Guest Interview: Zach Ausherman of Ausherman Painting

Published On: November 23, 2021

Categories: Podcast

Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast
Zach Ausherman

Zach Ausherman, owner of Ausherman Painting, discusses his recent experience taking over Ausherman Painting, a 42-year old company, from his father. He takes an in-depth dive into common issues painting company owners face when dealing with succession, and actions a new owner can take to improve company morale and ultimately set the company up for long-term success with its new owner.

Video of Interview

Podcast Audio

Topics Discussed:

  • Common struggles painting company owners face during succession
  • Why a change in ownership can sometimes require a change in painting personnel as well
  • The importance of company culture to a painting company’s success
  • How to become the dominant painting company in your local service area

Audio Transcript

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Welcome to the Painter Marketing Mastermind Podcast. The show created to help painting company owners build a thriving painting business that does well over one million and annual revenue. I’m your host, Brandon Pierpont, founder of Painter Marketing Pros and creator of the popular PCA educational series, learn do grow marketing for painters. In each episode, I’ll be sharing proven tips, strategies and processes from leading experts in the industry on how they found success in their painting business. We will be interviewing owners of the most successful painting companies in north America and learning from their experiences. Our guest today is Zach Osterman. Zach runs off Sherman painting based in New York Pennsylvania. His dad started off Sherman painting in 1979 and Zack just took over the company in January of 2021. In this episode, Zack discusses some of the struggles he’s encountered during the secession of Osterman painting, the importance of a strong company culture and what steps to take when trying to reform a painting company’s longstanding culture. If you want to learn more about the topics we discussed in this podcast and how you can use them to grow your painting business, visit PainterMarketingPros.com forward slash podcast for free training as well as the ability to schedule a personalized strategy session for your painting company that you are elegant is painter marketing pros dot com forward slash podcast. Well, Zach, thank you very much for being on the painter marketing mastermind podcast. Thank you for having me. Yeah, So tell us a little bit about your yourself and your background. Okay. Um I just took over my dad’s just, it’s nine months now that I took over my dad’s painting business, January one Um in the business is 42 years old. Um So it’s actually older than me. Um which is cool too. Um And he started the business in 79 when we’re about, We’re based out of york pennsylvania and New York is about 20 miles south of three mile island. Um So when the Three Mile Island incident happened, my dad was working for another painting contractor and the painting contractor said well if you leave you’re not going to have a job when you get back. Well he left like a lot of people did because you know, that was scary, big time, scary. Um And then when he came back he started his own business. So that’s that was the genesis of everything. And My dad, like many other painters um now and in the past, you know, worked by himself or with the guy for about 10, 15 years and then he got connected to a consulting group out of Richmond Virginia that really helped him build out his business more um get out of the field um and be able to work on the business instead of in the business. Um He also had one or 2 really key hires. Um that really helped um We have 32-year guy with us. Um just just was voted um the PCA craftsman of the year for 20, I mean make sure I get this right? 2020, yeah, not this year, but it’s over a year. Yeah, yeah. So um Jody’s been been with us for 32 years and Jodi has really set the standard. Um and really why we are who we are and we’ve kind of built kind of built off of using consultants to teach us how to grow a little and get, you know, like I said, work on the business that I’m in and then using jodi skills and um getting the other crew leads to where we need them to be to be profitable and all that. Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I was actually born in york pennsylvania. That’s a lot of fun. Yeah, I moved when I was one so I don’t know anything about it, but I was born there. Well the peppermint patty was invented here and um you know, but it’s now made in Hershey. So you know, it’s going to be That’s right. So Jody, he’s been there 32 years. Do you have a lot of employees that have been there for an extended time? Um We had a little bit, I’ll be honest, we had some turnover. Um Right when I came on board um with my dad was a more old school guy, you know, he was more of a, you’re going to do what I say when I say and you’re going to hear from you if you doll. Um, and when I came in probably about five little or five years ago now, I changed a lot of that. Um, and it was hard for guys to understand that I was, I think, um, and it was hard for them to get on board a little, so It’s kind of strange. So he, he’s been with us for 32 years or second the longest tenured guy? Probably about 10, 12. And then we drop down to um, a lot of the guys that started right after I came on border still with us. So, you know, 34 or five years. And how many painters do you guys have? We have 12. Are those all W 2? Yes. Okay. You guys don’t use subcontractors? We don’t um, that’s one way that we differentiate ourselves. Um, right now, um, New york is um, I call it more of like a midsize market. It’s not, it’s not huge. Um, we look at our market as like three quarters of a million people, something like that. Um, so it’s easier for us to differentiate ourselves and use that as, you know, all the painters that are coming to your job site are our employees. Um, and I know you probably have guys that listen for New Jersey, but we use this a lot. You know, if, if a franchise guy comes, um, and uh, and sells you the job, they could be pulling subs from anywhere, even from New Jersey get people okay, God forbid you imagine these guys from New Jersey coming over here, you need to hire us. Apologies to anyone who was listening from New Jersey. Right. Exactly. That’s funny. Um, well, hey, whatever, whatever is resonating with the market, right? As long as it’s not too bad. Um, so this, this idea that you came on board, you know, five years ago. What was your role initially? I know you took it over nine months ago. Mm hmm. So I painted again for about eight months. Um, so I was back, so when I went to high school and I was in college, I would paint in the summers. Um, and I realized pretty early on, I think because he started me too young. I think that I was 14 when I first went out, it was one of those hot summers and we were doing a lot of work in downtown york, which is, um, you know, in the small cities, he just can’t dissipate. So it was just, yeah, I hated it. Um, so I figured at that point that I go my own way. Um, and I want to juniata College, um, close to Penn state, got a degree in political science and marketing. Um, and I, I had two long longer jobs before I came back with my dad, so I worked as a lobbyist in Harrisburg, Harrisburg, the state capital. Um, and then I was in the equipment industry for about five years. Um and at the point where my dad was molding someone to take over. Um but it didn’t, it didn’t work out and it was kind of strange, it’s weird how things happen um right around that same time, things weren’t going really well with the equipment company that I was employed with. So I said, okay, might as well try it because every couple of years you ask me, you know, leave us a good opportunity, you know, you’ve been around it for a long time, maybe you want to, no, no, no, no, but it just was right. It was just, it was just strange how everything kind of happened at the same time to make it work, you know, it’s weird in life how things happen sometimes like that. Um but yeah, when I first get him on board, I painted for about eight months and then My dad um you can tell was getting tired of it. Um we just do after doing it for 30, years at that point, so I got involved with on the sales side and the project management side um probably that I think it was that fall winter, my first year um pretty quickly, probably within the first six months to a year, overtook him in sales um and then I still ran projects and kind of allowed him to go do what he wanted to do, which honestly was best for him not to be around all the time. So kind of kind of got the molded, um, to the way I wanted it to be, which, um, which was good, There was of course some kickback because it is a family business and you know, you always, I always have those conflicts with the people you love the most, you know, one of those things. So, um, I always tell people that I’ve only one time in my last five years have I yelled at my crew. Um, but I did have screaming matches with my dad a couple of times. We just did. Yeah, so this, I think this idea of succession planning and, and it, you know, they’re being a bit bumpy is an important one you know, because it is a common theme, you know, painter marketing pros. We actually find a lot of times that’s a good time for us to acquire a client, you know, is when a, someone’s been running the company for a long time, they tend to be pretty stuck in their ways and not really open to exploring opportunities or, or growth, but then, you know, their son or daughter inherits the business and, and we find they tend to be a little more open minded. So you said your dad is he, was he kind of ran it in an old school fashion. Um, sounds maybe a little authoritarian with, with his approach to employees can you talk a little bit about your approach to employees and how that maybe didn’t work for the people who are accustomed