 9000 on my list, so it usually usually gets the phones ringing no matter what I sent one out um yesterday and there was no discount and it's still got the phone's ringing. So just being consistent now, are these past customers or what is this list? Yeah, a little bit of both, a little bit of past customers, a little bit of just kind of maybe names I've collected along the way um prospecting or whatnot. And um and and it always seems to work. Yeah, the other thing too, to kind of piggyback on what Miriam is saying about winter discounts. Even our painters, we do a fair bit to train them. So if they're painting the outside of somebody's house and they do their final walkthrough and the customer says, gosh, I really love this, I really want to get the inside of the house done next. Most of our painters are trained pretty heavily to say, well gosh, you know, mrs smith if you wanted to get the house the inside of the house painted during the winter months. We generally will do that, it cost for you just to keep everybody busy. So that's the best time of the year. What you ought to do is call and schedule an estimate and we can find out how much and you can see how much you're going to save. And so the team really gets involved with helping to sell our winner our winner backlog. And all of the guys know and recognize that winter is a tough season and the better job we can do as a group to have our winner booked before we actually get to the winner, the busier we're gonna stay and the better that is for everybody. So everybody participates. It's not a, you know, it's not happening in the in just in the office, it's happening everywhere throughout the company. I mean, I think we've done a good job with a sales culture around that. Do you guys have provide any sort of commission or incentive for painters that do that? No, they get to work. The reality of it is um You know, our guys are W2 employees, their hourly employees and if we don't have hours for them to produce, there's nothing for them to do. And so they get pretty incentivized around that. Um We do a fair number of of fun things for them for google reviews and things like that, but not really. They get commissions if they sell additional work orders, but they don't, you know, if they get somebody to call in and schedule an estimate, There's really not a commission for them around that. So what fun things do you do for google reviews and other things like this. Um So right now we offer extra PTO time for our painters. If they ask a customer for a google review, their name just has to be mentioned in the google review. So, um it's easy, they can just tell the customer at the end of the job. Um if you write a google review and mention my name in the review, then I get something a little extra, but we've decided our guys like extra time off, so we give them um a little extra PTO time for every google review, their their names mentioned. So that could be anybody right if it's your third day on the job and your name gets mentioned because the customer says, give me everybody's names and let me write that down and I'll mention in the google review. Everybody that was working on that job is eligible to get it. So if they had a five man team on somebody's house, all five of them can get an extra bit of PTO put into their bank. So so they get behind it, they like it. Yeah, it's a fun way to reward them for doing a good job. And the guys show up wanting to do a good job because they want to get the good google reviews and so we celebrate them and yeah, we have all employee meeting once a month and I always read a couple of google reviews, share it with the team. And I ask everybody, you know, what do you get if you, if you have a customer right? A google review. So We're almost to 400 right now. What is your, what's your, your rate do you guys track that? Like how many of your jobs you get a google review from? Um No, unfortunately, I don't track that. That's a, I mean, I track it as a lead source of course, you know, um um I guess I don't track google review as a lead source. I just have a lead sources, internet and so it kind of goes in just one big bucket. Got it. Yeah. That there's a lot of reviews kudos to you guys. I love the fact that, I mean, it sounds like you have a lot of cultural stuff going on and, and kind of incentivizing people that head in the direction. That makes sense for the company. You guys have the monthly meeting. Um You know, I think it's great that you read a couple of the reviews. People are generally more motivated actually by non monetary things. And recognition is a big thing. Is there anything else that you guys do culturally? Well, you mean like we do company barbecues and we do, yeah. You know the all employee meetings. Um you know, we celebrate birthdays. We uh, you know, I don't, I think that's probably kind of some of the biggest things. I mean, we we've always been, we've always been sort of centered around it's a family business, right? And if you come to work for us, you're part of the family. And you know, we don't anymore as we've grown, it's gotten harder. But we used to every Wednesday we had an all employee meeting where Miriam and I would actually cook everybody breakfast. That was when we were early on, like the first, the first people, Yeah, we can't do that now. But we did, we had everybody at our house, the first like two or three years in business, every single week would make breakfast for everybody at our house. But like Mike said, it's very funny story. We didn't even share this that much. Um, We had our second child, our son um, a couple of months before we started the business. So it was a little crazy. We'd be making everybody breakfast and have our two year old and our baby at our house and all the painters, it's kind of fun actually. That was, that was what led us buying our first shop is that as we started growing, um, our neighbors started complaining because all of the cars that were showing up on Wednesday breakfast. That's