to his style, so my approach, because I’ve only, I only really had, if you add it all up, maybe a year, year and a half worth of experience, I had to rely more on my crew leads and our sales guys and all that for their input about what what what do I do here? Just that little bit of asking, you know, really? So it’s a two fold thing, so you ask and then you follow through um and if you don’t follow through then of course they’re not gonna, why would I even answer you anymore? Um So, you know, you have to do both of those things and honestly that was a little bit of contention with my dad. Well I’ve been doing this for a long time, why aren’t you asking me? Well those are the guys that are in the field every day doing it, so I’m going to get input from them. Um I also, so when we first, when I first started coming in, we have weekly meetings with the crew leads and it was like going to a funeral every week, it was that it was that bad. I mean it just sat there uh and now I got at some point where everybody has input, everybody’s gotta report everybody, you know, they make fun of each other here and there a little bit, that kind of thing. You know, it’s, it’s much more of a team. Um, it almost seemed when I first came in as more of an US versus them thing, like it’s the office versus the cruise and you’re never gonna get anywhere if, if it’s like that. Yeah, yeah. And I told them early on in a full crew meeting with everybody, he said, if it ever gets back to that way, I’m the first one gone, I’ll get rid of it. I don’t, I’m not going to work in an environment that, you know, everybody hates everybody and everybody hates coming to work. It’s not, not what I’m going to do. What’s interesting to me is that it it seems that your style of management would be clearly desirable from, you know, a painter employee perspective, but maybe it wasn’t, you know, just for some of the painters, just because they were, was it just because they were accustomed to the other style so that they just couldn’t adapt or what was that? I think it was, it was partially that, so they were always used to the authoritarian well, and they were, it was hard for them to deal with. Someone said, well, what do you think about this or, you know, how would you, how would you handle that? Well, just tell me what to do. Um, um, no, I mean, I need you to, it’s kind of the ownership thing, I want you to own your job. I don’t want I don’t want you just to come and do the tasks that, you know, own it, you know, you’re the one running this project, own it. Um And a lot of the guys just that we’re stuck in their ways couldn’t make that transition um and that’s okay, you know? Yeah, so yeah, I mean it’s kind of changed the role a little bit and maybe maybe it would have worked for them in the beginning, or maybe maybe that never would have worked, you know, and they and you just kind of a different company now, right? The 11 thing that I’ve realized pretty um within this last six months though, is it, I almost need to pull back into that just a little um because if I don’t, one of the things I did early on to was I tried to say thank you and I appreciate you and all that kind of stuff as much as I could to of course, I mean they’re out there humping their backs making me money, I mean making the company money um why wouldn’t I? Um and I don’t know if I ever released, I think it was very rare for my dad to say thank you. Um and that just sucks, it shouldn’t have been like that um but now when I forget to, it’s almost like something’s wrong, so yeah, I gotta, I gotta find, I gotta, I gotta find that middle a little bit more, but I mean, I’d rather be on this end than the other end. So pick your poison. Yeah. Out of curiosity. How did you, how did you get the team meetings to be more fun? Was was there anything in particular that you did? I think just so the biggest thing was it wasn’t just all 11 direction. So when I first went, it was, well, these are the jobs. Um, they’re going to do this, this and this and barely anybody said anything else. Um Now it’s okay. We’re gonna go around the room and you’re going to check in on your project, you’re going to tell us how it’s going and what your hours are, where you’re at with things. If there’s a, there’s an issue, let’s talk about it. And honestly, I think the guys just like each other more to, um, you got a more like minded group of guys that, you know, can chat each other a little bit, um, enjoy each other. So yeah, well that makes sense, man. Would you mind sharing where you guys are in revenue and maybe how that has grown or changed over the past several years. So when I came on board, we were a little less than three quarters of a million. Um, we had six crews. Um, well, I’m sorry. We, we have six screws. Now we had three crews at that point. Um, and then we grew it out to six. Um We’re right around, we’re going to be a little like 1415, hopefully by the end of this year. Yeah. And then are you guys, are you guys primarily residential commercial, what do you guys focus