exactly right. Every Wednesday morning and the neighbors complained. And so the city came and shut us down and said we were running a business out of our house, which we kind of were, but really weren't, I mean people painting businesses happen at other people's houses, not ours, but but that's what that's what caused us to have to go get into our first shop. Um so so you guys walk through your, you walked through your hiring process for for painters and sort of all your positions, but you've emphasized this concept of a great team quite a few times and I know it started with you both and then mike your mom. Uh is there is there anything you look for in particular when you're trying to hire a great team member or what do you what do you mean by a great team? I I think the number one thing we honestly look for is a great attitude, somebody with a great attitude. Um we can teach them the painting skills, we can teach them office and sales. I think somebody with a really good attitude and willing to work as a team. Funny funny story is last week we decided me and mike to start teaching a class to all our employees. So for the next eight weeks we're teaching em QP experience class to everybody, a little bit of customer service teamwork and communication and just kind of kind of bringing it back home and that that's what it's about. Yeah, that's been uh you know there are always themes that come up in these these episodes and this idea of hiring for attitude, hiring for cultural fit is a big one. Truthfully, it's the biggest to me, it's the biggest thing to hire somebody around, right? I mean, if you've got somebody with a great attitude, they're probably gonna be coachable, they're going to be fun to be around on the job site, They're gonna be pleasant for a customer to deal with. Um, the, the skill of painting it, I don't want to, I don't want to minimize the skill of painting because it's a definite craft, right? But 80% of what a painter needs. You can teach him that in the first year. Um, and with good oversight, you can get a lot of effective work out of somebody with, with not that much experience if you have the right leadership around that. Um, but somebody with a sour attitude, I don't care if you're an amazing painter, If nobody can stand to be around you, it's probably not going to be a good fit. And so to me that is the number one thing is just somebody who's going to fit in and gel well with the teams and, and be polite and pleasant to be around in somebody's homes. I mean, our tagline used to be, we'd never invite anybody into your home that we wouldn't invite into our own and we've tried to hold on to that. It used to really take center stage at the, at the morning breakfast because we would have people apply that would be like, I don't want to let that person in my house and then you have to think about it and go, gosh, if I didn't want him in my house, why would I let him in somebody else's house? Right. And so how are my customers going to feel if we brought that person on? And so it does take a real meaning of, of just being thoughtful about who you bring on and and how they will be received by your employees and by your staff are doing their customers. I like that. I like that threshold a lot that bar you know what I want them in in our home because yeah, they are going to people, you know residential is exactly what they're doing. I love that. And that's obviously one of the, one of the things people sort of worry about, you know, is there stuff gonna get stolen or is there daughter who pet whoever is safe, you know how background checked her is everybody that's a great benchmark. Um so what, what is, you know, you guys, you guys grew Pretty fast, right? 10, 10 years doing over six million. What were some of the struggles in the beginning? You guys had some cash flow struggles and but I guess did you, with that kind of scale, that kind of growth seems like your company would basically be reinventing itself every year or two. How did that work? So that's true. I mean the systems that we run today are the systems that we started with, um we're constantly every year evaluating our systems and our processes and saying is what we've done to this point, going to be what it takes to get us to the next level. And so we do reinvent ourselves an awful lot. I mean, I think um everybody culturally sort of embraces the change. There's always new things coming out. We use the slower season through the winter months to kind of really think about what worked well through the crazy season and what didn't, what needs tooling up? We do, we bring our management team into that, we bring our field leadership into those meetings, we do annual swap meetings to to, you know, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and we get everybody's feedback on what things were you guys saying that worked well, what wasn't and we make suggestions and then we try and boil that down and those wind up being the big rocks that we're working on every year is how do we improve and how do we constantly get better? And so, you know, to ask me what specific thing have we, you know, what challenge have we had to overcome? I can't think of one, we haven't, to be honest, so hit me with your best shot. I mean, we have gone through, um, you know, obviously like all businesses, we've gone through cash flow issues, we've gone through um, issues with finding enough help. We've gone through issues of having good salespeople and training and development and growing the team. I mean, I feel like we've done it all. I think maybe I even, I hadn't thought about it that much until now that Mike's talking it through. We've gone through so much even this last year. I have to say we lost some crew leaders and you know, we? Re hired people, we promoted people into those spots. We lost sales. People like mike said, we've lost them and we? Re hired. I think, I think just trying to think that exact word, just always, um, I don't know if the word is resilient, maybe