on? Were 75 80% residential? Um One of the we like church work um Church work has been great for us. Um So that that takes up a good chunk of that other commercial. Um But then we’ll do, you know dentist offices, law law offices, um commercial work that they’re willing to pay our rates. Um It’s kind of funny we, you know, we get solicited all the time. Well, can you give me a bid to redo this Dunkin donuts? You can, but you’re not going to like it, so I’m not even going to waste my time really. So you just, you know that the potential customers that are are not going to bite just from years of knowing the market. Yeah, we have a big general contractor, huge general contractor here in york called Kinsley when I first came on board that I went and did a couple of bids for them and they wanted to tell us what they would pay. I said that’s not how this works. So don’t really even call us, I don’t even, I’m not going to waste my time. Yeah, it’s interesting you know that I think if as any company, if you don’t have a defined sales process then you end up at the mercy of the buying process, you know whatever that is right and probably a lot of painting companies my guess would be around you maybe don’t have a strictly clearly defined sales process which is how someone you know thinks that that it’s going to go that way. Those clients tend not to be not to be very good clients. Right? What kind of focus on sales process? What is your what is your sales process? How does that look? So um both me and my full time sales guy, we went through the Sandler program um so um and we are we’re still word and pds for now we’re working through getting our paint scout um going um just just been so crazy that I haven’t had a lot of time to fight through it to make it happen um But yeah it’s it’s a lot of Sandler um going and trying to set up up front contracts upfront expectations um for things and then what that allows you to do and I’ll be honest my sales guys a lot better at this than I am um asking about budgets and that kind of thing to try to try to weed out the ones that are going to be a waste of your time. Um one of the things that we found recently Was our average price for a project has almost doubled within the last couple of years. So we were we were within I think we were averaging like 4500 of project and now we’re almost to 10, wow. So so it’s, you know, we have the potential to, you know, make more margins on those larger projects, so that’s that’s not a bad thing. Um But so yeah, it’s um and I guess the way things have happened, we have been able to weed out some of the some of the others that just don’t make sense for us. Sure. So, so the when you say almost 10, this is strictly residential um and it’s both together, okay. Or average project. Yeah, sure, got it. Okay. So then you guys are doing a better job qualifying, do you have kind of set criteria or standard operating procedures around Okay. If they say their budget is below this, we’re going to say we’re not a good fit or how do you guys qualify? Well, um we don’t ask over the phone. I mean I think we do ask when we get there. So one of the biggest things and I’ve had conversations with a lot of, you know, industry leaders with this um is putting out marketing that is quality marketing. So our our website, if you look at our website has a beautiful old victorian that has seven different colors on it, have it behind you right now? Yeah. Yeah. Right. And all our marketing has, you know, real high end looking houses and all that. So what we’re trying to do there is we’re trying to say, you know, we’re more like the Lexus ad than we are the Honda ad, you know um you need to understand that if you call us this is what this is what we do and this is what we’re going to demand. Yeah. And that being in business for 42 years has also allowed us to use that especially in york. So we are mostly in york but then we also go closer to Harrisburg as well. So we, what we find is the market closer to Harrisburg. We do find a little more tire kickers of their but most of the people in new york know us and they know that yeah, you’re going to pay more for us but they know that the project is going to be done the way that they want it to be done. Yeah, yeah, I love that. Yeah. We talked at painter marketing pros a lot about you know, how do you become the £100 gorilla, you know the premium painter in your option in your local service market and don’t be a commodity, you know, commodity doesn’t win. Um So you guys, you talked about marketing and putting quality marketing and putting out you know making sure that your website is full of high end homes, what else do you do or what would you recommend for painting companies that maybe haven’t been around for 42 years or is it 39 39 40 to 40 to 42. Haven’t, haven’t been around for 42 years and maybe not everyone does know them. You know, how can they kind of convey that same message? What can they do beyond putting high end homes on their website? I think one area that people forget about um is to