that's the right word. It's just to always keep keep going and not feel disappointed and not feel defeated. Like, like we just said, um I just hired three new sales reps. Um, the beginning of this year, we lost one last year and I hired three and felt a little challenging. It felt a little crazy. Like really, I lost one sales rep and we decided to hire three. Is that crazy and they're doing great out there. I think just being resilient and no knowing we can do it and we can get through this. Maybe we have some challenges. We lost some crew leaders, some painters, Maybe we had some jobs go bad. Maybe we had some customers being upset. But I think one thing we've really kind of talked about through the company because we have had jobs that go bad is to always know no matter what we're not Mike's perfect painting where mike's quality painting, but we're always gonna make it right with the customer. If we break something, if we get paint on somebody's um cat, oh if we do anything, we're always going to make it right for a customer. We we did have a situation a couple of weeks ago where we dented somebody's refrigerator or damaged in just like the slightest way. And mike immediately got on the phone with the customer and said we're replacing your refrigerator. You know, no questions asked. And they felt like flabbergasted that we're just going to replace the refrigerator. We weren't going to try to fix it or try to, you know, whatever. We always do everything to make it right for the customer no matter what and and for the employees or the whatever. We're always gonna work to make it better. Yeah. And I think that idea that you're not going to be perfect and and just act with integrity and make things right kind of go go above and in your reparations I guess are fixing this scenario. I think that's huge. Yeah. And also go ahead. No, no, go ahead. I'm sorry. No, no, no, please. I was just gonna say, you know, thinking about resilience and things that we've gone through. It's like as you were talking to me and I was thinking about our operations manager last year, came down with Covid and uh, you know, right at the end of the end of january, he got Covid and um, you know, anybody that's dealt with this, you know, you look up one morning and a key person is gone and he got bad sick with Covid and wound up actually out of work for almost nine months, three months. So nine weeks, he was he was just gone, wound up in a nursing home on in rehab. You know, got the full he got the full uh, I see you clap. And they played this theme song when they wheeled him out of the ICU because they thought he was going to die. And uh, you know, through that we were able that we we were able to step in cover the position, we were able to take care of it. We were able to pay him through the whole thing. He never missed a paycheck. You know, just get better focus on that and do what you have to do. So, you know, kind of part of this whole family theme of uh, we're resilient. We take care of ourselves. We take care of each other and we're there for each other, I think goes a long ways towards just building that team and kind of building a culture of resilience where people will pitch in and help out when something's going bad because they know that, you know, we're not in this alone, you know, this, this job, this, this life that we're all living together is very much together and we're here to help and support each other and so it, it drives that kind of cultural, um, participation if you will, but everybody just trying to pitch in and help each other out and do the right things. Yeah, I think you, you guys stepping up and taking care of someone in a situation like that probably speaks volumes for the rest of your team about what, what you would do for them and will do for them, you know, and I think that probably helps create the sense of loyalty that you guys seem to have. So are you guys practitioners of the entrepreneur operating system and I noticed you mentioned rocks. Um, no, I'm not, I'm not familiar with the system. Okay, just Big Rocks is a, it's a, it's a term we use and we may be somewhat participants in it through our, through the Nolan group. And you know, Big Rocks is kind of something that we've, we've adopted from them um, in, in kind of their coaching and teaching. It's just got it. So I guess, I don't know where they got it. We're just, we're just sucking off of them to be honest. Yeah, well, hey, you, you found someone who has charted a course of success and you're following. So what, what in your business right now would you say is just going the best, you're just knocking it out of the park. Do you want me to answer that? So aside from just having a good team, I feel like we do have a great team kind of at all levels and and a good management team. I think what we do better than um probably better than most. Yes. You know, kind of from initial call scheduling an appointment to getting an estimate to handing that off to a production staff, communicating with the customer to getting the job scheduled and kind of the machine itself um taking in the lead and converting it to a customer and then rolling that customer through production and dealing with the individual details. You know, we say all the time that um every job is kind of a unique installation. It's a custom paint job. And so I don't care if you're doing two homes that are right next door to each other that are the exact same floor plan. It's an entirely different jobs with different challenges, different furniture, different repairs, different everything. And I think we do a good job of kind of funneling that through and keeping up with the details not to say that we're perfect, but I think we do a great job of handling that volume. So I think a lot of smaller companies do a good job when the owner goes out, he gives the estimate, he gathers the information, he's going to be on the job site painting and doing it. And so details don't get lost. We've worked really hard