always um cultivate from the past customers. So even if you were, you’ve been in business for six months and you’ve done, I don’t know um what 30 or 40 projects. maybe that’s maybe that’s too many. Um, but don’t forget about them, you know, always be marketing back to your customer base. Always be asking for referrals from your customer base, Your employees and your customers should be your two biggest advocates. If they’re not, then something’s something’s not right. So I do occasionally I’ll get that question from, you know, guys that have been doing it for six months a year. And I said, don’t, yeah, don’t forget them, you know, send them letters. Um honestly, one of the ways that we increase our business where we used to do a call um to our customers. We used it, we did it in the spring to get our spring leads going and then we did it in the fall to get our winner leads going, but we don’t need either one right now. Um, So we just send, we just send letters, we’ll send a postcard, you know send christmas cards, that kind of stuff. So they know you’re still around. Yeah, yeah that call that call makes it very personal. Right? Yeah. I love that. Another um option that that we’ve seen work really well. It’s kind of calling on the anniversary of the completion date of a painter, you know, checking in it shows not only do you do you know, do you remember them and that you’re still around you, you actually remember when you completed their job, you know, goes a long way people want to feel careful, right? And if they do say, well there’s an issue and then you say right away we’ll be able to make it go fix it or whatever to Yeah, yeah, you’ve got to be ready. You gotta be ready for that if you know. Yeah. No. Yeah, that that makes sense because you don’t want to come at it from the angle of, you know, hi this is act from Osterman painting. Do you have any referrals? You know? It has to be, it has to be, hey, how we completed your job a year ago. I want to make sure that that it still looks as good as we left it. Um Yeah, I love that. So so you guys are focused on re marketing, you know, staying in front of your past customers, which is key. A lot of painting companies talk about how they grow through referrals, but they view it as this passive channel, right? And you you’re leaning into it making it making more active because there’s there’s a lot of there’s a lot of value there. You know, you’re you’re most happy, your most recent happy customers, your best salesman. Um What else do you do for marketing? How how else do you grow? We do a lot of social media stuff um instagram facebook now, I don’t know, maybe this is something that you would know more of us how to figure really figure out R. O. I. From that. Um But it’s um it’s just a good way to get those, you know, good pictures out. And one of the things that I try to do is try to give credit where credit’s due. So if you look at Um most of our posts, like 90% of our posts, it’ll mention the crew lead and maybe even the painter that’s part of that project. Um So that they get that credit for that, it’s not about me. Um One of the things that I did in January one was I took uh changed the name from Mike Ashley and painting to Osterman painting, so I got rid of my dad’s name. I didn’t add my own, it’s not it’s not about me. Um It’s about, my guy is doing good work for the customers and that’s that’s what I wanted to, I wanted to be. Yeah, that’s great. So when you say social media, um I I guess you’re referring to just organic posts just being active on social media, not actually paid advertising, reduce some. Um So I will um Gary Vaynerchuk is um because that I was a jab, what does he call it, jabs and then right hooks. Yeah, jab, jab, jab hook. Yeah. So all the little um hosts that I put out there about about you know, doing this project or that project, those are just jabs. I mean there if someone sees something that they really like, maybe they’ll call us on that, but occasionally, you know, every couple of months you put out a right hook where you’re really trying to um get activated leads through that. Um And we probably do four or five a year and it’s pretty much when the season changes over. Um And I will do a um it’s not a boosted post, it is pretty much pictures that I cultivated from projects over that year. Or if I’m doing from trying to build up leads for winter. I’m going back to our last winter and picking pictures from that last winter and promoting those. Um And then I pick out, I do go by zip code um through the facebook um add um program and all that to try to try to hit the people where I know the money is. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. The the targeting is very important. So you are in an interesting situation for the painter marketing mastermind podcast because you were below a million not too long ago and now you’ve almost almost doubled at this point in a in a pretty rapid timeframe. So what do you, I guess what do you attribute that success to over the last the last couple of years um being able to give up certain things? Well, yeah, I could say give up. Um so it was when we changed over the team and and changed over the culture, the culture got better when we started doing more marketing. Um we started getting more leads. Well then my dad and I couldn’t handle the leads were just I mean right even now we’re scheduling um estimates new estimates for like two weeks out. I mean it’s it’s insane still. And then we realized that we needed to bring on a salesman. So we brought in a salesman. So that allowed us to you know sell more. Um and then I have an office manager as well and I have an office admin. So it’s really it was creating that back support behind the scenes that really allowed us to to grow and that’s tough for some people because you don’t, you don’t know if you’re going to get the R. O. I. Out of it to pay them. Um and make sure that they’re worth, you know what you are paying them to be able to do other things. That’s hard. Yeah. You kind of have to I guess in some ways take a leap of faith but try to do it in a strategic fashion. You talked about a few different positions there that you filled that that kind of offloading the work for you. Which one would you feel first for someone looking to make a higher here? So I think that’s always the yeah. The very first thing that I think um, that anyone that’s growing should do is get an office manager get or an office admin, um, allow that person to do the stuff that you really don’t want to do. Um now I know there’s bookkeeping services and all that, but they do bookkeeping or um, they can do the paint ordering. They can do making sure the colors, all that kind of stuff. All the logistics stuff. That’s the very first hire. Now the second higher really is what you don’t like to do or what. Yeah. So if you’re good at project management, hire someone to do sales. If you’re good at sales hire someone to do project manager. I think that really is the key to that second. That second big. Higher. That makes sense. Mm hmm. Because typically you’re good at what you’re what you like doing too. So if you, if you like being out in the field with the guys then get someone hire someone to sell. Um Yeah. Yeah, it makes sense. And it, it’ll prevent burnout that way too because you’re, you’re doing what you want? I do want to clarify um to anyone listening, he didn’t and zack tell me if I’m wrong, but I think you weren’t saying hire a full time bookkeeper but find a service to kind of outsource some of these things if you need to. Yeah, if that’s the that’s not a bad thing to do right away. So our our office manager enjoys the numbers so we don’t use a bookkeeping service. Um So I mean everybody is a little different but yeah, I just Running a small business like this can be incredibly daunting. It just can be, you can be working 60, 80 hours a week. Um and I’ll be honest, I still do sometimes. Um So you have to figure out ways to offload and you have to figure out ways to make it more efficient. Um Because you get, I remember I had a college professor that would talk about um the boulder that would just keep getting bigger behind you. Um You talked like indiana jones like the boulder coming behind, you just you just did enough to not get squished. So some sometimes you feel like that like you gotta get gotta figure out a way to get away from that. Get away from the boulder and figure out a more streamlined approach or more efficient approach. Yeah. Yeah and it can be tough because you’re you’re stuck operating the business and you feel like if you stop um you know the business will will die or or the customer complaints will start coming in and so how do you kind of make that transition? I think, I think you have to kind of do it in stages like you did. Yeah, we’re not, we have the infrastructure in place that I can go away, you know, for Honestly, probably two weeks, 3 weeks and be okay. I I’m not going to be, I’ve never been one that wants to put a general manager in place so that I can go do what I want. It’s my name on the business, so I’m still going to be directly involved till forever. Um You’re not heading to a beach in Tahiti right now. Right. Yeah. And I feel honestly I I’d feel bad if I was gone for too too long. Right. Right. I don’t want to let the bag on them to do everything. So plus your your dad would probably yell at you. Yeah, I guess he’s retired now so he’s he’s not part of the business anymore. But Yeah. Well no, I I still think he’d probably yell at you though. Uh So what is uh what’s your company struggling with the most right now? Um We’re actually doing okay with the pink shortage. I know that’s a big, big deal for everybody. Um We’ve switched over to Benjamin moore um within the last year, two years. Um And that’s helped a lot for some reason they’ve been a little better now. I think they’re going to be running into issues, they’re warning us um that they are um my big thing, just like everybody else’s hiring um And what we’re trying to do is there’s a lot of like nick Slavic and those guys that have kind of set the mold and set the map on creating the training um to get green people to get people that are just decent people to train them how to do it. We’ve been, I’ll be honest, we’ve been incredibly lucky to have a lot of experience guys. So I have four or five guys that have 25 years plus experience that are, they’re they’re good. Um And I can rely on them, I don’t have to be up there, but all the time to make sure it’s okay. So yeah, they’re good with the customers and all that. So we’ve been lucky there now, that’s, I even told them last week, I said we’re going to fight here and there soon about figuring out our S. O PS because each one of them does things a little different and if we’re ever really going to be able to Grow it out for me, I don’t want to be any bigger than like 18 or 20, that’s that’s where I see our growth. Um But even to get to that point, we have to make things standardized because you’re never going to be able to train that someone to do things for different ways. You have to standardize it. And um, they were, it’s going to be a little bit of conflict, but conflict. That isn’t a bad thing. Yeah. Yeah, that’s great. And then what, what do you think that your company is doing the best with right now? Well, mm hmm. I think we do pretty good with the marketing in our area. Um, yeah, I think one of my goals has been to get our google reviews up. Um, which is, it’s a double edged sword because when you have high google rating, you get more tire kickers and all that. Um, but it’s also allowed us to keep our leads flowing really well. So that’s been a big priority for me. And we’re, we’ve been hitting our goals, um, with those over the last year, um, we set up employee challenges for that. So what we do is I set a goal for six months and if they hit that gold and everybody gets a extra day off aid. Um, and then we also give a monetary reward to whoever gets the cruelly that gets the most. Um, and then occasionally what I’ll do if it stalls because every once in a while it stalls for this reason or that reason, I’m not sure older customers that don’t want to put their name online or whatever I’ll do. Um, Occasionally I’ll say, Okay, whoever gets the next one gets $50 and that will spur a little bit activity sometimes. Yeah. I really love the employee incentive ization, you know, making it part of your culture to get those reviews. So I’ve always been about doing incentives on a wide basis to, I don’t, I don’t want, it’s okay to have friendly competition, but it can devolve into something that you don’t want it to. So it’s important that there’s an overall goal for the company that everybody gets rewarded. Yeah. Not, not the one guy who’s best at getting the reviews is just getting everything. Yeah. Yeah, that’s great. So with, um, with customers, you know, speaking of reviews with customers, what, what’s the biggest blunder? You know, whether your fault or not our worst kind of situation that you’ve had with the customer and how did you handle it? Well, um, we had, uh, well, we just did have a one star review a couple of weeks ago. Um, and it was about time and material job where the guy didn’t quite understand. It’s, it’s really strange. And we worked with different wording on it. Um, small time and material job where the guy thought that it didn’t matter if two guys were on the job. You’re only going to get paid for one hour and I get that a lot, which is really strange. But um, and I’ve talked to customers here and there, you know, when you take your car to the mechanic, if another mechanic works on your car at the same time, you’re getting charged for two hours. Yeah. Yeah. It’s not, they just don’t eat that time when somebody’s coming coming over. But um he got upset and put a one star review on now. I did um I didn’t call him or anything because to me it is okay. I honestly believe it’s better to have a 4. 9 than it is to have a five point now, right? I really do because if I’m looking at restaurants or I’m looking at this or that and I see a five point. Oh, I’m thinking, okay, How many family members? Right? How many family members? And how many other people did you get to put on there? So it’s it’s okay. I mean I don’t like that. We have a one star review but it’s okay that we have a 4. 