to build a system that will allow us to scale that type of feel to a customer without having to have it be single source through one person. So if you ask me what I think we're doing to, to kill it, that's probably the thing I would say we do better than most. I love that. Yes, you've, you've built a system that maintains the quality without having to depend on one specific person. That's, that's always been the goal, I think. Yeah. Is there anything that you guys are finding particularly challenging right now for your business? Developing leadership? Um, it was probably the hardest struggle, right? Growth is fantastic. It's it's a great problem to have, but it is very much a problem, right? Because you have to, the pace with which we've been trying to grow sometimes outpaces the ability to train and develop leaders that are kind of required to carry that, you know, characters that workflow. And so that's the thing we struggle with the most. That's um, you know, that's where our biggest focus on attention is right now this year is just how do we really dial in the developing leaders that are wanting to step up from, You know, whether you're trying to step up and grow from an apprentice to a painter to a job leader, to a crew leader. I mean, how do we, how do we really help people to succeed? And uh and uh find the desire to want to grow and develop, you know, there's a lot of people just don't want to take on more responsibility and so that's probably the biggest challenge. It's just outgrowing our people for our ability to develop people, I guess, I would say the the internal versus external hire conundrum that always face um awesome. Well what do you, what do you guys see for the painting industry in the future? Do you see it changing? Do you see it not changing? What are your predictions Changing from what it has been said the last two years to something different union or something? Over the last 20 years, More or less, 20 kind of in the, in the next 10, do you see any major shifts uh that you guys are predicting or or not really? You know what I what I think I see is, and I could be wrong on this, so, who knows, but but realistically, my prediction is that there's gonna be some consolidation of painting businesses. Um and what I mean by that is, I think you're gonna see more companies that are scaling large, which starts kind of pushing out some of the single um you know, sole proprietor owner operator guys that are basically functioning as as, you know, one painter in his truck and once in a while hire somebody to help him out when he gets a little too busy. I think you're gonna see the models changing away from that summer that used to be, There were lots and lots of small companies and very few large companies and I think you're gonna see the industry shift a little bit, Two more large companies and very few independent one guy in a truck in a rush and getting things done, chuck in the truck is gonna get squeezed out. You think, I think that's probably right. I think the way that I find, you know the way that you find the person that you want to hire, the trust that you have for the people that you want to hire the days of um, people knowing their neighbors and referring the service workers that they've hired and have had good luck with is moving away to an online model where if you don't have a good presence and a good marketing strategy, you're going to struggle to find work and that just squeezes out the chocolate drops. Yeah. Yeah. Do you guys have any advice for other painting company owners that would want to achieve your size and your success? Any advice? I mean, I think it's, I think it's totally doable. I think there's, there's plenty of work out there. I think if if somebody wants it, they just have to be like I said really committed to the why, why do you want this? And what is it that you're really trying to to do and you need good plans and you have to be willing to to reach past yourself. So I'm a house painter by trade, right? I don't have the business acumen to um develop fantastic systems and the and the higher everybody. But here we are. And we've done it because we've been willing to say, I don't really know, but we need to get this problem solved. So let's look past ourselves and see who can we hire, who can we work with? Who can help us to do what it is that we think we need to do. And I think you have to be willing to do that. You have to be willing to accept, I don't know everything about everything. And that's got to be okay. You know, if you really want to do it, you have to be willing to find the people that can help you to do it. There's lots of them out there. Yeah. Yeah. I love that you guys have any, anything else that you want to add before we wrap up? Um No, not really. The only thing I would say is that is that for anybody that wants to grow, I think you have to be willing to um, you have to be willing to think about the systems entirely. You know, I think I sort of said this earlier, but if all your focus is on how do I make my phones ring? But you don't put any attention on, on how you answer those phones or schedule estimates or produce word, then you're sort of missing the boat. And I see a lot of painting companies that will try something for a short period of time and you know, so for example, they'll try an ad campaign that may work really well. It gets their phone's ruined, but they may recognize that they can't keep up and so they back it off. And so you see these real kind of wild swings of peaks and valleys and and so you just have to be a bit methodical about how you, how you promote yourself and then and then what you're willing to do to hire people and kind of work beyond what you're personally able to do. Yeah. Alright, well, Mike Miriam, I really appreciate you guys coming on the show and sharing all that value. Thanks so much for your time today. Hey, thanks for inviting us in. Yeah, it's my pleasure. All right, 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.