9 because yeah. So did you guys reply to it or anything online? Yeah. I put a long, yeah long explanation of it and I I’m pretty good about not being too vitriolic um with that kind of stuff. Um One of the things that my guys tell me and I’ve known this for a long time that my, it’s kind of my strength and my weakness is that I stay pretty even keeled. Um So I can talk a customer off the ledge most of the time. Um because we will go in and make it right or one of the things that I guess this was probably a year and a half ago, my dad went in and did a kitchen cabinet project and told the guy that we could strip it and stain it and, and we couldn’t, so yeah, it just, it wasn’t gonna happen. So I went in there and explained, you know, that we ran into this or that um, I really do think that you would really like these, these painted though. We can make them really look good painted. And he went with it. No, no, I had to, I had to hold his hand a little bit. I had to show up, you know, every couple, every couple of days, make sure things were going okay. That’s fine. Yeah, I had to fix that. Uh that that incorrect expectations that were initially set. So how do you know, how do you see the painting industry changing in the future or do you see it changing in the future? I think what we’re seeing and I know um like Jason paris talks about this and and others talk about this. I think you’re starting to see things become a little more professional and I do think you’re seeing more of um don’t forget what he calls it, a roundup where the companies are starting to get a little bigger than they were in the past. And I think that’s a double edged sword because what that what that does is it allows the franchises and everything to commoditize us a little bit more. So if you’re if you’re pulling everyone together then it’s really hard to different differentiate yourself from someone else. Yeah it becomes a little bit more of a winner. Takes all scenario there, right? Yeah I think you I think you’re seeing that a little bit. Um And the subcontractor stuff I I think it seems like that’s growing um I’m not exactly sure that you know but and we just don’t do it just because you know we can put that perception out there. Now I don’t know if that perception is reality or not. I think a lot of guys have had good luck even with quasi models. You know you have um half your guys are w 2. 5 your guys are subcontractors because I think what one of the things that they’ve hit on with that is certain cultures um you want to own something so they would rather be subcontractors because then they own their own little business or millennials are told all the time. Um And even the next year that you’re special and that you should own your own thing. So participation trophy, right? So you know they want to have they want to have that ownership of that thing. So I think that’s part of why the subcontractor bases has grown a little um And I’m okay with it as long as it’s done right? I think sometimes the guys skirt I. R. S. Rules and all that kind of stuff. That’s the biggest um Honestly bitch and moan that a lot of the guys have been doing this for a long time that have built great businesses with w two employees, that’s the biggest thing. So if you have if you have subcontractors fine but just do it the way that you’re supposed to do it they don’t you know don’t have them act like employees because they’re not your employees, yep. Yeah makes sense. Um Yeah Zach this has been great. Do you have any other advice for uh you know smaller painting company owners looking to grow or or anything else you’d like to add? I think so I was thinking about this because I and when you sent the questionnaire and everything ahead of what I was thinking about it um I think there it’s kind of strange. There are there are there are two sides of the spectrum so you have the guys that are learning that don’t know much and and that’s great. I mean you’re asking questions or they’re going through the process, they’re learning for themselves, but then on the other side you have these you have companies who will never grow because they think that they’re the best at it and I’ll never be able to hire an employee because they can never do as good as me, you’re you’re you have to get that mindset out of your way out of your way the best The guys that have done the best in this are more towards the middle. They know that they do good work. They also know that they have stuff to learn and they also know that there are guys out there and employees out there that will paint better than them. And that’s not a bad thing. That’s that’s a that’s a good thing. You want guys that are, that can do better work than you. Um I don’t have the hubris that you will on bust and no one you’re never you’re never gonna grow that way. I kind of and I’m a pisces a little. Some people off with this guy, I kind of feel like that’s like a refinished your mentality that you’re never it’s never gonna be as good as me. Yeah, it’s almost like a like a New Jersey mentality if you will. Mm hmm. Edward and all those guys are gonna come happy. You’re gonna have some visits coming up. Um Alright, well, Zach, hey man, I, I super appreciate you being a guest on the show. This was invaluable. Yeah, thank you. Yeah, well, thanks a lot. I think you gave us a lot to think about and especially with the succession planning, you know what I’ve found is this kind of each guest that comes on the painter. Marketing mastermind podcast has their own unique story and and their own unique value to add and and you certainly are no exceptions. So thank you for your time and for sharing all this. Yeah. 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!.

Brandon Pierpont

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